Barcelona is an absolute gem of a city to visit and is justifiably one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe. There’s no shortage of amazing sights to see, things to do and delicious foods to eat, too. In fact, most of our regular haunts have come from tips for visiting Barcelona from locals themselves.
After all, every traveller worth their salt knows the best way to experience any destination is with the help of a local.
The only issue with this is that it’s nigh impossible to know someone at every destination. Plus, even if you do, you then have to convince them to take time out of their busy schedules to show you around.
As it turns out, it’s a lot easier to find a local to show you around the city. This is where Showaround comes into play.
You see, with Showaround, you connect with locals in whatever destination you’re visiting and they can show you their city!
Some locals charge a (very affordable) fee, others do it for free (you can tip afterwards if you enjoyed the tour). So, whatever option you choose, you can guarantee that you will get a unique experience at a price you want.
Of course, we’re not just saying this blatantly untested, either! We’ve just headed out to Barcelona to give the service a try. After all, there’s no point trying London, especially seeing as we’re the locals in London.
The process is straightforward, too. First, you select the place you want to visit, then the local you’d like to show you around. Though, remember they all have their own specialities, like; art tours, foodie tours. Afterwards, select a day and time for the tour.
Pretty easy, right?
We went a bit greedy here and decided to go on two tours. Partly to get different perspectives from locals, but mostly to find the best place to get tapas in the city is.
I mean, if you’re not on the hunt for tapas in Barcelona, you’re just not doing it right!
With that in mind, we’ve distilled all the knowledge we have from the two locals who showed us around, below.
1.) There are water fountains around Barcelona
Take a reusable water bottle with you when you go exploring Barcelona. You see, there are taps all over the city with drinkable water from these taps.
It’s one of the best tips for visiting Barcelona and a great way to use less packaging and costs less, too!
2.) Beware of pickpockets
Now, this is more a ‘be aware’ rather than specific tips for visiting Barcelona. That being said, it’s one that’s worth noting.
Beware of people getting too close to you on public transport. If someone’s touching you, they’re probably trying to pick your pockets.
3.) See Jardins de les 3 Xemeneies
The most contemporary art gallery in Barcelona is at the 3 Chimneys Garden. Now, one thing to note, it’s called a garden but there isn’t really any grass here.
This is an outdoor space where local artists and art enthusiasts get to create their own art pieces. Some of which is straight-up graffiti and looks quite messy but it’s one of the best tips for visiting Barcelona we got to see graffiti art.
4.) Party like a local
If you want to be guaranteed a pretty good night out in Barcelona, Sala Apolo club is the place you have to go to!
Entry prices include a ‘free’ drink so make sure you get yours as soon as you go in. The closest stop on the Metro is Paral.lel station.
5.) Go for a night out
Speaking of nights out, the entry fee to clubs (averaging around £10 where charged, though some places are free).
This is very typical in Barcelona so look out for it when on a night out.
6.) Head for good tapas
It’s said, one of the best street to go to for tapas and pintxos is Blai Street.
This is where the locals head with their friends and are the perfect place to meet for drinks and food before a night out.
When you’re here Blai 9 is one of the best spots to head to for pintxos.
7.) Visit the Forest of the Fairies
If you find yourself in or near La Rambla or the general Gothic Quarter area, make sure you pop into the Forest of the fairies (El Bosc de Les Fades).
It’s right next to the Wax Museum (which understandably, isn’t for everyone) and is very easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.
I know first hand that I’d never heard about it before visiting with our guide for beers and the décor here is absolutely fantastic and whimsical.
It’s definitely worth a visit.
8.) Visit the oldest neighbourhood
The oldest neighbourhood in Barcelona is Raval. Now, it used to be a lot more unsafe in the past but it’s very gentrified now and is a hotspot for rather cool restaurants and events.
Honestly, It’s the kind of place traveller like us would typically miss but the locals would hang out in (kinda like the way Brixton and Peckham are going in London).
It’s one of the tips for visiting Barcelona that we got whilst hanging with some of the locals here.
9.) Explore the sides of La Rambla
The best way to ‘do La Rambla’ is to take detours as you go along.
Veer off into the side streets and pop into bars or restaurants around that area. The best gems here are not always on the main strip.
10.) Gorge at Boqueria Market
A place you have to visit (and gorge) in Barcelona is the Boqueria Market.
It’s great for lunch and for getting a variety of amazing food and edible supplies.
11.) Find the Church of Santa Anna
The Church of Santa Anna is a place in Barcelona most people would never think to visit and is most definitely worth a visit.
Even if just for the picturesque courtyard.
12.) see Sant Felip Neri Square
Head up to Sant Felip Neri Square for a gem typically missed out by most visitors to Barcelona.
This square is off the main street and is home to Sant Felip Neri church. This spot still has ‘scars’ to the outside façade of the church after the 1938 bombings in the civil war.
13.) See The Basilica of Saints Justus and Pastor
Another Barcelona gem is the Basilica of Saints Justus and Pastor. Now, it’s on a remote side-street and most likely missed out on a typical visit to the city.
14.) See Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar
When you’re here you have to visit Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar.
This is actually quite a popular destination to visit but in the search of all things ‘Gaudi’ in Barcelona, it’s so easy to miss.
15.) See the views from Bunkers del Carmel
A great place to get a fantastic view of the city is Bunkers del Carmel. In the past, this used to quite a fringe place to hang out but has quickly (and justifiably) grown in popularity over the years.
16.) Visit local joints
A bar you have to visit is Mescladis.
This outdoor bar is very popular with the locals and quite easily missed traveller like you and I. It’s about 7 minutes away from the cathedral and is worth visiting for a cold brew on a scorching Barcelona summer day.
17.) Visit Gracia
Gracia in Barcelona is a square worth visiting when you’re looking for drinks or food.
Its got great restaurants, cafes and bar and comes very highly recommended.
18.) Know your taxi fare
If you’re taking a taxi from the airport, the typical charge to the city is around 35-40 euros but the minimum is 20 euros so bear that in mind when planning transport.
It’s one of those tips for visiting Barcelona that you don’t really consider before you get there, but one you should definitely take into account and know.
19.) The metro is great to use
Barcelona has a very fantastic underground metro system and is worth using when you want to get around the city.
20.) Book popular spots before you arrive
For instance, book your tickets for La Sagrada Familia in advance.
Seriously, you will end up queuing for hours if you don’t – save yourself the hassle and just do it online in advance.
21.) Dinner is late in Barcelona
Starting dinner at 10 pm isn’t unusual around these parts. Don’t let that surprise you.
Honestly, this is one of the tips for visiting Barcelona you need to know if you’re visiting from the Nordics or the US where dinner reservations always seem to be earlier.
22.) Residents don’t just speak Spanish
Two languages are spoken here; Catalan and Spanish.
Barcelona is Catalan so it’s worth brushing up on your knowledge of Catalan before you visit.
23.) See as many of Gaudi’s Buildings as you can
You have to see at least 3 Gaudi Buildings and places (extra points for you if you can see them all).
No visit to Barcelona is complete without paying a visit to Gaudi’s amazing architectural masterpieces.
24.) See some lesser-known Gaudi works
Speaking of Gaudi, some of his lesser-known pieces of work and definitely worth looking out for are the lamp posts.
They come in two designs and can make for a fun little game trying to find them in the city. Here’s a tip to get you started – one of them is in Placa Real.
25.) Stay central to avoid commuting times
You need to stay as central as possible in Barcelona.
The public transport is actually brilliant here but there’s no point spending actual useful sightseeing time commuting.
26.) See the views from Tibidabo
Another place to get a great view of the city is the Tibidabo amusement park (there’s a cable car to take you up the hill).
The best part is that while you’re up here, you can not only take in the view of the city and enjoy the amusement park, you can also check out the absolutely amazing Sagrat Cor church.
27.) There are great beaches in Barcelona
Barcelona has great beaches so do remember to pack your swimwear when you visit and head to Playa de Bogatell, Barceloneta Beach and Platja de la Mar Bella, too.
This is one of the best tips for visiting Barcelona we got to spend a day at the beach! It’s busy but totally worth it.
Our tours with locals from Barcelona
All in all, our tours with our two Showaround locals were a perfect example of how invaluable local knowledge is.
Our guides were also pretty great fun and stopped with us for a cheeky drink (or two) as we explored the city.
It also helps that they knew the best places to stop for drinks as well and hanging out with them definitely felt very different from our experience of Barcelona the first time around.
One of my favourite things about the experience as well is the fluidity of the plans.
The guides are just people showing you their home and aren’t working off an official script which means your experience of Barcelona is exactly what you want your experience to be.