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 the 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 touristic 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 two 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.
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 touristic 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 Tibidabo mountain, 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 touristic 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, rollerblades or a 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 are 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 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 searching 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 lets talk about fun!!! Barcelona is an OMG party destination during the summer. Actually is one of my favorites 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 a 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, Piknic Electronik
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 Eletronik, 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.
And do you know you can rent a house, a boat, a castle or a room on Airbnb? Curious? Sign up here and get a discount on your first booking!
Don’t forget that Barcelona is a city to be discovered by 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!
Have you already visited Barcelona? Do you have a favorite spot there?