Hiring a local guide is a great way to make sure your visit to any city benefits the local economy. Not only are you hiring a local, but your guide will also give you suggestions for local businesses you may wish to frequent during the rest of your time there – independent restaurants, local artisans, etc. You’ll be making more of a connection with the place you’re visiting, and supporting the local economy: win-win!
Today we’re sharing ten great tips our guides in Barcelona have offered to help you enjoy your time in their city, along with links to their tours. Enjoy!
Ten Local Tips for Barcelona
1. Visit the Oldest Art Gallery in Europe
See Sala Parés, which is the oldest Art Gallery in Europe, and the one that hosted Pablo Picasso's first solo exhibition. I often work in European art fairs, and I have become a good friend of the owners and staff of the "Sala Parés", so am happy to introduce you to people with insider gallery knowledge. One added value to The Art gallery is that it is located in the picturesque Petrixol Street where you can join the locals in eating hot thick chocolate with churros - one of Barcelona's uniqely tasty delights.
2. Hang out with the locals in Plaça Reial
Want to visit one of Barcelona's most picturesque, but hidden, squares? Plaça Reial is a popular local spot in the old city right next to the famous La Ramblas. It's a lovely square filled with palm trees, restaurants and cafes - a great spot to enjoy a coffee by day, and the city's nightlife after dark. This is also the place were Antonio Gaudi got his very first assigment for the city of Barcelona, the twin lamp posts.
3. Drink local wine in the heart of the Jewish Quarter
When you visit Barcelona's Old Town, make sure to wander through El Call, the city's Jewish Quarter, and one of the most evocative neighbourhoods in Barcelona. The main street is Sant Domenec del Call, where you can find tiny wine bars, restaurants and cafes. Make sure to visit one of these hidden gems in the Jewish Quarter - my favourite is at #12! You will find places that serve more than 20 wines by the glass, where you can try all the regions in Catalunya and mostly from Spain. Pair your wine with local cheeses or charcuterie. A must do in the city!
4. Enjoy a quiet moment from within a hidden Barcelona treasure
Go see the Royal Monastery of St Mary of Pedralbes, which bears witness to the day-to-day life of the religious community. Founded by Queen Elisenda de Montcada in 1327, the building is one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic architecture, both for the church and for the three-storey cloister, one of the largest and most harmonious in this style. A walk backwards through history, Cloister, Queen sepulcre, dormitory, Church, day cells, mural paintings from the XIV Century. This quiet haven will provide you with a uniquely peaceful respite from busy Barcelona.
5. Sample local treats at Santa Caterina Market
We’ve all heard of La Boqueria. Discover the first covered market in Barcelona, Mercat de Santa Caterina and the second largest one after Boqueria. The market was first built in 1845, and has recently been renovated, with a brightly covered roof that shelters the delicious produce underneath. You can try local seasonal food like: fruits, ham or anchovies! Be prepared to see part of the Roman ruins!
6. Learn the history of La Rambla
La Rambla has always been the heart of commercial life in Barcelona, and an example of that is La Boqueria, a market dating back to the Middle Ages. Over time, social changes have forced many businesses to close their doors, but not all the shops and historical establishments of Barcelona have suffered the same fate. Fortunately, in La Rambla, there are some still surviving the passage of time. A few examples are:
-Beethoven House (1880) is one of the most exciting shops in Barcelona. It is very well known for its archive of about 30,000 musical scores.
-Pastisseria Escribá (1906) with its lovely window and irresistible croissants, muffins...
-Nadal Pharmacy (1920) preserves the original decoration inside but modified from the inside. And very close to La Rambla, Petritxol Road, where the cocoa is the main attraction.
7. Touch a 2000 year old piece of history
Discover a place where you can literally touch history. Instead of being destroyed, as much Roman architecture was, these 30 foot high Roman columns were included as a decorative element in a medieval mansion that was built exactly were previously the 2000 year old temple had stood. Today they stay protected and hidden inside a courtyard in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter.
8. Experience the view from the “Balcony of Barcelona”
In the afternoon, head to the top of Montjuic, Barcelona's little mountain, from where you can experience panoramic views from multiple viewpoints - each offering unique views of different parts of the city. Try Mirador del Migdia, Mirador de Miramar and Mirador Del'Alcalde. A truly breathtaking experience!
9. Discover charming boutiques and go shopping in Carrer Asturies
One of the cosiest districts in town is Gracia. This is a neighbourhood where less tourists come and where many local families live, work, eat and sleep. Locals say they don’t need the city center of Barcelona because they have everything they could want in Gracia. When you want to do some local shopping, then definitely go to Carrer Asturies. Beautiful and affordable clothes, and souvenirs, made or sold by locals.
10. Check out Barceloneta Beach
Barcelona beaches! A wonder, a manmade achievement! As a local, I love Barcelona’s beaches; actually this outdoors attraction is what made me decide to come to live here in the first place. A previously rocky or just dirty shoreline became the most beautiful part of the city, with a thick layer of clean sand and crystal clear waters decorated with palm trees! I believe that it’s really a blessing to have a beautiful and clean beach right inside your city - even the best nightclubs in Barcelona are by the beach. So what can you do there? Simply everything, from sports like swimming, walking and cardio to yoga and meditation. And once the sun goes down…night-clubbing!
Got questions about any of these activities? Just contact the guide, whose tour is linked to the tip! They will be happy to answer any questions, and help you enjoy your time in Barcelona.