Barcelona consistently ranks in the list of best cities to visit in Europe. With beautiful ocean and mountain views, great food, nightlife, culture, art and history – it’s not hard to know why. Any visitor is going to have a long list of things they want to see and do. But, lets take a moment and think about what you should not do. Right now the streets are busy with tourists and most of them stick to the usual spots – Las Ramblas and El Gotico. This is my list to help you visit Barcelona in a less-touristy and more local way.
Hack #1: Don’t wait in line
You HAVE to see all the Gaudi places, even though it is tourist-central, they’re epicly amazing. But, you DON’T have to do it the tourist way. Get your tickets in ADVANCE. You skip the line and enter at a designated timeframe, but you can stay as long as you want. It’s like passing all the traffic in the carpool lane. Wave at the people eating ice cream waiting in line under the hot sun for an hour. You got VIP express line – you win. Reserve at:
Hack #2: Don’t eat paella
Every tourist I ever meet, ask “Where should we eat paella?” And even if it is a local favorite, even by locals to have paella on a Sunday afternoon near the beach… it is not the only traditional Barcelona food that you should be sampling. Try ordering escalivada a simple yet tasty dish of grilled/roasted eggplant and bell pepper with olive oil and salt. You can order it with cod fish, and then it is called esqueixada. For breakfast, be sure to try pan con tomate – a very common, popular and delicious morning or afternoon snack. If you like paella you might also try Fideuà – which is very similar to paella, just instead of rice they use noodles.
But what you really should do is check out the markets other than La Boqueria (the tourist favorite on Las Ramblas). Two options to consider are a visit to Mercat del Ninot or Mercat Santa Catalina. You might also check out Taperia Lolita, a highly recommended place from foodie resource, Partaste. For the best help with local food options, check out Devour Barcelona Food Tours that focuses on locally run restaurants and sampling traditional food.
Hack #3: Don’t take the metro
Barcelona is a very walkable city, so I recommend that you do the best you can to walk everywhere. If you do get tired and need a break, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad – Uber is illegal in Spain. The good news is – a smart taxi company has created an app similar in features, MyTaxi. As an added bonus you can combine it with this – get 10€ off your first ride with my referral code: VanessaS11
For more great apps to use when visiting Barcelona, check out my article on Barcinno: 7 Homegrown Apps To Explore Barcelona Like A Local
Hack #4: Don’t pay terrace tax
In central tourist zone (Gotico, El Born, Las Ramblas, near Plaça Catalunya) if you sit outside on the terrace – you will pay extra. Restaurants add a surcharge to your tab to sit outside, the most desirable location to be in the summer! Sometime it is a flat fee per check. Other times there is an increase in price for each item. To avoid the terrace tax go to places that are not touristy. Get out of Las Ramblas, La Eixample and El Gotico. Go to neighborhoods like Gracia, Poble Sec or Poble Nou. Or be smart and find a rooftop terrace… (see next hack!)
Hack #5: Don’t eat on the street
Let me buy a drink for the person who decided to make rooftop terraces a staple to the lifestyle here in beautiful Barcelona. There is nothing – nothing! – better than a Barcelona rooftop terrace. Many times if you just look up at the top of buildings you can notice big plants, trees, canopies, and lamps. Go into the lobby of that hotel and ask if you can go up! One of my favorites is Hotel Pulitzer that also has evening DJ sessions, check out their schedule. http://www.hotelpulitzer.es/en/fooddrinks/pulitzer-terrace/
Hack #6: Don’t drink cappuccinos
I’m not sure where it started, or why – but it is a favorite restaurant order for many tourists (generally speaking, people from the United States – I’m guilty of it to, at least when I first arrived!). Here in Southern Europe, not just Spain but also in Italy, it is seen as ‘too heavy’ and ‘too much milk’ to have a cappuccino in the afternoon. If you do have a desire for a cappuccino, order it with breakfast, not lunch. Afternoon coffee should be a café cortado, café solo, or if you must, a café con leche. The coffee in Spain is strong, good quality and well made. My personal favorite is a cortado – an espresso with a dollop of foam. Just the right amount of caffeine and not too much milk that would be heavy in the summer heat.
#7: Don’t use hotel wifi!
Barcelona is home to many great coworking spaces, and many of them have drop-in offers. You can visit the local community, connect with entrepreneurs and interesting startups who call Barcelona home. Talent Garden Barcelona has drop-in offers and even 5 or 10-pack for the traveling entrepreneurs.
Come say hi to our community here in Talent Garden, and we can have a café cortado together.
Posted by Vanessa Shaw from Human Side of Tech, our TAG Barcelona Coworker.