Updated: May 10, 2019
Published by Travelzoo
By Gina Farish, Sharemrkt Founder & CEO
After a trip to Barcelona, I moved here with my family. It's one of those places that grabs hold and never lets go! Now, three years later, it's hard to imagine leaving.
Barcelona is a constant inspiration for my startup, Sharemrkt, a website where you can discover everything you want to experience in a city.
I feel that now, more than ever, you can authentically engage with a place and make real connections. I'm excited to share my Barcelona with you!
See the city through the eyes of a local
Withlocals hosts are passionate about Barcelona and love sharing their unique perspective and favorite places with you. Before you know it, you'll learn how to make a paella in a chef's home, sip vermut in an underground cocktail bar, or follow the legend of Saint Jordi and the Dragon on a family-friendly architecture tour through the Gothic Quarter.
Is a self-guided tour more your style?
Reach out to TripUniq and you'll be matched with your very own Travel Hero. It's like visiting a friend that knows the city and knows what you like. Whether it's local festivals, art galleries, concerts, site seeing beyond the guidebook or local foodie spots, they will tailor make an itinerary just for you. I love their motto "plan less, travel more!"
Plug into the party
Barcelona nightlife means you're spoiled for choices. But the secret to partying at the best clubs without the high price tag is all about who you know. And you want to know Arsy. She is so well connected she started Wedream Barcelona to hook you up with VIP entry and find the venue that fits your vibe. She even offers weekly passes so you can club hop at a fraction of the price.
And if you didn't bring your party crew with you, just download PartyWith and meet like-minded people nearby that are ready to hit the town.
Share a meal
Espai Egg, one of my favorite hidden gems, is tucked away on a quiet El Raval back street. Co-founders Alberto Zanrosso (Italy) and Ella Galt (Australia) made a new home in Barcelona nearly a decade ago and have been dreaming up ways to eat extraordinarily ever since. Think movie nights with multi-course themed dinners, cooking classes from fresh pasta to Kombucha and pop-up dinners. The in-house cafe offers a daily seasonal menu and, for the early risers, sunrise yoga & breakfast. You do not want to miss this feast of friends and food!
Catch my favorite pop-up brunch party
Greco's of Brooklyn sister and brother owners, Anita and Mark Greco, come from a big Italian family. They were born and raised in Brooklyn, but spent every summer since childhood here in Barcelona. Now they are serving three generations of family recipes daily for lunch and dinner. Every weekend Greco's puts on an off-the-charts brunch and, on popular demand, will throw a Pop-Up Brunch Party complete with DJ, cava and multiple courses of brunch treats. Did I just hear someone say lemon ricotta pancakes?
Celebrate with your very own dinner party
I was invited to a dinner party over the holidays last year at Matilda & Cook and it still tops my list as one of the best meals ever. Chef Marta Vidal Blanco creates a special energy in her eclectic loft space and garden where you feel as if you've stepped into another world and instantly feel at home at the same time. While you're visiting Barcelona, why not celebrate a night with a dinner party thrown just for you and your friends? You also can join one of Marta's cooking classes, or stop by for a seasonal brunch most weekends.
Discover Gracia's independent designers
I've curated a self guided shopping trail of my favorite independent designers and eco-boutiques in Gracia, a neighborhood rich with street culture, artists and plazas. Each shop is running over with inspiration, not to mention the friendly local designers.
Independent designer Isabel Vallecillo
Columbian independent designer
Purpose built for a greener future
Handcrafted and sustainable for your home
Independent designers Elisabet Carlota and Elisenda Oms
Beautiful eco and sustainable fashion
Artist made eco handbags from Brazil
TIP: Remember in Barcelona 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. is siesta. Most shops are open 12:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.. All are open Monday - Saturday (except Lupe Giraldo is closed Monday)
I host a Sharemrkt Wine & Walk where you can visit boutiques and hear from designers about what inspires them. We will have local wine and chef-prepared dishes at each spot then finish with an after party and music. It's a fun way to connect with friends and artisans in a vibrant neighborhood, and we'd love for you to join us!
Get around town like the locals do
Just hop on a YUGO electric scooter. Download the app, book the nearest eco scooter, unlock it and off you go! Helmet included. Enjoy the open air getting from Gracia to the beach, explore the narrow streets of El Born, or ride along one of the most famous streets in Europe, Passeig de Gracia. Once you reach your destination, just leave the scooter and when you need to, grab another YUGO.
Go sailing on the Mediterranean Sea
Most people only walk by the Port of Barcelona admiring all the sailboats, yachts, catamarans and speedboats. But with a little insider info, you can easily and economically get on the open sea. Nautal will connect you directly with owners to rent or charter their boat for a few hours or days.
Explore the Catalan coast surfer-style
Another great way to get on the water is by paddle board with Guidd. Local experts share their passion for nature with a multitude of outdoor activities from paddling to surfing (and beyond the sea!), all of them exclusive and personalized.
Take a road trip
Want to hit the open road? Perhaps a drive along Costa Brava, or a bit farther up to the Pyrenees to hike the GR-11. Drivy car share will save you the trouble of waiting in long car-rental lines with a car that you can instantly book on your block.
Chill out poolside
If your idea of ultimate relaxation is lounging poolside, go to ByHours and enjoy an afternoon pool pass. You can book "micro" hotel stays by 3, 6 or 12 hours which also comes in very handy if you need to bridge the gap before check-in or after check-out. Genius!!
Relax your mind and body
Sometimes when we see a place from a new perspective, we also tap into a deeper view of ourselves. Leslie Saglio can work with you one-on-one in a wellness coaching session. You can also join one of her yoga and meditation classes or wellness retreats.
Let the sounds of the city inspire you
Barcelona is alive with music! Let the city inspire you to pick up a Spanish guitar or try your hands on a cajón drum. Shine Music School offers special traveler classes for all kinds of instruments. And if you're hooked, continue the lessons back home virtually via Skype.
FEEL AT HOME
I always wish I had a Local's Playbook when I'm traveling and need things that are at my fingertips at home. Here are a few favorite entries out of my book.
Being away from home doesn't mean you have to give up your gym routine. GymForLess offers access to Barcelona gyms that locals love, minus the membership. With day passes to over 150 gyms all over the city for just 5 to 10 Euros, you can stay in shape and see the city!
Hair and make-up on location
Treat yourself to a new look with MI-KA Hair and Make-up on location. The owner and incredibly talented stylist, Michelle Stel, will come to you (or you can visit her salon) and transform you on the spot from day to night goddess.
Traveling with your family and want some help? NannyLine is on-hand offering experienced babysitters to give you peace of mind. Whether for an evening out or an overnight, they'll arrive within an hour of booking and give you the break you deserve.
If you find yourself out and about and need, well... anything... Eelp! is an app on every savvy local's phone. You can ask for whatever you need, and an Eelp'er will get back to you immediately.
Head over to Sharemrkt for all of these finds, exclusive discounts, and discover even more possibilities in Barcelona!
Special thanks to all Sharemrkt providers!
Photo credits to Jeremiah Diaz and Michael Discenza