Barcelona is no ordinary member of Spain’s family. Spain can’t do without Barcelona, and that particular atmosphere and identity is most pronounced against the background of other Spanish cities.
Free and rebellious, Barcelona is independent and proud if its authenticity. Culture, language, politics, economics, sports, architecture: there’s not a single area it hasn’t excelled in. It will show you who the sole master in this kingdom is; Catalonia. But don’t worry, you won’t be hanged, drawn and quartered for speaking Castilian and not Catalan!
A vibrant city, with an authentic story, one of its kind, and open to every visitor, Barcelona will fascinate you with its dynamism and Mediterranean charm. Be ready for memorable nights with litres of chupitos (spanish shots) and lovely days, with kilometers covered whilst touring the city.
To get the most out of your stay in Barcelona and its «crazy life» («la vida loca barcelonesa»), you just need to follow our tips!
Which season to choose and which to avoid?
Photo credits to Fraser Mummery via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
To avoid crowds at the city’s museums, prefer January and February - these months are the least busy.
High season lasts from April to the end of October. May, July, August and October are the busiest months. Give preference to coming in April or June for the best crowds/weather ratio.
The worst month to discover Barcelona is August: not only does it have the highest number of visitors, but that’s also the month when most locals take their summer holidays. It can also be unbearably hot for spending long hours outside.
The best way to visit Barcelona would be to come in March or November - you can get cheaper rates, discover the main touristic sites without crowds, and the weather is quite pleasant.
Avoid cultural visits on Mondays, as most sites are closed, but those that remain open are literally stormed by crowds of tourists.
3,2 mln visitors in 2013
Photo credits to John Seb Barber via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
We advise you to avoid the average wait of about 1-1,5 hours and to buy your ticket online. The number of people that can visit the church at the same time is limited, so it makes sense to book your place in advance. During peak periods (high season weekends, bank holidays, etc.) there’s a possibility that after standing 2 hours in the queue for the ticket office you’ll get a ticket with the entrance time 3 hours later. Thus your plans for the day may be ruined and you’ll be stuck for half the day near Sagrada Familia.
While booking the ticket online you’ll see if there are any tickets left for the different time slots. Choose the one with the biggest number left (you won’t be able to see it if it has more than 10 tickets left) to have more elbow space inside.
Tip: By the way, most people tend to book the visit for a “round” time: 10:00, 10:30, 11:00… If you book for a previous or the following slot - there’s a good possibility that there will be less people. That’s how it works: with half the number of tickets sold for 10:15 compared to 10:00 you’ll experience less waiting to enter and feel more comfortable inside.
Booking tickets on the official website: the number refers to tickets left for sale.
If you don’t want to book tickets online or you’re not sure about the date or time you want to visit Sagrada Familia - you have two options: in the evening (after 17:00) the wait will be shorter but there’s a risk that all the tickets for the day are already sold out. This risk is high during high season, but if you’re coming from November till March - that’s the best way to save time, and there’s usually no waiting line at this hour. If you don’t want to take risks, or you’re visiting Barcelona during the busiest months - try to arrive about 20 minutes before opening time.
Photo credits to Weldon Kennedy via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Be there, either very early, or an hour before closing time. Actually, we recommend doing this place first-thing in the morning: that’s when the crowds are the smallest. Plus, the museum is not that easy to find, and it starts getting packed slightly later than any other touristic places in the city.
The biggest crowds gather during weekends, especially on Sundays: the entrance is free after 15:00. The first Sunday of each month you can visit the museum for free the whole day: imagine the queues! It’s THE day to avoid.
During high season queues to the Picasso Museum can easily take 1,5 hours of your time, sometimes even more. To be sure to enter without waiting, we advise you to book your ticket online for the morning slot. Remember that the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be very busy. Prefer visiting on a Wednesday or Thursday, those are the calmest days!
Tip 1: On a sunny day the queues are generally smaller. Rainy days bring almost twice as many visitors!
Tip 2: Queues are the longest between 11:00 and 15:00. If you can’t come early in the morning - give preference to late afternoons in order to avoid long queues.
9 mln visitors in 2013
Photo credits to Angela Llop via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Since 2013, you can no longer access all parts of the Park for free. You will have to spend between 7 and 8 euros to access the monumental zone of the Park: this is where you’ll be able to see Gaudi’s finest works.
The flow of visitors is limited to 400 tourists every 30 minutes. The queue onsite is often very long, especially on a sunny day. You can avoid the line by booking your tickets in advance on the park’s official website or inside one of the two metro stations located near the Park (Lesseps and Vallcarca - L3).
Tip: online tickets are 1 euro cheaper than on site!
In order to smooth visitors’ flow, the park’s website gives you an overview of the number of remaining tickets for each time slot in real time. It’s a good indication of the crowd you can expect during your visit. If you’re free to visit the park anytime, give priority to green and orange time slots, and avoid red ones at all costs! As is often the case, the opening time is the least crowded: almost no waiting time.
Online booking via the Park’s official website.
Free entrance in the mornings and late afternoons.
There is enough room for all visitors, you won’t suffer from the crowds here.
0,8 mln in 2013
The queues here may easily take up to an hour. But here’s how to bypass them:
There are actually two queues: the first one is to buy the ticket, the second one is to enter. The first one can easily be avoided if you book your ticket online. The second queue is small or inexistent during low season. However, if you arrive in the summer or during Easter week, you may find it worthwhile to add a € 5 comission to the admission price when booking online, in order to obtain a “Fastpass” option, which will allow you to skip the entrance line.
Otherwise, prefer visiting early in the morning (coming at the opening will make you feel as if you had the whole place to yourself) or at sunset (when you’ll have great views and less crowds).
0,9 mln in 2013
Avoid visiting on Mondays. Give preference to early mornings (09-10 am is the best time) to wait as little as possible, or come after 4 pm for a less crowded and more comfortable experience. Online tickets are available on the official website. Special evening tours is another option to avoid crowds: though the admission fees are higher, you’ll get a more unique experience with fewer people around.
Zero waiting needed for strolling around the city, discovering some of Barcelona’s very best:
The places with big crowds, especially those where Spaniards are also concerned, tend to be less busy over lunch time. The hour of power is 2-2:30 pm. Have lunch a bit earlier or later to take advantage of this small time slot of a sudden gulp of air and elbow room.
Barcelona Card combines free public transport card, free entrance to some museums (queue-free entrance to a couple of them) and discounts for other touristic sites, walking tours, bars and activities.
Check the prices (Adult Barcelona Pass for 3 days costs €45,00) and consider the options and whether the card will pay off. It doesn’t include free entrance to major sites and monuments (like Sagrada Familia, Picasso Museum, Casa Batlló, etc.) but offers free admissions to the Chocolate Museum, Museum of Catalan Modernism, Egyptian Museum and so on. If it’s not your first time in Barcelona or you’re staying quite a while - this Pass could be a good option to discover the lesser-known parts of the city. More information about Barcelona Card is available here.
We’re waiting for your postcards and bon viatge! (have a great trip!)