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Spend a Summer in Barcelona: A Full Travel Guide (2023)

When deciding where to go next, I knew, I needed to spend my summer in Europe. Why? Because European summer is a thing! And this summer, I wanted to get the full experience of it. Because of that, spending summer in my favorite European city was a light decision.


I'd been to Barcelona only once in my life but had only good memories. Like many others, I only spent a few days in Barcelona. This time I wanted to experience it more deeply and spent in total of five weeks in this vivid city.


This full travel Barcelona guide is for everyone who's planning a city trip to Barcelona and would like to explore the city to its fullest. A guide that is packed with insights, that I've collected during my five-week stay. Here, I cover all the needed information before heading to Barcelona.


Table of Contents:

Barcelona Travel Essentials

Before traveling to Barcelona, it's best to know the essentials, such as when to visit, weather conditions, and how to get around.


When to Visit Barcelona?

Visiting Barcelona all year long is a no-brainer. The decision of when to visit Barcelona depends on personal preferences. Do you like hot weather and a swim in the ocean? Or do you prefer a mild temperature that's suitable for lots of walking?


Barcelona is popular among tourists all over the world. If you're someone who likes it less crowded, I recommend visiting Barcelona during the shoulder or low season. Shoulder season is in March, April, September, and October. The low season is between November and mid-March.

How's The Weather in Barcelona?

Barcelona is a Mediterranean city and it gets quite hot during summer. Temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius are common between late June and late August. For those, who prefer a more bearable temperature, it's best to visit Barcelona before June or after August.


During the winter months (December - February), it gets colder, but the temperature is hardly ever under 5 degrees Celsius.

Transportation in Barcelona

Barcelona's public transportation is well-developed. The city provides many opportunities. You can take the metro, buses and trams, and taxis, and the city is also bicycle-friendly.


Metro

The metro system connects different parts of the city. It has different lines and trains run regularly almost every five minutes. The metro operates from 5 a.m. until midnight and offers a limited service the whole night on weekends.


Bus

Parts that aren't covered by the metro are from the bus system. The ticket purchased for the metro works also for the buses.


Tram

In certain parts of Barcelona, trams offer a comfortable and scenic ride. I did not have the pleasure of having a ride with the tram, since it was under construction during my visit.


Taxi

Whenever you're not in the mood for taking any public transportation there will always be a taxi available. They all work with a taxi meter. Just wave with your hand, if a taxi is in sight.

Unfortunately, apps like Uber or Bolt aren't popular in Barcelona, and drivers working with them are rare. Therefore, using such apps isn't necessary.


Bicycle

For those, who'd like to be more flexible and independent I highly recommend using a bicycle. Barcelona is known for being bicycle-friendly where you can ride on designated lines. The good thing is, that Google Maps exactly shows where the bicycle lines are. That makes riding a bicycle in a foreign city so much easier!

For those who stay longer than a few days, I recommend renting a bicycle from Kleta. An affordable bicycle rental that works smoothly and has reasonable prices. Renting a regular bike with them costs around 35€ for a month whereas you pay 20€ for only 24 hours. Comparing the prices could save you lots of money, although you won't use the Kleta bike to its fullest.

Top Attractions in Barcelona

One reason why Barcelona is such a popular travel destination is because it has lots to offer. The city is packed with culture, historic architecture, and lots of top sightseeing spots, such as Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Las Ramblas.


For every visitor, it's a must to visit them at least once. Here's a list of the top seven attractions in Barcelona to visit:


Indulge in Barcelona's Culinary Delights

Barcelona is a paradise for foodies, from traditional tapas to fancy Michelin-starred dining. Here's a taste of some culinary delights of Barcelona:


Tapas

You'd never been to Barcelona if you did not eat any Tapas. Tapas are small, shareable dishes and are perfect for social dining.


Here's a graphic of typical tapas:

Graphic of Spanish Tapas

If you'd like to enjoy tapas, I recommend visiting Casa Lolea, Fa Patxoca, and Güell Tapas.

All serving tasty and authentic tapas.

Paella

This rice dish is the national dish of Spain. It's rice that features seafood, chicken, rabbit, and saffron. A flavourful dish, which is also vegetarian-friendly.


I recommend going to Restaurant Tobogan whenever you're longing for a well-made Paella with lots of ingredients and affordable.

Seafood Paella

Seafood

Due to its coastal location, Barcelona is perfect for enjoying local, freshly fished seafood.


I haven't eaten lots of seafood (a Paella for indulging the culture of Spain). For this reason, I only can share recommendations from locals, I spoke with, or from friends who went to seafood restaurants.

Here's the list:


Beaches and Outdoor Activities in Barcelona

A city plus an ocean equals the perfect combination - for me. I like it when something is going on but I can also spend relaxing days and listen to the ocean.


Barcelona resides on the Mediterranean Sea with a long sandy beach. However, Barcelona's beaches are not only a place to enjoy the sun. It's much more.

Beaches

Of course, the beach is the main attraction, and there are so many areas to hang around. Probably the most popular area is Barceloneta Beach. In this area, you find lots of restaurants, bars, and even clubs. You even find a place to do your workout here but you may be watched by passengers.

Playa de Bogatell is my favorite beach area to hang around. It's more known by locals, less crowded, and perfect for those who would like to play volleyball.


Playa de Mar Bella

Barcelona is an LGBTQ+-friendly city. For this reason, there's a beach area for gay people. Playa de Mar Bella is the hotspot, where gays meet and embrace their lifestyle. It's a beach where nudity is also allowed.


Activities

Around the beaches, many operators offer different activities. Looking to rent a stand-up paddle or jet ski? You find an offer at any of the beaches I mentioned above. Prices for a paddle board start around 15€ for an hour and a jet ski 75€ for 20 minutes. There are operators for kitesurfing, parasailing, kayaking, and many more.


Additionally, as I already mentioned above, volleyball is a huge thing in Barcelona. Especially at Playa de Bogatell, you'll find a group to join with and play.


Shopping in Barcelona

One of the main reasons I visited Barcelona for the first time, was because of its many shops. You can spend easily a whole day shopping (or maybe two).


One of the most popular spots to shop is in Paseo de Gracia, a long street that starts from the metro station 'Diagonal' and ends at Placa de Catalunya. At the beginning of the street, you find the luxurious brands. The big fast-fashion stores, such as Zara, Bershka, H&M, Uniqlo, and many more are located on this street too.


The area around Placa de Catalunya houses even more stores. Primark and Urban Outfitters are around this place as well.


Another great street for shopping is the famous street called 'Las Ramblas'. It's best for buying souvenirs. A must-visit at 'Las Ramblas' is the market 'La Boqueria'. The market sells fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, meat, and many more delicacies.


For everyone who's more into second-hand shopping, the area 'El Raval' is your place. It also is home to many alternative shops.


The Gothic Quarter is the best place to find smaller boutiques and traditional stores. Here you find antiques, books, artisan clothing, and accessories.


If you're more into shopping in a center, Barcelona's got your back. Westfield Glories is a huge mall with typical stores you probably find in every mall.

🤫 If you're living outside of the European Union make sure you get your taxes back. A very easy process. Just request a tax-free form whenever you buy something and as soon as you get to the airport, many offices will refund the taxes.


Nightlife and Entertainment in Barcelona

It's a vivid city and partying is not only for the weekends. Every day can be turned into a party night with bars open until late at night. Famous DJs playing in one of the many beach clubs. I promise it won't get boring.


Beach Bars at Barceloneta Beach

Along the coastline, you'll find famous beach clubs such as Pacha, Shoko, Opium, Carpe Diem, and many more. They're all located in the same section and compete by hosting international artists.


Bar Hopping in the Gothic Quarter, El Raval, and El Born

Those areas are known for having a high number of bars and pubs. Doing bar hopping in Barceloa is a fun activity, where you can enjoy tasty cocktails and live music.

🦉 Barcelona's nightlife is for night owls. It tends to start later than in many other places, and it gets busy mostly after 10 or 11 p.m. and the clubs come alive after midnight.


Festivals and Special Events

Barcelona is home to many famous electro festivals, such as Primavera, Sonar, and Brunch.


I only went to Brunch (twice!) and it was overall a great experience. The festival is almost every weekend during the high season. At the end, they close their festival season with a three-day event, with the craziest line-up. Highly recommend!


Accommodation Options in Barcelona

Barcelona is a big city, with lots to offer. It's not easy to decide which area is the best place to stay and can be a hard decision. The question 'Where to Stay in Barcelona?' can be a tough question. Especially, when you're on a budget.


To make your decision easier, I'd like to introduce you to eight different areas, which all have their pros and cons. Additionally, I added a few recommendations for hotels, hostels, or Airbnb I know they must be good (based on personal or other experiences).

Areas to stay in Barcelona

Barceloneta (1)

For those who'd like to stay close to the beach and be quite close to the center, Barceloneta is your area. The beach clubs are only walking distance away.


Vila Olimpica (2)

A neighborhood located along the waterfront and also known as Olympic Village. What's best about this area, is that it's situated along the coast, for those who want easy access to sand and sea.

It's well-connected, which makes it easy to reach other parts of Barcelona. Additionally, it is quieter than the city center. Due to those facts, this area is best for families who are looking for a more relaxed environment.


El Raval (3)

Diversity and multicultural are two terms that speak for the area. It's home to several cultural and artistic institutions, that often host exhibitions, concerts, and events. This area gets quite noisy during nighttime with numerous bars, cafes, and clubs.


Gothic Quarter (4)

For everyone who would like to live in the heart of the city's history. The Gothic Quarter is the old town of Barcelona. The Gothic Quarter is known for its narrow streets, many charming plazas, and unique architecture.


El Born (5)

Located right next to the Gothic Quarter, El Born is a trendy and vivid area. It's home to many galleries, boutiques, and hip bars. This area is best for bar hopping and it's also close to the beach.



Eixample (6)

Is the newer part of Barcelona and is known for its iconic grid layout and modern architecture. Eixample is located near famous landmarks, such as Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo.


Staying in the area is quite expensive. The 360 Hostel Borne offers a bunk bed in a shared dorm that starts from 50€ per night. It's airconditioned and clean.


Sant Marti (7)

The district of Sant Marti is home to the areas of Poblenou, Diagonal Mar, El Clot, and Sant Marti de Provencal. It's a well-connected district, easily accessible by metro lines, trams, and buses. This area is best for people who are interested in experiencing a more modern and local side of the city. It's less crowded and lively compared to other areas.


A nice hotel next to Torre Glories is Hoxton. It's a mid-range hotel. The night cost 250€ for a standard bedroom.


Gracia (8)

The bohemian atmosphere is one characteristic of the Gracia neighborhood. It attracts numerous independent galleries, theatres, and craft shops. It's a pedestrian-friendly area with many plazas and squares to hang around. It's the best area to stay for those who want to experience a more local and artsy side of Barcelona.


During my five-week stay, I stayed with Maria, an Airbnb host. Although it was far away from the city center, I could not imagined a better stay. The room was clean and affordable. With a bicycle, the distance was not a problem at all.


Safety and Practical Information for Travelers

Pocket picking in Barcelona is a thing and you'll get warned by everyone. Besides that, Barcelona is considered to be a safe city where you can walk around freely at night (also as a woman!).


I'd like to share a few local tips I got from locals to stay safe from pocket pickers:

  1. Pay attention to your surroundings. Is it crowded? Make sure you have control over your belongings.

  2. Never ever put your phone on the table! The thieves aren't afraid of taking away your phone in public places, nor do they care about daylight.

  3. Don't leave your stuff unattended at the beach. It's best to bring an ocean bag with you and have your things with you all the time.

  4. Use a crossbody bag. It's best to have your belongings in front of you.

  5. Beware of distractions. An innocent-looking stranger who asks you for the way might work as a strategy.




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