Visiting Spain and wondering what to wear in Barcelona? Read on.
You’re walking along the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona and start to self conscious about your outfit. If you haven’t been to Europe before, you might not know how to dress to blend in. Your clothes are often a dead giveaway to letting Spainards know that you’re a tourist. If you want to keep it lowkey and explore the city the way the locals do, dressing well is a great start. I’ll tell you everything you need to know to blend in and dress like a local for your next trip to Barcelona.
7 Tips: What to Wear in Barcelona
1. Leave the shorts and flip-flops at home
Although Barcelona is coastal, you won’t see locals wearing short shorts or flip-flops around the city. It can be tempting to wear skimpier clothing like tank tops and mini skirts, especially in the summer months, but it will definitely make you look like an obvious tourist. Even on a sunny day, locals will most likely still be wearing long trousers to keep their skin covered from the sun, especially the older generation.
You’ll find people wearing swimsuits and sandals when they’re actually at the beach, but wearing swimwear anywhere else but the beach is very frowned upon. Spain, especially northern Spain, tends to be conservative when it comes to clothing. To avoid drawing attention to yourself and even possibly a fine, you should pack more conservative clothing as well. Opting for more conservative clothing will also make you less likely to stick out to pickpockets, which can be common in big cities like Barcelona. Drawing less attention to yourself won’t just make you feel more comfortable in a foreign crowd, it’ll keep you safer as well.
2. Keep fashion in mind
Much like the rest of Europe, fashion is an integral part of Spanish life. Unlike the United States, Spanish people almost never wear athletic clothing outside of the house or gym. They tend to be much more put together when they leave the house to walk the streets of Barcelona. A great way to fit in with the locals is to put your best foot forward when you leave your hotel each morning. The older generation in Barcelona tends to wear more neutral colors, while the younger locals like to show off their style with brighter colors. If fashion isn’t your strong suit, you can always spice up your outfits in Barcelona with a pop of color.
Dressing with fashion in mind doesn’t mean you have to wear all designer brands, although some younger Spainards will, it mostly means that you put pride into your presentation and don’t look sloppy. One thing you’ll notice about locals in Madrid and the rest of Europe is that they hardly ever wear baggy clothes. Even in the hottest months, Spanish men and women tend to wear more form-fitting clothing. If you travel to Spain in the summer, which is most common, this style will be variations of cotton pants and a short-sleeved shirt. In the winter months, you’ll see Spanish women wearing skinny or straight-leg jeans and a warm jacket.
3. Dress on the conservative side
Although Spanish people are all about fashion, they do tend to dress on the conservative side. This is true of the older generation and the younger generation as well. Since Barcelona is a coastal city, keeping covered up may not be something you want to do, but it will make you stick out if you walk around the city center wearing skimpy clothing.
PRO TIP: Check the weather as you pack and before you go to make sure you know what to expect for your trip: Barcelona Weather
The good news is if you packing more conservative clothing in the summer months, you won’t have to carry a lightweight jacket or scarf with you when you visit religious sites. Many things worth seeing in Barcelona, like the Barcelona Cathedral, will have a stricter dress code than you’ll find anywhere else in the city. In most churches and cathedrals, you’ll be required to cover your shoulders at the very least before you’re allowed in the building. In the colder months, this isn’t a problem because you’ll most likely be covered already. Butt planning on dressing appropriately for these religious sites will save you the hassle of having to purchase expensive scarves that are usually sold to unprepared tourists.
4. Wear breathable fabrics in the summer
In the summer and spring months, average temperatures in Barcelona can be in the mid to high 80s Fahrenheit. As we mentioned, Spanish people tend to dress on the conservative side, and if you’re trying to dress like a local, this may seem impossible to do without sweating. The key to dressing like a Spaniard in the warmer months is to choose breathable fabrics. When it’s hot out, you’ll see locals keeping their skin pretty covered with light cotton blend fabrics to keep themselves cool. Wearing something that doesn’t trap sweat will make all the difference in the world when you’re walking around the city.
5. Wear a crossbody bag
Like many big cities in Europe, you should be wary of pickpockets in Barcelona. Streets like Las Ramblas are crowded and make it easy for tourists to lose belongings to thieves. Wearing a crossbody bag during the day when you’re walking around will help keep your personal items close to you and keep you looking fashionable at the same time. We prefer crossbody bags over fanny packs because they make it a little bit harder for pickpockets to steal or cut your bag off you while you’re walking.
If you’re wearing a jacket or sweater, it’s also a good idea to put the crossbody bag strap underneath a layer of clothing so pickpockets aren’t able to unclip your bag in a crowd. In Barcelona, you’ll see many locals, even men, wearing crossbody bags because they’re a more chic way to keep all of your essential belongings where you need them at all times.
6. Dress up in the evenings
Spanish people love to look put together when they leave the house, and this is especially true when they go out in the evenings. The nightlife scene is one of the best things about Barcelona. If you have nighttime activities planned during your stay in Barcelona, you should definitely plan on packing a few outfits that allow you to step up your style when you go out for dinner or drinks. Dressing up in the evenings doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear high heels everywhere you go, but you should plan on bringing a pair of nicer sandals at the very least that can be dressed up depending on the outfit you wear.
Especially in the summer months, Barcelona will be alive with people in the evenings, so you don’t want to miss out on the experience of nightlife in this beautiful Spanish city. At She Packs Lite, we’re all about making the best use of your space when you’re traveling without sacrificing style. In order to avoid overpacking and fulfill Spanish dress codes, we recommend packing lightweight dresses to go out in. Satiny slip dresses take up hardly any space in your bag, aren’t as likely to wrinkle, and will give you an effortlessly chic look when you’re strolling the streets at night.
7. Wear stylish, comfortable shoes
A big part of Spanish style is having a pair of nice shoes. At She Packs Lite, we believe that you don’t need more than three pairs of shoes for any trip. Shoes are usually the bulkiest thing in your suitcase so in order to save precious room, you should always bring less. However, the key to making this tip work is bringing shoes that you can wear with multiple outfits and for different occasions. You’ll notice that Spanish women are all about street shoes. These sneakers aren’t like the typical running sneakers you wear in America; they’re dressier and therefore can be worn with pants during the daytime or with a casual dress when you go out to dinner. No matter what time of year you travel to Spain, packing a nice pair of sneakers will be a great choice for any outfit.
Another pair of shoes that you should definitely pack for Barcelona is a nice comfortable pair of sandals. Spanish women love their sandals and they’re another pair of shoes that you can wear with almost any outfit. When it’s warmer, these sandals should be ones that won’t kill your feet if you have to walk a long way in them.
FAQ: What to Wear in Barcelona
Have more questions about what you should and shouldn’t wear in Barcelona? Keep reading to have all of your questions about dressing like a Spanish local answered.
How do locals dress in Spain?
In the warmer months, Spanish women tend to wear light cotton pants or skirts. As we mentioned, Spaniards tend to dress more conservatively, even when it’s hot out, which is why breathable fabrics and skirts are so popular. You’ll also notice that fashion street sneakers and sandals are the most popular footwear when it’s warmer. In the winter, Spanish women like to keep it simple with a pair of well-fitting jeans and a leather jacket.
What should I pack for Barcelona?
Since you’ll most likely be doing a lot of walking while you’re in Barcelona, you should plan on bringing clothes and shoes that you’re comfortable walking in. The street sneakers that you’ll seem to see everyone wearing in Barcelona are great for this because they can be dressed up or down and they pair well with a lot of outfits. Having a solid pair of sneakers while you’re traveling will help keep you comfortable, stylish, and make more room in your suitcase while you’re packing.
What should you not wear in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a coastal town that’s popular for a lot of summer vacations, so it can be tempting to pack the clothes you usually wear in the summer in the United States. However, wearing short shorts and flip-flops around the city will scream tourist and could make you more of a target for pickpockets. If you want to blend in with the locals, you should dress on the conservative side when you’re not at the beach.