All of you are in this website because you have come to study in Barcelona, but I am sure that you also want to enjoy the city, which offers infinite possibilities to spend the free time. It is almost impossible to mention every option, but I will try to give you some advices of the main activities and highlights of Barcelona that are worthy to know.
Do you want to go out at night? And meet another people in your same situation? Maybe you’d rather meet with local people? I will explain the main party areas of Barcelona focused on foreigners and local people. But first it is very important for you to know that lifestyle in Barcelona is significantly different from the rest of Europe or other places in the world. Here we “do” everything late, and nightclubs are not an exception. They open doors at midnight but people arrive in there at around 1.30 or 2 am, and the nightclubs close at around 5 am. Pubs and bars open at around 20-21 pm and close at 3 am.
The main night area for foreigners is Port Olímpic. There you can find several pubs and nightclubs by the sea, with direct sea access from the club and European trending music (house, disco, pop, etc., in English). It is a very famous area for tourists because it is by the sea, so it is expensive, and the entry tickets for some nightclubs can cost between 15 and 20 euros (including one alcoholic drink), but in most of the nightclubs the entrance is free before 1.30 am (with previous registration that can be done online). A drink can cost between 10 and 15 euros.
The main nightclubs in the area are: Catwalk, Opium, Shoko and Carpe Diem.
Local people use to go out at night in the area above Diagonal, between Aribau St. and Rambla Catalunya. There you can find several pubs and trending nightclubs among the locals. It is also an expensive area because it is full of wealthy people.
Like in the area of Paseo Marítimo, the entrance can cost between 15-20 euros with a drink, and alcoholic drinks cost around 12-15 euros. The main nightclubs in the area are: Sutton and Bling Bling, but there are also a lot of pubs where people use to start the party and the drinks are cheaper (approx. 8 euros).
On the other hand we have the area around Plaza Real (in Las Ramblas). There you can find little nightclubs and pubs for all tastes. Instead of house and dance music genres usually vary between pop, hip hop and other styles. Due to the fact that is located near Las Ramblas, there are a lot of tourists in the area, but not as much as in the area of Port Olímpic. This area is not extremely expensive and most of the nightclubs have free entrance but a mandatory drink once you are inside, which can cost between 7 and 10 euros.
The main nightclub in the area is Jamboree and there are also a few famous pubs, among them Ocaña and Sidecar.
Near the metro station Marina there is another nightlife area. It is full of little nightclubs and pubs, but the most famous place in this area is Razzmataz. It is known in Barcelona as Razz and it is a huge nightclub with different areas and rooms displaying all sorts of music. In the main room there are concerts every weekend by a great variety of musicians and genres. The price depends on the concert.
The other typical place in the area is a beer bar called “La Ovella Negra”, which keeps the essence of a typical Spanish bar with huge dimensions. It is suitable for big groups of people who want to drink beer or wine. It is very cheap, the prices vary from 3 euros a liter of beer to 5 euros one drink.
There are a lot of traditional festivities, but we are going to highlight three of them, the most important and typical in Barcelona.
Sant Joan (June 24)
The night of Sant Joan, from the 23rd to the 24th of June, is the shortest of the year and there is light until 10pm. The tradition is to make some fires and use firecrackers and fireworks anywhere. It is a night of light and sound. It is very typical to go to the beach and spend the night there, even though lately is very crowded.
La diada (September 11)
The 11st of September is the National festivity of Catalunya, in which we celebrate the defeat of Barcelona against the French troops in 1714. It is a traditional Catalan day, with some protests and ceremonies of the Catalan culture. In the past years some events united thousands of people to celebrate Catalan tradition. More than 1 million people occupy the streets dressed with the colors of the Catalan flag.
La Mercè (September 24)
The 24th of September is the traditional festivity of the city of Barcelona, known as “La Mercè” festivity. It is a great opportunity to know different Catalan traditions, such as the “castellers”, “gegants”, “correfocs”, “sardanas”, “ball de bastons”, among other performances all over the city. There are also free concerts, 10km marathon and infinite activities during three days in different places of Barcelona.
Barcelona has something special, no matter what are you studying or in which course you are. Barcelona is a complete city that can satisfy people with different interests and hobbies. Actually, Barcelona beat its record with 8,3 million of tourists in hotels in 2015 and it is consolidated in the European Top 5 of most visited cities. Obviously it has something. More than something. I’ll explain here what is basic for me if you study in Barcelona for more than three months.
It is not very original that I mention the buildings by Gaudí, but it is mandatory. Barcelona would not be the same without this great artist. The Sagrada Familia, Parque Güell, La Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, Palau Güell and lots of other buildings closed for tourists around the city. My tip is to get the ticket online, because the queues are too long (in high season even up to 2 hours to wait), but with an online ticket there is no need to queue.
Montjuic Magic Fountain
One of my favourite activities of Barcelona is visiting the Montjuic Magical fountains. Located in a stunning and strategical spot, in the end of the Avenue Maria Cristina in Plaza España, the magical fountain is a light and sound spectacle for free that makes you enjoy even more the beauty of the already wonderful area. If you are lucky, sometimes some people play the Spanish guitar in the stairs of the MNAC.
Besides, in the same area you can find “Las Arenas” Mall, in the former bull ring, which keeps the beautiful facade and also offers a 360º viewpoint in the rooftop, which can be accessed from the interior by stairs. There is also a lift that costs 3 euros per person and it is not worth it.
My recommendation is to go to Plaza España and go to the rooftop of “Las Arenas” and take pictures before the nightfall there and afterwards climb to the Mnac and see the sunset enjoying the magical fountains. You can see the timetables in the following link.
Sant Pau Hospital
Probably is the most beautiful hospital in the world, and I am not exaggerating. Specially if you like Modernism architecture, the whole complex is spectacular. It has been refurbished and the views are stunning towards the sea. Just 5 minutes walking from the Sagrada Familia, this hospital, the first in the city, is still working (in a different area of the one allowed for visitors). It is possible to visit it since 2015. I recommend the guided tour because they explain really interesting things about the design and structure. It is worth it.
Probably the most crowded street of tourists that just arrive in Barcelona, La Rambla is a walking street of no more than one km that connects the Plaza Catalunya (city center) with the old harbor (Colom). The highlights are “La Boquería” market and “Plaza Real”. WARNING: it is the favorite place for thieves. And be aware of the high prices in this area: a coffee can cost up to 8 euros.
Thanks to the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, nowadays the city disposes of beach! And that is not very common in a European big city. The sea and the beach give a special atmosphere to the city and it is an extra incomparable to other European cities. Besides, the city hall has been working in improving the area and now we have a stunning shore and harbor, specially with Barceloneta and Hotel Wela as the skyline. It is beautiful to walk or ride a bike. RECOMMENDATION: if you like to do some sports, it is amazing to run along the Paseo Marítimo.
Parc de la Ciutadella and Arc de Triomf
The Ciutadella Park is the “green lung” of the city. It is the biggest and perfect place to do some picnics, walk, run or enjoy the street art. Near the park, and connected directly with the Lluis Companys avenue, we find one of the most iconic monuments of the city: Arc de Triomf. This is a Roman Arch very different to the others in Europe (as the one in Paris or Madrid), because, instead of being stone-shaped, it is made with red bricks, fact that gives it a totally different appearance.
Gothic / Born Neighborhood
This is the most ancient area of Barcelona. In fact, it is the origin of the city, with more than 1.000 years of history behind its walls. It has a particular structure and architecture, with very narrow streets and full of hideouts to get lost. RECOMMENDATION: The best way to know the old town is doing a free tour. These tours, very common in most European cities, are 3-4 hours guided tours by foot that provide deep and interesting information. Besides, the prices is not set. After the tour you can give the guide whatever you consider appropriate, but around 5 euros is a fair price. I am from Barcelona, I did it, and I loved it.
Montjuic is a mountain, at first in the outskirts of Barcelona, with the growing of the city is placed now within its ranges. It improved thanks to the 1992 Olympic Games and nowadays is a huge park full of museums and other attractions, but I want to highlight two of them: “Castillo de Montjuic” (Montjuic Castle) and “Pueblo Español” (Spanish Town). The castle was the fortress that protected the city, with stunning seaviews and now has become a great viewpoint. RECOMMENDATION: take the cablecar, which is quite expensive, but beautiful. The “Pueblo Español”, built much more late, is a complex that imitates a showroom of other typical places of Spain. We can find there the “Giralda” of Sevilla, the “Plaza Mayor” of Madrid or the towers of Segovia. My tip would be trying not to pay for the entrance. There are a lot of events throughout the year that allow you to enter the “Pueblo Español” for free, so it is not worth it to pay the ticket.
Barcelona can’t grow anymore: it has on one side the side, on the other the mountain (where it is forbidden to build) and on the other two sides there are two cities. This mountain we are talking about is Collserola, where you can see the Tibidabo. That is an old amusement park famous for its roller-coaster and specially for its views. You can access via a cable-car, directly to the entrance where you can find a cozy church. It is worth it to be there a whole morning to enjoy the panoramic views to Barcelona.
Apart from what I said before, which is the most typical places or attractions to see in Barcelona, I recommend you to walk around the city. It is not such a big city and it is full of beautiful and interesting spots, such as churches, buildings, sculptures, etc.
And of course there is more apart from the city. Less than an hour away from Barcelona, there are some places that is really worth it to visit.
It is a very particular mountain for its shape, at around 45 minutes from the city. It has inside a beautiful monastery, spectacular for its location. You can access by train from Plaza España or by bus from Plaza Catalunya.
Little fishing and cozy town, full of shops and restaurants with a church that is the highlight of the beautiful white sand beach. You can access by Renfe train from Sants station, just 35 minutes way. It is famous for its Carnival and for its Cinema Festival.
It is a Roman city one hour away by train (from Sants station). Girona is amazing! It is a small, fortified city that takes you to another century. In spring there is a famous festival in which the city is covered by flowers (Girona, Temps de Flors, which means Girona, Time of Flowers). It is simply stunning.
Costa Brava (Tossa de Mar, Cadaqués)
The Costa Brava is the most far away spot from Barcelona, but it is essential in summer. All of that coast is full of small villages with white houses, with lots of charming. The most beautiful ones are Tossa de Mar, with its amazing castle just by the beach, and Cadaqués, extremely cozy and beautiful, with a Museum-House where Salvador Dalí lived.