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9 Tips for Visitors of Barcelona

1. Go to a Bar and Raise a Glass for Barça. Leave the FC Barcelona football stadium Camp Nou for those who are prepared to spend vast amounts of time and money trying to get tickets. Visit a local bar instead, where you’re sure to experience the football fan culture. Sit down in front of the TV with a group of Catalans when FC Barcelona is playing against its nemesis – FC Madrid. If the bar is well-lit, the wine is poured straight from the barrel, and the floor is covered in napkins – you’re in the right place.

football stadium, Barcelona, full of people.jpg
Photo taken by 123rf.com nuotr..  football stadium, Barcelona, full of people.jpg

But remember, Barça is not the same as Barcelona – it’s a nickname for the famous football club. Using it instead of “Barcelona” may not anger the locals, but it will definitely confuse them.

2. Barcelona is not the Kind of Spain You Imagine. So don’t go looking for flamenco, bullfighting arenas or the heritage of Andalucía. Of course, even in Barcelona people will try to sell you some sangria, tapas or tickets to flamenco performances, but those will invariably be artificial and fake.

A procession in Barcelona to support the Catalan independence movement
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A procession in Barcelona to support the Catalan independence movement

Try to focus on the heritage of Barcelona instead. After all, it’s a city which used to be home and a great inspiration to Antoni Gaudí, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and many other famous artists. Exploring the work of these people hosted in numerous museums and galleries will alone take several days.

3. Could Barcelona Be the Best Place for Picnics in the World? Not just because of the many places where you can spread your blanket, but also because of the places where you can organize a quick yet superb brunch. In the closest market which sells fruits, vegetables and other goodies (the largest and most famous of these is the Boqueria Market). Buy 100 grams of excellent Spanish ham, Catalan sausage, goat’s cheese, 200 grams of toasted red pepper and artichokes, a few cans of seafood, some bread and sparkling wine. Lay down on the lawn of the Citudella Park or near the Montjuïc Castle and raise a glass to the good life.

The best place for shopping, in Barcelona, Bokeria Market
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The best place for shopping, in Barcelona, Bokeria Market

Even though this plan is especially suitable for Sunday dinner, Sundays in Barcelona are “dead”. On this sacred day, around 90% of restaurants, bars and markets are closed, so don‘t forget to stock up in advance.

4. Steer Clear of La Rambla. Most guidebooks will tell you that the pedestrian walkway of La Rambla is the biggest treasure of the city. But the truth is, by now it has become a place of super-cheap sangria, microwave snacks and pickpockets. It is still worth taking a stroll here and seeing all the great street artists and performers, but if all you’ll do is walk back and forth on La Rambla, you’re sure to miss the best places in the city.

The famous La Rambla Street
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The famous La Rambla Street

Besides, there are lots of new masterpieces of modern architecture in Barcelona that people simply fail to notice. If you want to see a different Barcelona, take a walk along the Mediterranean coast of the city.

5. Choose Your Food Wisely. Eating a dish off a small plate in the gourmet city of Barcelona is enough for you to be able to brag to your friends, but the truth is, this city is also full of unsavoury cafés, restaurants and bars, made lazy by the constant flow of tourists. If you don’t do enough research on the city’s restaurants, you may end up with the impression that all cafés in Barcelona have the same menu. A few suggestions: Suculent (for its Catalan dishes), La Cova Fumada (for snacks, beer and pleasant atmosphere), El Quim de la Boqueria (for its breakfast and squid), Somodo (for the best 24-Euro dinner in Spain) and the king of restaurants, Albert Adria.

Senior citizens playing dominoes in the coast of Barcelona
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Senior citizens playing dominoes in the coast of Barcelona

6. Don’t Miss the Flea Market. Most visitors of Barcelona had heard of the colourful Boqueria food market – situated at the centre of the La Rambla tourist street it is near impossible to miss. Less popular, but just as appealing (especially for those who are into photography) is the market which takes place on the quay between Columbus and Maremagnum every Saturday. Here you can buy chinaware, knitted clothes, paintings made by unacknowledged geniuses, ancient jewellery and other things characteristic of the Spanish way of life.

A flea market in Barcelona
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A flea market in Barcelona

7. Zoom-in on the Works of Pablo Picasso. The Picasso Museum of Barcelona safely keeps the best and most famous works of this Spanish painter. Admission is 6 Euros on weekdays, but free on the first Sunday of every month. Remember, though, that the queues on these days are nothing short of breath-taking. If you don’t want to spend hours in the scorching-hot sun, come here early in the morning. Admission is free for children under 16. Don’t forget to visit the museum’s website and check out if there are any free tours or other events available.

The Picasso Museum in Barcelona
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Picasso Museum in Barcelona

8. Delight at the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. It’s an impressive show of colours, lights, movement and music, which figures prominently in the Top 10 lists of the most beautiful fountains the world. This fountain, created by Carles Buigas for the 1929 Great Universal Exhibition, attracts thousands of tourists and locals every night.

A magical fountain in Barcelona at night
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A magical fountain in Barcelona at night

This project was realized in a year by 3 000 workers. During the Spanish Civil War, the fountain was badly damaged and went out of commission until 1955, at which point it was restored by Buigas himself. Music entered the fountain’s concept in 1980. The restoration was completed in 1992, just before the Olympic Games, which took place in Barcelona that year.

A carnival in the streets of Barcelona
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  A carnival in the streets of Barcelona

9. Have Fun at Free Festivals. Spain is known for its many festivals and national holidays. In winter it hosts the Barcelona Carnival; springtime is graced by the Day of Sant Jordi (the Spanish equivalent of Valentine’s Day); summer is met with Festa Major, and autumn commemorates the Day of Catalonia. The most impressive traditional festival takes place in the autumn, during the Mercé city festival, when thousands of costumed people go out into the streets with torches and candles in their hands -fire symbolizes life.

 

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