10 Facts about Barcelona that will Surprise you

Who is I’m Moving to BCN?

Hi, we are Lucas & Sofia and we’ve recently decided to move to Barcelona to live and work. We haven’t been sent here by any company, so we had to deal with most of the issues on our own. This is how we’ve learnt that the moving experience is fun and interesting but also demanding and at times a bit irritating. We also found that it ain’t easy to find the right information, at least in one place. You need to hunt it, to go out there and ask people you meet the same questions to get some ideas and possibly a few answers. We decided to keep this information in one place and this is how we came out with this blog. Maybe somebody will find it useful.


10 Facts about Barcelona that will Surprise You!


By moving to Barcelona for Erasmus or any other reason you are in for a great experience! Sunny weather, warm sea and friendly people, it’s just the right mixture for an enjoyable stay.

To make the most of your stay, there are a few things you need to know about this city. Welcome to Barcelona, here’s your survival guide!

To get you well prepared we have made a list of things that are slightly different here than… in the rest of the world. Some Spanish customs are quite original and it is better to be aware of them or you can get lost in the translation

1. Air kissing when saying “hello”

When you meet somebody new or meet up with friends you normally cheek kiss them twice. Actually, you touch cheek to cheek with the greeted person and make the kissing noise, just like at the beginning of Almodovar’s movie “Volver”. What’s interesting this occurs not only in friendly informal situations but also in the formal business ones.

barcelona air kissing

2. Learn some Catalan

Keep in mind that even though you are coming to Barcelona, Spain, in fact you are going to live in Catalonia. And Catalan is spoken here. Never forget that it is a language, not a dialect. And be prepared to hear and see it everywhere. From the airport through metro ride up to the people you will meet on the streets and in shops. More importantly, you will have classes in Catalan at the university. Check up front what selection of classes you have and in what language they will be led to avoid surprises. Meanwhile, you can start learning Catalan at parla.cat.


3. Go anywhere by Bicing

What is the best way to move around Barcelona? Get a Bicing card and take advantage of bicycle sharing system. It’s the cheapest and most comfortable means of transport in the capital of Catalonia. Of course, if you plan to live within Barcelona city where all the stations are located. Register online for the system at bicing.cat and pay an annual fee of 47 euros. And you´re in. Just need to wait for the card to come to your address and you can go for a ride. Take the bike from a station near your home and leave it on any other close to your destination point. In order to find Bicing stations you can download free Bicing App. It’s just as simple as this.

barcelona bike


4. Don’t even think about eating out of the schedule

The Spaniards are pretty serious about their meals. They eat them at the same hours every day. At least when it comes to lunch and dinner. In Barcelona you eat your lunch between 2pm and 4pm and any exceptions from the schedule will inspire questions and strange looks. This is also the time when some grocery shops, small and traditional businesses close for lunch. If you do not get acquainted with the eating timetable, this beautiful Spanish tradition, you are very likely to be starving in Barcelona from time to time. For example, take the restaurants, even on weekends most of them are closed after lunch and until dinner, i.e. from 4:30pm till 8pm! Just about time for an early dinner or late lunch on a lazy Sunday. I think I will never get used to it and they… can’t be bothered.

5. Not common to leave tips at restaurants

You can take it as your petit revenge for the previous one. The Spaniards rarely leave tips at the restaurants. I’ve never seen one doing so. If you are very kind or especially liked the service or food, you are most welcome to leave a tip. But if you can’t be bothered, then you don’t have to.

barcelona tips
6. Shops open late but are closed on Sunday

From Monday to Saturday supermarkets and clothing shops are open late, until about 10:00pm. Nevertheless, they do not open on Sunday. If you are used to shop on Sunday, this might be yet another reason to accidentally starve yourself. As you already know, the restaurants are closed between 4pm and 8pm, so it´s just you and your hunger. Remember to stock your fridge on Saturday and a day before bank holidays. Those take place pretty often here and they also shut the city down.

7. Shop in the right store

You won’t buy cigarettes or a newspaper in a supermarket. For cigarettes and stamps

you need to go to Tabacos or Tabacs, the second one is in Catalan. A typical Spanish shop with cigarettes, lighters, tobacco and stamps among others. Note that they also close for siesta, so don’t go looking for a smoke in the afternoon. Only a cigarette machine in a bar can save you. When it comes to newspapers and magazines, you will find them in a Kiosko, a small newsagent’s shop which is normally situated on a corner of the street. A nice thing about Kiosko is that they are open also on Sunday mornings.

8. No dress code for clubs or restaurants, free entry before 1:30am

In general, clubbing is not cheap here but if you learn the ropes you can reduce the costs significantly. First of all, you don’t need to dress up to enter a club. They don’t have a problem with guys in sneakers or shorts. I get’s really hot in here, so they have merci and you don’t have to spend a fortune on your look. The other thing is the entry, if you come early enough, and by 1:30am it is considered early and you will be alone at the club, you enter for free. It can save you up to 20 euros in entry fee (which normally includes a drink at the bar).

barcelona nightlife

9. Beware of pickpockets and guard your stuff

Don’t underestimate the pickpockets. They know what they’re doing. They distract you or take advantage of you being already distracted and BANG! in a second your bag is gone. Always keep an eye on your belongings, keep your bag closed and your wallet in your front, not rear pocket and never leave it on the table or on a sit next to you. And it’s not the tourists only, it happens to everybody here. But if you are careful enough and keep in mind not to leave your stuff wherever and out of your sight, I am sure nothing bad will happen to you.
Each country has it’s own cultural tradition and habits and this is the charm of living abroad. We hope the guide will help you out and you will have a great time finding more surprising facts about living in Barcelona!

We hope that you enjoyed the post!

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