Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel in Barcelona
TRAVELLING ALONE IN BARCELONA LIKE A PRO
Barcelona is a great city that you shouldn’t miss, even if you don’t have other people to travel with! No matter if you are used to travelling alone, or if you are a first-time solo traveller, Barcelona is a wonderful destination to explore. There’s so many sites, from Roman ruins and medieval buildings to world-class contemporary architecture: there’s history and art everywhere! So much you won’t have time to get bored or feel lonely.
Barcelona is very walkable, and the Eixample district is a perfect grid of streets easy to navigate. But if you want to feel the thrill of getting lost in narrow alleys, you’ll also be able to do that in the Old Town (although it’s relatively small: guaranteed to find your way out in less than 10 minutes if you get desoriented!). Plus the subway system is very easy to use, too: one platform for one line and one direction only, plus no express trains or unexpected changes of destination (I’m looking at you, NYC and London!).
Plus in everyone in the city center speaks English, from hotel and restaurant staff, to shop assistants and most taxi drivers. Maybe not the elderly, that studied French when they were in school. But most people under 50yo can communicate at least a some. And there’s a large community of ex-pats, that mostly speak English. In any case a pocket Spanish phrasebook like this one can be helpful.
But don’t forget Spanish isn’t the only language spoken here: Catalan is the local language, and being able to say a few words will definitely earn you a few smiles, because we don’t expect foreigners to speak Catalan. Try with old grandmas, and don’t make the mistake to try to speak Catalan to a Pakistani or Latino immigrant (black hair and brown skin doesn’t immediately mean this person is Spanish). In case of doubt, Spanish is the way to go. But if you are a language geek and want to give Catalan a go, here is where to start.
In this post you’ll learn everything you need about Barcelona solo travel: from where to stay and where to eat, to things to do and safety tips.
Is Barcelona safe for solo travellers?
General safety rules when you are alone
I know, Barcelona is FAMOUS for its pick-pockets, but I must say that things have improved a lot these last years. In any case, though, this is still a big European destination and there ARE pick-pockets around. So you need to be alert, but you don't need to freak out about them, either. Use your common sense to make things difficult for them - most of the time they take advantage of distractions, rather than using brute force (according to the data of the Catalan Police, Mossos d'Esquadra, only 5% of the total theft in Catalonia involved violence.
Violent crime in our area is really low: in 2022 there were only 60 murders, not in Barcelona City, but in the entire region of Catalonia (compare it with the over 400 of NYC, with only 1.5 million more people!). So if you want to stay safe, learn about the way pick-pockets act and how to protect yourself. We have a detailed blog post about that here. If you are planning to go to the beach of Barcelona alone, you need to read this, too. And if you are planning to visit the Raval district, use this post to plan your itinerary to avoid the worst spots. Other than that, you may be offered pot when walking down La Rambla at night. But just say “No, thanks” and continue walking to be left alone.
Solo female travellers
At large events like city celebrations and music festivals you can often see “Punt Lila” (purple point) stands, offering information and support against gender-related violence. In 2022 there were 237 cases of rape in the city of Barcelona, and 80% of them were people from the inner circles of the victim. Catcalling isn’t as common as it was in the 1980’s, but it can still happen. It’s annoying, but you’ll have to ignore it and keep walking unless you feel confident getting back at them in vulgar Spanish.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR BLACK & BROWN SOLO FEMALE TRAVELLERS: It’s a sad truth that there’s a lot of African women working as prostitutes in the lower area of La Rambla and El Raval at night (often abducted by mafias). Because of that, it’s not unusual that solo female tourists of African descent are mistaken by prostitutes when walking around those areas after dark (yes, even when dressing modestly!). Please read Glo’s from The Blog Abroad post about this to know what to expect: it’s appalling but it’s important to raise consciousness about it.
Gay solo travel in Barcelona
Barcelona is an international gay-friendly destination, with even a portion of the city center, the Gayxample, considered a gay neighborhood where gay and straight mix in naturally. But that doesn’t make solo travel in Barcelona entirely safe for the gay community, either. In 2022 there were 390 cases of hatred or discrimination against the LGTBI population. So use your common sense to stay safe, just like you’d do at home. You’ll also find support at the Punt Lila stands.
Where to stay if you are traveling on your own
If you are a more experienced solo traveller, then you could consider the Old Town, but the options are sort of basic, and mostly an option if your main goal is to party rather than explore the city. Also, beware that the word “Hostal” in Spanish means both “Hostel” and “Motel”, and the latest aren’t usually very nice. As another central alternative, there’s recently been several cool hostels open in the Gracia district. And if you are staying several nights and time-efficiency isn’t a big priority, the edges of the Eixample and the neighborhoods of Sarria, Poblenou and Poblesec can also be good options.
Best hostels in Barcelona for solo travellers
|Name||Location||Shared R.||Female R.||Private R.||Activities||Other|
|St. Christopher's Inn||Plaça Catalunya||8 to 12 beds||8 to 16 beds||6 to 8 beds||Yes||Outdoor terrace|
|Sleep Green||Plaça Catalunya||4 to 6 beds||No||No||No||Eco Certification|
|TOC Hostel||Plaça Universitat||6 to 8 beds||6 to 8 beds||2 to 4 beds||Yes||Outdoor pool|
|BCN Sport||Gracia||4 to 12 beds||6 to 8 beds||4 to 6 beds||No||Gym, spa w/pool|
|Pars Tailor||Eixample||6 to 12 beds||12 beds||1 to 12 beds||Yes||Hostel dog, guitar, drums|
|Twenti Tu||Poblenou||2 to 4 beds||4 beds||2 to 4 beds||Yes||Eco Certification, roof terrace|
|Inout Hostel||Collserola||4 to 14 beds||10 beds||2 beds||No||Forest location, outdoor pool, kids playground, sport field|
Plaça Catalunya is the city center, and Plaça Universitat is just 2 blocks away. Gracia is still quite central, on top of Passeig de Gracia (Gaudi buildings). The choice I’m giving you for Eixample is near the St. Antoni district, a hipster neighborhood with cool food options and still central enough. Poblenou is further away from the city center but fun to explore given its combination of old neighborhood with contemporary buildings and high tech company headquarters. Collserola is the mountain rage North of Barcelona: it feels outside of the city, but you’ll be in the city center in 15 minutes by train.
I’ve included the number of beds per room, and the type of rooms available (mixed shared, female-only and private rooms). As for activities, it can mean tours organized by the hostel, dinner gatherings, parties, cooking or yoga classes… In general, activities that offer you an opportunity to socialize with the other people staying at the hostel.
Best hotels in Barcelona for solo travellers
If hostels aren’t your thing, even with a private room, there’s lots of hotels in Barcelona that have single rooms and the kind of amenities that a solo traveller with a higher budget wants. We’ve selected a few of the best for you:
Things to do in Barcelona solo
Visiting the sites
And no one to tell you “let’s go!” when you want to stay longer enjoying the moment. But just remember that some sites sell out (no matter if you only need ONE ticket), and you’ll need at least some planning. The main sites to book in advance are the Sagrada Familia Church (no: seeing it from outside is definitely NOT enough!), Park Guell (you don’t want to go all the way up there to find out there’s no tickets left) and the Picasso Museum (looooong lines on particular days). Other than that, you’ll want to organize your sightseeing around areas or themes, to be take the most out of your time.
- OLD TOWN. Time need to visit: from an hour for a walk of the Gothic Quarter highlights, to more than one morning to visit everything. Sites and areas here: Gothic Quarter, Cathedral, Rambla, Boqueria Market, Roman Ruins, Born District, Santa Maria del Mar, Palau de la Musica Catalana, El Raval, Palau Guell.
- GAUDI SITES. Time needed to visit: About 1 hour per site. Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, Torre Bellesguard.
- HILL OF MONTJUIC. From 2 hours to an entire day, depending on how many sites you visit inside. Montjuic Castle, Montjuic Cable Car, Miro Foundation, Olympic Sites, Spanish Village, Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Caixaforum art center, Plaça Espanya, Magic Fountain.
- OTHER AREAS. FC Barcelona Stadium, Pedralbes Monastery, Glories Tower, Parc of the Labyrinth, Barcelona beaches.
And if you want a ready-made itinerary for you, check out these posts in our blog:
Going out of town
The fun thing about Barcelona is that there’s not just things to see in the city, but the surroundings are an amazing region to explore! Do you want to go to the beach? Done! Mountains instead? Granted! Are you a history freak? We have ancient ruins and medieval villages! Do you love wine? There’s plenty of wineries to visit! Have you heard of Salvador Dali? We’ve got 3 museums about him! And the good thing is that many of all these sites are easy to reach by train or public transportation if you don’t have a car!
- Beaches: Costa Brava, Sitges, Tossa de Mar, Cadaques, more Catalan beach towns.
- Mountains: Montserrat, Pyrenees.
- Ancient ruins: Tarragona, other Catalan ruins.
- Medieval sites: Girona, Catalan monasteries, other villages.
- Wine country: Penedes, Priorat, more wine country areas.
- Dali Sites: Theater Museum in Figueres, other Dali Museums.
- Tours organized by your hostel. Usually these are a great way to meet other travelers with similar interests and get a simple overview of the city. The guides are often part of the hostel staff, so don’t expect them to give very educated explanations because they won’t be trained guides. They’ll know how to make you have fun.
- So-called “free tours”. People are attracted to them because of the promise of something “free”, to learn almost immediately that nothing is free and you are expected to give them a tip at the end of the tour (and maybe go as far as to suggest an amount… that will be pretty similar to what you would have paid for a non-free walking tour anyway!). Don’t fall for this scam: the guides aren’t trained guides but students and expats parroting a speech written by a marketing expert with little history knowledge but good at throwing it little jokes to make you like the guide and therefore tip well. They won’t tell you, but guides are forced to give pay to their company a set fee per person, no matter how much they are tipped. And because tips are not recorded anywhere, all this is black money that isn’t taxed. Yes, this companies are good at finding legal loopholes to back up their shady business ways. If you really want to help the local economy and not contribute to workers exploitation, join a paid tour instead.
- Hop-on hop-off buses. Not exactly a tour, this is a bus going on a circular itinerary with a recording about the site you are passing by. It’s a lazy way to get an idea of the major Barcelona attractions and figure out the city layout. The ticket comes with discounts for some sites, but it’s not always as worth it (check my honest opinion on Barcelona City Passes here).
- Group (paid) tours. Paid tours are usually guided by professional guides, and they’ll be licensed guides if they take you inside at least one site (guide licenses are only necessary to go inside sites and museums, but not to give explanations from outside). Because they are paid, they’ll be taxed, and the guide will have either a contract or be a legal freelancer. The city council, for instance, organizes walking tours around the city guided by licensed tour guides. There’s also tour companies that organize bus tours as well – and they can come handy if you want to go out of town but don’t want to bother finding your way around suburban trains or driving. As a solo traveller, though, I wouldn’t consider them an option to socialize, as most people joining large group tours do that with other travel mates and aren’t looking to meet new people but just to be shown around.
- Small group or semi-private tours. These are paid tours where the size of the group is limited to whatever the company considers “small”. Sometimes it’s as big as 20 people (not sure how that qualifies as “small group”), but the average is 8 to 12 people. In these tours you get a more personalized experience in exchange of a bit higher price tag. You’ll have more opportunities to ask questions to your guide (who will be a professional), and often people joining a small group tour are happy to interact with the rest of the people in the group.
- Private tours. That’s when you have the guide to yourself, it’s a luxury service and therefore, the most expensive in the tour scale. However, while the rest of the tours are priced per person, most private tours have a set price to cover the guide’s time, plus any involved admissions, or you might be required to pay a minimum number of people. This is why unless you have a big budget these are probably not for you. However, if you want to splurge my recommendation is not to be over ambitious: go for walking tours rather than chauffeured tours or day trips out of town, and choose shorter tours. For instance, our cheapest tours are 1.5 hour tours of one single area or site. And check out this page for more tips to book a private tour as a solo traveler.
And there’s other types of tours you should consider as a solo traveler if you want to have fun and have more opportunities to socialize: bike tours, Segway tours and sailing tours aimed at adults (like sunset sails, sails with live music or food and drinks…). People that attend these kind of tours are more likely to want to socialize with other people on tour.
You can also use MeetUp or other similar sites and apps to find people to hang out with. Or you might want to go on a bar crawl. Maybe your hostel organizes them, or you can join one organized by some local tour company.
Where to eat solo in Barcelona
Informal eating and drinking
- Street food. Places like Maoz (falafel) and Conesa (sandwiches) are a place where eating on your own is fine and you can also end up meeting people. More street food options here.
- Market eating. There’s two ways of eating at a market: you either buy food to go, or seat at some market bar. Market bars are mostly a counter around a small kitchen, so they are perfect for solo eaters or couples, but it makes it difficult to share a meal with more people. Bear in mind that ordering tapas at a famous market like La Boqueria can quickly add up on your bill – they aren’t cheap, but they are so good!
- Menu del Dia. Many neighborhood bars offer a specials of the day menu at midday, consisting on a starter and a main course to choose from a small list, plus dessert or coffee for a set price. This is often the choice for locals during their lunch break from work, and it’s totally OK to be only one person ordering it. A lot of them include paella on their menu del dia on Thursdays, which is the perfect opportunity to taste it, since in most places you must order paella for at least 2 people.
- Tapas restaurants. Tapas are small portions of food to share, but if you don’t’ have someone to share them with, you can always seat by the counter. As long as you aren’t occupying a table, bartenders will be happy to serve you – just don’t order too many choices or you might not be able to finish everything up! A great tapa for solo travelers are “pintxos” or “montaditos”: a slice of bread with a variety of toppings that you pick from platters along the counter. 3 to 5 make a decent meal, and you can eat them by the counter and chat with the waiter. And in the evenings in Can Paixano eating and drinking becomes a college party.
- Food tours. A great way to try lots of different foods and meet new people is to join a food tour. There’s a lot of them that include a certain number of tastings, either they are market tours or tapas tours. As much as I’d like to recommend you our own food tours, though, since we only do private tours they come at a quite high price tag for most solo travelers. But if that’s not a problem for you, you can check them out here! Otherwise, I’ve compiled some group food tours offered by our competition:
So you are a serious foodie and love visiting the best restaurants in town? Most fine dining restaurants will accept 1 person reservations (otherwise how would inspectors of the Michelin guide be able to do their jobs?). But it can feel strange to order an expensive tasting menu and enjoy it on your own. The trick is to choose restaurants that have a “bar” feel or that allow you to eat at the counter.
For instance, the infamous Botafumeiro seafood restaurant has a counter that is often used by locals on their own, or couples with little time to spare. And same thing for the mythical rice restaurant 7 Portes. The 1-star Michelin restaurant Mont Bar let’s you book a table for one. The gastrobar Coure has also a counter: “La Barra del Coure”. And the famous chef Carles Abellan has also joined the “barra” (counter) trend. Koy Shunka and Dos Palillos are high end Asian restaurants where you can eat by the counter, too.
Enjoy your Barcelona solo trip!
Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.
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