Mention Barcelona and you’ll often think of avant garde architecture, sun-drenched beach boulevards and quirky art work. But Barcelona is more than just that: futuristic designs and charming historical flair co-exist. Although the chic, vibrant city embraces contemporary designs, it hasn’t forgotten its past. For those planning a trip to the versatile metropolis, here are some things you should know about Barcelona that might help prepare for a better understanding of the Catalonian capital.
It’s massive and spread out.
As Spain’s second biggest city, Barcelona is a sprawling metropolis despite its laid-back beachfront atmosphere. Most attractions are spread out in different districts of the city, although its old quarter is rather compact; certain sites like the Sagrada Familia cathedral and Parc Guell are located some distance from the city center. When planning your itinerary, you should take commuting time into consideration. Fortunately, its underground metro system connects most parts of the city to the center rather efficiently. It’s quite easy to navigate and find your way around.
Thanks to budget airlines that fly to Barcelona, cheap airfares to Barcelona are easily available. But once you’re there, be sure to keep your expenditure in check. As compared to other Spanish cities, Barcelona is rather costly. It’s easy to see why: Barcelona is one of the most popular travel destinations in Spain and it’s a massive metropolis where stylish, urban living is simply a way of life. Food, accommodation and nightlife is generally more expensive here – expect to pay from 15 to 20euros for a standard restaurant meal, 20 to 30 euros are standard rates for Barcelona hostels while a simple hotel room can set you back at 65 to 80 euros. But don’t be put off by the high prices; there are always ways to avoid busting your travel budget. Buy your groceries in a supermarket and cook your own meals and only visit attractions that are free to enter.
It is more than just a modern metropolis.
There is a reason why Barcelona is so popular with travelers all over the world. It’s a city that perfectly fuses futuristic, urban architecture into reminiscent, old charming edifices. The Barcelonians have developed a cutting-edge front, and yet they’ve not abandoned their roots. Visiting Barcelona is like entering the time-machine: you literally get zapped to the future and then right back to the present before getting whisked into the Renaissance era.
Barcelona gets really crowded in summers.
Hot, hot, hot. Summers in Spain mean sweltering heat and unbearable temperatures (hovering in the vicinity of 40 to 45 degrees Celsius). Almost the entire country flocks to the coastline. Barcelona is not spared from the crowds either – its population doubles or even triples come summer and usually reach the peak in August. Restaurant and hotel prices shoot sky-high. So if you’ve got a flexible traveling schedule, try to avoid this region in summer.
People don’t necessarily speak English or even Spanish.
Many travelers make the common mistake of expecting other people to speak English when traveling. Most Spaniards learn English at a young age in school, but unfortunately many of them are too shy to use the language. Don’t forget that the official language in Barcelona is Catalan, a completely different language to Spanish. Try to pick up a few words in Catalan, and the locals would be more than happy to help you out or even have a conversation with you.