What to do once you have already visited the most famous Barcelona attractions? Here is an alternative guide to the 12 best unusual things to do in Barcelona off the beaten path.
Barcelona is one of those cities where you keep finding new things to do. In the city, in the mountains, or simply by moving a little further to the Costa Brava… in the 14 months I lived in Barcelona, I was able to explore tons of destinations and attractions, both touristy and some Barcelona hidden gems.
Here are my personal recommendations to see my 13 favorite Barcelona secret places.
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Admire the sun setting in the sea at Bunkers del Carmel
If you are traveling with your partner, you cannot miss a visit to the Bunkers del Carmel: there is nothing more romantic than watching the sun slowly setting in the sea coloring the whole city of orange…
On top of the Rovire, in the district of Carmel, stands a Bunker which was built in 1937 and recently renovated. It is here that couples (but also groups of friends) come to drink a beer and watch the sunset. The 360-degree view over the city is even more beautiful than the one from Montjuic!
How to get to the Bunkers del Carmel: metro L4 to Guinardo stop + 30 min walk uphill, or bus V17 to the last stop (Pl Mitja Lluna).
Two super fun, unique things to do in Barcelona and ways to visit the Bunkers del Carmel are:
– The Barcelona Instagram Tour, where your private photographer will bring you on a walking tour of Barcelona to visit the most Instagrammable sights, including the Bunkers del Carmel, and will take incredible photos of you and your group/partner. One of the most fun things to do in Barcelona!
⇒ BOOK IT HERE
– Barcelona: 9-Hour Vespa Tour with GPS: ride a stylish red Vespa around the city and discover the best places to visit in Barcelona like Tibidabo, Camp Nou, Bunkers del Carmel, and a lot more with provided GPS routes.
⇒ BOOK IT HERE
Get amazing bargains at the Els Encants flea market
Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, more than 500 vendors gather in the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes to sell all sorts of things: clothes, jewels, accessories, furniture and antiques.
This is Els Encants, the biggest and oldest flea market in Barcelona: if you look carefully through the goods, you can find true bargains. Shopping here is one of the most local, and definitely quirky, things to do in Barcelona. Speaking a little Spanish can be of help, you’d better review the basics of Spanish before your departure!
How to get to Els Encants Vells Flea Market: metro L2, Encants stop.
Els Encants Flea Market Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9 am to 8 pm.
Have lunch at the Sikh temple in Barcelona
In Barcelona you will have the possibility to visit a Sikh temple (a religion originated in Punjabi, a region of India), called Gurudwra Nanaks, if you manage to pronounce the name.
Sikhs are a growing presence in Spain: visiting a Sikh temple means taking part in colorful rituals and being accepted by this very welcoming community. If you get there by lunch time, you will be offered a complimentary Indian meal.
How to get to the Sikh temple: take the underground blue line and get off at the Collblanc stop.
Refresh yourself at the Barcelona Ice Bar
When the summer sun is shining, there is only one place cool in Barcelona. Right next to the Barceloneta beach, the Icebarcelona [entrance from the beach, Carrer de Ramon Trias Fargas, 2] has a permanent temperature between –5 and –10 degrees all year long.
However, you don’t have to worry about freezing to death, at the entrance you will be given arctic-proof coats and gloves. The interiors are spectacular and guests will have the possibility to sip vodka surrounded by ice sculptures!
How to get to Ice Barcelona: L4 Metro, Ciutadella-Villa Olimpica stop.
Icebarcelona Opening Hours: every day 12 pm to 3 am.
Icebarcelona Entrance Fee: 17.50 Euro with a drink + coat and gloves.
Save some money by buying your entrance in advance ⇒ BUY IT HERE.
Get Instagram-worthy pictures at Torre de Collserola
Another spot to enjoy mesmerizing views over the city and the mountains (on a clear day you can see up to 70km away!) is viewing dock (El Mirador) at the Torre de Collserola, located not far from the Tibidabo, a vintage amusement park that both kids and adults love (BOOK HERE your Tibidabo Amusement Park Admission Ticket).
The best part about Torre de Collserola is that it’s it’s not very well known, and being one of the non touristy things to do in Barcelona, you might have it all for you!
How to get to Torre de Collserola: I suggest you combine the visit with the Tibidabo Amusement Park, which is located a short walk away. To get here, you can take the Tibidabo funicular railway or metro L3/L5 + bus T2B.
Torre de Collserola Entrance Fee: 5.60 euros
If you’re in Barcelona for 2 days and want to make the most out of it, check out the Barcelona Express Card that for just a little over $20 per person includes unlimited transport and discounts for most of Barcelona attractions. Entrance at Torre de Collserola is 60% off with this card!
⇒ BUY IT HERE
Have brunch at Can Dende
Located in the up-and-coming Poblenou neighborhood, Can Dende [Carrer de la Ciutat de Granada, 44] is one of the most popular spots for brunch in Barcelona among locals, and it’s easy to understand why.
Expect to wait for a while if you come during the weekend but trust me, the wait in this case is worth it.
At Can Dende you can choose between florentine or benedict eggs, sweet or savory pancakes with bacon and eggs, bagels with salmon, and more. Don’t miss the fried green tomatoes that are the end of the world!
Cappuccino and coffee are also great quality, and trust me, it’s an Italian that is telling you… You can also ask for crayons to draw on your paper placemat while you wait. You won’t find tourists here, Can Dende is one of my favorite Barcelona hidden places.
How to get to Can Dende: L3 metro line, stop Llacuna.
Can Dende Opening Hours: Can Dende is open Monday, Thursday and Friday 9 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4.30 pm.
Walk around Sants
If you want to enjoy the most authentic Barcelona, you should get away from the most touristy areas. Although Sants is one of the most central and ancient district of the city, it is definitely off the tourist routes: here you will not find great attractions or monuments, however you will find the real everyday life, so that’s why I’m adding it to this list of alternative things to do in Barcelona
To visit this side of hidden Barcelona, visit the social centre of Can Batllò [Carrer de la Constitució, 25] and blend with the young Catalans with a beer in your hand.
If you are in town in August, you cannot miss the Fiesta Major de Sants, a street party that includes concerts, jazz performances, fireworks and dances.
Visit the Born Cultural Centre
Where the old Born Market stood, there is now a cultural centre. Today, the iron and glass structure built in 1876 by Josep Fontserè, houses XVIII century archaeological remains: it is possible to visit the archaeological site and the exhibition showing the life in a XVIII century town. The entrance is free, and visiting it is one of the most interesting things to do in Barcelona.
The Born Cultural Centre [Carrer del Comerç, 12] also offers much more: inside the building there is a multi-purpose area offering a program of literary, musical and theatrical activities.
How to get to El Born Centre de Cultura i Memoria: Metro to Jaume I.
El Born Cultural Centre Opening Hours: 10 am to 7 pm, closed on Mondays.
Eat in the dark at the restaurant Dans Le Noir? Barcelona
Don’t think that I’m suggesting you a restaurant like everyone else: a meal at the restaurant Dans Le Noir? Barcelona [Passeig de Picasso, 10] is a unique experience, dare I say it, sensory, and definitely one of the most weird things to do in Barcelona.
At this unusual restaurant you cannot see what you are eating: you eat in complete darkness, served by visually impaired waiters, and you need to make use of the remaining senses…definitely an offbeat Barcelona experience to try.
How to get to Dans Le Noir?: metro L1 (Urquinaona or Arco de Triunfo stops); L4 (Jaume I stop)
Ditch La Boqueria and head to the Mercat de Santa Caterina
If you believe the market La Boqueria became too touristy (you are right, it has!), you should visit the Mercat de Santa Caterina [Av. de Francesc Cambó, 16], one of my favorite secret things to do in Barcelona.
It is impossible not to recognize it thanks to its colored roof created by the artist Toni Comell.
The Santa Caterina Market is a paradise for gourmands: here you can find chorizo, fresh seafood and fruit and vegetables that come directly from the farmer. Yum!
How to get to Mercat Santa Caterina: take the L4 metro line to Jaume I.
Mercat de Santa Caterina Opening Hours: Mondays from 7.30 am to 2 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday & Saturday from 7.30 am to 3.30 pm; Thursday & Friday from 7.30 am to 8.30 pm.
Go for a picnic to Parque del Guinardò
Parque del Guinardo is often left out in favor of the more architecturally spectacular Parc Guell, or for the Carretera de les Aigües by those who want to trek.
However, if you desire to discover Barcelona off the beaten track, go on a lovely walk, have a picnic and enjoy one of the best views of the city, then Guinardò Park, located in the north-east of the city, is right for you.
Make sure not to forget your sneakers, sunscreen and a water bottle (the park does not offer refreshment points).
How to get to Parque del Guinardo: get there easily by taking the underground line 4, and get off at the stop Guinardò Hospital de Sant Pau.
Watch the human towers in Barcelona
In a list of the cool things to do in Barcelona, this cannot miss. The human towers, called Castellers in Catalan, are a cultural and social phenomena typical of Catalunya. This form of art takes incredible skill and consists of erecting human towers.
This is a tradition that originated at the end of the 18th century and was recognized by UNESCO in 2010 as Intangible World Heritage.
The vertical structure of the tower is the trunk, and it consists of a certain number of people on each level varying between 1 to 9 people depending on the castle. The Canalla, or youngsters, are at the very top of the castle making the last levels. The highlight of the event occurs when a young boy or girl, sometimes only two or three years old and called Enxaneta, arrives at summit and salutes to the public.
It’s truly fascinating to see the human castles, even when the tower collapse, the entire team is prepared to hold the fall and ensure nobody gets hurt. Truly one of the best alternative things to do in Barcelona.
The most important venues to see these human towers in Barcelona are: Plaça de Can Fabra, Plaça de la Vila de Gracia, Plaça sant Jaime, and Carrer de Sant Jordi.
Traditionally, performances take place on Sundays at midday in the squares. The season, however, kicks off sharply in April and fades out halfway through November. You can either head to the squares and hope to find them, or you can consult the calendar on the Castellers de Barcelona website which gets updated regularly.
Barcelona is a city full of opportunities: follow this list of unusual things to do in Barcelona, get away from the tourist crowds and discover Barcelona off the beaten path!