Barcelona’s ‘must see’ places: Is social media redefining how we make plans?

Businesses report an increase in clients as content creators share city's "secret spots"

Tourists walk down La Rambla boulevard on August 4, 2022
Tourists walk down La Rambla boulevard on August 4, 2022 / Gerard Escaich Folch
Emma Monrós Rosell

Emma Monrós Rosell | @emmamonros | Barcelona

October 14, 2023 11:00 AM

October 15, 2023 10:12 AM

Searching TikTok for "What to do in Barcelona" or "Plans in Barcelona" will pull up numerous videos with hundreds of thousands of views and likes. The pin location for the Catalan capital in the same app pulls up more than half a million videos showing streets, buildings, restaurants, and museums that "you cannot miss" if you visit Barcelona. 

But that type of content is not exclusive to TikTok. Instagram accounts whose content is based on recommendations of things to do in Barcelona, targeting both locals and tourists, also gather hundreds of thousands of followers. This was the topic of a recent Filling the Sink podcast episode:

It is no secret that social media has become important when it comes to finding ideas for trips or weekend plans, but it also helps to promote businesses. And in Catalonia both these things go hand in hand; according to El Economista, the tourism industry accounts for 12% of the Catalan GDP. 

Numerous businesses in Barcelona build their social media presence to make themselves more known in the city. Such is the case with OíMá, a Neapolitan sandwich shop in the center of the Catalan capital that was founded a year ago by Emanuele and Cristian. 

"Our social media profile is something we curate a lot and since the beginning we have taken it into account. A lot of our customers come through our own social media or foodbloggers' recommendations," they explain to Catalan News. 

Juan Alpuente, known on TikTok as "El Xurrero de Barcelona," has also seen the effects of social media. He is now the owner of Xurreria Alpuente, the family's business located near Barcelona's Els Encants neighborhood. 

During the pandemic, he saw that everyone was using TikTok and he decided to give it a try. "I thought, 'why not post things I do in the churreria?' I just uploaded videos of my day-to-day life in the food stand, with my clients, and the dogs that come to visit me," Juan told Catalan News. Now, he has more than half a million followers

Juan has clients from all over the world, not just Barcelona: "Some people from outside the city come to my stand on the weekends to eat some churros or take a picture with me. But there are also clients from various places like Argentina, Colombia, United States, and even Russia." 

What to do in Barcelona: TikTok defining our trips / Emma Monrós

He recognizes that his internet profile has helped to increase the business's numbers: "Thanks to social media and reaching people from around the world, my sales have increased," he says. 

Another example of a company that has seen the effects of these short videos on sales is Demasié, a bakery with various shops across Barcelona. Ariadna, a worker at the one located next to Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar, is aware that location is an important aspect when attracting clients, but she admits that everyday someone goes to the bakery because they have seen it in social media: "Just today, some clients from Turkey told me they discovered Demasié through a Facebook group where there are recommendations about Barcelona." 

Travel vloggers and foodbloggers usually market their content and recommendations as "secret spots to discover". But the problem with the internet and social media is that a million other people are probably in on that secret too.