I am a Barcelona lover, you might have noticed that for now but I am so surprised to see tourists doing certain things!! When going around Barcelona! I feel so sad that they do all the wrong stuff and they go along marketing strategies, what they believe is "typicals stuff" but it isn't.
So it has been going around my mind to tell you what you shouldn't do if you are a tourist in Barcelona and here I am, my objective is to get you away from the tourist traps and not to go for what you think is typical. Find my top of what you shouldn't do in Barcelona and some do's of course:
Eat a Paella from Paellador
Sadly, this is the top 1 in Barcelona. Everyone is looking forward to eat paella and when they land in Barcelona the first thing they look for is Paella signs in restaurants. Please please, listen carefully, you need to know that Paellador is A brand for frozen paella. Yes, you heard it, most of the restaurants in touristy areas have Paellador photos of paella on the outside with the different types of paella. I have to tell you though, that paella is not the most typical dish in Catalunya or Barcelona, but it is an amazing dish and if you want to try it out while in Barcelona there are nice places to try a good one. If you really want to know how it tastes a frozen paella might not be the best choice. I would recommend you to try typical dishes from Catalunya such as: snails a la llauna, calçots, crema catalana, escudella, bolets etc...
There are different places you can go, here I give you my local recommendations to eat a good Paella in Barcelona:
Can Majo: my very first choice for paella in Barcelona is with no doubt in this place, not the cheapest I have to say but the best. Depending on your choice the price is around 20 euros per person to start with and then the price increases depending on your choice. My recommendation is the Can Majó Paella.
- El Nou Ramonet: I love the lobster rice in here is the best one for me, but there are more traditional paellas that are good quality and nicely fresh fish, see the menu.
- Arrosseria Xativa: this is a restaurant that specializes in rice, they have plenty of options, they can even do individual paellas depending on the day and time, check out their menu.
- La Barca del Salamanca: this restaurant is near the seaside, you will see there is a full row of restaurants that have seafood and paellas. This is one of my favorites but you also have other options
Eat in las Ramblas
Las Ramblas is probably the most crowded place in Barcelona and no one wants to miss as it is this special place in the city. If you can read in Spanish, this blog has an amazing post on a gastronomical suicide in Las Ramblas, a pretty self-explanatory tittle. It is not only expensive food for very low quality, of course, there might be exceptions but the general rule is: not to eat in las Ramblas because you will pay overpriced menus and dishes and you won't be tasting the true food. I have never eaten there unless you go to a specific place nearby that you know of. I recommend you to go around and walk on the side streets and if you want to eat around I have some recommendations:
La Boqueria market: great place to eat and see what the market has to offer. There are stalls with take away dishes and some little bars with stools that you can sit down and eat delicious meals, the typical one is "The Pinotxo".
El Regulador restaurant: for special occasions, it is a mid-range restaurant, a great restaurant inside the Hotel Bagués, near las Ramblas.
- Centric: they do tapas with some Catalan dishes, you can have a "tabla" of cheeses, a dish with a selection of Catalan cheeses or fried artichokes. And they have one of the best bravas in town, with garlic all i oli sauce, enjoy!
Buy Mexican hats in tourist areas
I am still amazed on how the hell Mexican hats are sold in Barcelona, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Mexican hats but culturally we have never wore them, they are not typical and I can't find any reason for them to be in the souvenir shops. Can someone explain that to me? So everyone is aware, Mexican hats are not typical in Barcelona at all... but somehow they get sold and every time I see tourists wearing them. I am tempted to stop them on the street and ask them why or force them to take them out, just kidding xD.
Actually, the typical hat in Catalonia is "the barretina" but I am still to see a tourist wearing it, the beauty of the mysteries in life. If you want to buy a nice souvenir from Barcelona, you have plenty of options. Check out our 10 best souvenirs in Barcelona and the Barcelona shopping for foodies and gourmets if you like bring home some food supplies that are typical from the place you visited.
Go to the beach in Barcelona
I am from Barcelona but I normally don't go to the beach in Barcelona, for locals Barcelona is not the best beach if we compare it to the amazing beaches we have in Catalonia but the ones in Barcelona are not the best ones at all. This doesn't mean that you can't go to the beach, of course.
My recommendations for beaches near Barcelona are Castelldefels and Sitges. The most famous area for beaches is Costa Brava, the north part of Catalonia beaches. Amazing blue water and also little small bays to discover.
Go to see Flamenco
Another one that is funny enough, sorry to disappoint you but Flamenco is not typical from Barcelona or Catalonia at all... This doesn't mean that we don't have amazing flamenco dancers, we do and there are good shows in the city due to the demand of tourists wanting to see them.
I won't judge you to go and see a flamenco show, I actually went myself a couple of times, but it is important to know that it is not something typical from the area, that's all. If you want to see a flamenco show in the city, find our selection of flamenco shows in Barcelona.
If you want to truly go local, go to see sardanes, the typical dance from this area. On weekends, in Plaça de la Catedral they do Sardanas so you can go watch dancers for free! Check out the times and schedule.
Go clubbing to the Marina area
Marina area is a great place to party but teenagers go there, so as a grown up I normally would not go around that area unless I am partying at Razzmatazz, a very popular club. I say teenager kind of partying as it is full of bars where they have alcohol buckets and cheap alcohol, not really the kind of cool place for a holiday, or at least not my kind. If this is your thing this is the place to go, I am more into cocktail kind of partying.
If you would like a more grown up cool party, I would recommend you to go around the harbour, in front of the Hotel Arts, there are different clubs: Shoko, Catwalk, Opium, Eclipse -the discotheque at hotel W-...
Another area in town to party is Eixample area, there are many clubs: Mojito, Bling Bling, Mary's place, Luz de Gas, Sutton,
Take taxis everywhere
Barcelona is a little city and you can go anywhere taking the underground or the bus and even walking if you like to stroll around. You can take taxis but this will add up to your total daily expense of course, but Barcelona is not particularly expensive for taxis, it is an easy way to move around and sometimes the best combination for areas in town not very well communicated with the public transport. If you want to take a taxi, you can raise your hand and stop one in the street, within Barcelona city for short rides it costs between 5-12 euros and for long rides around 20 euros, but it is rare, you need to go very far.
I always use mytaxi app if I want to book a taxi or I want it to pick me up where I am while I still sip my beer in a bar, it is easy to use, you just need to introduce the pick up point and the drop off point and it will tell you the nearest taxi available and the taxi driver that will come to pick you up. Use our 20 euro voucher
No Sangria, go for Cava
Sangria is lovely, don't get me wrong, but the truth is that to get a good one is very difficult. In many touristy places they sell sangrias made with very cheap wine and the taste is not good as it should be. To have a nice Sangria the quality of the wine matters, and if you don't know a good place it is difficult to get it right.
The typical thing here is Cava, the Catalan champagne. And guess what? There are cava Sangrias, so you would be tasting Sangria and also cava, 2x1.