Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Spain; it's one of the best European travel destinations for everyone from foodies to beach bums and jet setters alike. I recently went back with my husband for a week and took detailed notes and did major research, including meeting with locals, to provide you with the best possible recommendations for planning your next trip. Check out my Full Guide to Barcelona for a list of my top Type A picks for what to do when you're not taking a siesta!
See My Full Guide to Barcelona - Click Here
Here's a summary of my top Type A tips to know before you go:
- The airport is a good 25 minutes away from the city center and is a pricey taxi ride. Instead, consider taking the Aerobus which takes you to and from the airport for about 5 euro one way, stopping at a few major points around the city. We were able to walk or take a cheap taxi to our hotel from the convenient drop off points. Be sure to know which terminal you are going to because they are very far apart and if you get dropped off at the wrong one it could take you about 30 minutes to get to the correct one (something we learned the hard way!). There are free buses that run between the terminals frequently, but if you are there early in the morning or late at night they will be hard to find. It costs a minimum of 20 euro to take a taxi between terminals and we only had 17 euro on us and a 10 dollar bill and we had to pay it to get a ride, otherwise we would have missed our flight. It was a nightmare!
- Tipping in Spain varies, but 10% is a reasonable tip at any restaurant.
- Like most of Europe, you need to request the check when you're ready to go. Just say, "La Cuenta, Por Favor" or signal your server by writing into the air and you'll be on your way in no time.
- In Barcelona, Catalan is the local language, not Spanish (a conversion of Spanish and French). So if you're using a translator app (which you should!), you will need to swap between Spanish and Catalan depending on what you're looking at. Even if you don't speak the language, you want to know how to say Thank You at the least. It's best to say it in Catalan instead of Spanish and although it is very similar, it's not the same. Thank you = Grathias NOT Gracias. Got it?
- There is free wifi all over the city. Wifi hotspots are at every metro stop so you can always connect if you're lost, are in a bind or just need to check my blog for where to go next.
- There's so much to see spread across the city, so I definitely suggest buying a metro pass so that you're not limited to one area. The metro is very easy to navigate, comes often and there are convenient stops near all the major attractions. To make it easy, get a 10euro pass that covers 10 single uses, which can also be shared between multiple people. The pass is also transferrable to the bus system and if you get off of metro, you can use that same pass on the bus within 2 hours without having to swipe again.
- Uber and other "taxi" like services are outlawed in Barcelona, but Taxis are pretty prevalent and safe - just keep in mind that most of them are cash only so stop by an ATM.
- Each time you use an ATM you are usually charged a fee by your bank and by the ATM, so get a good amount out each time. Banks usually limit you to around $150-200 each transaction, but you can call them and request a higher cash withdrawal limit so that you can avoid all those unnecessary charges.
- Most places have stopped using swipe only credit cards, so it's better if you have one of the cards with a chip in it. Also note that European credit cards often have pins and will ask you for one when you are charged. You can either add a pin to your card by calling your bank or just press the green button when asked for a pin and hope it doesn't stop you (we were fine doing that 90% of the time).
- Hostals (opposed to hostels) are smaller hotel accommodations, many similar to boutique hotels. They vary in price and in rating, just like anything else, but are worth checking out because I found them to be much more intimate than the larger hotels in the city.
For even more tips on visiting Barcelona, check out my full travel guide HERE.
Whenever I travel, I make sure to plan a much needed trip to the spa for total relaxation and to rid myself of all of those kinks from a long flight (something that my husband reminds me is a want and definitely not a need, but I tend to ignore his opinion anyway). So when I was planning my trip to Europe, this was top on my list of to do's in barcelona. After many hours of research, it was clear that Aire de Barcelona was the city's premiere luxury spa experience that I couldn't pass up. Here's all the Type A details that you should know to make the enjoy the best that Aire has to offer!
The Aire Experience
From the moment you step foot through the doors of Aire de Barcelona spa, you are soothed by the aroma of fresh cloves and cinnamon and it is evident that you've entered a world of serenity and leisure. Following check in, you are led behind a curtain where men and women are separated into their respective locker rooms to change. You are provided with a bath towel, slippers, bath robe and a combination locker to place all of your belongings. Once you change into your bathing suite, you can leave your robe in the locker and walk out in your slippers with a towel. You'll then be led down a flight of stairs (or you can take an elevator) where you'll be provided a tour of the baths and spa amenities. You'll also be asked to step into a communal shower area where you'll rinse away any impurities from your body and hair that could taint the quality of the pools (don't worry, you keep your bathing suit on during the quick shower). It's important to note that all treatments are conducted in open areas, not a private room, so you always remain clothed when you are in the public areas of the spa.
In the dim candlelight of the brick laden spa cave (as I like to think of it), you'll discover pools of varied temperatures, a jacuzzi, salt pool, jacuzzi and steam room. In the main corridor you'll find water and delicious hot mint tea, very much like the tea I had when visiting Morocco for the first time... I think I sat there drinking an entire pot all to myself it was so good! Guests are let in in 2 hour waves, so you'll have this time to enjoy the various pools either until the 2 hours is up or until you are called for your scheduled treatment. Wristbands help therapists identify what treatment you will be receiving and will help them to find you when it's time, that way you don't have to watch the clock for any reason. It's important to note that this is a peaceful environment so you are expected to remain relatively quiet, especially as people get massages around you. It is a place of reflection and you will be hushed if you are disruptive, so please respect the the customs and keep voices low.
I had the full Aire Experience scheduled, which included a hammam treatment (full body scrub) and 60 minute massage. My therapist, Susana, met me in the warm pool where she escorted me to the sauna to sit for about 5 minutes and then to an area with what looked like marble beds where the hammam is performed. I laid on the table face up and a light cover was placed over my eyes. Susana warned me that the scrubbing can be rough and uses very quick motions so if at any point I was uncomfortable to let her know. However, once I closed my eyes I was completely relaxed. Soft, warm water is poured through a teapot and a high-end exfoliating scrub is used. My skin felt silky smooth after the 20 minute scrub down and was a great precursor to a long massage.
Following the hammam, I followed Susana to another area of the spa where the massages take place. Again, these are semi-public rooms, so you remain clothed during the massage and in no way feel exposed or uncomfortable. The massage was one of the best I've had in a very long time, I was so sad when it ended! Susana led me out to the hall where she served me tea and water. She was a wonderful therapist and you can tell that she truly loves her job.
The sound of a brass chime will signify that time is up and you will be escorted back to the locker rooms to freshen up and collect your things so that they can prepare for the next round of guests. The locker rooms have everything you need, including showers, deodorant, plastic bags for your wet items, hair dryers and combs. I've made a few recommendations for additional items you may want to consider bringing below.
Overall, I had an incredible experience at Aire de Barcelona. Everything from the Roman baths to the treatments were of the highest quality and truly provided a rich and peaceful spa visit. I would definitely be returning the next time I'm in Barcelona and will probably be dreaming of it until then!
You can find Aire de Barcelona across the street from Parc de la Ciutadella and just a block from the Arc de Triumf, set under whitewashed arches in a historically rich building with deep roots in Barcelona's culture. It's less than a 10 minute walk from the Arc de Triomf metro station, so very easy to get to no matter where you are located.
It is extremely important that you make an appointment as this is one of the most popular spas in the city, so it fills up fast - especially during summer months. Bookings are scheduled in 2 hour blocks of time so you'll want to allow for 2 full hours no matter what spa options you choose, even if that is simply to partake in the ancient baths.
You can check out the list of treatments here. Prices vary from as low as 29 euro for the use of the baths to 100 + euros for massage treatments - very reasonable compared to luxury spa prices in the US. I highly suggest the Andalusian Ritual (hammam) and the massage treatments. Also keep in mind that prices are slightly higher on weekends. Tipping is not expected, but if you would like to leave something extra, you may do so at the reception desk upon check out.
Spanish or Catalan is the local language and English can be difficult at times; however, everyone was very kind and with effort practicing some of my terrible Spanish and exchanging limited English and hand signals here and there, I had no problems at all. There are also a few very helpful staff members who speak great English who are more than willing to assist when needed.
What to Bring:
- Bathing Suite
- Shampoo and Conditioner (there is soap in the showers that will work, but I prefer to use my own)
- Facial Moisturizer
- Make-Up (if you plan on going out after)
- Hair Tie
- Cash for tipping
I hope this gives you all the Type A tips you need to plan the perfect spa visit to Aire de Barcelona! I'd love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment or click the heart so that I know you like all the info I'm providing - it gives me motivation to continue writing <3