Barcelona is a city that calls visitors back time after time. If you’ve already experienced the bustling Las Ramblas, the awe-inspiring Sagrada Família and you’ve watched the famous tiki-taka style of play at the Camp Nou, it’s time for something different! Here are 8 non-touristy tips to help you discover the real Barcelona.
1. Explore Refugi 307 – a shelter from the Spanish Civil War
On February 13th 1937, Barcelona was subject to its first bombing raids by Franco’s army which would be the start of the Spanish Civil War. As a result, the people of Barcelona joined together to build air-raid shelters underground. Today, one of those is open to the public, allowing you a glimpse at life underground in the 1930s. Refugi 307 is open Monday-Saturday for groups with reservations and Sunday’s for guided tours from 10:30am until 12:30pm.
Location: Nou de la Rambla, 175
2. Get lost within the maze at Parc del Laberint d’Horta
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and get lost within the hedge maze at Parc del Laberint d’Horta. The park was designed in 1792 by Italian engineer Domenico Bagutti and today remains a true gem of the Horta-Guinardó district. As well as the cypress hedge maze, the park also features the oldest romantic gardens in Barcelona and dozens of statues from the 17th and 18th century, making it the perfect place for a family day out in Barcelona or a romantic picnic!
Location: Passeig dels Castanyers, 1
3. Catch a show at the Gran Teatre del Liceu
The Gran Teatre del Liceu is a popular tourist attraction near Las Ramblas, as a result of its stunning architecture, but not many tourists step inside the theatre to experience a show! The theatre first opened on 4th April 1847 but was subject to reconstruction after a fire in 1994. Today you will find a variety of performances at the Liceu theatre, ranging from opera shows to ballet classics. Take a look at their website for a full itinerary.
Location: La Rambla 51-59
4. Watch over Barcelona at El Carmel Bunker – Turó de la Rovira
Skip the line at Park Güell and get the best views over Barcelona from El Carmel Bunker. The Carmel Bunker is an air-raid shelter built atop the Turó de la Rovira hill in Barcelona. The bunker was built in May 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and today provides spectacular 360° views over Barcelona. Climb the hill in the early hours of the morning to experience the sunrise from the Mediterranean or watch the sunset behind the mountains in the evening. The bunker can be reached by buses 119 and v17.
5. Head to the Santa Caterina Market
If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere than the likes of La Boqueria, Santa Caterina market should be your next stop! Located near the Barcelona Cathedral, this market offers similar produce to La Boqueria, including fresh veg, cheeses and tasty sweets, without the hoards of tourists. The Gaudí-esque roof alone is a sight to behold and there’s even a delicious tapas bar inside where you can stop-off for a bite to eat.
Location: Av. de Francesc Cambó, 16
6. Relax on Mar Bella beach
Forget the hoards of tourists at Barceloneta beach, just five stops after Barceloneta on the metro you will come across the more-tranquil sands of Mar Bella beach. Popular more-so with locals than tourists, Mar Bella beach is a great place to relax during the heavily-populated tourist months of July and August. Why not sip a cocktail overlooking the Mediterranean or join a game of volleyball with the locals!
7. Kick-start your evening with shots at Espit Chupitos
Forget the expensive bars and clubs along Las Ramblas, head to the eccentric Espit Chupitos for 2€ shots. But be careful, each shot comes with its own special service from the bartender, ranging from free marshmallows to fire and flames on the bar! The Catalan locals will tell you that this is the perfect way to begin your night out in Barcelona!
Location: Carrer d’Aribau, 77 and Plaça Colón, 8
8. Lose yourself amongst Gràcia’s café culture
The neighborhood of Gràcia is well-known amongst the locals for its brimming café culture and vibrant atmosphere. If sipping a tasty chai-tea, munching on red velvet cake, overlooking a vibrant square sounds like your thing, you won’t want to miss out on the café culture in Gràcia. Despite its close proximity to the centre of Barcelona, Gràcia is often unknown to many visitors to the city.
So next time you touchdown in the Catalan capital, explore the city like a local with our top 8 non-touristy tips!
Author: Siobhan is a Marketing student at Liverpool John Moores University currently working as an intern at Apartment Barcelona, an apartment rental company based in the Catalan capital. For more tips on visiting Barcelona, and seeing the local side to the city, visit their blog.