A local guide to Barcelona

27 Aug

I spent the past 2.5 months living and working in Barcelona and wrote a short guide for future people moving there. Barcelona is an easy place to get around. Here it is, touristy things first and housekeeping items last.

Places to Eat (combined from various friends)

Nice bars for tapas:

  • La Pepita: original, creative tapas
  • Bar El Pla: El Born, good and affordable tapas, some with a creative touch
  • Tossa: very good value for Spanish tapas.
  • Bar Tomàs: Sarrià, best Patatas Bravas, gets crowded but it’s a must; if you go at night you can afterwards head to OKSarria, with really good Chilicheeseburgers 😉
  • Bar Turó: San Gervasi, also good patatas bravas and nicer spot
  • Antigua fabrica Moritz: Paralel, old beer factory converted into restaurant
  • Balthasar’s: apparently an ESADE favourite, where the patatas bravas are excellent.
  • Cal Pinotxo: Raval, on the expensive side, in the Boqueria market

Fresh Seafood tapas:

  • Morryson’s: my favourite place in Gracia for tapas, great price/quality of food ratio.
  • Nou Candanchu: delicious, original seafood tapas.
  • Canmaño: seafood so fresh, always day of, and terribly well-priced
  • La Paradeta: You select your own seafood and they cook it for you, the location in Sagrada Familia is less crowded than the Born location, which usually has a 2 hour wait in the evenings.

Good Paella:

  • Can Majó (Barceloneta)
  • El Chiringuito de la Mari (Barceloneta)
  • Sal Café (Barceloneta)

Old/traditional restaurants/bars:

  • Can Culleretes (Raval, oldest restaurant in Barcelona, typical Catalan food)
  • Granja Viadé (raval, good Suis: hot chocolate+cream)
  • Granja Sirvent (Paralel, good Horchata and Leche merengada)

Places to have a drink with views:

  • Mirablau (San Gervasi, overlooks the city from the closest mountain)
  • Hotel Condes de Barcelona rooftop bar (Eixample, nice rooftop bar with views to the Pedrera and Sagrada Familia)

Nice places in Gracia:

  • Origens: tasty, features a lot of Catalan dishes; also in El Born
  • Pappa E Citti: Italian/Catalan restaurant, with foodies as the waitresses. So much food!
  • Kibuka (good Japanese)
  • Sureny (creative tapas, not fancy decoration, but the food is really good)
  • Gelatteria Cafeteria Italiana in Plaça de la Revolució (one of the best ice cream places in Barcelona)
  • Creperie Bretonne (good crepes, and a classic of the area)

Fancier restaurants:

  • Comerç 24 (Ciutadella, modern tapas by a follower of Ferran Adria – El Bulli)
  • Passadis del Pep (Barri Gotic, really good seafood place, no menu, they just start bringing stuff, expensive!)
  • Da Greco: the surprise package of 3 vegetarian pastas is tasty, great tiramisu, and every entree comes with a side dish for the rest of the table to share.

Things to Do

  • Tourist sites:

    • Fat Tire Bike tours
    • All the Gaudi stuff (Park Guell, Pedrera, Batllo, etc)
    • The Plaza Espana route: Plaza España, Magic Fountain (which plays on Fri/Sat night), MNAC (free on Saturday afternoons and first Sundays), Olympic Stadium, Poble Espanyol (tiny replicas of architectural styles across Spain, not that impressive), Montjuic Castle, Cemetery at Montjuic (free tours on Sundays).
    • Sagrada Familia. I got a 3-hr tour from a fantastic guide, Tomas, who is a volunteer with the Church and gives special access to the crypt, basilica. Free, but donations accepted (people usually give 20 euros, because it’s so good). Only in Spanish.  tlurbis@hotmail.com
    • Montserrat is amazing for rock climbing/hiking. A local runner-up could be Tibidao.
    • The Barceloneta closer to the W has less pickpockets, supposedly.


  • Bicing is amazing–45 euros for a year and you can take a bike out for 30 minutes at a time. There’re stops everywhere + a killer app with locations. Sometimes, bicing stations are out of bikes, but I’ve never walked very far without finding another one. You’ll need a Spain driver’s license/national ID–my roommate signed me up.
  • Metro is v.easy and if you get the 10 rides card for 9.80 euros, it’s much cheaper than the the single ride price tag of 2 euros. There’s also monthly passes.
  • RENFE Spain Pass is 4 legs for 160 euros. Super-cheap, includes AVE, and only for tourists.
  • Taxi: 933.07.07.07, a premier service that uses Mercedes, yet still charges the same rate as other taxis. Also, they don’t do sneaky fees such as charging you for waiting or for the route to the apt (if you call a taxi).

Routine Things

  • Finding a phone: any cell phone carrier will do, they are all the same. Orange, Vodafone, or Telefonica have similar plans and network strength. Approx 5 euros for the SIM card and 8 centavos a minute/15 centavos per text.
  • You can find anything in Spain–would recommend packing less so you can bring home more. But pack sunscreen–it’s hella expensive in Spain.
  • I used a CapitalOne credit card and ATM card, which eliminated the fx fees and actually gave the exchange rate at market.

Finding a Place

  • Websites/Resources:

    • Loquo.com: the most listings, by far.
    • Idealista
    • AirBnb
    • Fotocasa.es: more for buying a place, but has some listings
    • Facebook group for IESE, ESADE. Also ask your facebook friends/connections to post ads for you.
  • Ask about how much light the room gets and if it’s interior (from inside the house)/exterior light. A room in an apartment in Gracia will run about 300-450 euros, and you can get discounts if you’re planning to stay longer.

Brushing up on Spanish

  • Duolingo.com, for good grammar practice
  • They sell tons of grammar books at Casa de libros, I liked Schaum’s Outline of Spanish Grammar the best.
  • Shurweb.es for streaming movies and tv shows.
  • Conversationexchange.com, for intercambios. Apparently the ratio of Spanish to English speakers is 10:1, so you’ll never be short of a practice partner. Also a great way to meet people.
  • You can also take lessons, which run 20 euros per hour (private lessons). Laura Castilla is a great teacher from Ole Barcelona and can give discounts.

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