Updated on March 17, 2019 by Asher Fergusson
What to bring on your Barcelona trip
When it comes to what to wear in Barcelona, packing can be tricky due to the stylish and fairly conservative culture. I’ve put together a list of top items to pack for this city, plus what NOT to bring and answers to Barcelona FAQs.
As long as you bring your easy-going demeanor, a willingness to try new things, your spirit of adventure, and a few stylish outfits, you’ll be sure to enjoy this fun city!
6) Virtual Private Network (VPN) – I’ve recently learned the hard (and expensive) way that VPNs are essential for any travel and, really, any use of unfamiliar internet, foreign or domestic. A hacker stole my credit card information while my family and I were in Paris, and that’s not something I’ll risk happening ever again!
A good VPN (like NordVPN) gives you an added layer of security encryption so that you can keep all your passwords, credit card information, and even your identity from being stolen by a hacker. Whenever you connect to unfamiliar wifi at a cafe, your hotel, an Airbnb, or an airport, you’re exposing your data to hackers who may be waiting to prey on unsuspecting users. With a VPN, you can protect any device with the push of a button, and at an incredibly reasonable cost.
Other packing list items for Barcelona
Facial cleansing wipes
Affordable Underwater Camera
Watch or alarm clock
Small travel sewing kit
Sweater: Women’s and Men’s
Sunglasses: Women’s and Men’s
Kindle and Cover
Tide to-go pen
What to wear in Barcelona
It’s a good idea to pack comfortable and attractive clothing that can be worn all day, and shoes that will stay comfortable no matter how much walking you end up doing.
Take this opportunity to try out some fashions you’ve had your eye on – Barcelona is a stylish and artsy place and trends tend to be fun and full of character.
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
Catalan women have a great sense of fashion and style. Choose a smart casual look that’s more on the conservative side. When exploring in the day, wear comfortable street shoes or ankle boots and throw on a pair of chunky heels at night (no stilettos or thin heels – the streets can be bumpy and uneven). Stretchy skinny pants look great any season and can be worn with dresses, loose tank tops, kimonos and oversized sweaters from fall to spring. Maxi dresses and jumpsuits look great in the summer. You may need a lightweight jacket in spring or fall and a warm coat in winter. A leather jacket always looks good along with a scarf. A fedora hat adds some style and a cross body purse, vintage sunglasses, and some jewelry help complete any outfit.
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
Men of Barcelona are also stylish, always with well-fitted clothes and great footwear. Choose a pair of low-top street shoes or slip-ons for exploring in the day, and wear oxford leather shoes for evenings out. Shorts are reserved just for the beach so pack a good amount of pants that can be worn with button-down, long, or short-sleeved shirts. For the colder months, pack a cardigan or sweater, along with a waterproof jacket. A leather belt always looks good along with retro sunglasses. A minimalist wallet is handy, but if you have more things to bring with you each day opt for a vintage rucksack.
Seasons in Barcelona are similar to those in the rest of Europe, but with a more coastal temperature range and moisture level. Temps stay fairly mild throughout most of the year, though the winter does cool off significantly, and late fall can bring a chill as well.
WINTER – December, January, and February:
The winters are quite mild here – the temperature rarely dips below freezing and it seldom snows. Women should pack opaque tights and leggings to wear with sweater dresses and oversized sweaters. Men can opt for fitted jeans or trousers to wear with button-down shirts or polos with sweaters. Make sure to pack a jacket, and if you think you’ll need them you can bring gloves, a hat, and a scarf. Temperatures range between a low of 50 °F and a high of 61 °F (10°C to 16°C).
SPRING – March, April, and May:
This is a great time to incorporate some vibrant colors, pastels, and florals into your outfits.
The weather can vary quite a lot during the day so dress in layers. Leather jackets are popular for both men and women – one of our staffers bought this one a few years ago and it’s still her all-time favorite jacket. Also make sure to pack some sunscreen, a sun hat, and shades for those sunny days. Temperatures range between a low of 45°F and a high of 70°F (7°C to 21°C).
SUMMER – May, June, July, August and September:
Summer in Barcelona lasts for an extended period compared to other places – July and August are the hottest months. Even in hot weather, locals rarely wear shorts out unless they are going to the beach. Pack light-colored clothing made of breathable materials like cotton, linen, silk, and rayon. Women can bring skirts, dresses, jumpsuits, loose-fit tanks, and cardigans. Men should pack chino shorts for the beach and pants to wear with slim fit button-down shirts and polos. Make sure to pack some sunscreen, a sun hat, and sunglasses. Temperatures range between a low of 57°F and a high of 84°F (14°C to 29°C).
FALL – October and November:
In this season it cools down to the point where swimming is no longer pleasant. Expect regular scattered showers and cold weather at night.
Choose rich clothing colors like purple, emerald green, and maroon. Both women and men should pack similar to the way the winter season, but also bring a waterproof jacket, umbrella, and boots for the rain. Temperatures range between a low of 48°F and a high of 63°F (9°C to 17°C).
Exploring Gaudí on Foot – Antoni Gaudí was a world-famous architect known for his very creative and eclectic work. He designed seven properties in Barcelona including Parque Güell, Palacio Güell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, the Nativity and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, and Crypt in Colonia Güell. One of the best things to do in Barcelona is to go on a walking tour to see the city and some of Gaudi’s work. Running Bean Tours offers free walking tours of the city where you can choose between seeing Gaudi’s work or the Gothic Quarter. When it comes to what to wear for a day of city exploring, make sure to pack comfortable shoes as the tour involves walking around the city for 2.5 hours. Also, bring a jacket if it’s any season other than summer, and in the fall and spring, you will need an umbrella.
A Night of Tapas – Tapas are small plates of food which are a great way to sample a variety of local dishes in Barcelona. Some of the best spots to go for tapas include Quimet y Quimet, La Esquinica, L’Òstia, and La Xula Taperia. Locals enjoy dressing up in the evening so for a night of tapas and sangria, men should bring some stylish and well-tailored clothes. Women should pack some nice dresses along with some makeup, jewelry, and nice shoes. It’s also a good idea to bring a shawl in case it gets cooler in the evening.
Beaches – There are a number of great beaches in Barcelona with easy access to ones further away thanks to the metro system. Barcelona Beach, Nova Icaria, Bogatella, and the nudist beach Mar Bella are just a few popular choices. This is the only place where you will see locals wearing shorts. Bikinis are the most popular choice for swimwear. Many restaurants are located on the beach or nearby, so pack a cover-up for when you want to pop into a restaurant for a quick lunch without having to change. The weather is very hot in the summer so make sure to bring some sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
La Sagrada Família – La Sagrada Família may be one of the most famous temples in the world and is an internationally recognized symbol of Barcelona. This medieval cathedral started being built in 1882 and still is yet to be finished! If you visit this sacred space, make sure to wear tops that cover the shoulders. Avoid tank tops, crop tops, and anything with a plunging neckline. It’s recommended to wear pants but skirts can be worn as long as they come down to the mid-thigh.
What NOT to bring to Barcelona
To help you not stand out as a tourist, avoid wearing shorts and sandals unless you are at the beach. Even if it is summer, trousers are still worn in the city. Women should avoid wearing miniskirts and anything too revealing, as Catalan women tend to dress more conservatively. Only the younger generation dresses in bright colors so if you are older, opt for black, grey, dark green and burgundy. Lastly, as with most of Europe, avoid loose, baggy clothing and sports sneakers.
FAQs about packing for Barcelona:
1) When is the best time to visit Barcelona?
The weather is pretty mild and nice for most of the year. You’ll experience the absolute best weather from May to the end of July, but keep in mind that this is when other tourists flock to Barcelona as well. Tourist high-season means higher prices, longer lines, fuller hotels, and bigger crowds. If you can handle those things, great! If you’d rather avoid the denser crowds, opt for a shoulder season either around March and April or September and October. These are times when the weather is still quite comfortable, but the tourist crowds are thinner.
2) Where should I stay in Barcelona?
One of the best central places to stay is the Barri Gòtic or around the Cathedral area, so that you will be right in the center of the city. Think lots of history, cobbled streets, cute cafés, and cathedrals. Also, anywhere off the Ramblas is a good area to stay in. You’ll be in the heart of the city and close to metro stops.
3) Where should I exchange currency?
There are currency exchange offices at Barcelona’s airport. The airport also has ATMs where you can withdraw cash directly with your debit card. Alternatively, Las Ramblas has loads of banks and hotels that will change your currency for you, and they may have better exchange rates.
4) How can I avoid culture shock when traveling to Barcelona?
It helps to do a ton of research about Spain. It will also benefit you to learn a few phrases in Spanish, and maybe try some tapas restaurants in your home country before leaving.
5) Do I need a passport and Visa to visit Barcelona?
You must have a passport to enter the country. Make a copy of your passport to take with you when exploring the city in case of pick-pocketting. Apply for a visa through the Spanish Embassy if you are planning on staying in the country for more than 90 days. Lastly, bring your local driver’s license if you are planning to rent a car and drive around the city!
6) What is a typical daily budget for a trip to Barcelona?
This depends heavily on what you’ll be doing. If you’re traveling on a tight backpacker-style budget, $40-$60 per day is realistic and will get you lodging in an inexpensive hotel or hostel along with a meal or two out. Bringing in groceries from a local market or store and cooking your own meals can cut down significantly on costs. You can also take part in a lot of free tours and self-guided meandering, which is easy to do in Barcelona.
If you’re able to afford a bit more, $100 a day can get you nice accommodations, more meals out, and souvenirs without being too extravagant. This also allows room for more paid attractions.
7) What is the crime rate in Barcelona? What precautions should I take?
Crime in Barcelona is pretty standard when compared to similarly-sized cities. There are areas to be cautious of, and some areas that are just plain touristy and attract pickpockets. Other areas, especially those off the beaten tourist path but still close to tourist areas, are fun to explore because tourists don’t often prioritize them.
“Las Ramblas” is the most touristy part of Barcelona, as it’s the main strip that divides the neighborhoods Gòtic (the Gothic quarter or Barri Gòtic) and Raval. Las Ramblas has some great tourist attractions, but locals say it’s not an accurate impression of what Barcelona is really like. Raval is a little dingier (you may see less-than-savory sights), but it’s not known to be especially dangerous. Gòtic is known to be the nicer side of Barcelona.
Take basic precautions like wearing a hidden money/passport pouch, not carrying excess cash, and avoiding sticking out as a tourist when possible. Using basic manners and being respectful of locals will also go a long way toward encouraging that respect in return.
8) What’s the best way to get to Barcelona’s many attractions?
Barcelona is a sprawling city in and of itself, and the attractions are also spread fairly far apart in some cases. Some travelers rent a car and that’s certainly an option, but it will cut into your daily budget.
If you’re looking for cheaper options, Barcelona has excellent bus and underground rail (metro) systems as well as taxis. You can also find rental bicycles if that suits your style and activity level!
9) Do people tip in Barcelona?
Not necessarily. Locals don’t typically tip more than about 5% when service is fair to good, but a little extra never hurts if you feel you’ve been served well and/or treated well. Like most of Europe, servers’ wages don’t depend on tips and so a tip is extra.
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Author: Elizabeth Feroze
Elizabeth Feroze is a freelance writer, travel blogger and teacher, currently based in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.
Originally from Texas, she calls many places home, including New Orleans, LA, Florence, Italy, Snowmass Village, CO, and Sonoma Valley, CA. She is passionate about traveling, writing, hiking, camping, teaching and creating.