10 tips to help you avoid looking like a tourist in Barcelona
Article updated 25 November, 2019.
If you would rather not look like a tourist just follow our 10 tips for adopting the Catalan style and blending into the crowd.
People from Barcelona have their own peculiarities and habits. Adopting them will not only help you avoid looking like a tourist but also elicit a warmer welcome from the locals.
1. Getting by in Catalan
There is nothing better for attracting sympathy from shopkeepers! Catalan people are very proud of their culture. Catalan is not a dialect but a very rich language used everywhere in business, school and work….
If you speak Spanish you can, of course, communicate with the people here. But even a basic knowledge of Catalan words will allow you to share a lot with people from Barcelona.
- A little audio lexicon of Catalan for basic communication
- Learning a few words of Catalan to get by in hotels and restaurants
2. Adopt the local timetable
It is well known that people in Barcelona live their lives a little later in the day. If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, adopt this timetable, if for no other reason than it will allow you to eat in more typical restaurants than the touristic ones serving meals at 2pm or 7pm.
But the restaurants are not the only ones who have these timetables. Many shops also adopt it, with lots of boutiques closing between 1pm and 5pm. Although of course they stay open later in the evening.
3. Dress appropriately
It’s true that Barcelona is a seaside city, but that doesn’t mean you should walk around the city in your swim suit! The number 4 metro line serves the beach and during the Summer one often sees people on it in beachwear with a towel slung over their shoulder.
These people are immediately identifiable as tourists by people who don’t necessarily wish them well (pickpockets). It’s much better to wear light, relaxed clothes that are suitable for the city.
4. Wear a Barça jersey (why not?) but only on match days
If you’re hoping to blend into the crowd by swapping your swimsuit for a Barça jersey, think again! You will be spotted a mile away, as even the most ardent supporters don’t go out in a FC Barcelona jersey.
However, on match days the opposite applies and the jerseys can be seen all over the city.
5. Know the Barça anthem by heart
To be like a local from Barcelona, you don’t just have to go around in your Barça jersey, you also have to sing. Supporters sing the anthem loudly from the start of every match.
To help you join in, we have prepared for you some videos with the words of the Barça anthem. You’ll quickly have the whole thing learned!
6. Always keep an eye on your belongings
People from Barcelona understand the importance of vigilance and of never taking your eye off your belongings. Tourists often tend to be easily distracted and are quickly identified by pickpockets.
7. Drink vermouth
OK, so no one will raise an eyebrow if you order a beer or a mojito. But if you really want to play the local in Barcelona go for a vermouth. This fortified wine macerated with herbs and spices is very popular with the locals.
8. Eat paella for lunch
You might be surprised to learn that paella is not normally eaten for dinner by people from Barcelona. This specialty, which is considered to take a long time to digest, is always enjoyed at lunchtime, and particularly on Thursdays.
9. Taste some Catalan specialties
Of course it is impossible to avoid some of the Catalan specialties! Step into the shoes of a local and try some fideuà, esqueixada, calçots, escalivada… and plenty more!
10. Go to authentic places
Finally, to avoid seeming like a tourist, you absolutely need to avoid the tourist traps. Run a mile from the restaurants on the Ramblas or Passeig de Gràcia, for example, and stick to the surrounding streets and other areas where you will eat better, pay less and enjoy a more typical Catalan atmosphere.
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