On this page I’m showing you Barcelona Off the Beaten Track; all the hidden gems, spots that only locals know and more. It’s the perfect list for those who’ve been to the city before, have seen all the top sights in Barcelona, and are now ready to further explore the city. This is Barcelona next level. Not the touristic hot spots but a bucket list for those who want to get to know Barcelona better and feel like a local.
Perched atop the Collserola mountain range, at the edge of the city, Tibidabo offers a breathtaking escape from the bustle of Barcelona. This iconic hill is home to an amusement park that has delighted visitors since 1901, boasting vintage attractions alongside modern rides. You have to pay for the rides of the amusement park, but you can visit the panoramic platform for free. The panoramic view from Tibidabo’s summit is spellbinding, capturing the city’s skyline against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. The neo-Gothic Sagrat Cor church crowns the hill, is adding a touch of spiritual awe. You can visit the church for free.
The Montserrat monastery in the mountains makes a great day trip from Barcelona. Nestled amidst the majestic mountains of Catalonia, Montserrat offers a haven of serenity and spiritual contemplation. This awe-inspiring monastery, perched atop the serrated peaks, has captivated visitors for centuries. You can easily visit it by train from Barcelona. On this page I’m telling you all about visiting Montserrat from Barcelona.
Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona is a masterpiece of modernist architecture. Built in the early 20th century by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, it blends beauty and functionality. The hospital’s colorful mosaics, intricate details, and serene gardens create a healing atmosphere. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this hospital stands as a testament to Barcelona’s artistic and medical legacies, welcoming visitors to explore its history and admire its stunning architecture. You can find the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau a stone’s throw away from the Sagrada Familia.
Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona is a beautiful concert hall, that can be found in the center of Barcelona in the El Born neighborhood. It’s one of the top Instagram spots in Barcelona. It’s designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in 1908 and a masterpiece of modernism. The Palau de la Música Catalana is an architectural jewel of Catalan Art Nouveau. It’s in fact the only concert venue in this style to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit the Palau de la Musica on your own or with a tour. It’s smart to book your tickets online in advance.
Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
PLEASE NOTE: in 2023 the fountain iss temporarily not running to save water.
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc was build in 1929 for the World Expo. In less than a year over 3,000 workers build the fountain. During the civil war, the fountain was heavenly damaged, but in the 1950’s it was restored. In the 1970’s parts of the fountain stopped working, and when the Olympics took place in Barcelona in 1992 it was completely restored again.
The Bishop’s Bridge in the Gothic Quarter is a marble stone bridge that crosses between two buildings. It links the Palau de la Generalitat to La Casa dels Canonges. It was built voor the World Expo in 1929. So it’s actually much newer than the two buildings that it links. Don’t forget to look up when you walk underneath as you can see a skull and dagger there!
You’ve probably heard of the more well-known designs from Gaudi; Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo are must-visits when you’re in Barcelona. But there are also lesser known projects from Antoni Gaudi and Palau Güell is one of them. This mansion was designed by Gaudi for textile magnate Eusebi Güell. It’s wonderful to marvel around and imagine yourself living there in that beautiful manor. Admission is 12 euros and you’ll walk around with a self-guided audio tour.
The Olympic Stadium in Barcelona is a symbol of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Designed to host track and field events, it embodies architectural simplicity and grandeur. Today, it continues to host various events and concerts. While Camp Nou is being renovated, FC Barcelona plays their matches at the Olympic Stadium.
Torre de Comunicacions de Montjuïc
The Torre de Comunicacions de Montjuïc in Barcelona, also known as the Montjuïc Communications Tower, stands tall as a remarkable telecommunications hub. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, its sleek, futuristic design captivates the eye. Built for the 1992 Olympics, it now serves as a testament to modern engineering and design.
The MOCO museum in Barcelona is a modern art hub. It’s an independent museum with a wide range of inspiring modern (street-) art works. Museums don’t get more contemporary than the art inside here. The works are all from recent times, from artists like Banksy and Refik Anadol. The latter is also the digital artist that did the Mapping of Casa Batllo. The first MOCO museum was in Amsterdam, the second and only other museum is in Barcelona.
Monastery of Pedralbes
The Royal Monastery of St Mary of Pedralbes is located on the Western edge of the city, in the Pedalbres neighborhood. This Gothic cloister was founded in 1327. You can walk around the three story high cloister and visit amazing locations like the kitchen, the abbey room and St Michael’s Chapel. The calm atmosphere and lovely surroundings make it a nice visit for history lovers and anyone seeking tranquility.
Gaudi’s Crypt and Colònia Güell
Nestled just a stone’s throw away from the vibrant city of Barcelona, Colonia Güell is an enchanting Catalan town that boasts a rich history and an architectural marvel designed by none other than the legendary Antoni Gaudí. The town was build as a colony for the workers of the industrial region of Santa Coloma de Cervelló. Eusebi Güell (the one from Palau Güell and Park Güell) moved his textile factory there in 1890 and a whole village was created for the workers. Including a school, theater, shops and a church (crypt) designed by Antoni Gaudí. You can easily reach Colonia Güell by train from Barcelona.
Click here to read more about Colonia Güell and Gaudi’s Crypt.
Barcelona Botanical Gardens
Barcelona’s Botanical Gardens on the Montjuïc hill offer a serene retreat. A variety of plants from around the world flourish here, creating a peaceful urban oasis. Not as impressive as some other Botanical Gardens around the globe, it’s still a must for nature enthusiasts seeking tranquility and a chance to explore a rich array of plant life.
In Barcelona you’ve got several Speak Easy bars: Secret Bars. One of my favorites is Monk. From the outside Monk looks like a small supermarket. Complete with stands with groceries like crisps and bubble gum and a cash register. But nothing is what it seems, because when you go through the backdoor you’ll find yourself in an atmospheric cocktail bar.
Joan Miró Foundation
The Miró Museum in Barcelona celebrates the art of Joan Miró. Although he spend a lot of his time in France, Miró was actually born in Barcelona. This museum is a colorful treasure trove of his creative works. From playful paintings to quirky sculptures, Miró’s unique style comes to life here. It’s like stepping into his imaginative world. It also has a pleasant cafe with a terrace and from the museum you’ve got a beautiful view over Barcelona.
You might not expect that there’s such a large cemetery in the middle of the city. You can find Poblenou Cemetery in the neighborhood with the same name, and close to the beach. It was formally opened by the Bishop of Barcelona in 1898. The cemetery is divided in several sections. On most of the sections you find terraces of burial niches. About 7 graves high and tens of graves wide. Probably the best-known monument of the Poblenou Cemetery is this sculpture often referred to as The Kiss of Death or El beso de la muerte in Spanish. You can find it on the right side of the entrance.
Sant Joan Despí
Sant Joan Despí is a picturesque town tucked away in the outskirts of Barcelona. As the city of Barcelona grew all around it, you can hardly say that it’s a town on its own anymore, it’s more a municipality of Barcelona. Sant Joan Despí is a great example of discovering Barcelona off the beaten track, because it’s a place that most tourists never visit. Most of the beautiful Catalan Art Nouveau buildings in the town are designed by Josep Maria Jujol as he was the town’s architect. You can visit the town every day of the week of course, but you’ll find all the houses behind closed gates. On the last Sunday of each month you can do a guided tour in Sant Joan Despí.
A great way to explore Barcelona off the beaten track is to do an Escape room. The best escape room in Barcelona is probably La Cerveseria from Enigmik. And that’s not just my opinion, they’re also often listed in the Best Escape Rooms in the World. It’s a very special beer tasting of 80 minutes where you will learn and be surprised even if you don’t like beer. Although it’s doable to do this room with 2 people, I recommend to do it with 4 people (you can even do this Escape Room with 6 people). Make sure to book it in advance here.
Comedy in English
Looking for a fun night out that isn’t touristic? Visit an English language comedy show! The best place for International comedy in Barcelona is the Comedy Clubhouse in El Born. Right in the center of the city you can watch comedy in English every night of the week. The Stand-up Comedy nights on Fridays are most popular, and I always love to watch improv so I often went there to see TAB perform on Thursdays. And as you can see on the picture, I’ve even performed there a couple of times. It’s smart to reserve your seat in advance at the Comedy Clubhouse.
Another must if you’re discovering Barcelona like a local is to have a drink at one of its many rooftop bars. Sip on a cocktail and eat some tapas while you marvel at the beautiful views over the city.
Reserving a table is often mandatory, and keep in mind that some rooftops are actually better to visit during the day for the best views. Click here for my list of the best rooftop bars in Barcelona.