Barcelona has a well-documented tourist trail marking out the must see highlights of the city. However there’s an abundance of interesting places in the city that visitors aren’t made aware such as the Spanish Civil War bunkers or the open-air cinema in the mountain. Here’s a round up of Barcelona’s best-hidden gems worth checking out.
El Refugi 307:
This 400-metre tunnel offers a rare experience to understand what the living conditions were like during the Spanish Civil War. Based in Poble Sec this two metre underground tunnel is where people had to live during the war for protection from the bombings. There were thousands of similar tunnels built throughout Barcelona. This particular tunnel is now part of the Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat, a project devoted to restoring and teaching the history of the city. Inside of El Refugi 307 it’s possible to see the different rooms and to walk the full length of the tunnel. Visits are assisted by a guided tour and it’s highly recommended to book tickets in advance.
This Poble Nou based industrial complex was established in 1875 by businessmen Ramon Gal and Joan Puigsech and it was designed my Antoni Vila i Bruguera. In the 1970s it was reconverted in to light creative studios. Its been used for film sets, artists work space and events and currently there’re twenty different creative companies using the space. Visitors can enjoy wandering through the beautiful gardens and have lunch at the Cantina restaurant.
Poble Nou Park:
Near by to Palo Alto lies this eco-friendly park, which was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in 2008. Nouvel’s aim was to create a winter sunshine spot. As the park is eco-friendly weeping willow trees have been utilised to absorb water and there is an irrigation system that collects ground water. There are two islands in the park and the old factory of Oliva Artés dwells on one of them. The gardens are made up of herbs, shrubbery and interesting architecture. Another part of the park is made up of purple plants and a crater that points towards the centre of the earth and connects with Guayaquil in Ecuador.
Sala Montjuic Open Air Cinema:
This is a great spot for film lovers. It’s open annually from 4th July until 5th August on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and is set within the walls of Montjuic Castle. There is live music before film begins. The films are classics and shown in the original versions with subtitles. Most people take a picnic, which can be enjoyed on the hill where there are magnificent views of Barcelona.
El Refugi 307
Address: Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 169
Phone: 932 562 100
Address: Carrer Pellaires 30-38
Phone: 933 070 974
Metro: at Selva de Mar.
Poble Nou Park
Address: Avinguda Diagonal, 130
Metro: Poble Nou
Sala Montjuic Open Air Cinema
Address: Carretera de Montjuic, 66
* Hatty is our Been there local for Barcelona. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/barcelona-local-hatty-copeman.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/barcahiddencorners.jsp
Carrer d'Enric Granados is a beautiful, semi- pedestrianised street in the heart of Eixample, just a hop and a skip from Passeig de Gracia and Rambla Catalunya. The street is named after the Catalan pianist and composer Enric Granados who was born in Lleida in 1867. This cultural reference laid the groundwork for what was to come as the street now has an abundance of art galleries, restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
Most tourists are largely unaware of the marvels that this street has to offer however it’s one of the most wonderful spots in Barcelona. The leafy avenue has a much needed laid back vibe, offering an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Besides the little park based at the south end of the street there are also benches scattered throughout Enric Granados and outdoor seating in most cafés and restaurants, which offer the perfect antidote to unwind without disturbance.
Among Carrer d'Enric Granados’ offerings is the café/ gallery Cosmo, which is based at number 3 in the lower part of the street. Cosmo is the epitome of its bohemian surroundings and is a fantastic place to go and relax with a coffee whilst enjoying the art on display. In addition this contemporary café has a great selection of snacks and beverages available.
A little bit up the street at number 5 is Norman Vilalta, the Argentinian shoemaker, who creates beautiful, tailored leather shoes from his artisanal workshop. Vilalta uses high quality materials that are reflected in the prices.
At number 9 is the Ego Gallery, a modern art and photography space, which displays an array of reputable work. Many of the artists are international photographers and painters.
Further up the Enric Granados at number 24 is the butchers Deli Argentino. This popular and well-thought-of butchers sells good quality Argentinian meat, empanadas, deserts and wine.
For the film boffins out there be sure to check out Video Club, the first vintage video shop to open in Barcelona. Located at number 30, the shop has a library of over 50,000 films mostly available on DVD. The majority of the films are old flicks although recent releases are also obtainable.
Another Argentinian spot on the street that’s definitely worth checking out is Hábaluc. Based at number 41 this popular restaurant serves a mean burger and other tasty Argentinian dishes and a selection of fresh fish.
Nearby at number 44 is L'appartement, which is perfect for those looking for well-sourced, unique interiors. The boutique’s beautiful furnishings range from furniture to wall decorations and other bits and bobs for the house.
For the art lovers head just a couple of doors up to Galería AND, an outstanding art gallery, based at number 49. The gallery exhibits up-and-coming, modern art from local artists.
For the carnivores El Filete Ruso based at number 95, is a must. This gourmet restaurant serves delicious hamburgers, with the specialty on the menu being the filete ruso, which is a homemade, thin burger, packed full of aromatic scrumptiousness.
Alternatively for pizza Enric Granados has one of the best pizzerias in town: Solo Pizza, the family run restaurant, located at number 108. This Italian eatery, which has a fantastic reputation, only serves pizza. The same family also own the next-door joint aptly named No Solo Pizza as it serves everything apart from pizza.
For those with a sweet tooth head further up the road to number 145 where Cup & Cake is based. This bakery is a newer addition to Enric Granados and the sight of the mouth-watering delicacies on display will lure you in quickly. The multi-coloured, liberally iced cupcakes are the specialty and there is also fresh fruitcakes and bread to choose from.
Carrer Enric Granados, 83, 08008 Barcelona, Spain
Google map: bit.ly/1bv9w0Z
Nearest station: Diagonal or Universitat
* Hatty is our Been there local for Prague. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/barcelona-local-hatty-copeman.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/barcahiddencorners.jsp
A little over hour outside Barcelona lies the picturesque Pantá de Sau, a reservoir created on the River Ter. When Franco built the dam in 1962, the village that stood nearby, Sant Roma de Sau was lost, the inhabitants given two weeks to move out. Most left the area, but some stayed behind. Among these were the grandparents of our tour guide, Marc, who own Hotel La Riba which overlooks the dam and part of the reservoir.
Meeting Marc could be a tip in itself - a 28 year-old farmer (the family farm supports the family run hotel), who spent three months in Inverness recently learning how to fell large trees in order to heat and power the hotel in a sustainable manner. When he's not busy doing these things, he'll either be kayaking on the reservoir, running the mountain paths or riding his horse-drawn carriage for a wedding. For over three hours Marc entertained us with his knowledge of and enthusiasm.
The reservoir itself is overlooked by cliffs on all sides. From memory, only three buildings were visible: the local kayaking club, the hotel and another hotel on the other side of the reservoir. After a brief explanation on how to use the kayak safely, we set off for the church of Sant Roma, which can still be seen in the middle of the water (adorned with a Catalan independence flag). After stopping for pictures, Marc explained that this was the church his grandparents married in (and while the water level was low enough a few years ago, he paddled through!)
After another 30 minutes paddling, we reached a secluded cove, where it was time to leave the kayaks and begin our hike to the top of the cliffs. The hike was approximately 30 minutes up, including a pause to take pictures. It's challenging, but most active people would be fine with the path, and it's through trees and woodland so there's no danger of taking a short-cut back to your kayak. When you emerge from the trees you're at one of the high points of the area, and the views are stunning and well worth the calories expended.
On the way back down, we reached a pool near the kayaks. Marc encouraged us to get in. Don't. There's a reason he doesn't get in himself, it's freezing. Unfortunately although I am capable of thinking and acting it's rarely in that order (it's worth noting that the lake itself was of a perfect temperature for swimming, but this pool was in the shade).
Once we reached the kayaks we headed back towards the hotel, where Marc enthusiastically showed us the pigs, cows, dogs, horses and just about everything else he had there. I'm pretty sure it wasn't part of the tour but it was interesting none-the-less. After that, we stopped for a bite to eat in the restaurant, which I highly recommend (especially the burger and the milk with rice for desert).
I've lived in Barcelona for a little more than a year and this is probably the best thing I've done since being here.
Tourist City Cards are rarely worth their price, but during our last trip to Barcelona we found that the Barcelona Card was an exception.
Ticket prices of museums, attractions and transport almost doubled during the last years (the T10 transport card now costs €9.80 compared to €6.30 last time we visited Barcelona in 2007) while the Barcelona Card includes more museums and sights.
You still have to do the math if you want to be sure, but with €55 for a 5-day card (€11 per day) it was well worth it for us.
If you don´t plan on visiting as much museums and attractions as we did, you´re probably cheaper off with the T10 and separate tickets.
Just have a look at the list of discounts before you buy the card to see if it´s worth it. This list is updated quite frequently.
The Barcelona Card is for sale at Tourist Information offices in the city. If you buy the card online you get 10% discount: www.barcelonacard.org/
The Bunker (or el Turó de la Rovira) is the best kept secret of Barcelona. With it's fantastic views across the city, this old war bunker is not to be missed. There are many places to get great views in Barcelona, but this one is definitely my favourite. It is in the best location which allows you to see everything so clearly, from the mountain of Tibidabo to the right, to the ocean and Montjuic, with all of the city inbetween.
Metro Alfons X, line 4. A slight climb up from the metro is required but totally worth it.
Google map: bit.ly/16Dngtk
After finishing my A-levels, my best friend Lucy and I booked a girls holiday. No, it wasn't to Magaluf or Ibiza. We wanted somewhere that was both cultural, cheap and a good party. After finding flights for a reasonable price, we settled on Barcelona. For around 300 Euros, we stayed in a great hostel just around the corner from La Ramblas, just next to the Metro and within walking distance from all the best night clubs and a short ride to all of the excellent attractions that Barcelona has to offer. We spent a week in the city, beach and parks, managing to find cheap enough places to eat, drink and party. On a budget, we managed to have the best holiday and it's so easy to adapt a trip to Barcelona to your traveling style. There's plenty for families, older couples, friends, everything. I'm definitely planning on taking my parents there in the near future and my own family when I have one. Art galleries, Gaudi, food, anything you're interested in will be in Barcelona and so long as you know where to look, it can be as affordable as you like.
I love city beaches! The beach at Barceloneta is certainly not as great a beach as some that spring to mind but in terms of location it takes some beating. What better way to relax after a busy day’s shopping or sightseeing than to head over to one of the ‘chiringuito’ beach bars at Barceloneta and watch the world go by.
For better beaches in the area you can take a local train out to Castelldefels to the south or further along the same line to the popular resort of Sitges.
My son and grandchildren live in Barcelona and love it just as I do!
You can walk there from the touristy Ramblas area of the city or arrive via its very own metro stop (Metro Barceloneta).
Google map: bit.ly/10lEqFb
If you want to have a great time in Barcelona, you need to meet J. and M. They are so knowledgeable about the city and they're friendly and helpful! The location of their apartment is beyond perfect. We literally walked to Las Ramblas in five minutes; the Catalunya metro stop was another five minute walk and it takes you evrywhere. We went to the Gothic Quarter in seven minutes - all you do is cross the Las Ramblas main street and you're there. The beach was a short 15 minute stroll. How much better can it get? I can't get over how wonderful the location was! When I look for places to stay, I'm really picky about cleanliness. Their apartment was above and beyond - extremely clean and chic. The personal bathroom was spotless! To be honest, that room is worth way more than what they are charging and we were so lucky to stumble upon them. For anyone going to Barcelona, this is the only place I would recommend.
I would really like to recommend a new restaurant in Barcelona called Llamber. It's situated in the new hip area of Born. It's one of the few places in Barcelona, where you get a free pitxo (mini tapas) with your glass of wine. For the wine lover they have 150 different wines, 30 by glass and they start from only 2,5€. Also they have a really good a la carte menu with different kinds of tapas, tables of cheeses and Spanish ham, dessert etc., all served in a creative and beautiful way.
I love to go there because the food is delicious and it's a really friendly and informal place with beautiful decoration.
A treasure of funeral art, located on the Route of Montjuic on the hill, lies Montjuic Cemetery. This graveyard of about 57 acres boasts sea views and a place of calm away from the city's hustle and bustle. The cemetery, which was featured in Pedro Almodovar’s 1999 film All About my Mother, opened in 1883 after an escalation in the population. Montjuic Cemetery is more than a place of the dead as its modernist architecture, sculptures and beautiful, exotic gardens are works of art. The extravagant design meant the graveyard became a prevalent spot for the rich to be buried and many of them had their own mausoleums built in the cemetery. Indicative of this, the cemetery houses some excellent examples of funeral art that include architecture, sculptures and stained glass creations. This is a great place to visit if you’re interested in modernist art, architecture and sculptures and are looking for a free-of-charge, peaceful way to explore Barcelona.
Just a stone throw away from La Rambla - Barcelona's busiest street - Boadas is a hidden cocktail bar. The oldest cocktail bar in town, is snug and authentic. The cocktails are fantastic, the waiters dressed in tails and the crowd engaging.
Carrer dels Tallers, 1, 08002, Barcelona, Spain
+34 933 18 95 92
Google map: bit.ly/11LIijI
I found this little cocktail bar just off the Ramblas during my last summer in Barcelona. My best friend Lucy and I loved it here. There are no drinks menus, you just tell the suit-clad barmen what you like and they'll invent it for you. It's the perfect place to escape the soaring heat and rat-race of central Barcelona, without walking too far. There is no strict dress code, but it's probably best if you don't wear trainers here. The low jazz music keeps a comfortable mellow vibe running through this small bar and has kept my interest for years.
Carrer dels Tallers, 1, 08002, Barcelona Spain
+34 933 18 95 92
Google map: bit.ly/S9QZ3g
Cal Boter is the right place to try traditional Catalan restaurant food in Barcelona. They cook the kind of food you might find in a restaurant in the country, but they are in one of the most traditional, full of local flavor, barrios of Barcelona.
The Voll-Damm International Festival is back from this weekend to 30 November with local and international artists and bands.
This weekend (19-20-21 October), which unfortunately looks like it will be rainy, has free outdoor concerts between 13.30 and 16.30 at many of the bars and cafés in the city centre. See the website for venues.
* PeterGuest is our Been there local for Barcelona. You can read his profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/barcelona-local-peter-guest.jsp and follow his tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/PeterGuest. Meet more of our locals here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/trails/been-there-locals.jsp
This is a light, airy, neighborhood cultural centre run by an all female French Guatemalan team. La Marelle is dedicated to providing a space for parents and children to unwind, meet and learn. It's divided into various play areas with toys and games galore for the kids, and there are tables and stools for the grown ups to sit at while keeping an eye on their little monkeys. The cafe serves great coffee, brunches (pancakes!!) and cakes. There are also numerous workshops like yoga for kids in English, or story telling in French and other learning and sharing activities.
This is a magnificent fountain that we only found about by a traveler's post on another website. It's free, gorgeous and if you're near a tram line the #4 takes you there. Get there before dark - we barely had time to get some pictures taken - duh!
Passeig de Lluís Companys, 2, 08018 Barcelona, Spain
Google map: bit.ly/R3xto0
Bar Avesta is one of the few Zoroastrian themed bars you'll find the world. It's got a great medieval, cozy type feel to it, with its low wooden beamed ceiling and rustic wooden benches. It is located in a converted wine cellar and as well as serving some of the most delicious tapas in Barcelona, it also serves some of the cheapest shots. The bar also serves the famous drink, leche de pantera, a kind of pink alcoholic milk that is pretty delicious.
Eusebi Guell's model industrial village built in 1890 to house occupants of the textile industry. The highlight is one of Antonio Gaudi's key works - the unfinished church crypt. The crypt features brilliant use of leaded stained glass, brick and ceramics.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com