Barcelona. The city of Gaudí. The Catalan capital. Cosmopolitan to its core. The city is without a doubt one of the most authentic places in all of Spain.
And it’s crawling with tourists. They’re everywhere. All down La Rambla. Climbing over each other on the Barceloneta. Clogging the streets in the Barri Gòtic. In such a vibrant city, it comes with the territory.
If you’re a traveler, you’re looking to get out of all that mess. And we don’t blame you.
So, how do you take advantage of Barcelona’s genuine character? Where do you go to get off the tourist drags in one of the world’s most touristed cities? If you want to live like a local in touristy Barcelona, try these 5 activities. You won’t be disappointed!
1. Go underground
Really underground. If you want something that’s legitimately off the trodden tourist path, head over to Refugi 307.
Curated by Barcelona’s Museum of History (MUHBA), Refugi 307 is the name of a group of tunnels and a bomb shelter that lay just beneath the ancient city streets.
Built to protect against Francoist bombardments during the Spanish Civil War, it is just 1 of over 1000 similar bomb shelters that are hidden under the city.
History. Creepy surroundings. A bit of urban exploration. It’s as local as local gets.
2. Find a plaza
Want to really live like a local in Barcelona? Get out of the tourist zones, find the most interesting plaça, and make it your own.
My personal favorite? The Plaça de la Vila de Gracia. Full of terraces, shops, and-- most importantly-- locals, this plaza is right in the center of Barcelona. But it doesn’t get swamped with the typical tourist horde.
If that doesn’t suit you, then try the Plaça de la Concòrdia in the Les Corts neighborhood, or even Plaça del Pi, which has a lovely farmer’s market.
A nice terraza, a drink or two (or more), and we guarantee that you’ll start to feel more like a local in some of those authentic little plazas.
3. Get out of the city
Being a local isn’t just about knowing the city. It’s also about having a deep understanding of the areas around the the city too. So get out of town!
Don’t know where to start? Try the Carretera de les Aigües.
The Carretera de les Aigües is an almost 10km trail full of bikers, runners, and other locals out for some fresh air. And, because it overlooks the city, you’ll get a better, unique perspective of Barcelona.
So put on your running shoes or grab your bike. You’ll fit right in with real Barcelona locals up there. You’ll be well on your way to becoming a local yourself!
4. Hit the local bars
Pro tip: get away from the busy tourist bars in Barcelona’s center. Take a walk out of the center and start going where the locals go.
But where do they go?
Try out L’Ovella Negra, a classic local haunt, or the cheap-but-good-value Vinos y Max. Or, if you’re looking for something really different, give Le Cyrano a try-- they let you pour your own drinks over there!
Not into sitting around in a bar all night? No problem. Take a tour with a local, and mix some culture in with the drinks. Low-key, non-touristy bliss.
5. Chill in the Ciutadella
There’s nothing more local than becoming a regular at the local park. And, while Parc Güell is gorgeous, it would take a miracle to relax around that tourist hotspot.
So come to the Parc de la Ciutadella. Pack a picnic, and let your imagination run wild-- being in the Ciutadella feels like being in an exotic, far-away jungle.
Hire a boat. Admire the scenery. Have a picnic with friends. Or, better yet, a boozy picnic (municipal laws permitting, of course). You’ll blend right in with the locals in no time.
Are you a Barcelona local? What are some of your favorite local things to do in Barcelona? Let us know!
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