Quirky, vibrant, and ever-changing, Barcelona is my all-time-favourite European city. Every time I visit, there’s something new to discover in the Catalan capital, which is why I’ve always harboured a dream to live there someday. Over numerous trips, I’ve gathered loads of great insider tips for the best things to do in Barcelona. Here’s my guide to exploring like a local…
Image credit: Peresanz
Yes, I’ve already raved about the chocolate scene in Barcelona numerous times. The city is a chocoholic’s dream! There’s even a chocolate museum, the Museu de la Xocolata, in El Born – a district known for its trendy cafes. If you’re after Spain’s best-known sweet treat, and the best churros in Barcelona, you’ll find plenty of stalls and shops all over the city. But locals love Xurreria Trebol, which was featured in this awesome interactive guide from Avis. You’ll find it between the Eixample and Gracia districts, and its even open 24 hours a day over the weekend – that’s how popular this little family run shop is!
Image credit: eyeofpaul
If that’s not enough chocolate for you, then check out my chocolate guide to Barcelona for even more recommendations.
On Your Bike!
If you really want to explore Barcelona like a local, rent a bike. Despite busy roads and the rabbits-warren tangle of streets that is Las Ramblas, this is a really popular city for cycling – and with hundreds of kilometres of bike lanes around this (relatively flat) city, it’s a great way to get around. Rent a bike to get around the way locals do, or take a bike tour (like I did) to see the city from a whole new perspective.
One of my favourite things about Barcelona is the thriving street art scene there. Flicking through the Avis guide, I discovered the Kiss of Freedom – an incredible piece of art I’ve never seen before. On the list for my next visit!
There’s art work to discover all over the city. Look out for pieces by famous local artist Pez– the guy behind the iconic smiling cartoon fish, who can be spotted all over Barcelona. There’s also quite a lot of work by Parisian artist C215, “France’s answer to Banksy”.Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and El Born are probably the best districts to hunt out street art in Barcelona (I highly recommend the free Barcelona Street Art Walking Tourthere). So get out and explore!
Forget the busy (and expensive) tourist bars lining La Rambla. All the cool kids in Barcelona are drinking in secret speakeasies these days. If you can find it, El Amario is one of my favourite bars in Barcelona – it’s hidden behind a wardrobe in the owner’s front room! Even more secret is the speakeasy within a speakeasy at El Paradiso. This Russian doll of speakeasies is a bar hidden behind the loos inside a bar hidden behind a fridge door in a pastrami shop. As you’ll discover, Barcelona is a city that’s embraced the speakeasy trend, and then some! So ask for some local recommendations and get hunting.
Eat with a Local
For a real taste of Barcelona like a local, why not head home for dinner with one? BonAppetour is a fabulous site which brings travellers and locals together for authentic foodie experiences. It’s sort of like AirBnb or Couchsurfing, but with food! There are loads of cool options to choose from in Barcelona, from traditional paella to Japanese fusion cuisine, all cooked for you by a local in their own home.
There’s even an open air cinema night with home-made street food! Or why not try a tapas cooking class with local chef Yves, like I did. (Read more about my experiences in this post). Prices are often much better than at local restaurants, and you’ll be getting a far more authentic experience with a chance to meet locals and get to know the “real” side of Barcelona.
Image credit: Jenifoto
What are your favourite things to do in Barcelona? If you’re a local or expat living in Barcelona, share your insider tips in the comments!
This post was brought to you in association with Avis. As always, all words and opinions are my own!