Author: Anna MacDonald
Barcelona is undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in Europe for a city break, making it no surprise that the city attracted around 32 million tourists last year! Whilst the city’s most popular sights such as La Sagrada Familia and Camp Nou are definitely worth seeing, if you are looking to escape the crowds and see Barcelona like a local – this is the blog post for you! Here are some of Barcelona’s best sights that are a little bit off the beaten track and aren’t found on all lists of things to do in Barcelona!
Bunkers del Carmel
This panoramic view spot is never done full justice with just a photo, it has to be seen to be fully appreciated! This breathtaking view spot has a more troubled past than you’d expect when you arrive to see groups of happy picnickers soaking up the sun. Originally the space was used for military bunkers in the Spanish Civil War, then post-war it became a shanty town and remained this way up until the early 1990’s when it was abandoned. Getting to the bunkers can be a bit tricky given its remote location, you can climb up the hill from nearby metro station ‘El Carmel’ (30 minute walk) or you can get the V17 bus which drops you at ‘Gran Vista – Turó de la Rovira’ which is only a short walk away.
Hospital de Sant Pau
The Hospital de Sant Pau is hardly ‘hidden’ being a 10-minute walk from the famous Sagrada Familia but still many people leave it off their list of things to visit in Barcelona, especially in comparison to its masterpiece neighbour. However, this World Heritage Site is well worth visiting and is rich in history, taking you on a journey through the history of medicine in Barcelona from 1401 to the 21st Century. You can even visit the underground tunnels of this beautiful, old hospital! A guided tour of Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s masterpiece is highly recommended in order to fully appreciate the symbolism in his work and to understand the reasons behind how this hospital was built before modern technology.
Carrer de Petritxol
Not only is Carrer de Petritxol the best place in Barcelona to find the Spanish delicacy of churros, it’s also the first street in the city to become completely pedestrianised! The hot chocolate and churros on offer along this street have been the favourites of locals for many years. A combination of its hidden location right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter and it only being a tiny 129 metres long makes the street easily missable but if you find yourself at the famous Basílica de Santa Maria del Pi, you know you are close! The churrerías along this street offer the best churros in Barcelona; don’t be fooled by the tourist trap churrerías which are dotted all over the city! Granja La Pallaresa, for example, has been serving churros for over half a century, opening their doors in 1947.
Parc del Laberint
Everyone plans to visit Parc de la Ciutadella on their trip to Barcelona but less people know of the lovely Parc del Laberint, located a little further away from the centre. This is the oldest garden in Barcelona and aside from its main attraction of the maze, also features small sqaures, woodland, a waterfall, flower beds and mythological sculptures. Parc de Laberint is situated outside of the main touristic areas of the city and it also places a limit on the amount of guests being allowed into the park. This makes it the perfect place to escape the popular, tourist filled streets of Barcelona!
Gràcia has a totally different feel to it than the rest of Barcelona stemming from it being a completely separate neighbourhood up until 1897. It’s full of lively squares with outside terraces to relax on. Plaça del Sol is one of the most popular squares, especially with students and young locals. In the evening the terraces are full as well, as the square itself, where people bring their own snacks and drinks to enjoy! The best time to visit Gràcia is mid august, during La Festa Major de Gràcia. This is where there is a competition for the best street decorations, so all the locals decorate their own streets in unique and amazing themes. The streets are filled with live music, performances, workshops and much more!
Carrer de Blai
If you haven’t already heard of pintxos, they are a specific type of tapas coming from the Basque area of Spain. The word literally means ‘spike’ in Basque and is referring to the skewer that holds the small piece of bread and the tapas style topping together. Even though they are not typically Catalan, there are many pintxo bars in Barcelona, but it can be said that the best place to try them is Carrer de Blai! It is a street, near to the metro station Paral·lel and many pinxto bars can be found there. The prices per pintxos are between 1 and 2 euros in most of the bars along this street, and you pay at the end by showing how many skewers you have. The amount of variety which can be found along this street is amazing and ensures that something can be found for everyone! The street is always bustling and full of a great atmosphere, it is a must to go there for lunch or dinner at least once during your stay.
Of course, there are many more sights in Barcelona which are off the beaten track, but this is a list of a few of the things that people often tend to wrongly miss out when visiting! Below is a map, showing all of the locations.