In all honesty, I'd heard some pretty mixed reviews before you take my solo visit to Barcelona. However, if you're used to going it alone in places such as NYC or Paris, then being solo in Barcelona will certainly be a breeze. Here's your ultimate guide to taking a solo sojourn towards the Catalonian capital, as well as solo female travel safety tips and items to know prior to going!
My newest trip to the Eastern Spanish city of Barcelona was my third so far, and it’s fair to say it won’t be the last! Home to a foodie scene that leaves you drooling, an array of Gaudi architecture you won’t stop longing for, and an abundance of history both old and new, Barcelona more than tops most traveller to Europe’s bucket lists.
Is Barcelona good for first-time solo travellers?
If you’re looking over this and it’s the first time planning for a solo trip anywhere, then congratulations! This means that you’re taking the steps to planning a visit which will be both richly rewarding, plus an intense learning curve and also the opportunity to become familiar with yourself better. Initially when i first pondered the issue whether or otherwise Barcelona will work for first-time solo visitors, I immediately wanted to agree, however felt torn!
On the main one hand, public transportation in and out of the city is great. Barcelona is served by a handful of nearby International airports that offer budget flights to the rest of Europe and beyond. The metro system is convenient and very affordable and there’s lots of items to keep the most discerning of travellers occupied!
With this being said, Barcelona is much more like visiting Paris than, say, London or Amsterdam due to the amount of tourist scams, not to mention the intense crowds cheap the very first language from the region is Castilian Spanish. While I found that most people I met had a good level of either French or English, I still struggled sometimes!
Things to understand before visiting Barcelona for that first time
Of course, because of its incredible popularity, Barcelona has become popular all year ’round. With this particular being said, to increase your enjoyment of the city (in addition to beat the summer heat!), Personally, i recommend visiting the city in one of the European shoulder seasons, i.e. Spring or Summer.
This way, you’ll get the best deals on accommodation as well as queue at a lower price time at the most popular of hotspots. My most recent solo trip to Barcelona was in September and I couldn’t have been happier with the timing! Otherwise, you need to know that you’ll probably need a travel adapter as Barcelona uses EU plugs. Purchase your universal travel adapter here.
Finally, one of my top Barcelona travel tips would be to make sure that you possess a bit of money on you all the time! There were several coffee houses I frequented that didn’t take card, or only took certain kinds of debit card. Many places don’t accept credit card, and so be prepared for your visit with multiple payment options. This is also always beneficial practice like a solo traveller as if your card gets lost or swallowed with a machine, then you've backup options!
Things to do in Barcelona in your own
Take a self-guided walking tour of Barcelona
If it’s the first time in Barcelona and you’re seeking to familiarise yourself with the city, then my free and self-guided walking tour will help you start your stay the proper way! In the mysterious and intimate Gothic Quarter to the 19th-century built Eixample district, this guided walk will give you through time and history that will help you discover the better of Barcelona! Simply pack your comfiest walking shoes, download my guide, and you’ll soon be going through the city just like a local.
Seek out Roman Barcelona
You may well not know this, but Barcelona actually began because the town of Barcino. Much of the previous Roman citadel was situated on what's now the Gothic Quarter from the city now vestiges of the past from millennia ago can be found around close enough every corner.
One from the best-preserved Roman ruins is stashed in a little side street and it is referred to as Temple of Augustus. Free to visit, these Corinthian columns dominate a small covered space and were rediscovered throughout the Middle Ages. They are all that remains of the structure which once presided over the remainder of Barcino. All of those other ruins were presumably used to construct nearby walls and fortifications and throughout the Gothic Quarter, areas of the town wall are made with noticeable bits of Roman stonework.
Enjoy tapas on the Barcelona food tour
Tapas is really a meal that’s intended to be shared with family and friends, and so those seeking to dine alone in Barcelona might find that they’re can not think of a way to enjoy tapas without needing to order too much food! Luckily, the workaround with this is straightforward: book a food tour! For example, this food tour
Follow within the footsteps of Gaudi
Of course, the most famous resident of Barcelona is Antoni Gaudi, who constructed some of the top iconic attractions the city has to offer today. With the exception of Parc Güell (the fantastical space that presides on a hill overlooking all of those other city- get your entrance ticket here) and also the fountain in Parc Ciutadella (that was among the iconic architect’s earliest pieces).
My personal favourite Gaudí attraction in Barcelona is Casa Batllò. Inspired by natural forms, you’ll wish to book your ticket well in advance- check prices and further information here. The favourite from the Gaudi masterpieces in Barcelona are the impressive Sagrada Familia church (buy tickets here) and La Pedrera, a top-floor apartment having a rooftop offering views over the remaining district (buy tickets here).
Look for great finds of Barcelona
Between forgotten churches, little-known Dalí works, and passages that feel similar to stepping back in its history, Barcelona has no lack of from the beaten track destinations worth discovering by yourself. And while you’ll soon be marked out as a tourist when going to the top attractions, seeking out those lesser-known locations can help you begin to see the city in additional of a local way.
Some of my very favourite great finds in Barcelona range from the open-air Roman Tombs of the Sepucral Romana, the Medieval Synagogue of the Gothic Quarter, and Palau Macaya, a fantastic illustration of Catalan Modernism architecture. Nearby, the green garden space includes a plethora of benches while offering unique views to the Sagrada Familia.
Enjoy the cafe culture scene
If you’re searching for a quiet break in the hustle and bustle from the busy Barcelona streets, then refuge can be found in the type of the numerous cafés and coffee shops dotted round the Catalonian capital. From unique hotspots to ‘Instagrammable’ interiors, there are even vegan eats and speciality coffee joints.
After visiting greater than a number of cafés like a solo traveller towards the city, it’s reliable advice which i fell in love with a fair few. However, none caught my attention around that of Caelum, a quaint and French-inspired café with an otherwise unremarkable street in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Serving a variety of sweet treats and the foamiest cappuccino I’ve ever had, the basement even offers the ruins of some historic women’s bathhouses!
Pick up food at Mercado en Boqueria
One of the very most famous covered food halls in Europe is that of La Boqueria. Boasting a stunning variety of stalls and small shopfronts selling from dried fruit and nuts to locally sourced meats. The first attestation from the market dates all the way to the 13th-century when there is an eye on tables being installed close to the city gate to sell meat.
Visit the market today and you’ll discover a completely different story: from takeaway coffees to freshly caught seafood, there’s a mouthwatering choice of food. When you can choose to eat and drink on-site, there’s always the possibility of taking the food away along with you, where you can enjoy it in a nearby green space.
Hang out in adorable bookshops
Between English language bookstores and cosy cafés that are part bookshop, part café, chilling out in the coolest bookshops in Barcelona will quickly have you investing in a title (or two) to take home along with you like a souvenir or perhaps a guidebook which will reveal even the best-kept secrets of Barcelona.
Visiting bookshops your own self is a good way to while away the time for several hours, not to mention that it’s an ideal rainy day activity! For all those having a serious case of Wanderlust, I suggest none other than visiting Llibreria Alta”ir, which sells an expansive selection of travel guides, memoirs, maps, and local guidebooks!
Relax within the Ciutadella Park
Boasting a fountain designed by Gaudi, a maze of pathways zigzagging their way through lush green parkland, and even a secret chapel, Ciutadella Park is the most famous that the city provides. Free to visit, it’s even possible to rent a rowboat on the lake or enjoy a picnic on one of the many benches dotted through the green space. Nearby, the Arc de Triomf is a fantastic brick monument dating back to the late 19th-century.
Take an excursion from Barcelona
Of course, Barcelona is really a beautiful city… Quite a few the other top things you can do in Catalonia are in fact found outside the region’s capital city. And thanks to an abundance of great transport links, Barcelona is well-connected to the rest of Spain and beyond, and therefore an excursion couldn’t be easier to take!
Some of the best picks for day trips from the city (even when you’re travelling solo) include a visit from Barcelona to Figueres, in which the iconic artist Dalí was born, or the picturesque mountainside village and monastery of Montserrat, that are around an hour . 5 from Barcelona.
Hands down, the best day trip from Barcelona is actually one of the easiest to take. The train from Barcelona to Girona takes just under forty minutes, and when there you’ll soon discover Bet on Thrones filming locations, a medieval old town, as well as some Roman ruins.
Of course, if you’re seeking to meet other people, then your the easy way do this is as simple as booking a guided excursion to Figueres like this one, or perhaps a guided excursion to Montserrat like this one. Bet on Thrones fans is going to be delighted to discover that it’s even easy to book a TV-inspired day trip from Barcelona like that one.
And finally- Is Barcelona safe for solo female travellers? (As well as safety tips!)
Of course, before visiting Barcelona the very first time, you may be worried about the possibility safety facets of going to a large city. The Catalonian capital is generally as safe as home, if you should take precautions (exactly like you would if you were back home).
The biggest problem which tourists in the City of Light have a tendency to face is from tourist scams and pickpockets. As such, you'll want to take precautions: firstly, ensure that your bags are well fastened/ secured. Next, if you are travelling having a handbag, make it a cross-body one. Make sure your bag includes a zipper and walk along while holding the fastened bag.
Crossbody bags are not only stylish they also allow for you to keep close track of your belongings at all times. The best choice for avoiding Barcelona pickpockets would be to not really open your bag in crowded places, like on the metro or in busy streets like the world-famous La Rambla.
Spanish wine (and, indeed, Tinto de Verano and Sangria) are all easy to drink, but if you're by yourself, then limit yourself to a couple of glasses with your meal. Other safety tips which i personally take when travelling through Spain on my own includes booking my hotel inside a more touristic area, checking along with someone back home once every day or two, and dressing because the locals do.
Where in which to stay Barcelona like a solo traveller
Last although not least, I wanted to finish on a note about accommodation! Barcelona is an ever-popular city with plenty of accommodations to match every budget. So whether you’re a luxe traveller or budget backpacker, with the right planning it’s simple to enough to obtain the perfect fit. Firstly, Barcelona, like many cities around the world has Airbnb (register for credit towards your first stay).
When I stayed in Barcelona like a solo traveller, Personally, i booked a room in the Hotel Catalonia Avinyó and couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Found in the very heart of the Gothic Quarter, the accommodation only agreed to be streets away from the city’s Cathedral, in addition to close to a number of well-reviewed restaurants (including my own favourite La Cerería, which serves vegetarian fare in a reasonable rate- they were also happy enough to accommodate my party of 1, which isn't forever the situation in Barcelona restaurants!).
There’s even a rooftop pool which offers views to the surrounding rooftops! Check prices and availability here. Otherwise, if you’re in search of a more community-led environment at lower prices, then checking into a hostel is always a good idea. Personally, i always opt for female-only dorms, though this is, of course, an individual preference! A few of the top-rated hostels in Barcelona include this one and this one.