Barcelona is among the world’s most visited cities. Spain’s second-largest city is an open, cosmopolitan city with an old story, stunning architecture, sun-soaked beaches, delicious cuisine and also perfect Mediterranean weather.
While some tourists run quick searches on things to do, to really get to know this breathtaking city you need to go beyond its tourist attractions and have an insider’s perspective.
Understanding and respecting the local’s customs and traditions is important to feel like you are connecting with the local cultural and community. Here are some tips to get out and explore the city like a local.
Admire the View from Bunkers del Carmel Like a Local
Also known as The Barcelona Bunkers. The Bunkers stand at the hilltop of the Turó de la Rovira mountain, with a majestic and unobstructed view of the entire city. You can even see The Sagrada Familia – Gaudí’s architectural masterpiece and many other landmarks of Barcelona.
They were built during the Spanish Civil War, back in the 1030s, and acted as a base for anti-aircraft warfare and defending the city from aerial attacks.
Bunkers del Carmel is a great place where locals gather to enjoy the sunset: the best way to get a feel for local life is to head to areas when spaniards play away from the busy tourist sights!.
The entrance is free and the place it’s open 24/7. Also, it’s allowed to take snacks and something to drink to enjoy the magical moment when the sun goes behind the mountains.
Be aware that the hike could be a little difficult due to the absence of stairs, so wear trainers or at least don’t wear shoes that could easily slip off.
If you wish to speak with locals and you´re Spanish is getting rusty, or you don’t even know how to pronounce the basics, a spanish class barcelona could be a great opportunity to immerse yourself in this multicultural city by learning in your daily life the world’s most second language, a valuable asset for both your personal and professional life.
Eat Like a Local: Tapas and Wine
In Spanish, the literal meaning for the world “tapa” is “cover” or “coaster”. According to an old legend, when men frequented taverns to drink red wine (Spain’s most popular alcoholic beverage) they used coasters to avoid flies drawing into the glass.
Later on, the “tapas” became food snacks served over those coasters, for those men to eat something to prevent drunkenness and misconduct. The tapas are now known in Spain as a hot or cold appetizer, typically served with wine or beer, and they’re part of the country’s traditional cuisine.
Typical tapas dishes are toasted breads with various toppings that can include chorizo, meatballs, spanish omelets, olives, cured ham, cheese and all types of fish and seafood, among other ingredients. Also, modern fusion of tapas include such diverse offerings such as mexican and asian ingredients, barbecue, and baked beans.
The great thing about them is that tapas can be served at breakfast, lunch or brunch and as there’s a wide variety of them, they are suitable for special diets such as vegetarian or vegan.
Smart tip: if you want to explore Spain’s diverse flavours having some tapas, try to avoid bars and restaurants near La Rambla (central pedestrian street in Barcelona), they are crowded and overpriced.
There are many different places that serve tapas all around the city. In fact, if you go to a restaurant and they don’t have any tapas, it can’t be a good spanish restaurant, just go find any other place to have an authentic spanish experience.
Enjoy the Sun, Sand and Sea Like a Local
Besides its perfect mediterranean weather (very mild, with few extreme temperatures), Barcelona boasts a number of beautiful beach locations that can suit everyone, whether you’re looking simply for a place to relax or you are passionate about watersports like windsurfing.
Barcelona’s beaches are also well communicated and include different services such as toilets, sport facilities, information posts and lifeguards, among others, and in comparison to other mediterranean beaches the paid services (like the beach bars, called “xiringuitos” or rent of towels) aren’t very expensive.
However, don’t let yourself get stucked into touristy central beaches (Barceloneta or Sant Sebastia), you’ll find out that they are pretty crowded – especially from april to october – and you’ll be hassled by club promoters and sellers of different products every couple minutes.
On the other hand, if you head further away from downtown, you will escape from the majority of sellers and find a much more local crowd.
For instance, the beach of Castelldefels is endless and extremely wide. You will find plenty of space to spread out your towel and relax. Many locals head to this beach, especially on the weekend, but as people distribuite well it does not feel as crowded at all.
Badalona is another option loved by local people. Both of them are easy to get to on Barcelona’s extensive railway and metro networks. However, if you don’t want to get away from the city centre of Barcelona, but look for a place that is quieter than the more central urban beaches, Somorrostro beach is also a very special place.