1Is Barcelona a safe place for tourists?
On the whole, yes, Barcelona is a very safe place. While the locals are very passionate people, they are not generally aggressive. A good example is they regularly protest about various social issues (famously for their independence from the rest of Spain) but protests are almost always peaceful with rarely any violence. One problem Barcelona does have however, is pick-pockets and lots of them. They usually target tourists and in tourist areas. Two hotspots for pick-pockets are La Rambla and the beaches. It’s worth making sure you’re possessions are safe at all times, however. Don’t just rely on buttons and zips, always be aware of where your things are. Fortunately, again most pick-pockets are not violent. If you catch them trying, they will quickly disappear (hopefully not with your things!). It’s really worth being vigilant as it would be a shame for your experience of Barcelona to be tainted by a few rotten apples.
2What’s the best way to get around in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a very well connected city. From the airport, you can either get into the city by bus, metro or taxi. Bus is the cheapest option (around €6). In the city itself, the easiest way to get around is walking. Most of the places you’ll need to get to are walk-able from each other. It’s also a great way to see the city. If you need to go outside the centre (to Montjuïc, for example), the metro system is very cheap and easy to use. If you’re staying for a week or more, it’s worth getting the ‘T-10’ which gives you ten journeys for ten euros. Another great way to get around is cycling. There are lots of bicycle hire shops and the cost of hiring a bicycle for a day is very reasonable. Finally, if you want a fun way of getting around, you can get a lift on a bicycle rickshaw. Most of them are down near the beach. It’s quite expensive (they charge by the passenger) but it’s worth doing once or twice for the experience.
3When is the most popular night to party in Barcelona?
It depends what you’re looking to do. Different venues are popular on different nights. This is a party city and there’s lots on every night of the week. Generally speaking, however, Saturday is the biggest night of all. Feel free to check out our wide-range of bars, clubs and discos where you can see which night has what you are looking to experience!
4What should I do for eating food in Barcelona?
You won’t have a problem finding good food in Barcelona. We have various recommendations ourselves. A good rule of thumb, however, if you’re running late for lunch or dinner and you’re not sure where to go, is not to be afraid of poking your heads into bars and smaller restaurants, off the beaten track. While La Rambla is a very popular place to eat, that doesn’t mean it has the best food (and certainly not the best prices!). The more ‘local’ bars do some really great food. The food itself will generally be more true to the cuisine of Catalonia. Of course there are some restaurants which are popular tourist destinations for a reason but there are many which are only popular because of their location. Location is important but if you love food and you want to try the real thing then go for a wander, get lost and find great food! If you’re looking to make something yourself, there’s a famous option in Barcelona. Forget McDonalds and KFC. You get those everywhere! Go to a supermarket. They have big ones where you can get better value for your money, as well as smaller corner shops (which are often 24 hours). You can buy an assortment of tapas: olive oil, bread, jamón, chorizo and cheese are a good start. Then find a nice spot such as Ciutadella Park and enjoy a delicious (and cheap!) meal in the sun.
5What are the laws on drinking and drugs in Barcelona?
Barcelona has similar drinking laws to most EU countries. You must be 18 years old to drink (it’s worth taking ID, if you’re lucky enough to have youthful looks). It is also illegal to drink alcohol outside after 11pm. There are private smoking associations where you can smoke various products that have been decriminalized and regulated. You must become a member first, however. You must be 21 years old and you will be asked for identification. Different associations have different rules and entry policies.
6Do I need to speak Spanish while in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a hugely international destination and, as such, most people speak English here, especially in shops, bars, restaurants etc. If you do speak Spanish (or Castellano, as it’s correctly called) this will be a big help and it’s naturally appreciated. If you know Catalan, you will be absolutely loved. Even if you only know a few words, use them! The locals will really appreciate it. An easy one to remember is ‘merci’ which means ‘thank you’, like in French. If you only speak English don’t worry but it’s polite not to assume everyone understands. Learning a simple Castellano phrase such as ‘lo siento, no hablo Castellano’ (sorry, I don’t speak Castellano) is enough. Note we’re not just referring to ‘Spanish’ as ‘Castellano’ to be pedantic. As the official language of Barcelona is Catalan, referring to ‘Castellano’ as ‘Spanish’ can be quite insulting. The locals are used to tourists making this mistake but a little sensitivity and respect will not go unrewarded!
7Do I need to be aware of any social/cultural issues?
To avoid making any faux pas, it’s worth reading a little about Barcelona’s history. Until 1975, they were under General Franco’s dictatorship. This was a highly repressive regime in which the borders were shut (not allowing people in or out of the country). This is why Barcelona and Spain as a whole has remained very ‘Spanish’. As with diversity in people, Spain has been playing catch-up with the rest of Europe industrially, technologically and in many other ways. Although Spain (and particularly Barcelona) is blossoming, Franco’s regime is still very much within living memory and this, tied with an historic desire for independence, has made their Catalan identity very important to them. One tip, if you speak classic ‘Spanish’, is to refer to it as ‘Castellano’, to differentiate it from ‘Catalan’ (the native language to Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia). As always, however, if you’re friendly you shouldn’t have any problems.