10 off-the-beaten-path things to do in Barcelona
Do you need an off-the-beaten-path list for Barcelona? After seeing the Gothic Quarter, surviving La Rambla, touring the museums, and ooohing over the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, you might want to spend some time exploring the city, getting lost, and sampling some of the best foods and beverages Catalunya has to offer. The following list includes just some of the many unique activities and locations in Barcelona. Enjoy!
10 off-the-beaten-path things to do/see in Barcelona
1. Relax in San Felipe Neri Plaza
If you have visited the main cathedral in the Gothic Quarter, then you have probably walked past the small street leading to this little gem. If the church is on your right, take the first left after the entrance to the cloister, right after a fountain. This small street winds past a little ceramic shop and leads you directly into this small, tranquil plaza with a peaceful fountain and a lone, beautiful tree. It’s a requiem from the masses, and a piece of history as well: you can still see the damage done to the church facade during the Civil War.
How to get there: Head down Carrer del Bisbe (with the church walls on your right) until you pass a fountain and small plaza on your left (Carrer de Montjuic del Bisbe). Follow this street until it empties into the small plaza via a beautiful archway.
2. Pinchos-hopping in Poble Sec
Poble Sec comes alive at night when its main pedestrian street is lined with tables from the area’s many restaurants. Stop in at the family-run Argentine restaurant La Boheme for their delicious empanadas, then head down to the tapas restaurants for some tasty pinchos. Save room for dessert!
How to get there: Take the yellow line to the Poble Sec stop and then head down Carrer Blai.
3. Wander the cemetery in Poble Nou
Who doesn’t love a creepy cemetery? The crumbling facades of Poble Nou Cemetery’s mausoleums (some date as far back as the 18th century) are a photographer’s dream, and often skipped by gravestone-loving weirdos (like myself) for the more popular cemetery in Montjuic. It’s worth a visit for this creeper alone, pictured below. Click here for a comprehensive list of Barcelona cemeteries.
How to get there: The region of Poblenou is just north or Port Olimpic and easily accessible by bike, if you’re interested! It’s a 27 minute ride on the H17 bus (leaving from Plaza Catalunya near the Portal del ‘Angel). Using the metro, take the L4 (yellow) line and get off at the Llacuna stop. The cemetery is an eight-minute walk.
4. Visit the Moritz factory
Because beer. And on a similar note: Catalunya has EXCELLENT microbrews. This San Diegan appreciates!
How to get there: The factory is a short (and nearly equidistant) walk from the following metro stops: Universitat (lines red L1 and purple L2), Urgell (line red L1), and Sant Antoni (purple L2).
5. Wine tasting in Alella
Views of the ocean while sipping local wines from the rolling hills surrounding you? Not a bad way to spend the afternoon, especially in Spain’s smallest D.O. wine region. Many will head to Penedes to go cava tasting (also a great idea!) but Alella’s proximity to Barcelona and quality of wines hold an appeal to the thirsty traveler as well.
How to get there: Take a regional train to El Masnou and then grab a cab to the wineries, or have a designated driver take you directly to beautiful Alella. Make sure to reserve your visit beforehand: there are only eight wineries and they do not accept walk-in visitors for tastings. There are also Segway and car tours available, although I have not tried any.
6. Visit a vermuteria
Vermut is Catalan to the core, and it’s a great way to introduce yourself to the local cuisine as well: the drink is the perfect accompaniment to conservas (canned seafood that magically morphs into something delicious while sitting on the shelf) and, of course, olives. Anthony Bourdain went nuts over them in an episode of No Reservations, and for good reason.
How to get there: Walk down any street. Just kidding. We suggest a trip out to Espinaler in Vilassar del Mar if you want to leave the city (combine it with a beach day: see “Maresme beaches” below) or check out the Gracia neighborhood for some great vermuterias. Our personal favorites? Lo Pinyol and Bar Quimet.
7. Enjoy the Maresme beaches
Escape the bustle of Barceloneta: take the R1 train for roughly one euro and relax on the beaches in Maresme. The expanses of sand are less crowded and much more relaxing, and much more accessible than the Costa Brava, which is still an hour north. Wander through some of the ports and grab some paella or fideus (similar to paella with noodles) at one of the port restaurants, or grab some food and a beer at one of the chiringuitos. FYI: Maresme has tonsssss of nudie beaches, and the crowds are low-key.
How to get there: Take basically any RENFE train (you can pick them up at Plaza Catalunya or Arc de Triomf/Clot-Arago) heading towards Mataro, Massanet-Massanes, Blanes, or Arenys. Check out Badalona, Vilassar del Mar, Cabrera del Mar, and Arenys de Mar.
8. Meander through the Gracia markets
La Boqueria gets all of the credit . . . and all of the crowds. But the truth is, Barcelona is full of markets: there are 39 in total! It goes without say that when exploring a new neighborhood, one should also be sure to check out its market. Gracia alone has four markets, including the Mercat de L’Abaceria, whose selections of local cheese, meats, wines, produce, seafood, and canned goods are an epicurean’s dream. The circa 1890’s market–with its beautiful iron and woodwork–is worth the visit alone.
How to get there: The market is located on Traveserra de Gràcia, just 200 meters from John Lennon Square. Get off at the Fontana Station on the L3 (green) line, turn left when coming out of the station and head down the hill, and turn left at Traveserra de Gràcia.
9. Explore Sant Antoni
An up-and-coming area of town is Sant Antoni, which is technically a part of the Eixample region (and often overlooked by tourists, who tend to stick with areas like the Gothic Quarter and Born). Sant Antoni has the charm of old buildings mixed with the “hip factor” of cool new restaurants. If you’re looking for something inventive to eat, this is probably where you will find it. Blake Lively just ate in this neighborhood, and if there is any celebrity I might follow (other than Bourdain), it just might be her.
How to get there: Take the purple (L2) line to the Sant Antoni stop.
10. Hike in Colserolla
Catalans love the outdoors, and how could they not: Barcelona offers the beaches and the mountains within just a few miles! Take the train out to Baixador Vallvidrera, lace up your hiking shoes, and follow the trail throughout the mountains of Barcelona. Make sure to check out Tibidabo, the cathedral at the top of the mountain, and enjoy the views.
How to get there: From Plaza Catalunya, take the S1 or S2 train and get off at Baixador Vallvidrera.