This guide is going to give you some of the most important pieces of information you need to know about Barcelona. It is written primarily for international students moving to Barcelona.
If you are to learn more about Barcelona, its history, culture and lifestyle? Read our blog: Everything You Should Know before Coming to Barcelona
Barcelona is the capital of the province of Barcelona and the capital of the autonomous community of Catalunya.
It’s a city on the coast of northeastern Spain about 164km (100 miles) far from the French border.
Barcelona gained importance once more in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution and has since become one of the best-known and most often visited cities in the world.
Barcelona has Mediterranean climate that begs you to enjoy the city by day and by night. It enjoys a microclimate with an average temperature of 10°C (50°F) and 25°C (77°F).
You see the average range of the temperatures in Barcelona below:
There are two official languages spoken and used in Barcelona: Catalan and Spanish. Catalan is the first official language of the autonomous community of Catalonia.
Almost all road signs, metro instructions and other public signs are usually written in Catalan, not Spanish, although in the most touristic parts of the Catalonia such as museums, information in Spanish and English is available as well. According to Generalitat de Catalunya, 80.4% of population speak Catalan and 99.7% speak Spanish. 38.4% understand English and 23.9% French. However, on most governmental buildings and offices, almost no one would speak or understand English.
On the surface, the Catalan culture and lifestyle seem very similar to the Spanish one but once you dig deeper, they become very different. The Catalan culture is very rich with its own history and traditions. Be careful around many Catalans who take an offence in being called or compared to other Spanish people.
Remember: Spanish is commonly referred to as Castilian (castellano) as well.
We highly recommend learning Spanish or Catalan as much as possible. Studentfy is partners with Escuela Mediterranea and Speakeasy, two of the most reputable language schools in Barcelona and you can receive discounts on the courses and services if you are a Studentfy Card holder.
Barcelona has a good transportation system and it’s very easy to get from one side of the city to the other side. The prices are very reasonable and the public buses, trains and metros run regularly and almost on time. There are three types of transportation systems in Barcelona: Public, Private, and Shared.
If you are using public transport frequently, several times per week, we highly recommend the T-casual card (11.35€ for 10 rides) or T-usual (40€ for unlimited rides per month).
The metro runs underground and in total, there are 10 different lines. The metro system covers almost all the areas of the city and overall, they are very reliable and clean.
The bus system is very reliable and most bus stops have a board that shows when the next buses would arrive. The N buses (e.g. N7) run at night.
The train systems (Ferrocarril and Rodalies) connect Barcelona with all the other major areas in Catalunya and Renfe connects Barcelona with the rest of Spain. You can ride the Ferrocarril trains with the same metro/bus ticket.
There are two independed, disconnected tram lines in Barcelona. The trams are available on a total of six routes.
To read more about all the tickets, prices and networks, read about detailed blog: Complete Guide to Barcelona’s Bus and Metro System
There are various private, public and cooperative shared vehicle companies (cars, motorbikes, electric scooters or bicycles) operating in Barcelona, working in different types of services: Free movement, with or without fixed stations, or circular movement. Check out our Transportation blog to find out great deals and offers.
One of the most used and convenient is the Bicing – city’s bicycle sharing system. An easy way for citizens to get anywhere they want. The stations are located all across Barcelona city.
You can check out our detailed guide about Bicing, how to get the card and much more here: Complete Guide to Barcelona’s Bicing
Barcelona is relatively a cheap city in Europe (far cheaper than London or Paris) but still, it’s considered an expensive city in Spain.
In the past couple of years, prices have generally increased. We recommend making yourself familiar with the prices before you move to Barcelona.
In general, there can be three groups of people when it comes to costs:
- Saver: If you are a saver and plan on taking the public transport almost all the time, buying groceries and almost always making your own food, then you will need between 250€ to 400€ per month excluding rent;
- Moderate: If you enjoy going out on the weekends and go shopping once or twice a week, you will need between 400€ to 650€ per month excluding rent;
- Spender: If you are a spender, plan on taking taxis to move around the city and enjoy spending nights outside and going to parties, then you will need between 650€ to 800€ per month excluding rent.
Whether you want to study or work in Spain, having a bank account is a must in order to pay rent and utilities, send and receive money, get internet for your flat, etc.
There are different banks with different requirements but the ones we recommend are CaixaBank and Sabadell. They have many offices and ATMs all over Barcelona and their services are very good.
Let’s be honest. When it comes to administrative tasks, things will not be very straightforward and you will be confused.
Once you land in Barcelona, you will need to do two very important things very soon:
1. register yourself at the city hall
2. apply for your residency card (NIE).
Registering Yourself (Empadronamiento)
This is your registration in the City Hall of your neighborhood. It is to confirm to the local authorities that you are officially living there. Every time you change your address, you will have to register a new “empadronamiento” in the City Hall of your new neighborhood.
Check out our detailed blog explaining how to register yourself at the City Hall of your neighborhood and what documents you will need: What is Empadronamiento and How to get a Padrón
Apply for your residency card (NIE)
Getting a NIE card is one frustrating and time-consuming thing to do but you have to do since that will be your ID card for the rest of your stay.
Check out our detailed blog explaining everything you need to know about NIE. It includes screenshots, steps, translations and forms as well: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Get your NIE
Getting a Spanish social security number
If you are planning to do a paid internship, you will have to have a Spanish social security number. This is because the company needs to add you to their payroll and pay taxes for you. For that reason, you will have to provide them with your social security number. Luckily, the process is very easy and fast.
Check out our detailed blog explaining what you need to do and have to get a Spanish social security number: How to Get a Spanish Social Security Number
If you need any legal assistance, our legal firm partners can help you out with the following matters:
- Applying for a NIE and renewing your NIE
- Help with the Empadronamiento
- Return Permit (autorización de regreso)
- Residence for searching employment
- Business and tax advice for self-employed and companies, and immigration advisory
Read the Legal Help page to find out more about their services and how to apply for legal help.
If you don’t have a health insurance plan covering you in Spain/EU, we highly recommend getting an insurance one through us.
Studentfy has partnered with Adeslas, one of the top health insurance companies in Spain, to help all students get an excellent healthcare at a very affordable price.
Here are some of the features of our Adeslas health insurance:
✅ Special conditions for international students
✅ Ability to get or renew a NIE
✅ Dental insurance and coverage
✅ Medical insurance without co-payment
✅ There are more than 43,000 specialists available
✅ 1,150 medical health centers
✅ More than 300 clinics
✅ more …
Check out our Health Insurance page to read more about the plan, its coverage and apply for it.
We won’t lie. Finding accommodation is not going to be an easy task. Most people find it extremely confusion and stressful.
The demand is too high, the supply is limited, and many real estate agencies target new students as an excellent source of easy money! Scammers are everywhere in every shape and form.
We all have been and seen victims of scammers, one way or another. Because of that, we have decided to partner up with some of the most reliable, trustworthy and affordable real estate agencies to make sure you won’t make the same mistakes as we have made.
We have put together different guides to help you find accommodation faster and cheaper.
One of the most important things to do when you land in Barcelona is to look for a Spanish SIM card for your mobile phone. There are plenty of providers to choose from high-end ones to the budget ones.
Some of the most popular providers are Lycamobile, Vodafone, Orange, and Jazztel. We recommend Lycamobile and we offer FREE SIM CARDS to everyone. Just come to our office any day from Monday to Friday between 10:30 and 19:30. Our address is Rambla de Catalunya, 43, 1-1, 08007 Barcelona.
Here are some of the reasons we recommend Lycamobile:
- Completely FREE sim card without any fees
- Without a fixed price, load the plan you want. Whenever and however you want
- Without permanence
- Immediate activation
- Free English customer service
- Free calls from Lycamobile to Lycamobile numbers
- Charge as you go
Studentfy is the largest student association in Spain. We offer the best deals, products and services to the international student community in Spain.
We are a group of international alumni who experienced and went through the same challenges the international students and foreigners face in Spain. We have dedicated ourselves to make sure you get the most out of your time in Spain and do not make the mistakes we have made along the way.
Some services we offer are: