La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, the Cathedral of the Sea and the Picasso museum. You will not find a Barcelona Guide that is not recommending a visit to one of these major tourist attractions. Until now, that is! Well, actually, I’m not going tell anyone not to visit any of these famous sites, they are popular for good reasons, but I think visitors to Barcelona deserve to know about some of the treasures off the beaten path in Barcelona!
Alternative Barcelona Areas
Most tourists will rent accommodation in the Barcelona Old Town – the Medieval center of the city or in Eixample where the Sagrada Familia is still reaching for the heavens. These are the most central areas that also can boast the most density of tourist attractions in Barcelona. There is still a case to made for also considering other parts of Barcelona as a temporary home during your vacation. Hotels have “expanded” their territory beyond the city center, but for several of these areas a Barcelona holiday rental is the only alternative for a pleasant stay.
Most known for being the district where you’ll find the unique Guell park designed by eccentric genius Antoni Gaudi. There is, however, a lot more to Gracia than a park; independent shopping, international restaurants and an informal but energetic nightlife with bars and clubs on every corner, in every square. Staying here will also give you the illusion that there really aren’t that many tourists in Barcelona! The middle of town, Pl. Catalunya is 2-3 stops away on the subway.
Why Poble Sec tends to be overlooked is beyond this author! Besides from the fact that there aren’t many accommodation options here, the neighborhood is quite ideal for a holiday stay. The area at the foot of the Montjuic hill is quite residential and quiet yet within walking distance to the Old Town. Stroll up the hillside to the Olympic Park or enjoy the nice restaurants and bars of the area, take the bus to the beach in a couple of stops or explore the Old Town. Poble Sec offers you a choice!
Sant Marti, Poble Nou and Barcelonet
With everything the city has to offer it is “easy” to forget that Barcelona also is a city of beaches! Renting accommodation in The Sant Marti district and the Poble Nou and Barceloneta neighborhoods lets you stay close to the clean, inviting city beaches. These neighborhoods are former villages now part of the city, close enough to walk (or access by a couple of stops by bus or subway) to the Old Town yet still with their own distinctive atmospheres.
Alternative Sightseeing in Barcelona
So, when you have seen the Sagrada Familia, walked up and down Las Ramblas and enjoyed the youthful Picasso’s “scribbles”…then what?
- Parc Industrial – A truly weird creation this, and truly Catalan in its zest to be avantgarde. Close by the Sants train station.>
- Parc Laberinth – Perched high above the city this small park in the Horta district is a 19th century garden labyrinth, and a quiet spot to take a breather from the city energy.
- Casa Vinçenc – Located in a small side-street in the Gracia district, this strange arabic influenced Gaudi creation is easy to miss but worth a small detour!
- Fundacio Tapies – The foundation of the most famous living Catalan artist is not exactly unknown, but tourist might overlook this fascinating art-collection in the middle of Eixample. Take a left turn from the amazing Passeig de Gracia down the Arago street and look for the building with a “barbed wire garden” on the roof.
- Teleferic de Montjuic – This cable-cart up to the hilltop of Montjuic offers spectacular views of the city, but its location in the city harbor is not exactly central. Even so, it is a highly recommended “method” to gain a different perspective on Barcelona.
These are just a few tips regarding alternative experiences in Barcelona. If you should take just one thing away from reading this it is that it is definitely worth the effort to take a “left turn” onto the less traveled path in the city. Every district has something special to share with visitors as maintaining a distinctive character is something that is very high on the agenda in each and every one.