A Local’s Guide to Barcelona is part of a series collaboration with Spotted by Locals Barcelona

Many European cities offer culture, architecture and world-class dining, but there’s no other seaside city as appealing in summer as Barcelona. Here, you can have it all – a vibrant city experience and spectacular stretches of sand. From the cobbled streets of the Gothic Quarter to the breezy alleys in Barceloneta, you’re never far from the Mediterranean. Here’s how to have the perfect Barcelona summer break.

Hit the Beach in Barceloneta

For a quick, sandy adventure, Barceloneta is the city’s most well-known beach. The promenade is always packed with people walking, cycling or skating, or drinking in one of the chiringuitos (beach bars). Relax on the sand with the best jamón serrano (ham) sandwich in the city from nearby Delicamón. Or, for a sit-down meal after a long day in the sun, swing by Makamaka on the way back to the metro for one of Barcelona’s best burgers. Local tip: for a tranquil experience, find locals at their best in Bogatell, which is less packed than Barceloneta.

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Surf in Sant Sebastià

Barcelona waves are nothing to write home about, but surfing – especially off Sant Sebastià, the stretch of beach near the W Hotel – is popular with the locals anyway. Even more popular in the calm sea of Barcelona is stand up paddling. Visit Pukas Surf, the best surf shop in town, where you can rent a board or opt for a class with an instructor. If you’re looking for something really challenging, try an ocean pilates class on a stand up paddling board.

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Shop, Eat and Drink with the Locals in Raval

Edgy and vibrant, the Raval is alive with cosmopolitan shops and many of Barcelona’s trendiest bars. Grab a drink at 33/45, where the walls are covered in rotating art exhibits and there are plenty of cozy couches to collapse into. Or, skip a meal in a cafe and head to La Boqueria market instead. The outdoor market is one of the must-have experiences in all of Europe, with limitless kinds of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats and sweets.

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Reach New Heights with Gaudí in Eixample

The amazing modernist design of Gaudí’s creations are on display in Eixample. From Casa Milà to the iconic Sagrada Familia, buildings designed in the Spanish architect’s distinctive, Catalan-inspired style tower above city blocks in this Barcelona neighborhood. Take a self-guided walking tour of them all. Less frequented by tourists, La Pedrera, a famous apartment building designed by Gaudí, has a local exhibition space. Don’t miss Back & Forth, a retrospective of the work of Mallorcan artist Tony Catany.

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Escape the City in Gracia

Spend your days exploring the quiet streets and quirky shops, and your nights at the lively bars and cafes in Gracia’s tree-lined squares. Originally a separate town, Gracia has its own unique identity. Spain is a country that uses any occasion to party, and the Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona is no exception – the fiestas here are some of the city’s biggest and most popular. After partying with the locals, sample authentic Catalan cuisine at Cal Boter, famous for its variety of desserts.

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Stay in the Gothic Quarter

The Gothic Quarter’s historic, winding streets run down to the Mediterranean. Along the way, you can take in the Gothic Barcelona Cathedral, the town hall and the city’s old Jewish quarter. In between, you can find museums, shops and plenty of bars. Splurge at Hotel Bagues, a boutique hotel located on Las Ramblas. Built in 1850, the hotel combines Art Nouveau and modernism while preserving the building’s original facade. Enjoy a welcome drink upon arrival, an amazing rooftop pool and terrace, and incredible views of Barcelona.

Local’s Guide to Barcelona photos by EnesFederico CiamperiHoang PhamJa MaFerran FusalbaIgor OvsyannykovHotel Bagues

About Spotted by Locals

Spotted by Locals is a series of apps and blogs with up-to-date tips by locals in 60+ cities across Europe and North America. To get more local tips, visit the Spotted by Locals website or download the app.