The Barcelona Basics: the most helpful information on the city
Find out the info you need on: opening times for shops, how to post letters, where to surf the internet, how to get to the best beaches, where to catch buses and trains. We also have links to information about purchasing a Spanish sim-card, and some of the best telephone companies to use.
Note that this City Guide is a stepping stone to the treasure chest of information the Connect website holds on Barcelona and the surrounding region, so keep on exploring!
Please be reminded that all city information displayed is personal opinion. Should you have any queries or wish to bring your concerns to our attention please contact us using our contact form.
The Catalans might have some differences with the rest of Spain, but there is one Spanish tradition that many don’t want to give up: The Siesta.
Traditional shops are open from 9:00 or 10:00-14:00, and then reopen from 16:30-20:30 or 21:30.
Many shops in the centre of town and shopping centres are open from 8:30 or 9:00-20:30 or 21:30.
Most shops are open Monday to Saturday, however in July and August many close on Saturday afternoon. Sunday is notoriously quiet, as the town shuts shop religiously, although this is a common evening for dining out.
The main post office (Correos) is located at the end of Via Laitana. Impossible to miss, it is a stunning, classical building on “Plaça Antonio López” that looks towards the iconic Cap de Barcelona: a large surrealist sculpture created by American Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Services include: information services, stamps, for sending and receive letters, packages, telegrams, etc. If you are out to send a simple letter or post card you can purchase stamps in the Tobacco shops about town, and then pop it in one of the yellow post boxes.
Once in town you might need to exchange money. The Euro (€) is the currency, replacing the Paseta in 2002.
Banks are open from Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 14:00.
There are many major banks in Barcelona, and the exchange rates differ slightly between each one. It’s best to find a bank or change house located further away from the major monuments or places of interest.
Automatic cash machines are plentiful, and you will be charged a commission at the time of the transaction.
Running up a massive phone bill on international roaming is a real possibility in Barcelona, where you will find many uses for a Smartphone, such as checking metro lines and maps, and meeting up at that impossible to find cocktail lounge in the middle of the gothic town labyrinth!
The most cost-effective way to get connected is by purchasing a Spanish sim card. Visit a local phone store, the largest are: Vodafone, Orange, and Movistar – these have the best coverage throughout Spain. A cheaper option is the company Yoigo, which has a growing number of stores in Barcelona.
IMPORTANT: your phone needs to be an unlocked GMS “world” phone for you to use a Spanish sim. Older, basic phones are not normally an issue, but Smartphones can be troublesome; for example some iPhones need to be “unlocked” so they can work on an overseas network.
It’s recommended you check with a mobile phone store in your home country, and ask if your phone is an unlocked GMS “world” phone!
You normally pay around €20-25 to get set up with a sim card in Spain, this includes credit for texting and calling and 3G internet connection. This helpful article has some specific information about tariffs and fees in Spain.
Other companies like British O2, or Vodafone can offer competitive international roaming rates, but always check before you travel.
SURF THE INTERNET
Barcelona is a wired city, with public access WiFi (look for a blue “W” sign) throughout the city; such as in parks, beaches, and plazas. Many hostels and hotels, and chain restaurants have free internet access, and there are also many internet cafes around town.
Barcelona’s beaches are easy to reach, just follow this link! You can also find out about beaches outside Barcelona, check out these Connect articles that canvas the coastlines both to the north and south of the city: the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada.
All the information you need on Barcelona’s metro service can be found at our section of Barcelona transportation or in Barcelona Connect magazine that always includes a Metro Map.
CATCHING TRAINS AND BUSES
There are three main Barcelona airport transportation options: train, bus, taxi or rent a car. All the useful info on Barcelona’s El Prat airport can be found in our sub section: Arriving in Barcelona airport.
Aside from the airport, the Spanish train system is notoriously difficult to navigate at first glance because in Barcelona there are three different train companies: the Metro, the Catalonia train service, and the national train service RENFE.
To better understand how they work, visit our Barcelona Trains subsection
BUS AND TRAMS
Catching a long distance bus in Barcelona is easy: the main bus station (Estacio del Nord) is located near the grandiose Triumph Arch (metro stop: Arc de Triomf) at the top of Passeig de Lluís Companys, and at the bottom of Passeig de Sant Joan. Here there are several companies offering different destinations – the self-service machines are helpful and easy to use, with an English option.
MAIN CITY SUBURBS
Check out our Barcelona Districts section for a full summary of the city distinct and diverse barrios!