Barcelona has beautiful architecture, culture, nature, and lots of tourists. So here are our 5 tips to enjoy Barcelona like a local. We will teach you how to escape from crowded spots and get the real Catalan feeling.
This was our second time in the Catalan capital and I think we’ll never get enough of it. On our first trip, we went to all the tourist attractions, neighborhoods, and parks. But this time we discovered how to enjoy Barcelona like a local and felt the urge to share it!
You have to know three important things about Barcelona:
– There are plenty of places to visit, things to see, food and drinks to taste.
– The city is packed, full of tourists.
– Barcelona is one of the best cities for weekend getaways in Europe.
– Traveling solo to Barcelona is an amazing experience!
That said, let’s go straight to the point: there is no way to avoid visiting the main attractions. So by the end of this post, we’ll give you a list of the unmissable places you have to visit. But first, we’ll go through our tips to enjoy Barcelona like a local.
My recommendation is to find a nice free walking tour to get to know a bit of the city (there are lots of them, we did with Runner Bean Walking Tour) and when you get tired of the crowded streets and tourist areas, you can follow our Love and Road special tips.
To enjoy Barcelona like a local must-go
1st – Peace & Love at El Carmel Bunker
Buy some beer or wine and head to Bunkers del Carmel, an old bunker built in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. Located in the highest mountain in the city, it has an amazing view and it’s perfect for watching the sunset.
While all the tourists are squeezing themselves at the Montjuic hill or Mount Tibidabo, in El Carmel you will have space enough to relax, take pictures and enjoy Barcelona like a local. Don’t be surprised if you are the only tourist in the place.
Because it’s not a tourist spot, the way up to the hill can be a bit tricky. Check the address and also ask for directions at the metro or bus station.
2nd – Enjoy the beach in a Catalan Style
It doesn’t matter the weather conditions or what time it is, Barcelona‘s beaches mean: Sport & Fun 24\7! Get a bicycle, rollerblade or skate, move your body and enjoy the huge promenade that the city has.
In total there are 9 beaches along the 4,5 km of coast. All of them can be reached by public transport (metro and bus), however, the locals prefer to cycle, run or have a nice walk around there. If you want to have a great experience join one of the rollerblades or run groups. There are daily activities at La Barceloneta beach.
Barceloneta is the most famous beach in the city, but there are other areas worth the visit. There is even a nudist beach close to downtown! 😉
3rd – Behind Gaudi’s building
Barcelona and Gaudi’s work is linked. In the past, we could visit some of his buildings and Park Guell for free, but now they are charging expensive entrance fees. 🙁 So instead of just appreciating his amazing work from the outside, we can tell you a little secret that will place you in the backyard of one of his palaces.
Casa Milà is located in the heart of Barcelona and has been in the restoration process, which means that you can’t see anything from the outside. Although there is a way that you can see the building from behind.
There is a shop called “Casa Viva” on the ground floor of Casa Milà, go inside and have a look on the shelves. Go up to the second-floor search for the outdoor products and pretend that you are a regular customer. From the garden, you can see Gaudi’s whole building.
Take a careful look at the chimneys, history says that George Lucas was inspired by them to create the Stormtroopers’ helmets.
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4th – Soy latina, baby
Now let’s talk about fun!!! Barcelona is an OMG party destination during the summer. Actually it is one of my favorite cities to go out, dance and have tons of fun.
There are plenty of bars, clubs, restaurants, and festivals. The big problem is how to find a nice place that will be not packed with tourists, nor have freaking expensive drinks and shitty music. During our last trip to Barcelona, we did some good research (tough work, you know 😀 ), and we found two great options to party in Barcelona like a local.
If you want to experiment some Salsa, Rumba or Bachata go to Antilla Club. The club is one of the traditional spots in the Barcelona dance scene and if you arrive before 9 pm you can join the free dance class. After 11 pm the two dance floors get super busy and you can appreciate some nice choreographies.
We were introduced to this place by a Russian couple that was sharing the apartment with us. And believe it or not, they can dance salsa and bachata much better than us! :
5th – Dance in the park
Forget the nightclubs at Las Ramblas and in front of the beach, most of them are tourist traps. To finish a great trip to Barcelona nothing better than a sunny Saturday or Sunday day party!
It used to be Piknic Elektronik, now it’s called Brunch in the park and it’s way more than a party. Brunch in the park is a summery event that brings people together in a green environment with good electronic music. It’s a celebration of Barcelona’s best assets: people, tapas, sangria, beer, sunny days, good music and party mood!
We went to the picnic with Dariia and Carlos, our Portuguese friends (you have already heard of them on our posts about Lisbon & Croatia). We didn’t plan the party in advance, by destiny, we were in the city on the same weekend and decided to enjoy Barcelona like locals.
As I promised you, after our 5 tips to enjoy Barcelona like a local I would give you the list of the main attractions in the city. So here it goes:
Barcelona top attractions
We stayed for one week in the city and that was enough to enjoy Barcelona like a local and be enchanted one more time. No doubt that it is in our top 5 places to visit!
You probably want to know about hotels in Barcelona, right?
We selected 3 hotels for a mid-range budget: Avenida Palace, Chic & Basic Ramblas & Balmes.
If you want to splurge these 3 hotels are incredible: Mercer Hotel, Casa Camper & Alma Barcelona.
For those looking for more affordable accommodation, have a look on this list of hotels in Barcelona.
Don’t forget that Barcelona is a city to be discovered on foot, so explore the neighborhood and streets of Gràcia and Ravel. Try different tapas, paellas and wine. The Catalan culture is amazing, let it surprise you!
To make the best of your time in Barcelona we handpicked the best of the best tours, have a look:
- Sagrada Família Basilica Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
Spain Travel Tips: read our guides, inspiring stories and travel recommendations for Spain here!
Have you already visited Barcelona? Do you have a favorite spot there?
43 thoughts on “5 Tips to Enjoy Barcelona Like a Local”
Great tips here. I really, really can’t wait to visit Barcelona! 🙂
Barcelona is on of our favorites cities… Book your flight and enjoy some weeks of summer there. It´s amazing!
This post makes me want to visit Barcelona again but stay away from everything that is packed with tourists and that I’ve probably already seen anyway 🙂
Don’t tell me, when I was writing I was thinking how much would cost to get a flight from Istanbul to Barcelona, just to enjoy a little bit more the weather and the atmosphere of that city!!
Even being a packed town there is something special there!
I visited Barcelona years ago, but only for a short time, so did not see much of it. I do plan to go there again – maybe even this summer, so this tips will come very handy! Thanks for sharing them with us 🙂
I´m glad you liked the post and it will be useful for your next trip! 🙂
I love Barcelona, for me it’s a special city! You just need to find some hidden places for once a while get away from the crowded streets and zombie tourists.
If you need any more info about Barcelona just write us!
All the best!
Thanks for these great tips! I would keep them in mind if I ever visit Barcelona! I’ve always hear great things about this country such as its atmosphere, the people, food and many more! This post is definitely convincing enough 🙂
I’m glad you like the tips!
Barcelona is an unique place, different from all Spain, has an incredible atmosphere!
All the best,
Great tips. I loved Barcelona when I visited years ago. This definitely make me want to return. I went I winter do never got to experience the beach. Las ranks was my favorite though, glad you included it.
You definitely need to go back to Barcelona for summer time. I just arrived from there (my third time) and the weather was perfect!
Wish I could have stayed a little bit more to enjoy the beach!
Very good suggestions for Barcelona, the nightlife there is really amazing!!
No doubts the nightlife is one of the best assets of Barcelona!
That view from the hill is amazing, thanks for some great tip for exploring the city
You are welcome Toni!!
It´s a pleasure to share our tips and help people to enjoy hidden secrets in a famous travel destination!
What a coincidence, I just wrote a similar post about London! 🙂
I visited Barcelona with my boyfriend for my birthday in November and must say that it must be a more beautiful place in the summer, it obviously rained when we came. But we enjoyed it anyway! Seeing this list would have been handy before our trip but we’ll have these tips in mind for next time!
Greetings from Finland,
So you have a good excuse to go back to Barcelona!! Now you have our travel tips and you must go on summer time! 😀
Will have a look on your blog, I have some friends going to London, will be great to give them some tips.
All the best, greetings from sunny Italy!
We’re here in Barcelona at this very moment. Depending upon what your interests are, there is so much to experience that I daresay a week is insufficient. We came from Mallorca and are heading to Costa Brava early in the week, so we’ve foregone the beach scene entirely in favor of foodie and neighborhood experiences.
You are so right Betsy, a week is not enough for a true Barcelona experience… I´d say a month would be good to have the real feeling… 😀
All the best,
Fantastic tips! It’s tough because when I go to new places, I want to see all of the famous touristy spots that tend to be SUPER busy and crowded…but then you also want some peace, maybe to walk around like a local, away from the crowds. These are some great tips here to try to achieve some of that balance, I think!
Thanks for stopping by Lauren!
I´m the same as you, I want to visit and see all the attractions but when I got tired I just want a glass of wine to enjoy the moment. That´s why I decided to share this hidden places we found in Barcelona. It´s always good to get out from the beaten path 😉
All the best,
Barcelona looks like such a fun city! The view from that viewpoint is incredible, and even better that you aren’t surrounded by a bunch of other people while trying to enjoy it.
The best part of the trip was the viewpoint!!
Next time I will do like the locals, I´m gonna take a bottle of wine with me to enjoy the incredible view! 😉
I love Barcelona! I really enjoyed your post. The pictures were so inviting!
Barcelona is an incredible city, you can never take a ugly photo there 😀
All the best,
I love Barcelona and your tips are perfect. I’d go back tomorrow and explore more. My favourite parts were Barri Gotico, Barceloneta and El Born. La Sagrada Familia is incredible too. Take me back! Thanks for sharing your fantastic post and photos
Happy that you like the post and the photos!!
Barcelona is one of my favourite cities too, I feel thrilled to share my good experiences there!
All the best,
Rravel to Barcelona like a local is not difficult. I am one of them. The point is that 90% of the major tourist attractions are in the center. Locals love to stroll through the Gothic Quarter, go to the Boqueria market, swim at the Barceloneta beach or eating in a restaurant on Passeig de Gracia or Born. The most common situation is that the tourist routes of Barcelona you find a Locals doing almost the same as the locals.
This is another thing that we love about Barcelona. Fun in the simple things, spend some time in Barceloneta beach, walk around the Gothic Quarter…
Every time we visit Barcelona we find more & more nice things to do 🙂
We love this city!
We love BCN too!!!!
I’ve been an expat in Barcelona for two years, and I feel compelled to tell your readers that La Barceloneta is one of the most crowded and tourist-heavy beaches in the city. I would not include it on a list of local things to do. I would recommend hopping on a train either going north or south along the coast, and you’ll find much more beautiful, less-crowded places to sunbathe and swim without being surrounded by obnoxious tourists.
Thanks for stopping by! If we talk about swimming and enjoy the whole day on the beach, for sure Barceloneta is not the best one. What we suggest on the post is to go to Barceloneta and enjoy the feeling of a urban beach, practice some sports as cycling or rollerblade. Have the experience of visit a busy and big city located on a nice coast. 😉
Thanks for the tips. I’m heading to Barcelona in 2 weeks, can’t wait to check some of them out.
Enjoy Barcelona!!!! We absolute LOVE BCN!
Pls eat some tapas for us:)
I really liked Barcelona – we went about 2 years ago and would suggest checking out the food market just off las Ramblas – if I remember it may only be open on a Thursday/Friday?
The markets in Barcelona are awesome, and you find them in every neighborhood. For sure worth to stop by!
Good Tips! Thinking of going to Spain and Portugal this summer and would defiantly have to check out Barcelona.
You must visit Barcelona, it’s a stunning city.
All the best,
Glad you liked!