Barcelona’s Best-Kept Secrets
There’s a long list of reasons that Barcelona is such a popular destination – the sea, the history, the food, the nightlife, the sights… I could go on for a while!
Topping the list of Barcelona attractions for visitors are usually the popular spots like La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Casa Batlló, Les Rambles, and the Gothic Quarter. But if you want to see a bit more of the city, there are lots of out-of-the-way sites and hidden gems that give you the chance to see the real Barcelona!
After a decade of planning (and re-planning), this enormous 19th century market has just re-opened as a cultural centre. The soaring Catalan Modernist architecture of iron and glass hangs gracefully above the now unearthed ruins of the old La Ribera neighbourhood that were buried following the Spanish War of Succession.
To walk around and see the ruins from above is fascinating and free, but I’d recommend to pay for a guided tour through the ruins to get a true sense of early 18th century Barcelona.
When touring the Gothic Quarter, most people don’t notice this small square tucked out of sight off Carrer de Sant Sever. It’s a tranquil spot with tall trees overlooking a fountain – and often occupied by a lone guitar player!
The Hotel Sant Felip Neri has a small terrace where you can stop for a drink, built in the spot of an ancient cemetery which was destroyed in an aerial bombing during the Spanish Civil War.
Given that most people walking through Barceloneta are heading for the beach, it’s all too easy to miss this restaurant and bar as it’s on the top of the Museum of Catalan History!
It is not particularly well sign-posted and you might need to be buzzed in by the security guard if the museum is closed, but it’s well worth seeking out – the terrace offers a fantastic view out over the harbour and Montjuïc, and is the perfect place to take in the gorgeous sunsets with a drink.
While very much outside of Barcelona, this is a remarkable town to plan a day trip. The well-preserved medieval town sits atop ancient Roman foundations and contains the best preserved old Jewish Quarter in all of Spain. If you’re looking for a brief change of pace from bustling Barcelona, Girona should be on your itinerary, possibly with an additional stop to nearby Figueres and the Dali Museum.
About the author
A graduate of UC Berkeley’s English Literature program, Miquel has worked for a number of publications including Zoetrope All-Story, San Francisco magazine, and Diablo magazine. He's also the co-founder of the Vinologue series of books for wine regions around the world. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain.