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What to Do During Your Studies in Barcelona

What to Do During Your Studies in Barcelona main image

By Laura Kabelka

In the past few years, Barcelona has become a significantly popular destination for tourists and international students alike. No wonder, because there’s more to the beautiful Catalonian capital than just a centrally located beach, glasses of sangria and delicious paella. There are so many things to do in Barcelona, so, if you decide to study in this charismatic and thriving city for a semester or more, these are the events, places and activities to look out for.

Where everyone goes (for a reason)

Being such a trendy city, Barcelona is always crowded with tourists in particular areas, especially in the city center. This doesn’t mean you can skip the popular sightseeing spots though, because they’re famous for a good reason and are deservedly at the top of any list of things to do in Barcelona.

Visits to Park Güell, the Sagrada Familia or one of the Gaudí buildings, like Casa Batlló or la Pedrera, are worth both the money and the time queuing. You should buy your tickets online, as this will save you a lot of energy and hassle. For some relaxation, you might also want to hit the Ciutadella Park, which is located right next to the beautiful Arc de Triomf.

There are also plenty of activities you can do for free, such as going for a stroll through the beautiful Gothic Quarter, wandering through the streets and miscellaneous bookstores in Gracia, or – if Barceloneta is too hectic for you – walk to the beach and take an undisturbed sunbathe there. Also, you should not miss the magic fountain show that takes place frequently at Plaza Espanya. When the sun sets, there are numerous light and water shows, accompanied by music. You might want to take a bottle of wine and spend a romantic evening there.

If you fancy something a bit more cultural, the entrance fees for the Picasso Museum and the Miro Museum are much cheaper if you’re a student. If you visit the Miro Museum, which is located on Montjuic, you can also walk up to the castle to enjoy the beautiful view over Barcelona and its port; visit on a Sunday and entrance is free.

Some insider tips 

So far so good, but as a student in a new city you probably want to see more than just the most touristy places. You’re living with the locals, remember, so you don’t need to rush to see everything over the space of a weekend. Instead, try and visit when certain places are less busy. For example, try to avoid walking down La Rambla on a Sunday afternoon when it’s at its most bustling.

Want to see the city from a bird’s eye view? One of our favorite things to do in Barcelona is to take the metro to the Bunkers del Carmel, the perfect platform to enjoy an afternoon with friends, a picnic and a breathtaking view. You can also make a similar trip to Tibidabo, a mountain with a church, amusement park and spectacular panoramic view. It’s possible to get a bus directly from Plaza Catalunya to the top of Tibidabo. Just don’t forget to take your camera.     

For those interested in music events, during the summer you should check out the Brunch in the Park/Brunch in the City. It takes place on Sundays in the daytime (as the name suggests), either at Poble Espanyol, or in a park on Montjuic. The DJs vary every time, but the music is usually techno. As well as the live music, you can also purchase food and clothes from pop-up stalls. Barcelona is also well known for great festivals including Primavera Sound and Sónar. If you’re around when these are on, be aware you can save money by attending “off- Sónar” events instead, which often feature artists playing away from the main festival at free events. The Mercé Festival at the end of September also provides various free events. Generally, informing yourself is key. Whether it be free events, guest-lists for clubs or temporary art exhibitions, there are always new things to discover in Barcelona.

For true connoisseurs

Another important factor when settling into a new city is often the food. Traditional Spanish food is available at every corner, but you can also find restaurants of any cuisine in Barcelona. If you want to be indulged by traditional cooking, plan a dinner at Bosque de Palermo or O’Toxo Tres Hermanos, where you will be charmed by the friendly and humorous service. For a little something in between, a visit to the Boquería, located at la Rambla, is always a good idea as you can get any kind of finger food there. Speaking of snacks, if you have had enough sandwiches (Spanish: bocadillos) you should try empanadas. The ones sold at La Fábrica are Argentinian and really delicious.

After all this amazing food and things to do in Barcelona, it’s only fair to reward yourself with a drink somewhere special. Depending on the bar, you can get very inexpensive cocktails, for example at Rosa del Raval or Sabroso you will get a Mojito for less than €4. A lovely area to go for drinks in general is the Gothic Quarter, which is full of bars and restaurants.

If you’re ready to spend a little more, you might as well do it with a view. In the Raval Quarter, you can go all the way up to the Hotel Barcelo’s rooftop bar and enjoy a glass of wine. Or, on your way home from the beach, you could take a little break and watch the sunset over the port from another stunning bar, accessible via the entrance of the Museu d’Historia de Catalunya. Give it a shot and thank me later.  

These are just a few recommendations of things to do in Barcelona. If you discover somewhere else amazing, let us know. One last bit of advice: get yourself a bike, as it’s a really great way to get to explore the city. Enjoy your time in Barcelona!

Laura Kabelka works in Communication and Marketing at .

Image credits: Lead image (Mattia Felice Palermo/Wikimedia Commons), first article image (Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons), second article image (JT Curses/Wikimedia commons), third article image (Naotake Murayama/Flickr)

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