back to top

20 Things Locals Love About Barcelona

There’s more to the Catalan capital than football and sangria – and we’ve got proof. We've teamed up with British Airways to ask Barcelona locals where all the hotspots are.

Posted on

1. Take the bus to Park Güell

Cayetano/Flickr/(CC BY-SA http://2.0) / Via Flickr: cayetano

Park Güell is a stunning garden complex designed by Antoni Gaudí, the architect whose work has defined Barcelona.

The gardens are filled with beautiful mosaics and statues, while the buildings are so pretty they look like they could have been made out of gingerbread.

2. Sip coffee at the Plaça de la Concòrdia

MARIA ROSA FERRE/Flickr/(CC BY-SA http://2.0) / Via Flickr: mrosa-ferre

This small main square in Les Corts has been called a 'hidden gem' by locals. The name means 'Harmony Square' which is the perfect name for this little piece of zen away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Visit Fragments Café for a cup of coffee, or take in some culture at the Centre Cívic Can Déu.

3. Visit Sant Antoni Market on a Sunday morning

Tania Cataldo/Flickr/(CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: taniacataldo

Visit the Sant Antoni Market on a Sunday morning and it will be wonderfully bereft of tourists.

This market is a treasure trove of vintage books, comics, coins and posters.

4. Eat ice cream at Tomo II


Like we need to tell you twice!

Tomo II is everything you want in an ice cream emporium: quality goods, range of flavours, reasonable price and generous portions!

We've been told the vanilla is divine, but the Crema Catalana: burnt sugar and cinnamon, is their top-seller.

5. Ride a steel donkey


AKA, take a bike ride.

Barcelona-ites like nothing better than exploring the city by bike. Steel Donkey Bike Tours promise a tour of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, the neoclassical cemetery of Poblenou and a game of ping pong under the shade of the palm trees on the way to Marbella beach. Bliss!

6. Dance the night away at Magic


Magic is a lively and unpretentious rock club beloved by locals.

The drinks are reasonably priced, it is open late and the music spans decades of rock. They hold lots of theme nights and events and, more often than not, you get a free drink on entry and/or free entry before 12pm.

7. Bypass Las Ramblas

Oh Barcelona/Flickr/(CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: oh-barcelona

Las Ramblas is probably Barcelona's most famous boulevard. It's worth a stroll down there to see the stalls, street performers and shops.

The food is deceptively expensive: you may be lured in with the promise of cheap tapas, but you'll be hit with a large drinks bill at the end.

Instead, explore nearby Gràcia: a hub of stunning architecture and eateries.

8. Drink banana hot chocolate and eat delicious salads at Nakupenda


Nakupenda (the Swahili word for "I love you") is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cosy bar/cafe.

The exotic salads are infamous, as are the condensed milk coffees, smoothies and hot chocolates.

The terrace is the perfect place for people watching or flirting over a banana kiss.

9. Buy biscuits baked by Spanish nuns at Caelum

Jun Seita/Flickr/(CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: jseita

Caelum sells delicious baked goods, wines, sweets and handicrafts made in monasteries and convents throughout Spain.

We've been told to opt for the holy honeycake or the almond pastries. Delicious! The only downside is that it is a little pricey compared to most places in Barcelona - but where else can you eat a biscuit made by a nun?!

11. Get lost at the Parc del Laberint d'Horta BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: oh-barcelona

The Parc del Laberint d'Horta is the oldest garden in Barcelona, dating back to 1791.

There's two great reasons to go here:

1. It's a labyrinth. The name might have clued you into this. And it's genuinely easy to get lost here. But don't fear - there's beautiful tadpole-filled ponds, flowers and other natural wonders for you to observe while frantically signalling for help.

2. Tickets cost just €2.23. That's less than the price of a coffee back home!

12. Wander down the backstreets and dine at Salterio


Salterio has been praised for serving up the 'best sangria in Barcelona' as well as its pita pocket pizzas known as Sardos.

The food is traditional Moroccan fare and is one of the few places where you can get a fully vegetarian meal.

Be warned: this restaurant is a little tricky to find because it is so hidden.

13. Drink cocktails at Ginger

bar called #Ginger in the Gotico region of #Barcelona. For a change. #artfuldodging

Scott Temple@stemple_

bar called #Ginger in the Gotico region of #Barcelona. For a change. #artfuldodging

11:54 PM - 02 Mar 13ReplyRetweetFavorite

There's two reasons to visit Ginger:

1. There's cocktails.

2. The tapas is superb

The cocktails are prohibition-style and the whole place eludes a Gatsby-esque glamour. They also offer an amazing selection of red wine by the glass, carafe or bottle.

Some may find the service a tad slow… But that's only because so much care is put into the drinks.

14. The magical fountain

Harshil Shah/Flickr/(CC BY-ND http://2.0) / Via Flickr: harshilshah

The Font Màgica (magic fountain) is one of the few attractions loved by both tourists and locals.

The fountain plays musical shows: everything from Bach to the Star Wars theme, accompanied by jets of water and coloured lights. It's also free to watch.

15. Visit the very secret Tapioles 53

Described as a 'True Barcelona secret' Tapioles 53 is a secret and exclusive (by virtue of its size and the fact that it only holds one sitting per night) restaurant.

The restaurant is hidden with no sign on the door, so make sure you make a note of where it is before you venture out.

The food is fresh from markets that day and is cooked by owner Sarah Stothart, former personal chef to Rupert Murdoch. There is no menu - the chef comes and explains the dishes, and the restaurant only seats between six and 18 people.

The food comprises of Mediterranean and Asian-inspired dishes, and the house red is a very reasonable €12.00 per bottle.

16. Drink Czech beer and eat tapas at Pivobar

Tom Longfield/Flickr/(CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: schlongfield

Although this is a Czech-themed bar, locals praise Pivobar for its quality beer, friendly staff, reasonable prices and carefree bohemian atmosphere. You'll be hard pressed to find less than a 5* review for it online.

Our advice: try the potato salad and the fried and/or marinated cheese.

A word of warning: you'll be asked if you want your drink child (!) or adult-sized. Child-size is 1/2 pint and the adult-size is massive! So get someone to give you a hand if you're getting a round in.

Added bonus: They occasionally serve Czech food, most often at weekends.

17. Visit the birthplace of Salvador Dali

Moof/Flickr/(CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: secretagentmoof

There's nothing to say you have to stick to the city centre: Figueres is just an hour away from Barcelona, and is the birthplace of surrealist artist Salvador Dali. There's a museum dedicated to the great man: the building of which is almost as exciting as his art.

The rest of the town itself comprises of beautiful Catalan architecture and plenty of places to eat, drink and make merry!

18. Shop for bargains at Els Encants flea market

Mr. Theklan/Flickr/(CC BY-SA http://2.0) / Via Flickr: theklan

Els Encants is one of Europe's oldest markets, dating back to the 14th century, and is the biggest of its kind in Barcelona.

There is a lot of old tat there, but it's not uncommon to find a gleaming 'ganga' (bargain) amongst the junk. If you go between 8-9.30am on a Monday, Wednesday or a Friday you can watch the auctions take place.

19. Walk on the wild side at El Raval

Katri/Flickr/(CC BY-ND http://2.0) / Via Flickr: kjmniemi

El Raval is Barcelona's slightly seedy underbelly. It's not a stereotypically tourist area, but if you persevere you'll be rewarded by a vibrant mix of locals, noise, street art, museums, bars, cool shops and undoubtedly a glimpse at the 'real' Barcelona.

20. Pamper yourself at Aire de Barcelona

Clicar y #relajarse Imagina #airearse

AIRE Baños Árabes@Airebanosarabes

Clicar y #relajarse

Imagina #airearse

2:50 PM - 29 Jul 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The Aire de Barcelona spa is a restored Arab baths located right in the city centre.

Within the ancient stone walls you can partake in the Templarium (warm), Caldarium (hot) and Frigidarium (cold) rooms as well as a hamam steam bath. For an extra cost there are massages and other treatments to be had.

Booking is vital and the waiting list sometimes stretches as far as three weeks away.

British Airways flies direct to Barcelona up to 10 times a day between London Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

Prices start from £39 one-way travelling on a hand baggage only fare.