Ask a Local: What Should I Do/See/Eat In Barcelona, Spain?

by Gigi Griffis

As you probably know, a couple months ago, I published my 100 Locals guide to Barcelona.

Today, I thought I’d share an excerpt one of the interviews you’ll find inside. Without further ado, then, here’s Joe and Jo from The Barcelona Taste to guide you through the best of Barcelona:

About Joe & Jo

We are Joe and Jo. We are also Dave, Anna, and Tito. We are The Barcelona Taste. We are all young (at heart?) creatives living in Barcelona, though we hail from Los Angeles, Barcelona, the Sawtooth Mountains, Chicago, and Italy-Scotland (yeah, it gets confusing).

We are, of course, food tour guides (¡óle!), though we reincarnate regularly into puppeteers, local cultural newspaper publishers, bike nerds, writers, and even museum curators (yeah, it gets exciting).

What to Do In Barcelona (The Basics)

There are some monuments and well-known sites that just don’t get old. The Boquería Market needs to be seen, but quickly before the hoards consume your entire day’s energy in half an hour. Sagrada Familia, of course, leaves very few people indifferent. You might love it. You might hate it. But you’ve never seen anything like it. You should see it.

Hidden Gems for Seasoned Travelers

A lot of people have heard of or even been up to the Parc del Laberint d’Horta, but one of our favorite bits is the (very) little gorge running down the left side. A small stream feeds a beautiful and shady garden and makes it one of the best places to be on a hot summer day.

Another great option is the Caseta del Migdia. This very simple outdoor bar/restaurant at the top of Montjuïc is at the edge of a pine forest and looks out over the industrial port and the Mediterranean. Also, Montjuïc in general is one of the best places to discover great gardens and epic views over both the city and the port.

Where to Stay

Stay away from Las Ramblas. That’s the key. This city has so many lovely and very different neighborhoods that it’s hard to recommend one or two. Choose Poblenou for a relaxed pueblo feel near the beach. Poble Sec for proximity to the center, cool bars, and the pretty Montjuïc hill. Gràcia for great plazas and loads of food and drink.

Day Trips

Girona. Enough said. Oh, and the interior of l’Emporda, a natural and historical region (lovely). And wine country (El Penedès is just outside Barcelona)! So many options. Basically, you should all visit us three or four times and then decide to move here.

What to Eat

The list is long. But start with an esqueixada de bacalao (fresh cod salad) and a real, homemade croqueta de cosido (meat and cheese croquettes with a dash of onion).

Drink some wine from the Penedès and then the Priorat and then Montsant (and then fall down).

Try a few local craft beers (the scene is finally picking up steam).

Where to Eat (Best Bars & Restaurants)

Start with the hundred different wines, good beers, and some excellent tapas at Cal Marino (located at Carrer de Margarit 54 in the Poble Sec neighborhood). Edu (the owner) has basically built this modern, charming bodega with his bare hands.

For a great bar terrace near the sea, but not so touristy as to be right on it, try Filferro. It’s tucked away in the Barceloneta neighborhood at Sant Carles 29, is relaxed, has just the right amount of punk atmosphere, and has a few real gems on the menu.

How to Fit In

It’s tough to fit in here if you’re tall, blonde, and blue-eyed. But people here are very open (politically), tolerant, and friendly.

The best things you can do to engage with locals are 1) get away from the touristic center and into the real city, 2) learn a few Catalan phrases (they are immensely proud of their culture and language), and 3) get into the food, as they are also very proud of their local cuisine and culinary traditions!

Best Places to Take a Photo

Go up the hills or up onto a terrace. You haven’t seen Barcelona if you haven’t seen it from up high. Also, the Parc del Centre del Poblenou is a seldom seen and beautifully unique urban park designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.

Barcelona Inspirations

So many things inspire us here—from the arts and culture to the sun and the food. Most of all, though, it’s the people that refuse to sit down, refuse to stay quiet. Them and the ones who can’t stop creating.

Love what you read? Get the full interview (and nine others!) in Barcelona: 10 Locals Tell You Where to Go, What to Eat, & How to Fit In.

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