Heading to Barcelona? Check out this epic list of 35 Barcelona hacks to know before you visit.
We’ve done all of the research so you don’t need to. You’ll find tips, tricks, advice, and hard learned lessons from the time we’ve spent in this incredible city.
These Barcelona hacks are guaranteed to save you money, time, and hassle, and set you up for an amazing visit.
Barcelona Hacks for Eating
The incredible food that is on offer in the Catalan region is one of the best reasons for visiting.
These are our best Barcelona hacks for eating well and on a budget while you’re here.
1. Eat Menu del Dias at Lunch
A three course meal at lunchtime washed down with a glass (sometimes bottle) of wine or beer.
And all that for a budget price starting at around €10. What’s not to love?
Virtually every restaurant in Barcelona serves a menu del dia, although sometimes you’ll have to specifically ask about it.
Dine in style and save a bunch of cash on eating out.
While this is one of the ultimate Barcelona hacks, note that many restaurants only serve menu del dias on weekdays.
Check out these awesome restaurants in Gracia for our top recommendations on where to eat.
2. Buy Seasonal Fruit and Veg
Hungry for a healthy snack or want to save money by cooking your own food? Check out what fruit and veg is in season and eat it like it’s going out of fashion.
Barcelona has an abundance of little fruit and veg shops selling top quality ingredients.
You can tell what’s local and in season because it’s always miles cheaper than everything else.
This works no matter where you are in the world. But the fruit and veg here is so good it’s easy to go veggie even if you’re a huge carnivore!
3. Breakfast in Bakeries
Breakfast isn’t really a big thing across much of Europe. In lots of places a pastry and a strong coffee is considered enough to get the body moving first thing.
Barcelona is no different in this respect. While you can find breakfast and more recently brunch on some restaurant menus, it’s usually overpriced and underwhelming.
Instead, do as most do and grab a pastry and a “cafe solo” (espresso) or cortado (espresso with warm milk).
Most bakeries sell coffee as well as the usual bread, cakes, and pastries. Many have combo deals for one of each for just a couple of Euro.
4. Picnic on the Beach
A picnic on the beach can pass as anything from a romantic meal for two to a great day out with a group of friends.
It’s a great way to chill out and far less costly than even the most budget restaurant.
You can pick up some lovely local hams, cheeses and olives at any of the markets or supermarkets.
Snag some delicious bread from any of the awesome bakeries dotted all over the city. And don’t forget a few cold beverages for a perfect, cheap afternoon out.
5. Fill Up on Pintxos
If you’ve never heard of them, pintxos are a very typical way to eat in the Barcelona. Essentially each pintxo is a morsel of deliciousness secured to a piece of bread with a cocktail stick.
They’re usually laid out enticingly on the bar counter for punters to go up and choose their own.
Pintxos are topped with things like local sausage, cured meats and cheese, or all manner of seafood. Some are even sweet treats acting as dessert.
Even though they look small, they’re very filling, and at between €1-2 they’re a cheap way to fill up.
Head to Carrer Blai in the neighbourhood of Poble Sec for a whole street of pintxo joints.
6. Learn the Schedule
Something to know when planning your trip to Spain is that Barcelona runs on its own schedule. So if you’re used to lunch at midday and 6pm dinners then think again.
Restaurants aren’t even likely to be open at those times so you need to learn the schedule.
Lunch starts at around 1 earliest, and can go on for a few hours. Restaurants start opening their doors at around 8 in the evening and people tend to take dinner quite late.
Siesta is not a myth, it’s alive and kicking here. So often shops will open between 9 and 1, then not reopen until around 4.30, staying open until 8ish. Restaurants then work on the opposite schedule.
But these are just guidelines and each establishment is different. Don’t get frustrated by it, just learn the times and adapt.
7. Tips Aren’t Expected
Unlike many other European destinations, in Barcelona tips aren’t necessarily expected, with a caveat being it depends where you are.
If you’re on La Rambla or in a fancy expensive restaurant, then normal tipping rules of 10%+ apply. However, in most neighbourhoods you won’t see locals tipping a great deal.
That said, there’s never any harm in tipping good service and it’s much appreciated by waiting and bar staff alike.
Barcelona Hacks for Drinking
Maybe it’s a cheeky cocktail you’re craving or perhaps you simply want to stay well hydrated in the summer heat.
Whatever it is, we’ve got the Barcelona hacks on drinking for your visit.
8. Don’t Buy Water
Surely you’ve heard by now that plastic water bottles are killing the world?! Well good news peeps. In Barcelona you can totally avoid ever using them.
There are water fountains everywhere across the city and the water is absolutely safe to drink. The same goes for tap water.
It means there’s really no need to waste your hard earned cash on bottled water.
That said, some people think it tastes a bit funny while others are still paranoid about getting ill from it.
If you are one of these people (we’re not judging) we’ve got just the solution.
Invest in one of these awesome GRAYL Geopress water filter bottles. You can drink from any water source (bar the sea) and they filter out anything dangerous like bacteria, viruses, and even heavy metals.
Plus they have a carbon filter to remove any bad taste. Winning.
9. Download the Water Fountain App
There’s a fantastic resource available to ensure you’ll never be caught gasping, frantically searching for a water fountain.
Some geek has mapped out every public fountain in the city of Barcelona and put them onto a free app. Better yet, it locates where you are and shows you the closest one.
Download it before you go and save yourself a pretty penny on water. Download it here for both iOS and Android.
10. Enjoy the Squares and BYOB
Barcelona’s squares are a hive of social activity when the weather’s right and provide the perfect locations to hang out.
The best ones are found in the groovy neighbourhood of Gracia that’s full of cool bars, restaurants, and independent boutiques.
Our favourites are Plaça Virreina, Plaça Vila de Gràcia Square, and the ultimate chill out spot Plaça del Sol.
Grab yourself a beer or bottle of wine and head to a square to relax in the sun. Everyone does it and it’s perfectly legal to drink in them.
11. Drink House Wine
If the thought of house wine has just made you do a little vom in your own mouth, don’t worry. And stop looking at me like that.
Wine is produced in abundance here, and the local stuff goes for very little. This means that house wine in most establishments is actually surprisingly decent.
Red wine is often served slightly chilled making it even more forgiving. So even if it’s not the best vintage to ever pass your lips, it certainly won’t be the worst. And at a euro or two per glass, who cares.
12. Buy Wine by the Litre
Similarly, wine can be bought by the litre in Barcelona. Wine sold in these quantities where we’re from usually comes in a box or goon bag. And to be frank, tastes like ass.
However, in Barcelona there are plenty of purveyors of the good stuff who sell it straight from the barrel.
You can buy a litre PET bottle or glass flip-cap and they will fill it to the brim with vino.
It starts at just a few Euro per litre (yes you read correctly) and we’re confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality.
13. Sniff Out Happy Hours
Do you love a good cocktail? Or perhaps you want to sample favourite local tipples like Vermouth.
Whatever your poison, Barcelona has endless awesome bars to choose from.
But if you don’t want to pay through the nose, start using yours to sniff out some happy hours instead.
Happy hours can be found in many bars across Barcelona, and happily many last more than an hour.
Look out for chalk a-boards outside bars advertising their offers.
Barcelona Hacks for Transport
Getting around Barcelona can appear quite difficult at first. Should you use the metro, the busses, or just get cabs everywhere?
Here are the best Barcelona hacks to make navigating the city a breeze.
14. Buy an Hola Barcelona Travel Card
Getting around in Barcelona is really simple. There’s a great public transport network that’s quick, efficient, and covers every corner of the city.
An individual metro or bus ticket will set you back €2.20 for a single journey.
This can quickly work out quite costly if you make a few trips in a day.
An Hola Barcelona Travel Card is the solution. It entitles you to unlimited travel across the city’s metro and bus network, as well as the RENFE suburban trains network.
You can get these cards for 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours, and they’ll give you the freedom of the city.
They’re way cheaper than buying singles so it’s an absolute no brainer.
15. Get to and From the Airport on Your Hola Barcelona Travel Card
Better still it’s possible to use your Hola Barcelona Travel Card to get to BCN airport.
Forget about costly cabs or even Ubers, and don’t bother with the train for that matter.
For some reason you can’t take the airport metro on a normal ticket (go figure).
But with the Hola Card you can get both the Barcelona airport metro and trains.
16. Uber is Available in Barcelona
Plenty of cities across the world have cracked down on Uber and even banned it altogether. Barcelona is not one of them.
We certainly wouldn’t recommend using it as your go-to mode of transport as public transport or walking is so easy.
However, for late night trips or a little luxury it’s good to know it’s an option.
It’s far cheaper than the traditional yellow taxis that you flag down in the street. And there’s the added benefit of not having to carry cash.
17. Use Google for Precise Bus Time
The bus network in Barcelona is extremely efficient, clean, and relatively new. All of this makes it a great way to get about and a good alternative to the metro.
You can also forget about standing around at the bus stop wondering when one’s going to come.
You can get precise times for the exact stop you’re catching it from by simply Googling the bus stop name.
Open the result in Google maps, and click on the bus number that you need to catch. This will bring up a list of all of the times they’re expected.
You can also click through to see real time information on where the bus is and literally watch it’s journey to your stop. Nifty.
18. Walk as Much as Possible
All of these transport tips are great and bound to save you time, money, and hassle. But the ultimate of Barcelona hacks when it comes to moving around is to walk as much as possible.
Barcelona is a pretty compact city and extremely easy to navigate by foot. It’s also a wonderful way to get to know the city more intimately.
So take a comfortable pair of shoes and get your saunter on.
Barcelona Hacks for Accommodation
Accommodation can be a big cost in Barcelona, and where you stay can make or break your visit.
Here are our top Barcelona hacks on how to secure cheap accommodation in the best locations.
Our favourite way of sourcing accommodation is undoubtedly Airbnb. We love that you have the option of renting an entire place, or even better, staying in a local’s house.
Barcelona can be quite pricey when it comes to hotels so Airbnb provides a fantastic alternative.
You can stay in a more residential part of the city and get a different experience from the usual hotspots.
And if you’re in a private room in someone’s house you can hit your host up for exclusive local tips.
If you’ve been living under a rock and aren’t signed up yet, join up here immediately.
You’ll get a discount off your first booking and a revolutionary new way to find holiday accommodation. You’re welcome.
If you’re dead set on a hotel for whatever reason, Booking.com is the way to find a cheap one. It’s our go to when it comes to snagging a great deal on hotels.
21. Stay Away From Las Ramblas
Whether you’re booking through Airbnb or Booking.com, try to stay away from anywhere near La Rambla. It’s Barcelona’s most famous street and an absolute tourist trap.
While we’d recommend a stroll down La Rambla just to experience it, there are definitely better areas to stay.
If you’re eager to be located centrally, consider El Borne, Exiample, or even El Raval instead. But for a real slice of local Barcelona life we’d recommend staying in Gracia.
Its long, narrow streets are lined with trees and there are lots of cool squares to chill out in.
It neighbours the El Carmel district where the bunkers are and is totally possible to walk to them from.
It’s also where you’ll find Park Guell, is close to La Sagrada Familia, and just a short metro ride or 20-30 minute walk from the centre of town.
In our opinion it’s by far the best area to stay in Barcelona.
Bear in mind that the best budget accommodation in Barcelona gets booked up well in advance. So to avoid disappointment get your reservations made ASAP.
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Gracia:
Affordable Luxury: Hotel Barcelona 1882 is just a stone’s throw from the Sagrada Familia. And from its roof terrace you’ll get stunning views of this beautiful building. There’s also an incredible rooftop pool and bar up there for relaxing in the evenings.
The spacious rooms are soundproof and come equipped with flat screen TVs, air con, and everything else you’d expect from a 4* hotel. Rooms come with large windows meaning they’re extremely bright and sunny, with some even boasting panoramic vies of the city.
Midrange: Hotel BestPrice Gracia‘s name sums it up nicely. You won’t find a better priced, more comfortable hotel in the area, particularly not when you consider how nice it is.
Simply and tastefully decorated, rooms here come with everything you need to relax after a day of sightseeing. Air con, flat screen TVs with satellite, private bathrooms with free toiletries and hairdryers come as standard.
Cheap & Cheerful: Sant Jordi Gracia is a modern, stylish hostel with a trendy vibe. Dorms are air conditioned and everywhere is impeccably clean.
There are also lots of cool areas to hang out and meet fellow travellers. These include a rooftop terrace, the shared kitchen and a big common room.
22. Book in Shoulder Season
Probably the best of our Barcelona hacks for saving money on accommodation is to think carefully about when you visit.
Barcelona is one of the most popular cities in the world attracting well over 30 million visitors each year.
And most people come in the summer months between June and September.
This in turn pushes the prices for these months sky high on everything from accommodation to restaurants.
Instead, consider planning your trip for shoulder season. The couple of months either side of summer still boast warm weather but there are less people and lower prices.
Barcelona Hacks for Attractions
This city has untold attractions just waiting to be discovered. But some are hidden gems that aren’t well known, while others can cost an arm and a leg if you don’t have the inside scoop.
Here are our top Barcelona hacks for seeing and saving on the best attractions.
23. Visit Park Guell for Free
Designed by the godfather of Catalan architecture, Antoni Gaudi, Park Guell is rightly one of the city’s most famous draws.
As with most attractions in Barcelona now, there’s an entrance fee to visit.
However, it’s a little known fact that outside of operating hours, it’s possible to get in for free.
The opening times vary depending on season so check those here first, and simply rock up before or after.
There’s nothing dodgy, you don’t have to jump any fences or swerve security. It’s just open to the public for absolutely no charge.
And the park looks even better drenched in the light of sunset or sunrise.
Not an early riser? Definitely still visit Park Guell – it’s awesome. But book your tickets in advance.
The lines get insanely long and on the day tickets often sell out.
Save yourself the hassle and time and book a skip the line ticket ahead of time.
24. Check Out Free Museum Days
Barcelona has dozens of museums showcasing everything from classical art and history, to sports teams and modern science.
Many of these participate in free visit days meaning you can duck the entrance fee if you time it right.
Before hitting any museum, check out whether they have a free day that’s convenient for you to visit on.
The crowds may be a little larger, but you’ll save yourself a few bob.
25. Avoid Barceloneta Beach
The golden coastline that graces the city is one of the main reasons so many people are attracted to Barcelona. It’s the perfect combo of world class city and brilliant beachtime.
However, the main beach of Barceloneta gets heavily overcrowded during the summer months. There are so many people it can make it difficult to even find a spot to lay your beach towel.
But Barcelona is blessed with around 5km of sandy beaches, so there’s no need to settle for the main one.
Head just a short way along the coast either by bus, metro, or walking along the boardwalk. You’ll come to a number of less congested stretches that are far more peaceful.
Our favourite is Mar Bella, which even has its own Rambla behind it with some great restaurants and bars on offer.
26. Check Out Free Events
There are free things going on in Barcelona literally every week of the year, so it pays to plan ahead.
From music festivals and concerts, to exhibitions and giant street parties, there is always something going on.
Time Out is a great up to date resource of all the best goings on in the city. It’s updated weekly, so keep your eye out for anything free happening during your visit.
27. Hit the Magic Fountains of Montjuic
This magical water fountain show set to music has the dazzling backdrop of the stunning Palace of Montjuic. And it’s absolutely gratis.
It’s not on every night, so check the schedule before heading there. This sparkling spectacle is sure to wow you.
28. Take the Inside Escalator to the Top of La Monumental Bullring
Bullfighting was banned a long time ago in Barcelona, and the old bullring building has since been repurposed.
It’s now a shopping mall with a fantastic rooftop terrace packed with restaurants.
There’s a glass elevator up the outside that costs a Euro to catch. While it’s only a Euro, the views aren’t great and it takes about 10 seconds to reach the top.
Skip it and take the free escalator inside the building instead. You can still reach the terrace which is where the real views are, with 360 vistas of the surrounding area.
29. Check Out the Free Views
Barcelona has so many amazing viewpoints it’s unreal. From the surrounding hills and mountains to the numerous rooftop bars and restaurants, seeing Barcelona from above is a must.
While some of the views come with a price tag attached, there are plenty that are free of charge.
Our absolute favourite is the Bunkers Barcelona which provides breathtaking panoramas across the whole city.
30. Seek Out Alternative Things to Do
If it’s your first time visiting then it’s completely understandable that you’ll want to tick off all the big hitters.
The Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, La Boqueria, the list of popular attractions here goes on.
But take some time to check out some of the lesser known things to do in Barcelona as well.
From getting lost in a maze to catching a flick at an outdoor cinema, there are plenty of cool options.
31. Book All Tickets in Advance & Opt for Skip the Line
As mentioned previously, the queues for Barcelona’s major attractions get ridiculously long. You can spend hours on end waiting in line.
But there’s really no need to waste your time.
You can buy tickets online in advance for all of the top attractions, and best of all you’re able to skip the line altogether.
You’ll feel like an absolute rockstar as you bypass everyone else lining up in the beating sun.
Check out some of the most popular attractions below:
Barcelona Hacks for Staying Safe
Please don’t take this as scaremongering because Barcelona is a relatively safe city for visitors.
However, it has a definite problem with petty crime and we personally witnessed multiple bag thefts.
But don’t let that put you off. With these Barcelona hacks you’ll be able to keep both yourself and your possessions safe during your visit.
32. Don’t Leave Anything Unattended on the Beach
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your stuff is alright so long as you can see it. You’re playing a dangerous game.
As a rule of thumb, just don’t leave anything unattended on the beach, there are lots of opportunists waiting to pounce.
Some of the beach sellers aren’t just selling beers, they work in groups and have eyes everywhere. We personally saw two people get their bags snatched from their beach towels.
33. Beware on the Metro
The metro gets busy and crowded at peak times making it prime pickpocket territory.
If you’ve got a bag, wear it on your front. If you have money or valuables in your pockets, stuff your hands in there as well and keep a tight hold on them.
There are lots of reports of tourists getting caught up in a crush on the train or metro system.
It’s only afterwards they realise it was cleverly orchestrated and they’ve been stripped of their belongings. Don’t let it be you.
34. Stay Alert in Popular Areas
Sadly, pickpockets operate in all of the most touristy areas in Barcelona. So if you’re somewhere where there are lots of people, stay extra alert.
There are numerous popular distraction scams that are used over and over again.
You may be squirted with a substance and offered assistance by a “friendly” passerby who will in fact pick your pocket.
Or you could be asked for directions and kept talking while an accomplice rifles through your bag.
No matter how hard you try you’re likely to stick out as a tourist, so don’t worry too much about blending in.
Just be vigilant and aware of both your belongings and people around you.
35. Keep Your Bags Attached to You
Don’t think it’s good enough that your bag is next to you, in front of you, or under the table. If it’s not physically attached to you then it’s at risk of being swiped.
Never hang your bag over the back of a chair in a restaurant. Don’t lay it down next to you while you sit on a park bench. Keep them attached to you at all times.
Whether that means wearing it or tying it around your leg, it’s the only way to ensure it’s not going walkabouts without you.
36. Buy Insurance
If the worst does happen then the last thing you want is to be left out of pocket. Don’t take any risks.
No matter where you go it’s vital that you protect your valuables and yourself with a good insurance policy.
Our go to travel insurance provider is World Nomads. They have a no bullshit approach to policy & are perfect for adventurous travellers like us. Get a no obligation quote here:
Got any questions about these Barcelona hacks? Get at us in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.
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Travel lover, professional writer and football (soccer) obsessive, James loves nothing more than getting outside and exploring little known corners of the globe. He’s also very partial to a drop of Guinness.