Before reading this section, please note that the law is constantly being updated and there may be new changes to regulations without prior notice. It is best to consult the relevant government offices for further guidance.
If you are a student and citizen of the European Union, then you do not have any further legal formalities to go through before going to Spain. However, citizens from the EU or the European Economic Area, as well as from the Swiss Confederation who want to live in Spain for more than three months need to register at the Central Registry Office for Foreigners (Registro Central de Extranjeros). This is where they will be issued a certificate of registration and identity number (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros or NIE). After you’ve registered, if you want to live in Spain for more than a month, but you don’t want to bother with contracts, furniture and utilities you might also be interested in a furnished apartment with ongoing support for the duration of your stay to enable you to be free to roam any Spanish city you choose.
Preparing for Barcelona
Mind the siestas
The shops, businesses, and firms in Barcelona usually open and close a little later in the day than most people are used to. For example, the typical working hours for most employees range from 10am to 7pm. This means that dinner in most restaurants is served at 8pm, and restaurants close much later in the day.
In addition, many stores close down for the afternoon between 1pm and 3pm for siestas. However, this may depend on where you are staying. In some of the more populated neighborhoods, the stores will remain open.
Finally, stores will also be closed on Sundays. It is a tradition amongst the locals to take this day off and head to the beach with their loved ones.
Get used to the public transportation system
Barcelona has a highly efficient and integrated public transportation system. We spend a lot more money than we think on getting from one place to another. Save yourself from the hassle of getting lost and overspending on commutes by learning how to use the metro system right away. We recommend investing in a monthly metro card or ten ride cards to save on expenses.
But if you are not a fan of public transportation, Barcelona also has a great biking system and offers plenty of bikes for rent all over the city. It is a fun and affordable way to stay active, experience the city, and get to your destination.
Learn the local language
While Spanish and Catalan come from the same family or branch of languages, Catalan is unique and it does deviate significantly from Spanish. It takes a lot more effort to pick up and learn. The good news is that in Barcelona, you will have plenty of opportunities to practice with the locals. While they are inherently friendly and welcoming, you will definitely score plus points if you show your willingness to learn such an important part of their culture and heritage!
Enjoy the good food
You definitely won’t go hungry in Barcelona! This place is known for its delicious food and snacks. All you need to remember is that restaurants in the earlier open later than usual, especially because people take a few hours out in the afternoon for siestas.
Pinchos are small pieces of bread that have topics and are arranged carefully on bar counters. They are known for their stunning mix of colors and also serve as the go-to snack—especially when they only cost a euro a piece.
Make sure to have some tapas as well, which are a crowd favorite even among people who have never been to Spain. These are a collection of different snacks or appetizers that can either be eaten cold or hot.
Finally, churros is one of Barcelona’s most well-known desserts. They’re warm, doughy, and sweet—perfect for satisfying your sugar cravings! Make sure to have them with champurrado, hot chocolate, dulce de leche or café con Leche for the complete experience.
Tour the area in your free time
Barcelona may be a big city, but it’s pedestrian-friendly and there are plenty of opportunities to see the city by bike. This is the perfect place for walking or biking because it is warm and most of the time the places are dry, flat, and with plenty of cycle lanes.
There are also plenty of parks and public gardens you can visit. Relaxing in the middle of the city, surrounded by greenery and clear view of Barcelona’s stunning architecture, is an unparalleled experience.
Take care of your belongings
Unfortunately, pickpocketing is a serious problem in the city, especially if you have been singled out as a tourist. A silver lining to this is that it is mostly nonviolent and if you keep a keen eye on your belongings, then you won’t become a victim. Avoid putting your belongings in your pockets or any outside pocket on your bags. When you go out, bring the bare minimum (cash, IDs, and your phone) so that you can focus all your attention on those three main things.