Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and one of the prime examples of a city suffering from overtourism. So should you still visit Barcelona? If you make the conscious effort to connect with the local culture and support real local businesses, you can make a positive impact!
Most people go straight to the tourist hotspots in Barcelona and we think that’s a shame! This does not only add to the problem of overcrowding but also does not really support the local community. To help you avoid some of these tourist traps and spend more time exploring the local culture, we’ll list a few of the most touristy places in the city. They’re really easy to avoid!
There are so many things wrong with La Rambla that it confuses us that it still gets recommended as a must-see. It’s one of the biggest tourist traps you’ll ever come across. Your chances of becoming a victim of pickpockets are considerable, you’ll find more cheap souvenir spots than anything else and if it’s not a souvenir shop it will probably be an overpriced restaurant selling mediocre food. If you really want to know what the street is all about, note that it’s one of Barcelona’s main roads. You’ll cross it eventually during your travels whether you want it or not.
Flamenco is not part of Catalan culture. It originates from Andalusia. Thus, all the advertisements for “traditional Flamenco shows” are selling you lies. They overprice these shows massively to make them look like something special. We advise you to head to Andalusia if you want to see flamenco but stick to Catalan Culture in Barcelona. If you’re looking for a relaxing night out maybe check some local cinemas instead.
Finding good paella has almost become hard in Barcelona. The actual good restaurants have to compete with the massive amount of tourist restaurants selling frozen paella at step prices. So to ensure you eat some good paella follow these tips: you’ll avoid any place with an English menu out front, especially if they have pictures. Don’t eat in tourist areas. Follow local advice! They will know where to find the good stuff. Our spotter Bill can recommend Morryssom’s for great paella and tapas!
It’s really nice that Barcelona is a destination where you can combine a city escape with some relaxing by the sea. However, the beaches right by the city are not the best places to relax. Locals usually head out to beaches a bit further away from the city. Ideal for a day trip! The Costa Brava can be reached easily by bus or car! If you want to stay closer to the city Nova Mar beach tends to be calmer as well.
First of all, make note that for the most part, Parc Guell is just a regular park. Just a small part of the park displays the Gaudi monuments and famous balcony. It’s only for that part that you have to pay. But what if we tell you that you can even see those parts for free? Simply show up a little before or after opening hours and discover the place on your own without the crowds!
La Sagrada Familia
Is it iconic? Yes. Does it have amazing architecture? Yes! Is it worth the steep price tag and the crowds? Not really. If you have come to Barcelona for modernist architecture, you may still want to visit La Sagrada Familia, however, if you just want to visit because it’s a must-see, skip it. There is so much beautiful architecture in the city, just walking around is enough! Check out this hidden Gaudi gem for example!
Tapas originated in Andalusia. The idea is that you get a free snack to accompany your drink. This tradition is still going strong in Andalusia. In Barcelona however, it’s slowly dying off. In most places, you will have to pay for your tapas. That being said, you should only pay for nice tapas. If you see just pieces of meat or cheese for sale, walk the other way, you have found a tourist trap.
Sangria is a very popular drink, among tourists. Locals know that sangria is often made from cheap wine and frozen fruit, which is not really worth the money, is it? Instead, check out for example Quimet i Quimet for an authentic cava local cava experience. Or go for vermouth (“vermut”) – our locals have spotted some great local vermouth bars in Barcelona.