Amid the holiday excitement, it’s easy to forget about arming yourself with a few key Barcelona travel tips. The good news: Spain’s a well-developed country. Tap water is safe to drink and there’s not usually any need for vaccinations. However, it’s advisable to check you’re up to date with jabs and always get travel insurance.
An extra piece of advice: keep your receipts. As a non-EU citizen, you’re eligible to claim VAT back on goods, providing the outlet offers this service. Check at time of purchase and hold onto your receipts. You’ll be able to put in a VAT claim at a designated airport kiosk before your return flight.
Australian passport holders don’t need to worry about arranging Spain visas for holidays that are 90 days or less. Spain is part of the Schengen Convention – a collection of European countries that allow Australians to enter without a visa for tourism purposes. Make sure you get the correct entry stamp in your passport on arrival. Failure to do so could lead to difficulties when it’s time to go home.
The Spanish currency is the euro (€). Change Australian dollars at a currency exchange outlet like Travel Money Oz before you travel, or once you arrive in Spain. Look for Bureau de Change kiosks. You’ll find some at the airport, but it’s worth shopping around to get a better rate. The city has many ATMs, and shops, restaurants and hotels widely accept card. Just check with your bank about any overseas charges beforehand. For more on currency, visit the Europe currency page.
Eat like a local and indulge in Barcelona food specialties. Pintxos and tapas – small plates of food, often served on bread in the case of pintxos – are extremely popular. Plates vary from small salads to meat, cheese and seafood dishes. Paella and cannelloni are also common in the region. Expect plenty of other European influences too – Italian, French and fusion cuisine are commonplace.
The wages in Spain are generally pretty good, so tipping in Barcelona is reserved for great service. If you’ve had an especially excellent dining experience, or been on a brilliant tour where the guide really made it special, you may wish to show your appreciation by leaving a tip. Between five and 10 per cent of the bill is acceptable.
Pack an adapter, because while the voltage in Spain and Australia are the same (230V) the shape of the electrical plugs are not. Australian plugs have two or three flat pins. In Spain, the plugs and sockets have two round pins, the generic European plug. Pick up a plug adapter at a travel shop or supermarket, or even at the airport.
There are two official languages in Barcelona: Spanish and Catalan. You’ll hear a good mix of both. Before leaving, brush up on a few basic Spanish phrases. Por favor (please), gracias (thank you), and dos cervezas, por favour (two beers please!) are ones you shouldn’t do without. Having said this, Barcelona is hugely popular with English-speaking travellers. Airport staff, hotel employees and tour guides usually speak good English.
Touch down for your holidays at El Prat Barcelona Airport. There are two terminals, with T1 being the busiest. Here you’ll find desks for international, domestic and popular European airlines. T1 was only opened in 2009, so it provides many modern shopping opportunities and restaurants. El Prat is located around 12km from the city centre but is well-serviced by local taxi companies, public buses, trains, and the Metro.