Barcelona For Beginners

Some getting around Barcelona basics to get you started on a holiday to remember 

Arrival

Getting Around

Safety

When to go

Barcelona is a brilliant year-round destination. Weather-wise you’re looking at average highs in the summer months of 26-29°C (79-84°F) with overnight lows of 18-21°C (64-70°F) and wintertime highs of 14°C (57°F) and lows of 5-6°C (41-43°F).

Rambla del Born Barcelona in the spring sunshine
Glorious early spring weather in El Born sees people enjoying the sun

I’d recommend avoiding the summer months if possible, not so much because of the weather, but because of the crowds. The winters are mild enough (and with frequent sunny skies) to be an option, but be aware that some restaurants close over the Christmas period.

The Ideal times (to my mind) are spring and autumn, with pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds to deal with.

Arrival

Chances are you’re coming in through Barcelona’s El Prat Airport.

Far and away the most straightforward way to town for fresh arrivals is by taxi. There are taxi stands outside both terminals, and queues tend to be short. You should get to any hotel in the metro area in around 30 mins. Expect a fare of €30-40. We have yet to experience a dishonest Barcelona taxi driver. We have yet to find one genuinely fluent in English either, but have always managed to find our destination.

Barcelona’s notorious pickpockets are going to find tourists encumbered with all their possessions easy targets. For this reason alone we can’t recommend the taxi service highly enough. Get yourself safely to your hotel first, and then venture forth.

If not…

The Aerobús service connects T1 and T2 to Plaça Catalunya in the centre of town for €5.90. From there you can cab or train to your hotel.

The Barcelona Metro also serves the airport, with a service on L9 Sud from Aeropuerto to Barcelona Sants and Passeig de Gracia every 30 minutes between 6:00 and 23:00.

You may also arrive by train, most commonly at Barcelona Sants (Sants Estació), which connects with the Metro to get you anywhere in town with ease. There is also a busy taxi stand outside. Estació de França is another point of arrival, though much less busy than Sants. This historic station doesn’t have a direct connection to the Metro, though there is a Metro stop five minutes walk away (L4 Barceloneta).

Getting Around Barcelona

Barcelona may welcome as many as 32 million tourists a year, but the permanent population is only 1.6 million, so it is actually a fairly compact town. As most tourist attractions are in the old town or near the waterfront it is a city that is ideal for walking.

The plus side is that if you get around on foot in the charming Ciutat Vella – old town – you’re going to make discoveries that you wouldn’t otherwise. The downside is that sometimes it seems there are too many tourists on foot, particularly on Las Ramblas, and the nearby Barri Gòtic. It can get busy.

Ticket machine in the Barcelona Metro
Automated ticket machines in the Metro stations are easy to navigate

Barcelona’s Metro (excellent interactive map here) is a surprisingly extensive underground rail system. It is easily the best solution to get around Barcelona when your feet have had enough. There are touchscreen ticket vending machines at all stations. If you’re planning to use the Metro lash out on a T10 ticket, that gives you 10 rides anywhere on the system in a 30 day period for €11.35, or if you’re planning to squeeze a lot in, there’s a €10.50 unlimited trip (in Zone 1) day ticket. Single trip tickets cost €2.40.

There are plans to introduce a ‘touchless’ system and to phase-out the current magnetic-strip tickets, though unfortunately, it looks as though though this option will only be available for locals. We’ll update when we know more.

There are taxi stands in busy areas, and you can usually hail one on the street with ease.

Uber addicts have to learn to live without. The service is not available in Barcelona, but then the system wasn’t broken like so many other taxi regimes, so no loss.

Safety


Unfortunately Barcelona has a well-earned reputation for petty thievery – particularly pickpockets. Never carry a wallet in a back pocket. It may be helpful to distribute cash in different pockets. And keep handbags close at all times – never on the back of a chair.

Be aware that Barcelona’s notorious pickpockets target visitors, and public transport is a happy hunting ground for thieves. Likewise be wary at busy tourist attractions (though you’re unlikely to be bothered inside attractions that charge fees).

Also be aware that these guys are professionals, it is all-too-easy to be scammed in one way or another.

Even some locals have had enough, and have organized citizen patrols on the Metro.

If you do fall victim, you may need to make a police report. You can file a report online here, or in person at police stations. The main one is at Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 76-78. Be prepared to wait; they have a lot of people to deal with. There is more info here for dealing with lost documentation.

Save yourself some hassle and document your credit card numbers, passport info, and phone IMEI number, and kept it safe elsewhere.

The emergency number is 112 to report robberies, accidents, assaults, fires, or medical emergencies.

Turisme de Barcelona offers a tourist information service at (+34) 932 853 834 daily from 8am until midnight, for tourists and visitors to answer any questions or help deal with incidents.