You could never call Barcelona boring, but as one of the most popular city-break destinations in Europe it is well explored, well photographed and its many beautiful tourist sights are already well-known. However, there are some spots that have stayed secret known only by locals or by those travellers who go off the beaten search engine determined to find something special.
By all means explore Barcelona’s El Gotic area for the Gaudi, the Gothic and the grand old buildings towering above you, but be sure to also wander down the narrow alleyways where you’ll find equally beautiful buildings and fascinating museums like Museu Frederic Mares or Sala Pares featuring lesser known Catalan artists and greats.
Alternatively you can appreciate your art on the street as many of the closed shop shutters are used as canvasses by local graffiti artists.
If you must gaze on some Gaudi, stroll down Passeig de Gracia, which features some of Gaudi’s less appreciated work, his dramatically modernist lampposts.
Stepping away from the city, wander through the marina to Barceloneta, Barcelona’s man-made beach.
It may not be the most beautiful beach in Spain, but it does showcase some interesting sculptures like the spooky looking caged people, also known as A Room Where It Always Rains by Juan Muñoz and the famous “Olympic Fish” (El Peix by Frank Gehry).
A gentle word of warning, the furthest area of the beach is a popular nudist beach so you really might see more secrets in Barcelona than you bargained for there.
While Barcelona’s main road La Rambla is teeming with typical high street shops and the occasional tourist trap, to the north towards the trendier area of El Born you’ll find one-off boutiques selling handmade, pre-loved and artistic goods as well as a selection of cafes.
A few alleyways up is Mercat de Santa Caterina, the indoor market where mainly only locals buy their groceries or have a quick café y tostadas (coffee and toasted bread).
Markets and shopping aren’t everyone’s coppa di sangria and if liquid refreshment is what you’re after it shouldn’t be at the elevated cost of a tourist hot spot. Instead enjoy the well-hidden urban garden of El Jardi, an authentic Catalan ambience at Raim or for cocktails with both a kick and a killer view head up to W Barcelona hotel’s Eclipse bar, which offers sky-high views across the city and the sea.
Of course, to satisfy an appetite it’s only too easy to overdose on tapas in Barcelona, but you’d potentially be depriving yourself of experiencing some of Barcelona’s best restaurants. Why not grab a burrito by the beach at Casa Mexicana, some Vietnamese from Bun Bo or even a hamburger straight from 1950s America at Peggy Sue? However, if you didn’t come all this way not to eat Spanish food then check out paella specialists 7 Portes where you’ll be sitting on seats that have been graced by the bottoms of celebrities like Antonio Banderas and Woody Allen.
You see I was right. You really couldn’t call Barcelona boring. To book your own secret escape and discover the city like a local, browse the range of quality Barcelona apartments today.