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
If you are new to paellas, I would recommend you to try the typical one with seafood. But if you are a bit more experienced and have triep paella alread you can try other varietes and similar dishes that paella restaurants have available: black rice is one of my favorites, it is a black paella due to the squid ink put into it and normally goes with squid pieces on it, there is also the fideuà (Spanish noodles with seafood, delicious!). And my favorite rice dish, is what we call arròs caldós ( soup-like rice, it has liquid not as the paella that is dry, and this arròs caldós is with seafood taste and it can be with a lobster -bogavant-, lovely!).

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. 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.


Ana O commented over 4 years

Bona tarda! This article made me chuckle. I am guilty of eating at Las Ramblas because we were exhausted. We knew exactly what we were doing, though. Later, we compensated with a visit to Xampanyet and Cal Pep. Mexican hats? Seriously?? I'm amazed no that they sell them but that people buy them! As for the food, the best paella was my grandmother's :)

Meritxell commented over 4 years in response to Ana O

Thank you for sharing your experience, eating in Las Ramblas is not the best experience, unless you know a specific place that is a safe bet. Mummies are always the best for paellas, no doubt!!

Miguel commented over 4 years

this is shit. i am from barcelona (MEX) and i always buy some mexican heats. its good quality for 10 pesos. fuck off spain.... (its a prank hombre)...there is no barcelona in mexico....

Meritxell commented over 4 years in response to Miguel

Hi Michael! I think you misunderstood the point, Barcelona being located in Spain, for some strange reason in the souvenir shops they sell Mexican hats, and that is a bit odd taking into account that they are not typical here. I hope the explanation helps :-)

JY commented over 4 years

just to be politically correct, they're not "mexican hats". They're called sombreros. I do like your article though, I agree! Also, Razzmatazz and Opium are the best clubs in Barcelona.

Meritxell commented over 4 years in response to JY

Hey JY, thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the article and Opium is a great club too!

Marcela commented over 4 years

Great article- wish I would have read it before my trip- now I know how accurate it is. I'm with you on the Mexican hats. Why do people think Mexico and Spain have anything to do with each other. I love them both but please.....!

Meritxell commented over 4 years in response to Marcela

Thanks Marcela for your opinion!! Mexico and Spain are beatiful but beside what some think are not close to each other geographically and certainly tradition and costumes are not the same.

Emma Howatt commented almost 4 years

Glad i found this right before my trip! Great heads up, was looking for some good clubs to go to for my birthday so this was perfect! Thanks! :)

Meritxell commented almost 4 years in response to Emma Howatt

I am glad it helped you out!! Let me know how it goes, enjoy Barcelona.

Lindsey commented about 3 years

I was in Barcelona a few years ago and loved it! Wed visited a church that we had to walk up hundreds of steps to. Inside the old church there were carved ships and planes and things hanging inside. I would love to know the name of it. I also hope to return to Barcelona sometime!

Lee-Anne Calhoon commented over 2 years in response to Lindsey

Lindsey...Are you my CHICO friend/former student? Lee-Anne

Penelope commented almost 3 years in response to Lindsey

I think the church you're thinking of is in Bilboa

Meritxell commented about 3 years in response to Lindsey

Hi Lindsey! Wow you got me intrigued with your tips of the church you visited, but unfortunately, doesnt ring a bell. I hope you can come back to Barcelona it has so much to offer.

Jai commented about 3 years

I'm visiting Barcelona as a lone female next month so thank you for the tips- much appreciated!

Meritxell commented about 3 years in response to Jai

Hi Jal! Barcelona is the perfect city for females travelling alone, it is a very safe city. Be aware of your bag in the city center, but you will enjoy very much the city! Safe travels

Iain commented almost 3 years

Flamenco. From time to time, the Palau de la Musica holds some really good flamenco concerts. I have been to two, both great.

Kelly commented over 2 years

LOVED Barcelona, but SEVERAL of us very seasoned travelers had trouble with stolen purses!!! Watch out!

Kylie commented almost 2 years

Is a taxi from BCN to plaza catalunya cheap as well? Traveling to barcelona/mallorca area soon and would like some advise :D

Norm commented 3 months in response to Kylie

Taxis from the airport are expensive. Unfortunately, Uber was banned from Spain. Take the blue airport bus for 6 Euros, it runs every 5 to 15 minutes depending upon time of day. Big luggage racks. It stops once briefly at Placa España, and then right on to Plaza Catalunya. Pay on the bus in cash. There are places that you can buy tickets in advance and use a card, but I've never done that. When leaving if you have a very early flight like 6 am, there are night buses from a different stop on Plaza Catalunya that end up at the airport but don't take the most direct route. But cheaper, it's a regular ride with a TMB ticket. Also, be careful when shopping for flights, some low cost budget airlines fly to Girona, about an hour outside Barcelona. By the time you add bus fare you may not have saved that much. I have never used Girona airport. There is also a new Metro line, L9 that goes from the Airport to Plaza Catalunya, but you do need to make an easy change to a different train for the last small segment. Be forewarned, the subway for the L9 is one of the deepest in the world. If you opt for the escalator it is like a LOT of escalators. You will definitely ask yourself "My God, are we there yet?". Take the large high speed elevators instead. One tip. If you are going from Colombus Statue area north towards Exiample or Gracia, the cab driver will try to use Las Ramblas. You pay for both time and milage in cabs and Las Ramblas is one lane and very slow moving. Yes, shorter in distance but way more expensive in time. You will be stuck in traffic and watching the meter click up and up. Most cabbies don't speak English but a simple "Por favor, no usa Las Ramblas" will be enough for the cabbie not to pull that trick on you and for him to use the longer but cheaper way of going west on Parallel and then North on a nice, wide one way street. I avoid taxis if possible. The TMB Subway and buses get you almost everywhere easily and really walking north/south even at night is pleasant and fast. It is a small city. East-West can be a long walk though.

Debbie commented almost 2 years

Barcelona is a beautiful place. We learned early on to search for the local restaurants away from the tourist area for good food. As for the Mexican "sombreros," I understand. For some reason, people seem to think that everything "Spanish" is Mexico related.

jeff commented over 1 year

it was ok

Elarue commented over 1 year

My friends and I did most of these things, LOL!! But don't get me wrong. We did all the good things too, and even though and I wasn't the one who picked Barcelona as a destination (and despite some really upsetting service we got in Las Ramblas and some other places), we loved the city, specially all of Gaudi works, and the art museums we visited. It's a beautiful place to go. I did want to go to the beach, but at least we got this one right, ha!

Meritxell commented over 1 year in response to Elarue

Hi Elarue. Glad to hear you did more than the 8 things not to do lol. I am glad you enjoyed the city!

Mike commented about 1 year

We did everything that we shouldn’t be doing in Barcelona hahaha eating in las Rambla I totally agree ... its was expensive and not good at all, watching a flamenco show - it was so boring the best part. Is the drinks (sorry) , eating paella near Sagrada- it did taste like frozen lol! But we had fun , we did montserrat- amazing! and We love Spain 🇪🇸!

Mirre commented 11 months

But why on earth go to beaches in Sitges (from Barcelona)? Yeah, those are very nice but way too crowded there especially in August.

Norm commented 3 months in response to Mirre

Yes, Sitges is very crowded in summer. Sitges is also the gay destination for LGBT folks. I don't remember the name of the festival but it is when a lot of gay men dress in drag, lots of people wearing costumes, and straight people are very welcome in the gay bars. It was an amazing adventure. But for a beach, I prefer Casteldefels, halfway between Barcelona and Sitges. Easy to reach either by train. You can also walk along the train tracks above the beaches from Castelldefels to Sitges snd find lots of deserted little coves where you can have the beach practically to yourself.

¿What do you think? Help others with your opinion and experience

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