Things to do and see in Barcelona: More than just the Nou Camp and beaches
30 million visitors each year can’t be wrong. Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya, is a cosmopolitan dream where cultures collide with the past. Famed for Messi, Suarez, and Neymar, there is so much more to the city than football. Whisper that when you are in the company of locals. mention of “Barcelona” will elicit a response of “Messi” or something football-related.
The Camp Nou offers a fascinating stadium tour and museum is a must, as is visiting La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. But during your stay, walk down Las Ramblas and take in the human statues but this is so much more than a thoroughfare. History is in the air and on the ground, we look at 10 hidden gems of this incredible Spanish city.
10. The Art of Joan Miró
One of the city’s favoured son’s, Joan Miró was born in 1893 and died 90 years later. His stunning tiles and artworks are dotted around the city, a reminder that Gaudi is not alone as a cultural reference point. Notably, most walking Las Ramblas don’t appreciate his Pla de l’Os Mosaic; or at El Prats, Barcelona’s international airport, which features a mosaic in terminal 2B, while the Woman and Bird sculpture dominates Parc de Joan Miró at the top of the Gran Via, close to Sants railway station.
9. Museu de L’Erotica
The human statues of La Rambla are a captivating sight – make sure you keep hold of your wallets on this pickpocket’s delight of a thoroughfare – but miss them and a cultural delight escapes your notice. For the adults only, Museu de L’Erotica is in equal measure, titillating and educational. It’s a romp through the sexual history of Barcelona, but with displays featuring stripper-Barbie dolls and antique pornography on television, the Museu errs on the right side of good taste and good humour.
8. Taking A Dip
The natural waterfront has been modernised and turned into a series of well-maintained beaches, all with easy access from the city itself. Almost all are entirely welcoming but La Mar Bella has a naturist section; probably best to avoid that with the children. Each of them offers a range of watersports and activities. Toward southerly beaches – Sant Miquel and Sant Sebastia – and those to the north – Llevant and Banys Forum – are less busy than the popular Barceloneta.
7. Tibidabo Mountain
Tibidabo hosts the world’s oldest amusement park and while that attracts its fair share of visitors, it’s amazing how many people don’t know about it. Even more incredible is the numbers which miss the city’s most glorious church. Temple de Sagrat Cor is a magnificent catholic church built in a gothic style. And the slopes of Tibidabo itself, offer tremendous panoramic views over the city of Barcelona and beyond.
6. El Carmel Bunker
If the hike up Tibidabo whetted your appetite, El Carmel Bunker is well-worth a visit. The vistas across the cityscape are stunning. And if you don’t fancy the walk, it’s well-served by public transport. At the top of Turo de la Rovira, the bunker is a Spanish Civil War relic. Watching sunset during the summer months is something of a local pastime and it’s no surprise; they are quite simply stunning!
5. The Night Is Young…
And so is the crowd at Rubi, on Banys Vells 6, in Born. It’s a bar off the beaten track but is a byword in the city if gin or gin- based cocktails are your bag.The tapas are reasonably priced while the gin comes in every flavour imaginable. It’s distilled on the premises as well so each batch is unique. It’s the perfect start to a night out.
4. …And The City Centre Stunning
Heading back to Las Ramblas, Terraza La Isabela at Hotel 1898 offers breathtaking views across the city’s rooftops. As the sun fades to dark, the lights bring a gothic beauty to the shadows of the night. Produce is sourced from the nearby La Boqueria market and served in a stunning mix of tapas and cocktails.
3. Port Olimpico
The legacy of the 1992 Olympics is everywhere in Barcelona. From the Olympic Park to the port, the sporting legacy has been turned to good use. The port itself is hive of activity with bars and restaurants to suit every palate and as the city comes alive, there is the Casino Barcelona to enjoy the excitement of the roulette wheel or poker tables. If you don’t know your Martingales from your Paroli’s or your wilds from your scatter symbols – probably worth getting familiar with what is needed.
2. The Morning After The Night Before
Barcelona really is the city that never sleeps. The hustle and hubbub of the daytime begins and offers plenty of opportunity for peace and contemplation. Plaça Sant Felip Neri in Barri Gotic, is a small plaza in front of the battle-scarred church of Sant Felip Neri.
The grim past of the Spanish Civil War hangs in the air, as a plaque reminds us that 42 souls were lost in a bombing during 1938. Local houses, formerly homes to coppersmith and shoemaker guilds host museums celebrating the city’s artisan elements.
The various markets around the city are a melting pot of produce and bars. Most are outstanding, with La Boqueria on Las Ramblas the most famous. But step away from the main drag and you find the true gems. Mercat Princesa is found on Carrer dels Flassaders in Born with its wooden door opening a garden of secrets where bars and market stalls mix in perfect harmony.
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