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Barcelona is a vibrant and captivating city on Spain’s northeastern coast. Known for its stunning architecture, delicious food, and lively nightlife, it’s no wonder that Barcelona has become a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. With so many things to do and see, a solo trip to Barcelona is worth it. It was one of my personal favorites during my solo trip through Europe!
Is Barcelona Safe?
Like any major city, safety can be a concern for travelers taking a trip to Barcelona, especially solo travelers. While the city is generally safe for tourists, it is crucial to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Pickpocketing is common in Barcelona, especially in crowded tourist areas such as La Rambla and the Gothic Quarter. I recommend buying useful travel accessories such as an anti-theft bag or a scrunchie with a hidden pocket to store emergency money.
I also recommended avoiding walking alone at night, particularly in poorly lit or deserted areas. As a solo female traveler, I rate Barcelona on the lower end regarding nighttime safety. I saw women getting harassed at night by La Rambla and felt like I had to be on high alert. However, during the daytime, I felt very safe! Use Geosure and these other useful apps for solo travelers to check the safety rating of any city before you go.
Where to Stay?
Barcelona has many hostels to choose from, being a popular backpacking and solo trip destination! Since you’ll be going on your own, I highly recommend a hostel over a hotel or Airbnb (especially if it is your first time traveling alone) so you can meet other travelers and go out in groups. Traveling with a group will help you stay safe, especially if you go out at night.
Two of the best hostels in Barcelona are Hostel One Paralelo and Hostel One Ramblas. Both have clean, comfortable beds and friendly staff! They are also in a prime location near the center of Barcelona, making the main attractions easy to reach. Both have fully equipped kitchens and organize free nightly dinners, pub crawls, drinking games, etc. Both are great for meeting new people, but Hostel One Ramblas is a little more lively, which is good or bad, depending on your preferences!
When to go?
If you enjoy warm weather and outdoor activities, then the summer months from June to August are the ideal time to visit. However, this is also the busiest and most expensive time of the year, with long queues at popular attractions and high hotel prices.
Spring and Fall are the shoulder seasons with more moderate temperatures and fewer crowds, making them excellent options for those looking to avoid the summer crowds and find the best deals. The shoulder season is my favorite time to visit because the heat in the Summer can be a little overbearing.
Winter is chilly, but it is also when you can experience traditional Catalan festivals and markets and enjoy the city’s museums and indoor attractions without the crowds. Ultimately, the best time to visit Barcelona depends on your preferences, but there is no wrong choice!
How to get around?
Barcelona is straightforward, with an extensive network of metros, buses, and trams. Public transportation is well-developed, and I mostly used the metro system during my stay there. Many of the major attractions are also within walking distance of each other.
Single-use tickets for the metro cost around $2.50 and are valid for 75 minutes. I bought a T-casual card that was valid for ten rides for approximately $10.50. All of the main stops in Barcelona are within Zone 1, making purchasing a metro ticket effortless.
Top Things to Do:
1) Sagrada Familia
Designed by the renowned architect Antoni Gaudi, Sagrada Familia is an iconic symbol of the city and one of the most visited attractions in Spain! No solo trip to Barcelona is complete without visiting this basilica! Sagrada Familia is definitely not overrated and is considered a must-see for any traveler visiting the city.
Construction began in 1882 and is still ongoing, with an estimated completion date of 2026. The ornate exterior features intricate stone carvings depicting religious scenes, while the interior boasts vibrant stained glass windows and a breathtaking ceiling that appears to be carved from golden honeycomb.
Solo travelers will appreciate the quiet serenity of this spiritual space and the opportunity to admire Gaudi’s genius up close. I felt like I could spend hours there and still not get bored!
2) Park Guell
Another masterpiece designed by Gaudi, Park Guell is massive and breathtaking. It is like being transported into a fairytale with whimsical structures covered in colorful mosaics and gorgeous sculptures throughout the park.
There are also lush gardens where visitors can admire the flowers and outlooks featuring stunning views of the entire city. Enjoy a stroll and look for hidden gems like the famous “Dragon” sculpture.
My favorite part was taking in the atmosphere and listening to the beautiful live music by skilled musicians scattered around the park. There are also many great photo opportunities! Overall, this is a must-see for art and architecture lovers.
3) Try Paella and Horchata
If you are a foodie (like I am), paella is a must-try dish when visiting Barcelona. Paella is a traditional Spanish dish with rice, saffron, and various meats, seafood, and vegetables. Since Barcelona is on the Mediterranean Coast, most paella in the city consists of seafood. There are countless paella restaurants, and you can’t go wrong with any. Some of the best ones are in the La Barceloneta neighborhood, such as Cheriff and 7 Portes.
Many travelers will enjoy sangria with their paella (I know I did!), but don’t forget to try some horchata while you’re there! This refreshing beverage is made from chufa, a type of tiger nut, and is commonly served chilled during the hot summer months. It is a sweet drink and has a hint of cinnamon. You can find it in most Barcelona bakeries and cafes, served alongside churros.
4) Picasso Museum
The Picasso Museum, located in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, is one of the best museums dedicated to this famous Spanish painter. The museum houses an impressive collection of over 4,000 pieces of art, including paintings, sculptures, engravings, and drawings. The exhibition is organized chronologically so visitors can see the evolution of Picasso’s work from his teenage years to his final works.
The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, and tickets cost approximately $13. However, you can visit for free on Thursday afternoons from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm and the first Sunday of each month.
5) Enjoy the Beach
If you are traveling during the Summer, the Barcelona beaches are a great place to unwind with food and a drink, especially on a solo trip. It is the perfect place for solo travelers to soak in some sun and relax. Barceloneta Beach (the most famous beach) offers many activities, such as sunbathing, swimming, beach volleyball, and even kite surfing.
The beach is also dotted with many restaurants where you can get drinks and some of the best paella in Barcelona. Check out some of the shops while you’re there too!
6) Experience the Nightlife
Barcelona is known for its nightlife! After dark, the streets of La Rambla light up with people enjoying giant margaritas and going out. The Gothic Quarter and El Ravel are popular neighborhoods to enjoy the nightlife, with everything from jazz clubs to EDM venues to laid-back bars. Popular choices include Razzmatazz (featuring five clubrooms with EDM and House music) and Sutton (a high-end nightclub with a cutting-edge sound system).
Note: Please be careful if partaking in nightlife while traveling solo (especially as a woman). When traveling alone through Europe, I always made sure to only go out at night if I had a group of other solo travelers from my hostel coming with me. I also put a nightcap on my drinks so no one could slip drugs in and limited myself to one drink per hour and three drinks max.
7) The Magic Fountain
The Magic Fountain, or Font Màgica, is a mesmerizing attraction in the Montjuïc neighborhood. Initially built in 1929, the fountain offers a spectacular light and water show choreographed to music. It is an experience that leaves visitors in awe and a great solo activity!
The show times vary depending on the season, but generally, the fountain operates on Thursdays – Saturdays from 8 pm to 9 pm during the winter season. During the Summer, it runs on Wednesdays – Saturdays from 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm. It is breathtaking and worth a visit!
8) Mercat de la Boqueria
Located in the heart of Barcelona, Mercat de la Boqueria is one of Europe’s oldest and most famous markets. It dates back to the 13th century and is a paradise for foodies. This lively market offers fresh produce, meats, seafood, cheeses, desserts, and more! It is the perfect place to buy gifts for your loved ones back home.
With over 300 vendors, there is truly something for everyone. The market is open from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm every day except for Sundays when it is closed. Word of warning, it can get quite crowded, so be prepared to see many people.
9) Bunkers del Carmel
Bunkers del Carmel is a hidden gem in Barcelona that many tourists don’t know about. The bunkers are located in the Carmel neighborhood and were initially built as anti-aircraft bunkers during the Spanish Civil War.
The bunkers are less than a 15-minute walk from Park Guell but prepare for a steep climb. You can see the entire city from the top, with views of Sagrada Familia, Montjuïc Castle, and the Mediterranean Sea! Go in the evening and bring some drinks and food to enjoy a picnic while watching the sun setting over the city.
10) Mirador d’Horta Swing
Mirador d’Horta Swing is another Barcelona hidden gem and city lookout! Located in the picturesque Horta-Guinardó district, this swing provides breathtaking views of the city’s skyline and the surrounding mountains. It is an ideal spot to capture Instagram-worthy photos! Just ask another traveler to snap some pics for you.
It is also a great sunset viewing spot. Take the metro to the Mundet stop and walk up. Wear comfortable shoes and bring some water because reaching the site is a bit of a hike. You will walk a little over a mile, but the views are worth it!
Overall, a solo trip to Barcelona is worth it, and there are so many things to do for every type of traveler. Make friends in your hostel, explore the city, see some great views, and have a blast!