Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe and a blend of fascinating architecture, Mediterranean charm, and cultural attractions. Aside from that, it is also a highly suitable location for remote workers. On this basis, here is a complete Barcelona digital nomad guide.
Welcome to Barcelona: a Mediterranean Powerhouse
Barcelona has been an important city for many centuries. Founded as a Roman settlement, the city rose to power after joining the Kingdom of Aragon in the 15th century.
Since then, Barcelona has been part of Spain, but it never forgot its autonomy-driven spirit. Today, Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia, and there have been numerous independence movements in the last few decades.
Barcelona is famous for its architecture, especially the buildings of Catalan architect Antoní Gaudi (1852-1926). His designs – including the world-renowned Sagrada Familia – give Barcelona its unmistakable charm. Aside from that, Barcelona is just pretty. It’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing cities on the planet, thanks to its symmetry and eclectic architecture.
Barcelona is also one of the economic, academic, and transport hubs of Spain. The capital of Catalonia is a prosperous and trendy city – attracting a diverse population of Spaniards, Catalans, and ex-pats.
Better still, Barcelona is an excellent location for remote workers. Here are a few reasons why:
- The cultural and culinary offer is extensive;
- There are lots of young professionals and startups from all over the world;
- The infrastructure is top-notch;
- The cost of living isn’t particularly low, but it’s more affordable than other major European cities like Paris, Rome, or Amsterdam.
Barcelona is a fantastic place to spend a few months as a location-independent employee or entrepreneur. Without further ado, here is a complete Barcelona digital nomad guide.
Where to Live in Barcelona as a Digital Nomad
As a Barcelona digital nomad, you’ll want to stay in a central location – close to the city’s attractions and nightlife, but you probably don’t want to live in a tourist bubble.
It’s also essential to mention that most of Barcelona’s most famous sites – the Güell Park, the Sagrada Familia, the beaches, the Rambla, and the Camp Nou Stadium – are actually quite far away from each other. As such, don’t try to stay close to either one of those. Focus on finding a central location with good public transport connections.
In this context, several neighborhoods are suitable.
Ciutat Vella: Best for First-Timers
If you’ve never been to Barcelona, staying in Ciutat Vella (or Eixample right around the corner) as a digital nomad is a no-brainer.
You’ll be living in the city’s oldest neighborhood, and you’ll be within walking distance of many of the best sights. The area also has La Rambla, several beaches, and lots of nightlife opportunities.
The main drawback is that Ciutat Vella is a tourist neighborhood. If you’re looking for the best places to live in Barcelona like a local, it might not be a suitable neighborhood. Worse still, prices here are higher than in other central parts of the city.
Sagrada Familia: a Great Mix in the Center
The Sagrada Familia Cathedral is arguably the most famous location in Barcelona, and the neighborhood surrounding it has a lot going for it.
Even though it’s home to the city’s most well-known landmark, it’s not as touristy as Ciutat Vella.
It offers a mix between locals, ex-pats, and tourists, and there are lots of great restaurants and trendy coffee shops. Better still, the Sagrada Familia area is well-connected by public transport and strategically located between the old town and the hillside neighborhoods.
I like staying here because it isn’t as crowded as Ciutat Vella but still only a short metro ride away from the city’s attractions.
Les Corts: the Modern Area
If you’ve been to Barcelona many times, Les Corts is an option. It’s a more modern area with not much for tourists except the fabled Camp Nou Stadium.
Nevertheless, it’s a great area for business travelers and those who want to live a bit further away from Barcelona’s tourism hotspots.
Cost of Living in Barcelona for Digital Nomads
Any Barcelona digital nomad will wonder about prices, and let me tell you this: it isn’t the most affordable nomad base in Europe. Prices have risen quite a lot in recent years, and especially housing is a problem.
On this basis, here is a breakdown of one month of digital nomad expenses in 2021:
- Apartment: 600€ for a small, centrally-located one-bedroom that I found through a local agency (Airbnb would be double);
- Food and Drinks: 350€;
- Public Transport and Taxis: 80€
- Tourist Activities: 100€;
- Miscellaneous like hairdressers and coworking in Barcelona: 150€
Total: 1,280€ (~1,480 USD).
Bump that up by 400-500€ if you’re staying in an Airbnb as will be the case for most Barcelona digital nomads.
All in all, expect to spend around 2k USD per month if you’re living as a remote worker in Barcelona.
The Best Barcelona Coworking Locations and Coffee Shops
Barcelona offers a wide range of co-working spaces and nomad-friendly coffee shops. Here are some of my favorites:
- MOB (Makers of Barcelona) in Eixample: one of the best Barcelona coworking spaces full of creators and entrepreneurs;
- Felisa Cowork in Eixample: a one-stop coworking space where you can choose between different offers, including mentoring, massages, and organic food;
- OneCowork in Marina Port Vell: an upscale coworking space with a 360° terrace overlooking superyachts in the marina;
- La Vaca in Poble Sec: a chilled-out, hipsterish coworking space a bit outside of the center;
- Imagin Café in Eixample: an excellent coworking space close to the University of Barcelona;
- Satan’s Coffee: one of the best coffee shops in Barcelona to work in a laidback ambiance;
- Laie Libreria Café: a central-located coffee shop that merges with a bookstore;
- Alsur Café: a chain of artsy coffee shops all over the city.
10 Must-Visit Attractions in Barcelona
Sagrada Familia Cathedral
The Sagrada Familia is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world with its quirky facade and ornate towers. Designed by Gaudi, construction started in 1882, and it’s still not finished. According to current estimates, the structure will be complete in 2026. Let’s see about that.
In summer, most residents and tourists gather at Barcelona’s beaches. There are several to choose from, but La Barceloneta is the most popular. The area is also home to Frank Gehry’s Peix, a giant golden fish built for the 1992 Olympic Games.
When it comes to the top places to visit in Barcelona, Güell Park is among the most iconic. The park overlooks the city and is brimming with colorful Gaudi artwork as well as several museums.
Casa Milà and other Gaudi Buildings
Apart from Parque Güell, several other Gaudi buildings should feature on your Barcelona itinerary.
Finished in 1912, the Casa Milà (La Pedrera) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has a beautiful rooftop terrace.
Other must-see Gaudi buildings in Barcelona are the Casa Battló, the Casa Vicens, and the Torre Bellesguard.
The Rambla is Barcelona’s most famous avenue and home to stunning architecture and shops. The tree-lined street is 1.2 kilometers long and mostly pedestrianized. Be aware that the southern part can become a bit sketchy at night.
Picasso Museum and Other Museums
Barcelona has a vast panoply of impressive museums. Some of the best include the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, the Joan Miró Foundation, and the Contemporary Art Museum.
For more info on Barcelona’s museums, check this page.
Camp Nou Stadium
With 98,000 seats, the Camp Nou is the largest stadium in Europe, and it’s here where FC Barcelona, one of the most successful football clubs in history, plays. Even if you can’t get tickets for a game, visiting this football temple is a must for any Barcelona digital nomad.
Apart from the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross or simply “Barcelona Cathedral” is another stunning church to visit in Barcelona.
Consecrated in the 11th century, it’s one of the most striking medieval structures in the Catalan capital.
The Best Viewpoints in Barcelona
The northern part of Barcelona is situated in the hills. As such, various locations offer breathtaking views over the city and the Mediterranean.
In this context, the Bunkers del Carmel (Mirador de la Rovira), the Torre Collserola, and the Tibidabo are excellent spots for photography or a romantic sunset experience.
The Coolest Markets in Barcelona
When it comes to unique things to do in Barcelona, the markets are undoubtedly a must.
In this regard, the Mercado de La Boquería is an excellent location for local delicacies close to the Rambla. A little more off the beaten path, the Mercat de Sant Antoni is a less touristy alternative.
Barcelona Digital Nomad Guide: Know Before You Go
Sim Cards and Connectivity
Many companies offer Sim Cards in Barcelona, but in my experience, Orange Spain and Movistar have the best coverage and mobile data speed.
The Wifi in Barcelona is decent but not record-breaking. The average speed is 81 Mbps, 50% higher than in the rest of Spain.
One thing to know before traveling to Barcelona is that locals speak Catalan, not Spanish. There are, however, a few caveats to that.
First, Catalans also speak Spanish. Consequently, if you know Spanish, you shouldn’t have any trouble. Some Catalans don’t like to communicate in Spanish for political reasons, but that’s generally the case in rural parts of Catalonia, not Barcelona.
Secondly, many people who live and work in Barcelona are Spaniards, not Catalans. As such, they usually speak Spanish.
With the city’s tourism boom and popularity among ex-pats, English is also widely spoken.
To have a great experience in Barcelona, learning a few basic phrases in Catalan is recommendable. You can use Spanish or English for the rest.
Barcelona is known as a pick-pocketing hotspot in southern Europe. Apart from that, the city is as safe as any other European metropolis.
Be very careful with your belongings in crowded tourist hotspots like the Rambla and the beaches. Petty theft aside, common sense will suffice to stay safe in Barcelona.
How to Get Around Barcelona
Barcelona has an excellent public transport system consisting of metros and buses. The metro network is extensive and covers almost every part of the city, from the airport to beaches.
On weekdays, it runs until midnight. On weekends and holidays, you can hop on a subway until 2 am. Find more information on Barcelona’s metro system here.
After a short absence due to government issues, Uber returned to Barcelona in 2021.