A Couchsurfer’s Guide to… Barcelona

Ana is an Ambassador in Barcelona, Spain. Here she gives her suggestions for the must-sees in Barcelona so you can get the most out of your trip to the gorgeous Barcelona!

Barcelona from Parc Guell by Georgios Tsichlis / shutterstock

Best breakfast in town
There are two good options, sweet or salty:
Sweet: Enjoy the typical “Chocolate con churros” that they serve in most cafés that offer breakfast.
Salty: Taste our “baguetines” with anything you choose on top. The ones with tuna and olives or jamón are very tasty.

Museum not to miss!
It’s difficult to recommend a museum because it depends on what
you’re into:
Into Art? Don’t miss the Museum of Art of Catalonia. You will see all kinds of art you can imagine from church paintings, photography to sculptures. You can spend the whole day visiting, it’s quite big.
Prefer History? Then the old Roman City museum will help you understand how Barcelona was founded. You will visit real Roman baths, mosaics and workshops under the ground!
Tip: These museums are free to enter on Sunday afternoons after 3 PM.

The Cathedral? Nope! The National Museum of Art by Zubkov Igor / shutterstock

A treat-yourself-meal
It’s really difficult to find a good option in Barcelona centre, but not impossible. Near metro Barcelona and in front of the sea you can also enjoy the typical tapas at a reasonable price. Go to La Maquinista street and taste tapas in places where locals still go for a meal. Don’t miss the seafood tapas and the “bombas picantes” – they are delicious!

Best place to grab a drink
One of the best places to grab a drink that tourists miss is in Barrio de Gràcia. Take a walk through its little streets and its tiny bars and feel the atmosphere during the evening. Any place near Plaça del Sol would be a good option. You can go for a Tinto de Verano, Clara (beer with lemon) or taste the typical Catalan beers.

Revolution Square in Barrio de Gracia by Sergio TB / shutterstock

Best quick bite
Try the “pinchos” at Blai street near metro Poble Sec. Each pincho is €1-€2 and you can try many different ones. Don’t forget to move from one bar to the next to taste all specialities and find your favorite one! In these kinds of bars you have to serve yourself from the trays displayed. Each tray has a variety of “pincho”, and each one has a stick in it. You don’t have to pay each time you take food, but don’t forget to keep all your “sticks” on your plate in order to pay afterwards! The waiters will count the sticks and that’s how they know the total price of the bill.

Where to sweat
Take a walk uphill to the Montjuic Castle where you can lose all the weight you put on after the tapas and pinchos. Tavel by metro to Paral·lel station and then take the Funicular that will drop you at the base of the hill. Go up the steep path enjoying the view of the surrounding gardens. If you feel exhausted, you can also take the cable car (Teleferic de Montjuic) and tell yourself that you wanted to try it because of the views 🙂 Once on top, you can enjoy the view of the city from there and walk around the castle.

Teleferic de Montjuic by Iakov Filimonov / shutterstock

Historic moment
Have you ever wondered why Catalonia wants its independence? In 1714 Catalonia was forced to become part of Spain through a war. Do you want to see the remains of the medieval city after the war? Go to El Born cultural centre and you will see how the city was in that area after the Borbons invaded Barcelona. There are guided tours through the medieval city. You will see real canyon bullets still lying on the floor and will discover how those people lived in the city 300 hundreds years ago.

Best day-trips out of town
Summer: Take a day-trip to Costa Brava, to the town Tossa de Mar. Have a swim in its amazing beaches and visit the old town and castle there. You can also walk to some bays nearby, that’s really recommended to see breathtaking cliffs. You need to take a train to the town Blanes and then a bus (about 1 hour 30 min).
Winter: Try Montserrat, a spectacular mountain with strange shapes. There is an old monastery there, but don’t waste your time visiting it because it’s not worth it. Instead, take one of many hikes available through the mountain, the one called “Sant Geroni de Murtra” is recommended if you want to enjoy an amazing view from the top of Montserrat. Also, you can visit the real statue of the Virgin of Montserrat and discover why she is a black woman (there is a story about it 🙂

Tossa de Mar by kavalenkau / shutterstock

Cutest café
You can visit “Café dels Quatre Gats”, very near the Cathedral which is also a historical place where many artists from the modernist period got together to talk about their projects. Its façade is modernist and the inside is also a little piece of art. The prices are really good taking into account it’s in the centre and that it is a popular place.

The perfect picture
Go up the hill in Bunkers del Carmel. Not only you will find the perfect view of the city from all angles, but a perpetual party on the top! There are always people having fun and drinking or lying on the sun. The place is historical as well, as its name points out, there were bunkers from the Spanish civil war and also the remains of war machines placed on the ground.

Views of Barcelona from Bunkers del Carmel by Pat_Santos / shutterstock

A tourist trap to avoid
Never buy any goods at “manteros”, they are illegal sellers. They exist because of the tourists, and they take advantage that Barcelona is expensive to offer products at half price. What tourists don’t know is that if the authorities see you purchasing there, you will have to pay a fine of €300-€500. That can ruin your whole stay in the city. So avoid them.

An experience (or two!) not to miss
1. Don’t leave the city without going to a Castellers performance. These are groups who compete building human towers.
2. I guess that visiting Sagrada Familia is in your mind when you think of Barcelona. You can go in for free if you attend the service on Sunday mornings. But you must be an early bird for that and go and line up at the door at 8:30am at the latest.

Castellers By Beka31/shutterstock

Any other advice…
1. Don’t waste your precious time while in Barcelona walking up and down La Rambla. There is absolutely nothing to see there and it’s plagued of pickpockets and you can easily become a target.
2. Don’t believe what the news say about Barcelona and that is dangerous
because of the protests. It’s all political crap to destroy the reputation of an amazing city. Just use your common sense and don’t get in the middle of the chaos and you’ll be perfectly safe.

Sagrada Familia by krivinis / shutterstock

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