Leonie Discovers

8 Ways to enjoy Barcelona like a local


When traveling we want to discover the authentic places, experience culture and traditions, try local food and drinks. Basically live local life for a short time of our vacations. But what are the best places to visit in travel destination? What are the best local places?

This post is dedicated to all my friends seeking advise about Barcelona. Each recommended venue has a genuine place in my heart.

#1 Stay away from touristic restaurants


The touristic restaurant often offer moderate quality food for higher price. The tourists are tricked into thinking they are having the authentic paella, sangria and tapas, even though they nothing to do with real local delicious cuisine. These places could be easy recognizable as they are usually located on main streets, have pictures on the menu. The menu itself is richly multilingual. There is nothing strange in having menu in Catalonian, Spanish and English. The most authentic places will offer you one language and even handwritten menu. I would take you to the following places in Barcelona:

Cafe: Granja Palleresa – the best chocolate & churros in town

Tapas:Cervecería Catalana or Ciudad Condal a bit too crowded recently, but worth it.

Catalan food: Bar Mut, Asador de Aranda (Tibidabo), La Taverna del Clinic, Kaiku, Los Caracoles

Vegan Raw:Flax&Kale – absolute ‘must go’ even for non-vegans

Pizza:La Madre Lievito – the most authentic pizza place (even Italians say so) in Poblenou. Vicino – lovely place at Barceloneta


Drinks: La Rosa del Raval (my favorite strawberry mojito – 3,5eur). Food is ok, but could be better. Fabrica Moritz – great local beer, again food could be better. La Oveja Negra – student beer place.

Budget options: Quick Greek Dionisos (delicious Greek take-away), Bismillah Kebap (the most authentic oriental cuisine).

Fancy & Pricy: Tickets (posh tapas bar), 15th floor of Hotel W for unbelievable cocktails

More recommendations on authentic bars here.

#2 Use public transport

Barcelona has a great metro system, buggy/wheelchair accessible busses, trams. There even some cable cars. Comfortable buses go from Plaza Catalunya to Airport Terminals T1, T2 with a stop on Plaza Espanya. You can buy a T10 card: 10 voyages, that could be used by multiple people (if you change the mean of transport, only one person will get it for free, the rest will have to pay again). It costs around 10 eur, so 1 journey = 1 euro vs 2.2 eur for a single journey. Note: Airport supplement applying, when reaching by metro. Single ticket airport costs 4.6 euros (2018).


There is another great way to save: the citycard Hola BCN! offers you unlimited journeys on Barcelona public transport over 2,3,4,5 days. It is a non-transferable travel card that allows you make as many journeys as you like using the metro, bus, urban railway FGC Zone 1, Montjuïc funicular, tram, and regional railway Rodalies de Catalunya, Zone 1. As well as reduced/free tickets to the museums.

#3 Rent a bike


Barcelona has wonderful weather all year round. Moreover, it has one of the best bicycle paths structures in Europe. The majority of city surface is plane and highly ‘bikable’. There are cycling opportunities along the beach, you can bike through the city or go pro and discover forest trails of Tibidabo mountain. There numerous Rent-a-bike places, offering bike rentals from 5-6 euros per day. If you are staying longer (for studies or work), it makes sense to sign up for Bicing (cat, esp only) – for 47.16 eur/year you could use bikes in numerous locations around the city for 30 min for free, then 0,74 eur/30 min-2h, after 2h 4,49 eur/day.

#4 Shop on local market


I am more than sure you have heard of Boqueria Market on La Rambla. It is a great place to visit. But it is starting to lack the local touch: the traditional stands are being turned into mini-restaurants (simular as in Mercado de la Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal). The food is still good, at least much better than in the majority of places along La Rambla or Paseo de Gracia.

If you are on top three most touristic Barcelona markets: Mercado de la Boqueria, Mercado de Santa Catharina or Barceloneta Market, try going side alleys, look for fruits, vegetables on temporary stands. Try cheeses and meats from less attractive shops.

If you truly ‘going local’, try Mercado de la Gracia, Mercat de l’Abaceria or beautiful, but somehow secluded Mercat de Galvany.

#5 Do open-air sports


You might not believe it, but it is true: nearly everyone does sports in Barcelona. Whether you are into jogging, swimming, yoga, trekking, BMX, MTB or simply paddle or love working out with your personal trainer, Barcelona weather allows it all. I am not really a gym person (too lazy;)), but I enjoy fresh air and running through Montjuic mountain or even go for the extra challenge: go up Tibidabo for a forest trail, take a short bus trip to suburbian Castelldefels, Sitges or Masnou for a long beach run. If I workout I do it with my favorite personal trainer and a dear friend Berta Pelegri. Berta is an experienced professional and truly a sports rock star. She offers personal, small group sessions in Ciutadella Park.

#6 Go up!


Enjoy non-discovered and insanely beautiful neighborhoods of Sarria, Sant Gervasi in the upper part of Barcelona Zona Alta. Thschhh! Keep it secret to leave them that way. Busy Diagonal street, populated with a mix of classic and modern architectural styles, romantic monastery of Pedralbes, quite Palacio Real, charming Sarria streets all form a part of the reality up there. My favorite part is embassy/private schools Quarter, full of gorgeous building and gardens. Another motivation to climb up my favorite pastry shop: Forn del Sarria. There are others, but this one is the one (for me).

# 7 Discover a hidden away theater


Visit Theatre Grec, is a beautiful out door theater in the Montjuic Mountain in Barcelona. It was built in 1929 by architect Ramon Reventos in the style of an ancient Greek amphitheatre, almost hidden away in beautiful gardens. The best way to enjoy it is to see a concert, on a lovely summer evening. You just must put this one on your bucket list.

# 8 Learn basic words in Catalonian


Even though everybody speaks Spanish in Barcelona, Catalan people are very proud of their unique language and culture. Learning a few words in catalá will certainly make the faces of local people light up with a smile and show them, that you not ‘just a tourist’, but a person, who is genuinely interested in their land.

Hello = Hola

Good bye = Adéu!

Sorry = Perdó!

Please = Sisplau

Thank you = Gràcies, Merci

Resply to ‘thank you’ = de res

Yes = si

No = no

I don’t speak any Catalan = No parlo català.

I do not understand = No ho entenc

I hope you have enjoyed the article. Have you ever been to Barcelona? What can you recommend?  Leave a comment!

Read more about Christmas traditions in Barcelona and how to prepare Roscón de Reyes. Find out how to stay out of trouble in Barcelona here.

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