Barcelona is beautiful, beaming, bright and it’s one of the best cities for any traveller. But unless you’ve been there often, going about could also prove to be not-so-easy. So how do you Solo Travel in Barcelona? For those who would want to experience the beauty, and charm of this Mediterranean city and immerse in all its culture and tradition, here’s one for you.
While there are restrictions on travel, it is not a bad idea to plan now what would be best for a solo travel in Barcelona. Preparation is key to making a solo trip convenient and hassle-free. We hope that this guide to a solo travel in Barcelona would somehow be useful to you.
Facts About Barcelona
Capital of Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain and its 4 provinces are Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Barcelona is its capital and largest city, also the second-most populated municipality in Spain.
Home to Europe’s largest Stadium
FC Barcelona club’s home stadium, Camp Nou, has a capacity of 99,354 people and has a surface area of 55,000 square meters.
Beaches in Barcelona were made for the 1992 Olympics – yes, they were artificial but Barcelona never fails to land the list of cities with beautiful beaches.
Only City to Receive a Royal Gold Medal for Architecture
The Royal Institute of British Architects awards a person or a group of people who has had a significant influence on the advancement of architecture. Barcelona is the sole beneficiary of this award as a city.
Owns the busiest cruise port in Europe
The port of Barcelona has seven cruise terminals that welcome more than a million visitors each year.
Has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has listed 9 World Heritage sites in Barcelona, 7 of which are works of the city’s famous son, Antoni Gaudi. They are as follows.
- Park Guell (Parque Güell)
- Güell Palace (Palau Guell)
- Casa Vicens
- Basilica of the Holy Family (Basilica de la Sagrada Familia)
- Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
- Casa Batllo
- Crypt of the Church at the Colonia Guell
- Palace of Catalan Music (Palau de La Musica Catalana)
- Hospital de Sant Pau
Official Languages: Catalan and Spanish
Though both Romance languages, they have grammar similarities but are very different from each other. A person who speaks Catalan can speak Spanish fluently, but a person who speaks Spanish may not understand spoken Catalan at all. Catalan is spoken in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands. Outside Spain, it is the official language of Andorra. Catalan is also spoken in some parts of France and Italy.
Spanish, on the other hand, is spoken in all of Spain. Now, when in Barcelona, you may hear both being spoken by locals alternatively, depending on who they’re talking to. Most people in Barcelona will probably correspond to you in Spanish if they know you are a tourist.
Where to Book Your Trip
Booking a trip to Barcelona, like any other trip to other cities can easily be done online by yourself, or you can do so via a travel agency and choose from their vacation packages. If you decide to do it by yourself, check Barcelona vacations with Voyage Prive and their discount offers – ones including both accommodation and flight as a bundle.
Consider what is included in the package before you book. Aside from the accommodation and flight costs, check if the following would be included:
a. Transfer from the airport to your hotel (to lessen the hassle of carrying your luggage from train to bus or so)
b. Baggage handling (with regards to paying for more space)
c. Meals (it would be nice if breakfast is included in the package)
d. Hotel amenities (some hotels specify what’s included in their services)
d. Insurance (it is always a wise option to get a travel insurance)
Transportation and Getting Around
Barcelona has eight metro lines supplemented by the FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya). The FGC is the railway company that operates in Catalonia. Most lines are conventional adhesion railways, but the FGC also operates two rack railways and four funicular railways. These are the fastest ways to go about on your solo travel in Barcelona when thinking less of other factors.
Buses, Hop-on Hop-off and Trams
If you don’t like travelling underground, buses and trams are your go-to. Barcelona buses cover around 100 routes, passing by all districts and important tourist spots.
If you are running out of time to research where best to go, the hop-on hop-off buses are your best options. I mean, really, you simply get on and see what needs to be seen, then board again and go to the next spot, it’s so convenient.
Trams are also one way to go about Barcelona. Although there are only 2 lines operating around, they will take you to Barcelona’s major industrial areas, shopping centres and residential places.
Rent a Car
If you are not comfortable to be around a crowd, and you can navigate every busy street with ease, you don’t mind paying for parking, then by all means rent a car on your solo travel in Barcelona.
Taxi, Cabify, and Co.
Choosing these services may be on the expensive end of budgeting, but it’s convenient – you go from point A to point B, pay your dues, and no thinking of where to park or if your car is gonna disappear while you’re gone.
Whichever way you choose to travel around in Barcelona, make sure to buy your tickets well ahead. Avoid queuing around ticket counters or machines for your own safety and also to save time.
Things to See and Do on Your Solo Travel in Barcelona
Barcelona is a small city compared to many others frequented by tourists. It is thus easy to see a lot of things and enjoy many activities in a short period of time. Aside from the 9 UNESCO Heritage sites listed above, here are other key places to visit (we still included where the Heritage sites are).
Old Barcelona – “Ciutat Vella”
Barcelona’s Old Town, is where the political and geographic centre of the city is located. The Ciutat Vella (Catalan for “Old City”) is composed of 4 districts and you can pretty much explore all of the famous spots in each of them.
Barri Gòtic – the Gothic district
The Barri Gotic offers a lot of charm and history. Alleyways where people, bikes, and smaller vehicles can only pass through paints this area. The roman settlement Barcino, medieval landmarks, and the cathedral of Barcelona can be found at Barri Gotic.
La Raval – Old Town District of the Immigrants
The Raval region holds the biggest immigrant community in Barcelona. The famous market La Boqueria is at the side of La Raval. This is also where the famous big cat statue (El gat del Raval) by Fernando Botero can be found. For art enthusiasts, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), the opera house Gran Teatre del Liceu, Palau Güell, and the Museu Marítim are must-visits.
– is the tree-lined pedestrian street between the gothic district and the la Raval, it stretches for 1.2 kilometres – and has so many things for you to take photos of, stuff to see, stores to buy from, places to eat at.
Sant Pere, Santa Catarina i la Ribera (El Born)
This is the area that was created from the former neighborhoods of Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and la Ribera. Parc de la Ciutadella and Zoo Barcelona can be found here, it’s a big park to enjoy and take your time to introduce yourself to the pretty zoo animals. Explore Picasso’s Museum, Palau de la Musica Catalana, the Santa Maria del Mar, the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM), and the Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum) while you’re here.
Barceloneta – Between Port Vell and Beach
Barceloneta is the district between harbour and beach. It is the triangle between Port Vell and the Platja de Barceloneta. This district looks fairly new, as the beach mentioned above were made for the 1992 Olympics. There’s a lot of restaurants along the playas (beaches).
The Old Port despite being called “old” has a lot of new things for you to enjoy. You can shop and dine at the Maremagnum, a mall by the harbour, learn more about Catalonia at the Museu d’Historia de Catalunya (Museum of the History of Catalonia).
Get a view of Barcelona from above by riding the cable cars, Teleferico del Puerto. It may take some time as people queue but the wait is worth what Barcelona has to show. Go when the sun is almost set for a more spectacular view of the golden hour in Barcelona.
Also, enjoy the fruits of the sea not just by eating them but watching them at the L’Aquarium de Barcelona.
Practice your un poco Spanish with the locals
Going around Barcelona is the best chance for you to practice your Spanish, you’d be surprised at how the locals light up to here tourists speaking Spanish – and if you can go further, learn a little Catalan as well. Here’s some words in Spanish and Catalan you can use, do notice the differences.
Barcelona offers a lot of cooking classes, and if you would try a course, definitely get a Paella one. As a young kid, Paella and its cousin, the Arroz alla Valenciana is a staple on our table during special occasions. After settling in Europe, I haven’t cooked it and this was a really nice (and yummy) experience. La Foodieteca offers some of the best courses and what we would recommend you too. The gastronomic space is near the Cathedral and a course may take 3 hours, so set aside time for it.
Beach: Swim or play Volleyball
Aside from swimming, one can play volleyball along the shores of Barcelona. For the more adventurous souls, choose between parasailing, kayaking or paddle surfing. You can also go sailboating and speedboating – then eat all the food Barcelona has to offer to regain strength. Our next topic tackles exactly those.
What and Where to Eat
Huevos Rotos, Pinchos, Grilled Everything
Where: La Boqueria Market
Huevos Rotos mean broken eggs took me by hello! Being on a lowcarb diet, egg is a staple and seeing that many restaurants in Barcelona serves them with ham, bacon, chorizo, and sausages, I’m sold. Pinchos or Pintxos are small snacks of bread pieces with different toppings on them and hold down with skewers (or toothpicks). Pincho means thorn, and the use of skewers gave the snack such name.
Where: La Peninsular
Being a city by the sea, Barcelona boasts fresh seafood – so make sure to binge on every kind of sea fruit you can find. La Peninsular has a lot of seafood dishes you can try.
Where: Quimet & Quimet
No trip to Barcelona is complete without consuming Tapas on a daily basis. For a low carb practitioner (me!), Barcelona is heaven. huevos rotos in the morning, tapas for lunch, and seafood in the evening, what’s not to love? Be sure to have some of Quimet & Quimet’s that has been around since World War I. The bar may be small so you can just take your food out with you.
Embotit is a type of cured, dry sausage prolific in Spanish and Portuguese cuisines. The best to get embotits would be at the meatlovers’ paradise LomoAlto. The restaurant is listed in the 2020 Michelin Guide, so it won’t be a surprise that you would pick a lot more than just embotits from their menu.
Where: Restaurante Martínez
Like tapas, Barcelona’s food scene won’t be complete without Paella. And as mentioned above, taking a cooking class for it would be a lovely experience. To get a perfect taste of Paella with a great view, reserve a seat at Restaurante Martinez just before the sun sets.
Where: Catalunya Restaurant
Arròs negre is sometimes also called paella negra for being cooked the same way as paella but with squid or cuttlefish ink. To get a taste of the best Arròs negre, visit Catalunya Restaurant and enjoy the best of Spanish plates.
Where: Bar La Plata
What’s so special about anchovies? If you have anchovies at Bar La Plata, and try their very few menu you’d be in for an awesome treat. It’s a local favorite so expect it to be full, but you would love the experience this half-a-century bar has.
Churros con Chocolate and other desserts
Where: Granja Dulcinea
If there’s one sweet treat you must have in Barcelona, let it be Churros con chocolate. Try having churros for breakfast at Granja Dulcinea along with your coffee, this would give you enough energy to walk for the day.
Other desserts and sweet courses you can try in Barcelona are crema catalana, crème caramel, turrón, and polvorón – the last three are very similar to what I often have as a kid back home.
The Catalan capital has been run on electric power, bio-diesel and ethanol – it’s aimed to be the greenest city in Europe and it’s working. While there make sure to throw garbages properly. Help Barcelona with its recycling initiative, try putting your trash in color-coded bins you can find everywhere throughout the city.
Also, walking and biking around has lessen the city’s carbon footprint, and it would be a good initiative to do this too while you’re around.
Budget and Money Saving Tips
1. Visit museums on Sundays from 3-8pm – there are free awesome ones.
2. Connect to free wi-fi.
3. Look for discount tickets online- for trains and combi-transportation, for museums, and shows.
4. Take free tours – to also save you time finding where the popular spots are.
5. Use a Transferwise borderless account to save on fees and exchange rate charges.
Where To Stay
Depending on your budget and preference, there’s a perfect place for you to stay at in Barcelona’s 4 districts. The key to booking the best hotel or apartment is search early, and reserve early, the best ones with best prices gets sold out first! Here are some we recommend:
Feelathome Poblenou Beach Apartments
Barcelona Apartment Milà
Hotel SB Diagonal Zero Barcelona
How to Stay Safe on a Solo Travel in Barcelona
The only downside to Barcelona is its being named the Pickpocket capital of the World. Sure you can report to the police (here’s Police phone numbers: 112 or 092), but it’s unlikely you will get your stuff back, so prevention is key. To avoid losing your valuable stuff, here are some tips we personally do.
Measures to Take
1. Don’t Show-off
Be plain Jane while walking around. It’s alright to be fashionable but leave your valuables (don’t even take any when you fly out).
2. Use anti-thief bags
Anti-thief bags are bags with zippers that are well-hidden. Most of those in the market are backpacks but using such will easily identify you as a tourist, it’s better to use a messenger bag.
3.Take Extra care when at Train Stations and Famous Spots
Pickpocketers gather where’s there crowd, so be extra alert about your belongings when there are a lot of people around.
1. Pigeon Poo
Because a lot of birds reside in Barcelona, pickpockets took the opportunity to pretend that something stained your clothing, at times they throw sticky stuff at you and somebody else would come along to help wipe it off. Other versions say they would try to lead you some place where there’s water to clean the stain off, and that’s were you get mugged.
Don’t easily believe people being helpful.
2. Tourist and city map
Pickpockets would pretend to be tourists, even holding out their maps to ask you. The map could distract you at some point and they could have an accomplice who would empty your bag as you help the other person. They would also use the map to cover your bag and their hand while taking out valuable things.
3. Fake Beggar
This scam is common in most cities with a variation in methods. Some beggars hold out a sob story and looks all poorly. Others would come to you while out eating a la carte and tells a story of how they were tourists and got robbed in Barcelona. Still others would just take money off your wallet as you take some coins out.
Don’t be too friendly. Use your instincts when helping out.
This is another popular scam in many cities. An elderly lady who appears to be selling flowers would give you a single one from what she’s carrying. If you touch it she will ask you to pay for it. Others would even try to grab your wrist and pretend to read your palm but they’re actually just taking your bracelet or wrist watch off.
Pay no attention if you see a flower lady approaching.
5. Cover up
These scams happen when you’re out eating and you have your phone on the table for example, or your bag on a chair. A person with a newspaper would come near and pretend to ask a question, he or she will cover your phone with the newspaper and take it along under the paper when he or she leaves.
Always put valuable stuff tucked safely.
Packing List and Essentials
Packing for your solo travel in Barcelona is pretty much the same for any other city except for the beach essentials.
Clothing (for women)
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- a swimsuit
- leggings, stretchable pants
- 1 sarong/beach-appropriate skirt or dress
- 2 long-sleeve shirts/ polo
- 2-3 shirts
- 1 light jacket or rain jacket
- comfortable walking shoes, flipflops
Toiletries and personal care stuff
- hairbrush and your favorite shampoo (take notice of the size allowed for travel)
- your favorite toothpaste
- Feminine hygiene products (what you have been using)
- deodorant, moisturiser, lotion, sunscreen
Other (tech and safety items)
- Phone, charger, power bank
- Protective mask
- First aid kit
There we go, Barcelona is a beautiful city to visit whether alone or with a special someone, and the whole family. There’s just so much to see and do, and we hope this guide will help make your solo travel in Barcelona a memorable one.