From the best times to visit to understanding the local late-night culture, here are a few quick tips to help first-time visitors enjoy a perfect Barcelona trip.
When to Go: Mid-spring and early fall are the sweet spots, though be advised that residents of most major Spanish cities skip town in August. The impact is twofold: if you’re traveling elsewhere in Spain you’ll contend with more domestic tourists, and cities like Barcelona are far quieter than usual.
Greeting: Locals, particularly women, generally greet each other with a light kiss on both cheeks; men usually extend warm hugs to other men and cheek kisses to women. If you feel awkward, a polite handshake will do just fine, too.
Tipping: The general rule of thumb is to tip when service warrants it and to do so modestly. For example, it would be appropriate to tip certain hotel staff members (porters, housekeeping staff, etc.) €1 (US$1 to $2), while up to 10-percent is sufficient for restaurant servers. Round up the fare for taxi drivers.
Late-Night Life: Some travellers, particularly those from Asia and North America, may have to adjust their schedule to better suit the Barcelonan lifestyle. Lunch is generally the most celebrated meal of the day and enjoyed midday, from around 1pm to as late as 4pm, a time during which much of the rest of the city essentially shuts down. Dinner does not start until at least 9pm and lasts until midnight—that’s when many bar- and club-hopping nights begin.
Safety: Barcelona is a safe city and most visitors will not have any unpleasant encounters. However, pickpockets are prevalent and you should take appropriate precautions: men should carry wallets in a front pocket, while women should keep purses zipped up and slung around your neck and shoulder.