Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Best ways to meet locals in Barcelona

When moving to a new country, particularly one where the language is different to your own, then it can seem incredibly frightening to think how you will make friends in your new city and country. I moved to Barcelona at 21 without knowing anyone here and although the move seemed daunting at the time, it has in fact been a truly incredible experience. I have met some brilliant people from all different countries from accross the world including a lot of Catalan people, who are great for helping to teach and show your their city and culture. I am going to write about the best ways to meet locals here in Barcelona.

Learn the language

The most important tip that I can give to meet local people in Barcelona is to learn the language. In my experience I have found that this does not always have to be Catalan in Barcelona as everyone can speak Spanish and I have encountered no problems with people not wanting to speak Spanish particularly as they can hear in your voice that you are not Spanish and they are usually very willing to help you as they realise that it is not your native tongue. Although some of the locals do speak English, most don´t so it becomes more difficult to meet locals if you don´t speak at least some Spanish.


One of the best ways to learn a new language is by going on Intercambios. For those that do not know what a Intercambio is, it is where two people who both want to learn or improve their language skills in the other persons language meet up and spent half the time talking in one language and then switch to the other language. For me as a native English speaker, it was very easy for me to find Spanish people to meet as English is a language that everyone wants to learn here espcially young people. Although the principle reason is to imporve your language skills, going for a drink with someone and speaking about a range of subjects is also a great way to get to know someone and friendships can begin. I have found from my experiences that most of the people wanting to learn English here are locals that have lived their whole life in Barcelona and love the oppurtunity to speak with a native English speaker and they are also very keen to share their city and culture with you. I have found out and heard many stories about Catalunya and the history of the region and it has been very interesting. It also of course comes with the added benefit of helping imporve your Spanish too so is a win-win situation. The website that I used is and I recommend it.

Joining a group or team

Think of your favourite hobby or sport and I think you will find that there are specific groups and teams in Barcelona of similar like-minded people. This is not a gurantee of meeting locals as there are probably also other foreigners who have the same hobby too. If you can speak the language then join local classes or groups in a variety of different activities like music groups, acting or sports teams where you willl find that many of the members are locals. If the group advertises solely in Spanish or Catalan then this is a good sign that they are likely to be made up of mainly locals.

Street Festivals

Anyone familiar with the Spanish culture will understand the importance of the "fiesta" in Spain and Barcelona is no different. There are a number of great street festivals in Barcelona and the number of people that attend is staggering. A lot are locals that have come to admire the decorations and of course to party and why not try to strike up a conversation with different people and maybe you will only speak for one sentence or you may share a whole conversation with the other person but it is a good way to practise your Spanish and meet new people.

Be friendly

Unfortunately if you are hoping that locals will approach you and instigate conversations then you are going to be disappointed. If you want to meet local people then you have to be very friendly and out-going. Take control and make a comment to someone on the weather or any other ice breakers you know, in Spanish or Catalan of course. One of the things that I have found is that the locals are as much interested in talking to you as you are talking to them as you have to remember particularly in the least touristy places that there are not the same number of tourists so the chance to speak to someone of another nationality is something that they want to do so rememer this and it will hopefully give you the confidence to hold a conversation.

"Be very friendly and out-going."

Join a gym

This may not be for everyone but the process of joining a gym is great for meeting new people particularly if you are not in a tourist area as most of the other members will be Barcelona residents. If you are a regular then you will notice that you will continually run into the same people at the gym and then it is easier to have conversation and they may even approach you as you will have a shared experience.

The best tip for meeting locals that I have is to remember that you are as interesting to the locals as they are to you and I have found them to be extremly friendly and very forgiving of poor Spanish when they realise you are a non native. Some will even speak to you in English if they can and generally they will want to speak English to improve so they are likely to want to prolong the conversation. Therefore, you have to be out-going and be the one to try and start a conversation and you will find your rewards.

Article written by Sean, a traveller and blogger from Homesearch Barcelona, barcelona properties for rent and sale.

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