Barcelona is much more than La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas and other sights that you see through a simple Google search. It is always better to try to see the city from the locals’ point of view. There is so much you can do and see off the beaten track
1. Must-see sights
Still, if you have never been to Barcelona before, don’t leave without visiting La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell and La Pedrera, the three most famous landmarks of the city and the main sites of Gaudi’s architecture. Better to book the tickets for entry in advance if you want to avoid long queues (sometimes queues can be as long as two hours!).
2. Barcelona is not only the centre
The city is well-known for some of its iconic sights like Las Ramblas, La Sagrada Familia or La Pedrera, which are all located in the centre of town. Outside the city centre, there are other places worth visiting like Montjuïc mountain and its castle and the Turó de la Rovira and its breathtaking view of Barcelona.
3. Visit the markets of the city
Barcelona is a city of markets, where you can enjoy sampling fresh foods and the atmosphere of older times and often forget that you are in a vibrant 21st century city. Visit La Boqueria, the most popular, central and the oldest market of the city, but also go to the other markets like Santa Caterina or Sant Antoni.
4. Eat tapas
You need to try tapas at least once in the local bars. It is one of the most famous types of Spanish food. Tapas are small plates with shrimp, jamón, some meat, sea food, croquettes, patatas bravas or fish. You can choose one or a few at the same time
5. Be aware of local eating times
If you are in the touristic places it should not be a problem, but if you are off the tourist track, be aware that locals eat at specific time. Don’t expect to have lunch before 1pm (usually, the Spanish eat between 2 pm and 4 pm) and don’t go for dinner before 8.30 pm (locals eat between 9 pm and 11 pm). Some restaurants could be closed at other hours or just serve drinks.
6. Leave tips
There is no written rule, but Spanish people usually leave tips after meals. No one knows how much you have to leave, but think around the 5% to 10% mark of your meal’s bill.
7. Barcelona is a walkable city
One of the best things to do in Barcelona is to walk. Distances are not as long as in the other main European cities. Walking also allows you to discover the city as a local and enjoy its splendid architecture in some districts like Ciutat Vella or Eixample. The Mediterranean climate makes the walks enjoyable all year long.
8. Take the metro to go further
If you don’t have enough time to walk around the city, take the metro. The fast and convenient subway gets to every place of the city (starting this year, it also goes to the airport). The opening times are also very convenient, from Sunday to Thursday from 5 am to 12 am, on Friday from 5 am to 2am, and Saturday, it is open 24 hours!
9. Local fiestas
If you are lucky enough to be in the city when a local fiesta is taking place, don’t hesitate and just go along like the locals do. Some of the main festivities of Barcelona are: ‘Festes de Gràcia’ and ‘Festes de Sants’, both held in August, when both districts Gràcia and Sants decorate their streets following a set theme. There is also the ‘Festes de la Mercè’ in September, when all of Barcelona is full of music and activities of different kinds. Another favourite is ‘Diada de Sant Jordi’, when the city turns red because due to the small stands selling roses and books. This happens on the 23rd of April.
10. Football, football and more football
If you are a football fan, this is your city. If you are lucky and have got tickets, go to the Camp Nou to see Messi and his teammates playing. If you cannot get a ticket, go to a neighbourhood bar to see a game, the fun is also guaranteed. And if you are extremely lucky and Barça wins an important title, you will see the city transforming into craziness, so just out on the streets and celebrate it.