Barcelona…..even the name sounds music to my ears. I’ve been there so many times with work but especially leisure. It’s my addictive destination and my secret desire to move there for good. It’s hard to find a list of DONT’s but there still are some….minor ones in my opinion. In fact some things to avoid more.
After this introduction it is not hard to understand why this is for me a 4,5 stars destination. The half star missing is due to the increasing cost of accommodation which goes of course with the increasing demand. They are suffocated by the millions of tourist
So here are my DONT’s :
- don’t rent a car if only for Barcelone cause parking is difficult as like in all major cities. Driving is better though, as this is a city with large avenues exept the old part. But I had some parking in hotels on Avenida de les Corts Catalanas that gave me really hard time.
- don’t over-pack as the weather is fine and they are not fashionistas so you will not feel a pressure on how to dress. By the contrary I’ve seen they are still wearing old fashion shoes and suits.
- yes, the weather is fine, but still need to check it as winter can be cold and moist. I seen in one year snowing over La Rambla’s palm trees; quite interesting as I am used with snow on the fir trees.
- don’t stress if you forgot something at home, except for the papers, money, phone and travel insurance. Everything else you can purchase in supermarkets as it is affordable in Spain and for clothing just hit the shops, as Barcelona is the birthplace of most of your favorite brands. There are a lot of outlets in the city center.
- don’t book accommodation near La Rambla or in Raval, Ciutat Vella, sometimes Barceloneta, Sant Antoni quarters. It is either too loud or too un-local. El Raval is the area for immigrants so you can’t sense the true Barcelona and sometimes it feels quite uncomfortable and unsafe late at night.
- don’t book in Eixample if you’re not feeling comfortable with gay culture. This is the gay neighborhood of Barcelona and hosts a big community.
- don’t wait too much to book your room last minute as you can end up with the worst rooms in terms of value for money, on http://www.booking.com and also on http://www.airbnb.com. Sometimes I have the feeling Airbnb is more expensive that hotels. Book in advance for some great hotels.
- in general, avoid airbnb at any cost or at least look for the reviews, although in Madrid I had a surprise – reviews of 10 and the room was for a 7. And my expectations were adjusted to the situation so I did not expected a 4 stars hotel.
- if you do want to end your night early and have a drink in your room, don’t forget that it is forbidden in Spain to sell alcohol after 10 pm even in non-stop shops. That is why you shall see a lot of immigrants selling cans of local beer, Estrella (I do recommend the brand). So go to supermarkets before 10 pm. Mercadona is my favorite brand of supermarkets in Spain. The range is so local and their own brand is the best quality.
- don’t over-plan if in a city break as the city is quite big in terms of distances and cannot be seen only by foot. There are a lot of attractions, most of them from the outside, but remember this a city to come back and come back so be relaxed. On major attraction per day, including museums.
- don’t rely only on taxis as it can be expensive. Do use the public transport, especially the metro as it is really great and safe.
- don’t forget to check for concerts or events happening during your stay. I’ve seen a great Madonna concert in one summer city break.
- don’t visit museums at your first city break, except some of Gaudi’s buildings.
- if still want to visit check for the free entries. In Spain museums have weekly or daily free entries after some hours. Don’t pay for the entry in Sagrada Familia – it is much more impressive from the outside.
- don’t visit MACBA, the contemporary art museum. The building and its square are far more interesting than the collections.
- also don’t go to the Tibidado attraction park if only for the views. Montjuic’s are better.
- don’t mistake the Barcelona airports – The main airport with Reus or Girona. Just pay attention to have a good start for your trip. From the airport do take public transport as it is convenient in any terms. Share the cab if you can – don’t be embarrassed to ask other passengers of your flight. A ride was about 35 euros, but there is something about the number of luggage. Also keep in mind when departing that Barcelona airport if very busy so plan your time.
- don’t you ever eat in the touristic areas, like La Rambla. It is expensive and low quality, nothing to do with the real Catalan cuisine. For this one go out of the touristic path and try the fixed menus of the local restaurants, usually between 10-15 euros, with a special tax for terrace serving and the possibility to have half (as this menus are very consistent). Check those full of locals and especially blue collars…. as my brother always suggested. I always eat at El Berro and Aribau3, sometimes in Marina area.
- the beach in Barceloneta is deceptive, too crowded and not clean, so hit the ones further or just go out of the city. Go to Sitges.
- don’t make the huge mistake to call them Spanish. They are Catalans and they have a different language (for me sounds more like Portuguese).
- try to avoid the tourist traps – flamenco shows in particular….go to Gracia neighborhood for some local feeling.
- don’t buy the cheap souvenirs, the fridge magnets and other Gaudi like stuffs from La Rambla. Come on, we can always do better than that. Barcelona is full of hand made artists. If no idea send an actual postcard.
At the end try to make your own experiences. Go eat with the locals on the app Eatwith, have cooking classes or Spanish classes, meet the locals, take free tours by the locals, check the app Like A Lokal. Go as much as you can by foot, go to local markets as they are amazing especially the fish the oysters and the juices, go to parks and have a picnic on the beach or at the surrounding hills. Just enjoy the feeling of the city, it’s architecture and the people.