Looking Beyond the Tours
Barcelona is a city with many hidden gems and local experiences that are not as touristy as the well-known attractions. Here are five things you can do in Barcelona that offer a more authentic and local perspective:
- Explore Gràcia: Gràcia is a vibrant and bohemian neighborhood in Barcelona known for its narrow streets, independent shops, and a lively artsy atmosphere. It’s a great place to wander around, admire street art, and visit local boutiques, cafes, and galleries. Don’t miss Plaça del Sol, a popular square where locals gather to socialize.
- Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria: While La Boqueria is well-known, you can still have a local experience by visiting early in the morning or during the week. This bustling food market is an excellent place to enjoy fresh local produce, tapas, and traditional Catalan dishes. Interact with the vendors and sample local delicacies.
- Poble-sec: This neighborhood is home to the lesser-known but equally impressive Montjuïc Park. You can explore the lush gardens, visit the Montjuïc Castle, and enjoy stunning views of the city and the sea. This area is also known for its local theaters and bars, where you can catch a flamenco show or enjoy a more intimate cultural experience.
- Visit the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site: While the Sagrada Família is a top tourist attraction, the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site is often overlooked. This modernist masterpiece is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a quieter, more serene atmosphere. Explore the stunning architecture, gardens, and learn about the history of the site.
- Hidden Beaches: Escape the crowds of Barceloneta Beach by discovering some of the lesser-known beaches along the city’s coastline. Beaches like Ocata Beach in El Masnou or Bogatell Beach in the Poblenou area offer a more tranquil experience away from the hustle and bustle of the city center.
These activities allow you to experience a more authentic and local side of Barcelona while avoiding the tourist crowds. Don’t forget to interact with the locals, try traditional Catalan dishes, and immerse yourself in the city’s culture and way of life.
Plant Based Options
Barcelona, like many cosmopolitan cities, offers a variety of vegan food options for those following a plant-based diet. You can find vegan restaurants, cafes, and even traditional Spanish dishes with vegan twists. Here are some vegan foods you can enjoy in Barcelona:
- Vegan Paella: Paella, a traditional Spanish rice dish, can be made vegan by substituting meat and seafood with plant-based ingredients like vegetables, beans, and saffron-infused rice. Look for vegan-friendly restaurants that offer this dish.
- Patatas Bravas: These are a popular Spanish tapas dish consisting of fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato-based sauce. Many places offer vegan versions of this classic dish.
- Vegan Tapas: Look for vegan-friendly tapas bars in Barcelona where you can enjoy a variety of small plates such as pan con tomate (bread with tomato), gazpacho (cold tomato soup), albondigas (meatballs), and more, all made with plant-based ingredients.
- Vegan Churros: Churros, deep-fried dough pastries, can be enjoyed in their vegan form at some specialty churrerías. Dip them in a vegan chocolate sauce for a delicious treat.
- Vegan Gelato: Barcelona has several gelato shops that offer vegan flavors made with non-dairy milk like almond or soy. You can enjoy a scoop or two while exploring the city.
- Vegan Bocadillos: Bocadillos are Spanish sandwiches. You can find vegan versions filled with options like grilled vegetables, avocado, vegan cheese, and plant-based spreads.
- Vegan Spanish Tortilla: Spanish tortilla is a classic dish made with eggs and potatoes. Some vegan eateries in Barcelona prepare a vegan version using chickpea flour or tofu instead of eggs.
- Vegan Sushi: Sushi restaurants in Barcelona often offer vegan rolls filled with ingredients like avocado, cucumber, and various types of seaweed.
- Vegan Empanadas: Look for vegan empanadas at local bakeries or cafes. These savory pastries are often filled with vegetables, beans, or vegan meat alternatives.
- Vegan Pastries: Many bakeries in Barcelona offer vegan croissants, muffins, and other pastries. Pair these with a cup of coffee or tea for a delightful snack.
- Vegan Breakfast Bowls: Several cafes serve vegan breakfast bowls with ingredients like granola, fresh fruit, yogurt made from plant-based milk, and sweeteners like agave or maple syrup.
- Vegan Spanish Tofu Scramble: Some vegan restaurants offer a Spanish-style tofu scramble seasoned with local flavors like paprika and turmeric.
- Vegan Tapenade: Enjoy vegan tapenade, a spread made from olives and other ingredients, on crusty bread or as a dip for vegetables.
Barcelona’s diverse culinary scene means you can savor a wide range of vegan dishes. When dining out, it’s a good idea to specify your dietary preferences to ensure your meal is prepared without animal products. Barcelona’s vibrant vegan community continues to grow, making it a welcoming destination for plant-based eaters.