Hack the City

  • November 13, 2019

There aren’t many places in the world where you can swim in a warm sea and ski on the same weekend, but that’s not the only reason we love Barcelona. With rent-by-the-minute mopeds and cheap train fares, this city is a hub of techie innovation, perfect for the adventurous explorer. There’s also world-class gastronomy, street festivals every month, one of the best music festivals in the world, and a thriving expat scene, meaning it can sometimes be too easy to get lost among the million and one things to do. But have no fear! We are here, with our curation of vital apps, podcasts, and more, as recommended by locals and experienced expats, to help you navigate the city and get the most out of every single day.

There’s an app for that!

Every app you could ever need to live and flourish in a modern, techie haven.

  • Tuenti - The handy thing about the Tuenti phone company is you never need to leave your house. Order a SIM card for your phone (Android or iPhone) and get your new Spanish number delivered to your door in a matter of days. Use the super-helpful app to keep track of how much data you’re using and instantly top up if you run out.

  • Wallapop - Buy and sell locally with Wallapop. Browse for literally anything, by how close it is to you, with photos. It’s cheap and used by everyone, especially locals, for anything from trainers to bicycles to sofas.

  • Revolut - Welcome to the banking app that lets you attach multiple international accounts to one card and instantly add cash in different currencies to your physical Revolut card. The card is contactless, lets you take money out from an ATM, and works everywhere. You can instantly transfer money between friends with the app, too—and on top of that, it’s free, with no hidden or sign-up fees. Plus, you can open a “vault” that automatically saves your spare change each time you spend.

  • Bicing - Bicing is the most-used cycling app in Barcelona. There are stations around the city with hundreds, if not thousands, of bicycles. It’s €50 for the whole year, and your first 30 minutes are free every time you ride. Sign up online and get your card delivered straight to your door, then download the app to find your nearest parking point.

  • eCooltra - Like bicing, but with scooters. You need a scooter license to use eCooltra, but each bike has two helmets locked in the saddle and the app shows you where the nearest one is. Added bonus: it’s much easier to get parked! You pay by the minute—anything from 19 to 26 cents, depending on the package.

  • Duolingo - This is easily the most popular language-learning app in the world. Get notification reminders to practice, keep track of what you’re learning, and link up with friends to boost your motivation. There’s also a free podcast series and a messenger bot that allows you to try having conversations. All for free!

  • Badi - Discover a whole new way to hunt for an apartment with Badi. The app works a little like Tinder, in that you have to match with your ideal roommate before you can talk to them—but when you do, you can instantly book a viewing. Badi cuts out the middleman and helps reduce wasted time. Plus, it’s free.

  • Idealista - This is the most popular apartment-hunting and renting site in the city, which means it’s also competitive. Most of the places you’ll see on here will be from agencies (and agency fees are normally at least 10% of the year’s total rent), but search every day and you’ll eventually find your diamond in the rough. And make sure you set up notifications for your specific wants, so you’re first in line when they get posted.

  • Meetup - Want to join a language exchange? Maybe you’re looking to work out with other expats? Meetup shows you events catered to any and every desire, all around the city—and lets you create your own. Find locals and foreigners interested in the same things as you and make new friends any time, any day of the week, in groups for things such as rock climbing, cooking, volleyball, or knitting.

  • Eatwith - Discover the joys of the Mediterranean diet with local Spanish and Catalan chefs keen to cook for you or teach you how to make the perfect paella. Eatwith is like Meetup, but for food. You and any number of your friends can find events you want to join, or create a new one: Options range from cooking classes to candlelit dinners in cozy, secret restaurants or guided market shopping with a local chef.

  • Glovo - This is not your ordinary delivery service. Sure, it features hundreds of restaurants from across the city, delivering their food straight to your door for a small delivery fee that’s based on distance. But even better, they deliver anything else you want. Simply download the app and search in the “anything” category for what you need. Maybe you had one too many cañas (small draft beer) last night and all you need is some painkillers? Glovo will go to a shop for you and deliver it to your door. Welcome to the future—it’s sofa based.

  • TMB - TMB is the Catalan transport network in Barcelona. Download the app for up-to-date bus and train times, to book tickets, and to check where the closest station/stop is. You can plan your journey and check which ticket you need for which zones. Simple!

  • Citymapper - One of the world’s best transport apps, Citymapper works in dozens of cities around the globe. Open it up and search for your journey: It covers a selection of means of transport, including taxis, buses, trains, cycling, and walking. Its map and interface tend to be quicker to load than other map apps, and its suggested routes are always smart and accurate.

  • BCN Paisatge - Get a truly local guide with the BCN Paisatge app, created and run by Barcelona City Council. Search for shops, restaurants, galleries, hidden details of the city, such as murals and tiny ancient sculpted bricks, or plan a route through the city with notifications of interesting, noteworthy stops in real time as you walk.

  • Fever - Had enough of Facebook but don’t want to miss out on all the cool events happening in Barcelona? Fever has your back: Its exhaustive list of gigs, theatre shows, fashion events, and hip gastronomic evenings means you’ll be spoilt for choice every day of the week. Keep an eye out for discounts for fever users on tickets to gigs and other events, too.

Get your ’gram on

Who to follow on Instagram to spice up your feed with a little local flavor.

  • O Lo Comes Barcelona: Focused on discovering and sharing the delights of independent local eateries, this account is a one-stop shop for finding the best places to dine out for reasonable prices. Check out its stories for lists of places organized by area, from El Raval to El Poble-sec.

  • Ruben M.: Ruben is a street photographer in Barcelona, capturing the beautiful underbelly of the crowded, lively, and kinetic place that we love. Scroll through his feed and be in awe of his cinematic technique and deft skill in creating a whole story with a single image.

  • IN and OUT Barcelona: Stefania Talento and Andreu Font are two social-media managers who use their combined talents to share cool events, yummy places to eat, and secret spots for their followers. Follow for drool-worthy foodie snaps combined with enviable glimpses into their unbelievably cool lives.

  • Irene Pérez Morata: With an eye for detail and color, Irene produces photography that is an ongoing love letter to a city she’s clearly obsessed with. Small mosaics on hidden walls, boat sails in the distance… She sees a Barcelona that others might miss.

  • Sam Zucker: Videographer, photographer, writer, and chef Sam gives you a fresh take on a city that has been photographed to death. His Instagram account will keep you in awe of what a beautiful place you’re living in.

  • The Barcelonist: Discover what Barcelona is really like behind all the tourists through this account. It showcases photographers who are capturing the cultural pockets and secret spots of the city like no one else.

  • Nicanor García: Specializing in architectural photography, García captures everywhere he visits in all its splendor. Look at the city through the eyes, and lens, of someone truly in love with it.

  • Patatas Bravas Barcelona: You know we love bravas in Barcelona! These fried potatoes with brava sauce come a thousand different ways—and this account is on a mission to document them all. Get your tummy rumbling and mouth watering over this delicious, and hilarious, collection of the best (and worst) bravas in the city.

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For your eyes (and ears) only

Stay tuned in to the city that never sleeps with podcasts, free magazines, and newspapers in English.

  • Barcelona Miniguide: This free magazine, which comes out 10 times a year, is packed with cool events, gigs, exhibitions, bars, restaurants, parties, and local album reviews. You can grab a paper copy in these locations, or you can head to the website that has info on everything from great places to eat, to LGBTQIA+ friendly bars, to tattoo parlours. Every location is reviewed and includes prices and opening times.

  • Barcelona Metropolitan: Another monthly free paper magazine, Barcelona Metropolitan guides you through everything you need to know about the local zeitgeist, whether that involves a breakdown of Spanish politics or recommendations for hiking day trips and rooftop bars.

  • El País English: Keep up to date with local and Spanish news with the English edition of one of the biggest newspapers in Spain. Only available online.

  • BCN Més: Perfect for the English-speaking expat, BCN Més includes articles in English and Spanish, plus it’s free! Pick up a paper copy in various locations around Barcelona for a funny, alternative take on what’s going on. Online you can explore gastronomic recommendations, interviews, and a video series called News Desk, which looks at key aspects of BCN life, such as the recycling initiative on city buses.

  • The Barcelona Podcast: A fan of soccer? Don’t want to miss the next El Clásico? This podcast follows the best team in the world (FC Barcelona, of course!), with commentary, analysis, and more, all in English. Come on, Messi!

  • Radio Primavera Sound: Primavera Sound is a massive music festival held in Barcelona every year. Prepare yourself for three days of sunshine and parties (even if you don’t have a ticket) with their radio station, which has shows in English and Spanish introducing you to new music and getting you hyped for the big names to come.

  • Notes in Spanish: A great podcast for learning Spanish, it has episodes for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. Subjects discussed range from historical Spanish events to local foods and navigating being an expat in the Catalan capital.

Daisy Bata

Journalist, scriptwriter and Londoner, living in Barcelona. She has a Masters in Political Science.
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