Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Four years ago, Irina Andreeva and her family moved to Barcelona. Today she shares her favorite places and useful notes about this magical city – the source of inspiration of the talented Antonio Gaudi, where the sun warms even in winter, a fresh sea wind blows on the streets, and fragrant paella is served in restaurants and cafes.

What area to stay in

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @aalex_mesquita/@polly_cassongreen /

The city is divided into 10 main districts, each of which has its own merits. Here are the three central areas that tourists most often choose to stay in Barcelona:

  • The Eixample district (Upper City) is the largest district of the city, it is divided into blocks in the form of a grid. If shopping is your passion, then choose a hotel in this area. Here, on Paseo de Gracia, are all the most famous boutiques. Here are also located the magnificent Sagrada Familia and two more creations by Antoni Gaudi – the houses of La Pedrera (or Casa Mila) and Casa Batllo. Every summer, concerts are held on the roofs of these houses, tickets for which can be purchased on the official websites and

Hotels: Majestic Hotel, Hotel Omm

  • Barceloneta is a central area located on the seashore. The beach is just a stone’s throw away, there are always a lot of people (especially in high season). Discos, bars and restaurants are open almost 24 hours a day. This area is suitable for those who like to party and spend time on the beach.

Hotels: W Barcelona, ​​Arts

  • Well, if you want to feel the atmosphere of old Barcelona, ​​check into one of the hotels in the El Born district. In addition to designer shops, art galleries, atmospheric bars and restaurants, there is also the Picasso Museum, the Santa Caterina Market – the second most important market in Barcelona, ​​the Palace of Catalan Music and the 15th century Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar.

Hotels: Catalonia Catedral, Olivia Plaza Hotel

Things to do

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @a_gubinskaya/@nicanorgarcia/

The undisputed tourist center of the city is Plaza Catalunya. Seven streets, two railway lines and three metro lines intersect here. In the north-eastern part of the square is the famous El Corte Inglés shopping center, where the central tourist office is located on the ground floor, and there is an observation deck with a magnificent panoramic view on the roof. It is from here that the famous Rambla street originates, where street musicians perform and live statues perform performances.

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Interesting excursions from locals in Barcelona

The Güell Palace, built by Gaudi, is rightfully considered the pearl of the Rambla – I advise you not to be lazy and find time to visit it.

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @zuckerandspice/@joy.teng/

Here is the famous Boqueria market, striking in its scope and range of products. There are small cafes in the market, where it is very tasty (for example, in the cafe located in the left corner of the market closest to the Rambla, they prepare an absolutely amazing mix of mushrooms).

Not far from the market is the Liceu Theater, which hosts operas and various performances and concerts. Not so long ago, for example, there was an opera “The Demon” in Russian. In general, this theater is worth going to at least for the interior – it amazes with its decoration. And this is one of the few places where Barcelonans actually dress up.

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @toni_rubio_gir/@xopet1969/

The famous street ends at the port, where the Columbus monument is located. Once you reach the port, I highly recommend taking a boat trip along the coastline of Barcelona and seeing the city from the water. In the summer season, choose a catamaran where you can enjoy a glass of wine to the sounds of a live saxophone.

An equally famous square in Barcelona is Plaza de España. Here is a former bullring converted into a shopping center. A panoramic elevator leads to the roof, where the observation deck is equipped, and costs 1 euro to climb up. However, you can also get to the top using the escalators inside the arena – completely free. In addition to the excellent view, the rooftop will delight you with good chain restaurants, where the kitchen works without interruption. There are also singing fountains and a Spanish village (where different regions of Spain are represented by typical houses. If you like hand-made things, come here for souvenirs. And of course, for beautiful photographs).

Where to go for breakfast/lunch/dinner

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

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Barcelona has a huge number of cafes and restaurants for every taste and budget.

  • For breakfast, choose small cafes located in inconspicuous alleys – this is where locals have breakfast. But don’t expect to be served porridge or eggs in the morning. The Spaniards have breakfast with a bocadilla (sandwich) or croissant with coffee. And if sandwiches are delicious everywhere, then the most delicious croissants are in the Hofman pastry shop (carrer dels Flassaders, 44). Across the house from it there is a cafe where you can order pastries from this pastry shop with a cup of coffee or tea.

In general, the most important thing you should know and remember about Barcelona restaurants is that the kitchen is not open all day, but opens for lunch and dinner (except in very touristy places). Spaniards eat quite late, with a typical lunch starting at 14:00 and dinner at 21:00. Therefore, you can eat from 13.00 to 16.00 and from 20.00 to 24.00. At other times, you may be offered snacks and drinks, but not hot food.

  • For lunch or dinner, head to the Carballeira restaurant (la Reina Cristina, 3), it works non-stop, and serves perhaps the best black paella in the city. The menu also includes a large selection of the freshest seafood and fish. Prices are slightly above average. Other seafood restaurants that are open all year round and without interruption are the restaurants on the Port Olimpic waterfront. They are all about the same, we prefer the restaurant La Barca del Salamanca. But for delicious meat, you should go to the Assador de Aranda restaurant. This is a chain of restaurants, one of which is located next to Plaza Catalunya, behind the El Corte Inglés shopping center. But if you want to eat not only delicious food, but also in a very atmospheric place, go to the restaurant located in the upper part of the city, on Avenida Tibidabo.

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @butnomatter.theroadislife/@galarino/

  • A place where you can eat inexpensively will be the Wok restaurant chain. For 9-14 euros (drinks are paid separately), depending on the day of the week and time of day, you get to a buffet where, in addition to ready-made dishes (mainly Chinese cuisine) and sushi, there is a good selection of fish and seafood, which the chef will grill right before you. A few times I even came across oysters (usually there are none). One of these restaurants is also located behind El Corte Inglés, near Plaza Catalunya.

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @liolaliola/@neumarc/

  • Adherents of a healthy lifestyle should pay attention to the Flax&Kale restaurant. Most of the dishes in this place are vegetarian or vegan, but they are very tasty.
  • Pizza lovers will be pleased with the Nap Antic pizzeria, located near the ancient Santa Caterina market on avenida de Francesc Combó 30. In El Born, also check out the El Xampanyet bar on rue de Montcada, 22 – very old, inexpensive, crazy an atmospheric place serving homemade cava (local champagne). But keep in mind that in the evening there can be a lot of people.

If you find yourself in Barcelona at the beginning of June, don’t miss the street food festivals Taste at Rambla (during which you can try mini versions of dishes from the most famous restaurants and famous chefs) and Born Gourmet.

What else to see

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @calderayes/@loic80l/

If you like to explore the city on your own, be sure to check out the cactus garden on Mount Montjuic. Located next to the Miramar Hotel, this park will delight you not only with a collection of 250 cacti and succulents, but also with panoramic views of the port with cruise ships.

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @dariovero_/@ken4photo/

And for very sophisticated travelers, a trip to Colonia Güell is suitable – trains run here from Plaza de España (the same as to Montserrat). Few tourists get to this village, built by order of Güell for the workers of the weaving factory located here. The town has preserved several buildings in the style of Catalan modernism. And also here is the Gaudi Crypt – it was here that the great architect tested various architectural solutions, such as tilted columns, before starting the construction of his main creation – the Sagrada Familia temple. It will be especially interesting to go to Colonia Güell in mid-October, when a celebration of modernism takes place here and the whole city dresses up in clothes of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, and scenes from the life of the city of the beginning of the century are played out on the streets.

Barcelona through the eyes of a local

Photo: @naimasole/@lunalunera2014/

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