Barcelona is a city with many world-class sights and things to do. But if you’re looking to discover Barcelona off the beaten path, the city has a lot to offer too. I share 7 amazing Barcelona hidden gems, that not many people know of. Some are hidden in plain sight, others take a bit more effort to see. Check out this guide to the best-hidden gems of Barcelona and how to find them.
Discover seven lesser-known secrets tucked away within everyone’s favorite European city. And I share how to find these unusual things to do in Barcelona.
I paid for everything in full myself. I was not paid or sponsored. All my opinions and experiences are my own.
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This is a guest post by Auston. He runs the blog Two Bad Tourists and is also a freelance writer. His work has been featured in many publications including Attitude Magazine, Edge Media Network, The Houston Chronicle and ManAboutWorld Magazine.
Barcelona Off The Beaten Path
The city of Barcelona, in Spain, seems to have been built to impress. There’s the imposing architectural masterpiece that is Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the ever-chaotic Las Ramblas avenue, the bizarre wonder that is Parc Guell, and of course the fountain before the Catalonian art museum.
It is here that Freddy Mercury and Montserrat Caballe famously sang during Barcelona’s Olympics. However, beyond these undeniably iconic destinations Barcelona has something new to see around every corner, should you take the time to go that bit deeper.
Explore off the beaten path in Barcelona and go where to locals go. Usually, it is just a tram or metro ride away, or walking past the main streets of Barcelona. Some of these unknown gems are hidden in plain sight in Barcelona.
The Gardens of Montjuic
Montjuic is a hill on the port side of the city that has a maze of beautiful gardens winding up its slopes, all the way up to the stadium and castle at its peak.
Most tourists just take the steps past the fountains up to the Museum of Catalan Art and call it a day, but should you take a detour and explore the rest of Montjuic, you’ll uncover a labyrinth of crisscrossing fairytale-like gardens to lose yourself in.
Arguably the best is the botanical gardens just down from the stadium. Here you’ll find exotic plants from five different regions of the world. The intrepid explorer might discover the hidden stairway leading down past a trickling waterfall into a secluded clearing, which feels like you are in the midst of a rainforest.
There’s also an outdoor theater in the Greek gardens and on the far port side of the Montjuic are the ‘Jardins de Mossèn Costa I Llobera’. This is quite the mouthful so most simply refer to it as the cactus gardens because of the range of spiky vegetation that is preserved there.
How to get to the gardens of Mont Juic
Although the gardens of Montjuic can be considered a hidden gem of Barcelona, the whole area of Montjuic is not. This makes it easy to reach from anywhere in Barcelona.
Take Metro lines, L1 or L3 to Plaça Espanya. From there, you can climb the hill on foot and reach the top in about 30-35 minutes. Busses will bring you to the top of Montjuic and can drop you off at the Jardí Botànic.
The Bus Turistic (red line) will also stop at Montjuic. Another option is to take the Montjuïc Funicular Railway up the hill and walk the last part.
Carrer De Blai
Poble Sec is an underrated part of Barcelona in general, being tucked away to the eastern side of the city under the aforementioned Montjuic.
Its prime feature is the street which runs its length, Carrer De Blai, which always has a lively atmosphere due to the many bars which line it that serve ‘pinchos’.
Pinchos are from the Basque Country region of Spain and are essentially anything you could possibly pile on top of small slices of bread – with the most creative combinations you can imagine ranging from sausage and pepper to cream cheese and jam.
The best part is they`re only around a euro each and on Blai you can be both pleasantly inebriated and full-bellied with just under ten euros!
How to find this street with hidden gems in Barcelona?
Carrer De Blai is at the base of the hill of Montjuic and you can reach it by walking down from Montjuic.
If you prefer the fast and direct metro, take L3 and get off at either Parallel or Poble Sec. From there it is a short walk to the street, bars and pinchos.
The Exotic Museum
Barcelona has a healthy variety of museums, but if you’re after something a little spicier than the average tourist then The Exotic Museum might appeal to your tastes.
Hidden in plain view on Las Ramblas, the museum exhibits erotica tracing the story of human sexuality.
The museum holds to the ideal that not only is sex, not the enemy, but it has been a close friend to humanity throughout all our history.
It houses everything from erotic art pieces to Karma Sutra to sexual letters between lovers to devices that leave little to the imagination. There are eighty “artifacts” to examine and – in some cases – puzzle over how exactly they were used.
Where is this unusual place to visit in Barcelona?
The Exotic Museum is really located halfway the Ramblas. You’ll find it on the right side of the street if you walk from the Columbus Monument and the harbor towards Plaça de Catalunya. Take the Metro L3 and get off at Liceu. Then it is a 1-minute walk.
Parc del Laberint D’Horta
Who doesn’t love a good hedge maze? The ‘Park of the Labyrinth of Horta’ has one of the biggest to lose yourself in, found in the center of a stunning garden – which is the oldest of its kind.
The park is actually two parks combined: one an 18th-century neoclassical garden and the other a 19th-century romantic garden – both easy on the eyes.
Located in the north of the city, near the Mundet metro stop, it was once the estate of the royal Desvalls family but is now open to the public to leisurely wander for a taste of aristocracy.
Where is the Parc del Laberint D’Horta?
Now, to visit the Parc del Laberint D’Horta, you’ll really need to get off the beaten path in Barcelona. But luckily, it is close to the University of Barcelona, so well connected with the rest of Barcelona.
Take Metro L3 to Mundet metro stop. From there, it is a green, 5-minute walk to the park. Of course, many bus routes stop near the park too, but the metro might be a faster option for you.
Las Ramblas de Raval
Everyone knows Las Ramblas Avenue.
Amongst locals it has a bad reputation for being constantly full of tourists and thus pickpockets and overpriced restaurants looking to rip off unsuspecting visitors.
However, the trendy area of Raval has its own mini-Ramblas just off to the left side looking downward from Plaza Catalunya.
The Raval Ramblas is far less busy and full of original bars and cafes with terraces on which to either enjoy the Barcelona sun or kickstart a night out with pre-drinks.
A highlight amongst the bars on Ramblas de Raval is Madame Jasmine’s – found right in the middle in front of the odd-looking cat statue– with its unusually chic decor and welcoming queer crowd – just one of many examples of Barcelona’s LGBTQ+ friendly vibes.
On Sundays, Las Ramblas De Raval has a market running its length selling all sorts of knick-knacks and the delicious, sweet wine, vermouth.
The Bunker Del Carmel
There are many beautiful viewpoints looking down on Barcelona.
The most famous are from Tibidado and Montjuic, but there is a third more central vantage point with a panoramic view of the city.
On top of the hill, you’ll find an abandoned bunker left over from the Spanish civil war to clamber over and from its roof look down across Barcelona.
During the weekends you’ll find locals and in-the-know visitors – the cat is out of the bag with this secret at this point sadly – picnicking or practicing guitar as the sun sets. The atmosphere is palpable and the view unforgettable.
You can visit free of charge, as there is no entry fee.
How to get to the Bunkers of Carmel?
Although this is one of the not-so-hidden gems of Barcelona, it does take some effort to get there. You can reach the Bunkers of Carmel, or MUHBA Turó de la Rovira in Spanish best by bus. Buslines 119, 22 and 24 have stops closest to the viewpoints.
If you rather take the metro, take L4 and stop at Alfons X or Guinardó | Hospital de Sant Pau. From there, you can walk through the parks and past other amazing viewpoints. It is a 1.5 km (1 mile) walk and it does go up.
In the north of the city just below the tram up to Tibidabo, is the unappreciated CosmoCaixa Museum – at least by tourists.
The building was the original Science Museum of Barcelona but was renovated and taken on and sponsored by the Spanish bank, La Caixa. Now it has exhibitions devoted to science, nature, and space.
Entry is cheap and it’s worth taking the metro out of the center to visit.
There’s a planetarium, a flooded forest where you can see over 100 animals from the Amazon (such as exotic birds, alligators, frogs, and capybaras), a geological wall displaying volcanic rocks, and the main hall is filled with interactive science exhibitions telling the story of evolution and science from the big bang to the robotics of the modern day.
TIP: Purchase your entrance tickets in advance here.
How to get to CosmoCaixa Museum?
Located in the north of the city, close to Tibidabo, a visit to the museum combines well with a visit to the park. Your best option is Metro L7 and get off at stop Av. Tibidabo. From here, it is a 5-minute walk to the museum.
Several bus lines have their bus stops either in front of the museum or very close by.
The blue route of the hop-on-hop-off bus of Barcelona also stops at Av. Tibidabo.
Barcelona Hidden Gems
In a city like Barcelona, there are not really any well-kept touristic secrets anymore. But I hope this post has inspired you to look beyond the main monuments and attractions. And it has helped you find some amazing, unusual things to do in Barcelona that are off the beaten path.
What do you think? Is there a thing like finding Barcelona off-the-beaten-path attractions? And are they worth the detour? I think they are and I hope you agree after reading this list. Have a question or comment? Drop them in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you.