1. Watch out for pick-pockets! Within my first 48 hours in Barcelona I met two people who had their phones stolen and another woman who said she caught someone trying to open her bag. If you’d like more advice on how to avoid pickpockets, my post HERE has lots of specific tips.
2. Try to buy your tickets for the Sagrada Familia (a must-see) ahead of time to avoid the super long line. If you have a smart phone you don’t even need to print your ticket out ahead of time. There’s no wifi near the Sagrada Familia, so don’t count on buying your ticket online when you get there (likewise if you buy your ticket make sure you download the pdf they will email you while you still have a connection to wifi).
3. Be aware that Barcelona is a huge city, and so you’ll probably need to take the subway to get some places (although I would recommend taking a few very scenic long walks). Fortunately, the subway system is very straightforward (just be sure to re-read tip #1).
4. Although most locals will understand that you’re a tourist, it’s polite to refer to the language you probably know as Spanish as “castillano” or “Castilian.” Some locals are of the opinion that since both Castilian Spanish and Catalan are languages of Spain, both can be considered “Spanish” or “español.” Yes, hundreds millions of people in Latin America speak Castilian Spanish, while basically nobody outside of Cataluña speaks Catalan, but you don’t want to get into that.
5. Both men and women in Barcelona dress really well (but comfortably) and so if it matters to you, you might want to wear something you especially like so you don’t feel super shabby in comparison (although you’re awesome no matter what you wear).
6. Be aware that many stores and attractions are closed on Sundays. It’s best to check online before you make Sunday plans.
7. If you want to be able to ask for directions and order a beer like a local in Barcelona, it’s best to learn a bit of Castillian Spanish rather than Catalan. All the Spanish and Latin American tourists as well as all of the locals speak Castilian Spanish, while only the locals speak Catalan. However, if all you know is “hola,” you’re probably not doomed, as plenty of people know at least some English.
8. Be sure to ask for student discounts, as often times they’re not displayed and they’re only available if you ask.
9. Go to La Pedrera, but spend 99% of your time on the roof. The rest of the building is fine, but the roof is magical.