This blog post was originally posted on January 20, 2015, and was updated on October 15, 2017.
Throughout our years in Barcelona, we’ve come across dozens of thought-provoking words that people use to describe the city we call home.
Barcelona is an incredible city, however a confusing one sometimes for its many visitors each year! It’s a city which is both modern and ancient—famous for its tapas but not the home of tapas, it’s an irony! Furthermore, it’s all of these ironies which make it one of the most intriguing places to visit.
Once you decode all of these mysteries it is an exceptional place to live and enjoy! To live like a local in Barcelona is quite easy. First, forget about sangria, bullfighting, flamenco and las Ramblas! Although each has their merit in this country and the city’s history and culture, odds are you won’t find a lot of locals partaking. Instead, discover the latest art expositions, the sunniest terrazas and the best menu del día for a long, relaxing lunch.
Head to the Market
Wondering how to live like a local in Barcelona? Well, one of the best ways to get into the swing of a local is by taking part in the madness at a typical neighborhood market. Sure, La Boqueria is fantastic, but for a more authentic experience head to somewhere a little less tourist orientated! We just love the beautiful Santa Caterina Market in the Born neighborhood. We enjoy wandering through this place so much that we even visit here each morning on our Tastes & Traditions of Barcelona Food Tour.
You will notice that there are no lines at the stalls, just masses of people crowding around them. You have to either grab a number or ask, qui es el ultim, which means who is last in line. If you’re a seafood fan, the fishmongers are always willing to give good tips. It’s also the ideal way to brush up on your Spanish!
Fer el Vermut
Vermouth is a traditional Catalan aperitif that has in recent years made a strong comeback in the city of Barcelona. To fer el vermut, literally to do the vermouth, is a phrase locals use for having a drink and snack before lunchtime. Which is such a huge part of the culture here, and of understanding how to live like a local in Barcelona! Especially on the weekend, bars and bodegas will be packed with locals doing just that. Want to know how to enjoy it as a local? Check out this great video and let our lovely guide Victoria explain how to enjoy it just as a local would!
Have a Long Lunch, or Late Dinner
Can you tell that part of being a lifestyle city is eating well? Spain is known for big lunches and late dinners, and you will rarely find anyone partaking in them alone. Eating is a very social experience here, and that probably explains why meals can sometimes last hours as you take part in a never-ending sobremesa, the part of the meal that comes after the meal and consists in camping out at the table and chatting. It’s probably just as important as the food itself. This is one of the key aspects to experience how to live like a local in Barcelona!
Shop, Shop, Shop
Barcelona has some great shopping if you know where to find it. These days, second-hand markets are all the rage, and you can find one almost any given weekend, whereas the Born is spotted with smaller names and original boutiques where local fashion icons set up shop. Read our Barcelona shopping tips to find more places to shop like a local.
See a Movie or Art Expo
The Picasso Museum and Caixa Forum are of course, well worth your time visiting. However, try checking out what’s going on at many of the smaller art galleries and cultural centers. The Village of Gracia has some fantastic art galleries, all relatively concentrated around the small streets of this lovely neighborhood.
The independent movie theatre on Calle Verdi in Gracia is Cines Verdi. It is also worth noting, as it always has an interesting agenda of recent releases in the original version. And for real cinephiles, the Filmoteca de Catalunya in Raval is the place to go.
Drink a Gintonic
The art of the cocktail, specifically the gin & tonic, is big in Barcelona. But unlike some cultures that drink it before dinner, the Spanish reserve cocktails and mixed drinks for after, which they say it’s digestive! A long list of cocktail bars take great pride in preparing the perfect gintonic, and even if you’re not a gin fan, odds are you’d still find it a treat!