Barcelona is the quintessential city break destination – perhaps the most popular in Europe. And it’s not hard to see why. Spain’s second-largest urban area is home to fabulous restaurants, stunning views of the Med, and countless cultural monuments.
Doing Barcelona right, though, is a big challenge. The city – like so many in southern Europe – is complicated. If you’ve never been before, the history, culture, and politics can leave your head spinning.
This guide covers some of the essential things that you need to know about the city. Being wise to them can help you have a more enjoyable visit.
Avoid Political Discussions
Barcelona is the capital city of a region of Spain called Catalunya. For decades, it has been one of the wealthiest parts of the country. Unfortunately, that is also the root of many of the political problems.
The Spanish government taxes residents of the city at a high rate and then distributes their money to poorer parts of the country. Many residents are unhappy about this, which is why they’ve been campaigning for independence.
As a tourist, these issues don’t affect you, so you don’t need to comment. If the topic does somehow come up in conversation, try to remain neutral. Failing to do so could offend the locals and possibly wreck your trip.
Organize Your Luggage
Getting around in Barcelona isn’t as easy as it is in many other premier European cities. Uber, for instance, isn’t allowed to operate at the moment – and neither are Lyft nor Cabify for that matter. The reason for this, again, has to do with local politics.
Moving your luggage between airports, hotels, and train stations, therefore, can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. Enterprises, like Radical Storage Barcelona, however, point out that residents can use the city’s network of storage lockers.
Here, you can place all your bags after you check out of a hotel and then collect them once you’re ready to go to the airport.
Everyone knows that the Spanish drink sangria, so that should be your beverage of choice when you hit Barcelona, right? Wrong. It turns out that Barcelona locals prefer vermouth and cava to the famous national drink.
You can also get red vermouth called vermút rojo, which contains caramel and cinnamon. It goes well with tapas.
Avoid The Main Beach In Barcelona
While it might be convenient, many seasoned Barcelona veterans avoid La Barceloneta. Being near to the city centre, it is busy and accumulates a lot of rubbish. Tourists also camp out along it which, again, isn’t great when you’re looking for a serene spot for some sunbathing.
If you’re looking for something a little more attractive, then just travel up the coast a little. Non-nudist options include Bogatell and Nova Icária. You can also check out Sant Miquel.
Go To The Barcelona City Museum For Free On Sunday
Finally, if you’re in the city on a weekend break, be sure to check out the Barcelona city museum on a Sunday. Entry is free, so you have more holiday pocket money to spend in the gift shop.