How to fit in like a local in Barcelona

November 29, 2011 16 Comments »

spanish fan
An essential item in Spain

We all know how to look like a tourist; carry a camera, map, wear tennis shoes and white socks. But how to you fit into a culture?  There are a few things I observed about the locals in Barcelona and with these tips, you can fit in too.

Carry a fan

A woman on the metro fans herself

One of my favorite things about Spanish culture is the fact that everyone carries a fan. I used to think those fans were just for show – but not at all. I saw them being used on the subway, in the market, walking down the street, by women, by men, and by all ages. I even bought my own.

Stay in an apartment in a local neighborhood

A quiet neighborhood is a great place to meet locals

I found that staying in an apartment in Barcelona was a great way to learn more about the locals and see how to fit in better. After all, by staying in a local neighborhood instead of a tourist hotel, I was forced to get out to the grocery store, meet neighbors, and see the day-to-day life in Barcelona.

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Stay up late

This culture is all about late nights. People don’t go to eat here until around 10 PM, which means on a weekend, they go to the bars at midnight and clubs not before 3 AM. All ages seem to be out late – kids, grandparents, and, of course, teenagers. Granted – I don’t think everyone goes clubbing, but they do enjoy the late nights and being outside.

Take a nap

Siesta in the Sun

The Spanish really do have the right idea – you are never too old for a nap. If you are going to stay up late, then you better make sure you get your siesta from 2 to 5 PM. Prior to siesta, everyone goes to the market, gets what they need, goes home, makes lunch, and then promptly takes a nap. Granted – not everyone does this, but they should!

Shop with wheels

wheelie bag
Locals don’t go anywhere without their wheelie bag!

The sidewalks are littered with bags on wheels. Since Barcelona is traditional European city, there are no real big ‘super-stores’, instead the locals simply walk to their neighborhood market and get what they need on a frequent basis. Since everyone walks, they all pull a little bag with wheels to put all of their shopping purchases in and then wheel them back home. In grocery stores they even have a little ‘parking’ area for these carts so you can store your wheelie bag while you shop.

Eat Small

Small bites frequently

It’s all about tapas – small bites with wine. I have yet to see many restaurants where you sit down and have a big meal. Instead, people tend to eat small amounts and eat frequently.  My neighborhood was full of little tapa restaurants where the locals would sit, eat, drink, and gossip.

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When you travel to Barcelona, make sure you wander out of the touristy Las Ramblas and see how the locals live when in Barcelona!

What other suggestions do you have to fit in like a local in Barcelona?  Please share in the comments!

Disclosure: Oh Barcelona Apartments hosted my accommodation in Barcelona. However, all of the opinions expressed here though are my own – as you know how I love to speak my mind!

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