It seems everyone you know has been to Barcelona at least once in their lifetime, and it’s easy to understand why given the abundance of great architecture, food, sports and shopping the city boasts. However, only true local experts will be able to lay claim to these Barcelona bucket-list experiences.
Beat the crowds at the Boquería market
If the Boquería market is Barcelona’s most famous fresh food market, it’s also hands down the most crowded. By midday the lanes are filled with tourists eager to snap a picture of its mouth-watering stalls. However locals know that the best time to get your shopping and beat the crowds is first thing in the morning just as the gates are opening.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Danced the night away at the Festa Major de Gràcia
Every August the cool neighbourhood of Gracià comes to life for one of the most highly anticipated celebrations of the local cultural calendar: the Festa Major. This week long street party sees neighbours decorate their streets and host public feasts while local bands play music late into the night.
Bought cakes from the Escribà patisserie
Located on La Rambla, the Escribà patisserie is one of the oldest and most revered cake shops in Barcelona. Their window displays are enough to make anyone drool with envy – piled high with heavenly delights such as fruit tarts, gooey pastries and exquisite chocolates.
Watched an FC Barcelona match… at the bar
Camp Nou stadium may be the largest stadium in Europe – with a whopping 99,300 person capacity – but it’s rarely filled with locals. Put off by the expensive ticket price, Barcelona fans tend to watch the game at home or in their favourite bar. Most places set up TV screens on the outside so that clients can watch the game from the terrace and it’s not uncommon to see the crowd spill over into the street as the tension builds.
Celebrated La Mercè festival
With 14 a year in total, Spain has nearly twice the number of public Bank Holidays as the UK, but not all are celebrated nationwide. At least two of these dates are fixed on a local level – so local, in fact, that Barcelona has its very own celebration on September 24 each year to commemorate its patron saint.
Enjoyed a calçotada on the public square
Somewhere between a spring onion and a leek, the calçot is a veritable delicacy for which the Catalans go crazy each year during the winter months when the allium comes into season. While they are served in restaurants, the authentic way to enjoy a calçot is at a large gathering known as calçotda where they are grilled over an open fire before being dipped into a rich sauce known as romesco.
Bought a caganer for Christmas
One of the most curious features of the Christmas celebrations in Catalonia, the caganer is none other than a small figurine of a man having a poop. Its meaning is somewhat unclear – perhaps representing the equality of all men in front of nature – but its necessary presence in any true Catalan nativity scene is unequivocal.
Watched the castellers build a human pyramid
Another remarkable feature of the Catalan culture, castellers are men, women and children who together build formidable human pyramids which can reach up to 10 people in height. The bravest participants are often the youngest, who climb to the very top of the castell, or castle.
Shopped at the Corte Inglés… on Av. Diagonal
The Corte Inglés is Spain’s answer to the British concept of a department store – no surprise then that its name means ‘the English Court’. While the Corte Inglés on the main square of Plaça Catalunya in the city centre is always busy, locals know to shop at the store on the Avenida Diagonal to avoid the crowds of tourists.
Avoided La Rambla on your way to somewhere else
Let’s face it. La Rambla has had its heyday and aside from a few remaining historic buildings, there’s not much there you’d want to spend time or money on. So unless you’re going to the Liceu Theatre or nipping over to the Decathlon down the side street, you’ve probably tried cutting out La Rambla from your route into town at least a few times.
Enjoyed a vermouth in Sant Antoni on a Sunday
While vermouth has always been served as an aperitif in Spain, it is undergoing a veritable revival in Barcelona where the city’s young and hip gather on a Sunday for a glass or two with friends. The trendy neighbourhood of Sant Antoni is one of the most popular places to enjoy a vermuteo on Sunday afternoon thanks to the many hip bars and authentic bodegas standing side by side.
Hiked to the top of Tibidabo mountain
Dominating the horizon of Barcelona, Tibidabo is the most remarkable of Barcelona’s surrounding hills. It’s easy to spot it thanks to the church which is perched atop it alongside the rides of the Tibidabo amusement park. The walk up from the neighbourhood of Sant Gervasi through the winding roads and dirt tracks which lead to the top can sometimes be steep, but the reward is the most spectacular panoramic view of the city.
Complained about ‘tourists’ at least once
That’s right. You might be a recent resident, or you might still technically be a tourist yourself – either way, if you’ve spent enough time in the city then you’ve probably caught yourself complaining about ‘tourists’ on at least one occasion. If it’s not the rising prices of rent, it’s the deterioration of the city’s social fabric and cultural authenticity. In any case, it’s something.
Gone to the Bogatell beach not the Barceloneta beach
While having a beach on the very doorstep of the city centre is in part what makes Barcelona such an amazing city to love in, it also makes for an extremely crowded beach in the summer months. Most locals wouldn’t be caught dead sunbathing on the Barceloneta beach, preferring to leave that one to the tourists and going slightly north to the Bogatell beach which is much more relaxed.
Had brunch at 3pm
There are two things to know about brunch in Barcelona: 1) it’s massive, and 2) it’s not really brunch. Enamoured with the idea of Instagram-ready food shots featuring juicy avocado and fluffy pancakes, local trendsetters have taken to brunch hard. But no one thinks that should mean having to get out of bed any earlier than you would do at the weekend. Brunch can be anytime from 12pm to late afternoon if you’re feeling particularly lazy.dd
Enjoyed the views at Montjuïc swimming pool
So spectacular is the view from the municipal pool on Montjuïc hill that Kylie Minogue featured it in one of her music videos. Designed for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, the pool is now open to the public during July and August with access costing just €6 per person.
Eaten churros and chocolate from Carrer de Petrixol
This street in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is famous for being home to some of the best spots for churros – a long, thin doughnut treat – with rich hot chocolate. This is a favourite snack among those living in Barcelona, and mentioning a trip to Petrixol street is likely to get an enthusiastic response and some fond childhood memories from any local.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.