Psst… Do you want in on a little secret?
Good, because some of the most interesting places in Barcelona are often not cited in typical travel guides and like many cities it has a few hidden hush-hush aspects that need to come out.
We have compiled a list of undercover facts and off-the-tourist-trail attractions that may just turn your city break into the trip of a lifetime!
1. Sunday is free museum day
If museums are your thing you may want to listen up! Rumor has it that Sunday is the perfect day for your brain to be stimulated and your wallet to remain in your pocket. Several of Barcelona’s top museums and galleries offer free entry on Sunday afternoon after 15:00.
These include the CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona), MUHBA (Museu d’Història de Barcelona), and Museu Frederic Marès. Other museums are also free all day on the first Sunday of the month. These include the Picasso Museum and the MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya).
2. Refugio 307: A different world
In 1937, after Franco’s army bombed Barcelona, shelters were set up in both basements and metro stations. Refugio 307 is one of the better examples of the many shelters built and simultaneously commemorates life and death during the tragic attack.
Refugio 307 now lies at the bottom of Museu d’Historia de la Ciutat. The display of living conditions, toilets, a drinking fountain and the infirmary may be difficult to take in, but it is an interesting example of people’s effort to survive in the face of misfortune.
3. Move over milkshakes
As secrets go, there is always one that at first glance seems particularly strange, but is completely worth the experience. For Spain, this comes in the form of the milky-looking drink horchata, a unique concoction made from chufas (tigernuts) water and sugar, all topped with cinnamon.
This acquired taste may live somewhat in the shadow of sangria, but it is certainly better for your health, as it contains high levels of iron and potassium, is very low in fat content, and is valued for its minerals and vitamins.
4. Get lost in Barcelona!
The winding streets of the Old Town of Barcelona have so much more to offer than the occasional authentic tapas bar. These medieval, off-the-grid alleys are home to ancient Roman walls, the oldest synagogue in Europe, a shoe shop visited by the likes of Catherine Zeta Jones, a candle-maker’s that’s been around since the 1700s… Interest piqued yet? Getting ‘lost’ in the labyrinthine Gothic Quarter will certainly make for some unforgettable discoveries.
5. Barcelona Chocolate and Churros
Now it may not be a big secret that the classic, long sugar doughnuts known as churros served as a Spanish indulgence and are best appreciated during the colder months of the year. But what you may not know are the best places in which to partake in the hot chocolate and churros ritual.
Some of our favourite spots are la Nena in Gràcia (C/ Ramón y Cajals 36), Churrería Layetana (Via Laietana 46), and Granja Dulcinea (C/ Petrixol 2) the last one being one of the oldest spots to enjoy the treats in Barcelona. And boy do they have it down to an art…
6. Barça Tickets
Are you frantically searching the Internet for seats to the upcoming FC Barcelona home game but can’t seem to find any available? Allow us to let you in on a little secret, check out www.fcbarcelona.com where season holders release their tickets closer to the actual date rather than months in advance. You’re welcome!
7. Monasterio de Pedralbes
This 14th century Gothic-style monastery allows you to take a step back and appreciate religious art and relics in Barcelona. A sight well off the beaten track but definitely worth seeing, this is one for those looking for something to fill a warm spring afternoon, without the hustle and bustle of Las Ramblas.
The cloister has three floors with a gorgeous garden view of palms and the renaissance fountain in the serenity of the courtyard. You won’t find a more serene place in all of Barcelona.
8. Bar Tarannà from Barcelona
This corner café in Sant Antoni is a very local bar in the up and coming Poble Sec. It features a large table that you can share with others and a Nordic style bar, within a calm atmosphere. The light is best in the afternoons. This has a different feeling from many places in Barcelona. It has a mix of decor – the lamps might be modern, but the walls are old. Young people go there from 20 to 40. Sharing a table is rare in Barcelona, so it’s a great place to meet people.
9. Laberint D’Horta
The Parc del Laberint d’Horta is outside the tourist trails. Here you can enjoy the peace and quiet that is otherwise hard to find in Barcelona.
In the 18th Century by the Marquis Desvall for the Catalan nobility properly, the Parc del Laberint is today the oldest remaining parking facilities in Barcelona.
You have to visit the suburb of Gràcia and just walk though streets, because it is so pretty. Gràcia was a separate village in the past, not part of the city – and you can feel that. Everyone knows each other and there is no shopping centre, McDonalds or Starbucks. There are lots of pretty squares, so you will love to go and sit by a gorgeous churches and have a coffee alfresco.