During a lunchtime nosh sesh with at our favorite Spanish-inspired restaurant/market in NYC–Despana–the discussion naturally led to holidaying in Barcelona. Now, I haven’t been to Barcelona since my European trip in high school, and the two things that I remember most about that gorgeous city are:
- Gaudi is a colorful artistic genius, and
- My goodness, my Spanish sucks!
So I was more than happy to take in a few tips from expats who have frequented the city more regularly than I have in the past several years! We swapped NYC insider tips for Barcelona insider tips, and I can’t wait to have the chance to use them!
In the event that you’re headed to Barcelona in the near future, here’s what should be on your list, to take you beyond Gaudi and high school Spanish:
Take a Catalan/Spanish Cooking Class
Sure, you can eat your way around the city, but why not COOK and eat your way through Barcelona’s most famous dishes with the chefs at Barcelona Cooking! With their classes, you’ll learn to prepare dishes like seafood paella and Crema Catalana (the Catalan version of Creme Brûlée) and other regional dishes with seasonal ingredients purchased from Barcelona’s celebrated Boqueria Market. And to make things even more memorable, you can accompany one of the school’s chefs on the hunt for ingredients at the market!
Pick Up A Unique Gift At The Sunday Book Market
In the quarter of Sant Antoni takes place the Sunday Book Market every (you guessed it!) Sunday morning. A part of the street closes to traffic, and it becomes full of stands of old books, new books, comics, DVDs, and vinyl records. Also a great place to people watch the locals, as all around, you see neighbors walking with their dogs or playing with their kids, and bars open for midday vermouth.
Paddle Around The Lake In Ciutadella Park
Ciutadella Park is home to Barcelona’s zoo, the Catalan Parliament, and hosts interesting events (and political demonstrations) throughout the year. During La Mercé (Barcelona’s city-wide festival), there are open-air concerts and events here.
But by far the biggest attractions are Josep Fontseré’s massive fountain with its gorgeous central waterfall and sculptures, and a large lake, where you can rent a paddleboat for a few euros.
Pay Homage To The Capital Of Sparkling Wine
If you like sparkling wine, the Cathedral of Cava, Codorniu should absolutely be on your itinerary, as it has the world’s largest underground cellars. A visit includes a tour, complete with cava tastings, strolls through the garden, and lots of history via the museum.
Eat Tapas On The Cheap Like The Locals Do
For a truly local experience, and the fastest tapas in town at ridiculously cheap prices, try La Esquinica on for size. Do as the Barcelonans do and drink vino turbio (house wine shaken until it’s frothy) and sample a little bit of everything. Croquettes, bombas, patatas bravas (potatoes with garlic mayonnaise and hot sauce), stuffed mussels, and grilled Spanish meats, all prepared in house and served up in a matter of minutes.
I’m super excited to be able to check these places out on my next trip to Barcelona! Would love to know…have you been to Barcelona, and if so, what hidden gems would you recommend to visitors? Share below!