20 Feb 24 Secret Spots In Barcelona
Do you want to explore some secret spots in Barcelona? If the answer is yes, then join us on this amazing blog that we’ve prepared with the great help of our local guides. We are thrilled to bring you 24 hidden gems in Barcelona!
Barcelona is one of the most visited destinations in Europe but how could it not be? This cosmopolitan city is home to exceptional architecture, medieval fairy tale streets, world class football and exquisite food. Beyond the famous icons of Gaudi and Las Ramblas, there are many wonderful secret spots that most tourists and even locals don’t know about.
Ready to discover some hidden gems in the vibrant city of Barcelona?
Sagrado Corazón, Tibidabo
Perched at the top of the Tibidabo mountain (over 500 m above sea level), the Church of the Sacred Heart (Sagrado Corazón) rewards visitors with exceptional 360 degrees views of Barcelona and the surrounding countryside. Tibidabo is also home to an amusement park and a telecommunications tower.
Designed by Enric Sagnier and completed by his son Josep Maria Sagnier, the church took about 60 years to build (1902-1961). The building is a mixture of modernism and neogothic styles. At the top of the church, you will find a very impressive sculpture of Jesus by Josep Miret Llopart.
Tibidabo can be reached by a funicular railway, by bus and by car.
Ctra. de Vallvidrera al Tibidabo, 111
Santa María del Mar
Located in the Born district (The Ribera), this imposing building is a symbol of pure Catalan Gothic architecture.
It was built in the 14th century over the remains of a small chapel dedicated to Santa María de la Arenas. The construction took only 54 years, which was a real achievement at the time (all the stones were carried manually from Montjuic’s quarry and the port).
Santa Maria del Mar isn’t actually a cathedral but people started calling it the “catedral del mar” (cathedral of the sea) as this Catholic church was for the people and financed by the port workers living in the neighbourhood, rivalling with the main Gothic cathedral of Santa Eulalia in the Gothic quarter (built around the same time but financed by the bourgeois class). This less pretentious building is actually a great example of harmony between austerity, purity and simplicity.
After admiring this jewel of Catalan Gothic architecture, there are some other secret spots in the Born area where you can just sit, relax, have a coffee and watch the world go by. Some of them are mentioned further down this blog…
Address: Plaza de Santa Maria, 1
San Felipe Neri
This tiny Baroque style church is tucked away in a hidden corner of the Gothic Quarter within the little and romantic square of San Felipe Neri.
The church was built as an annex to the convent of the “felipons” (the followers of Saint Philip) between 1721 and 1752. During the Spanish civil war, on Jan 30, 1938, it was bombarded by Franco’s air forces (the effects of the explosion can be seen on the façade to this day). This painful memory contrasts today with the peace and quiet of a shady square and the cooling fountain in the middle.
Address: Plaza San Felipe Neri, 5
This is a sophisticated street market that takes place every first weekend of the month in the neighbourhood of Poblenou .
This market offers a wide range of products, organic and street food, fashion, accessories, jewellery, “new design”, “vintage”, crafts, books, records… Workshops, concerts and art exhibitions are also held here.
Entrance to the market is 4 € per adult and it is normally open from 11am till 9pm
Address: Carrer dels Pellaires, 30
Sant Antoni Market first opened in 1882 as part of the massive city expansion that took place in the second half of the 19th century.
Housed in a beautiful, art nouveau and iron shelter, the market closed for refurbishment in 2009 and reopened in May 2018 after undergoing major renovations that lasted nearly a decade. The structure has received a pristine new red, gold and green paint job, whilst the interior has been completely refitted and modernised to accommodate 52 food stalls. Here you can find any of Spain or Catalonia’s classic delicacies but in a much less touristic location.
Aside from food, there are also 92 clothes and flea market stalls.
On Sundays, the book market (El Dominical de San Antoni) takes place outside of the main building on C/Urgell, and you can sift through books and arrays of other trinkets and goods.
Address: Carrer del Comte d’Urgell, 1,
Los Encantes flea market
Vintage and second-hand markets have become a big deal in Barcelona. Els Encants Vells is the biggest and oldest permanent market in town, located next to Glòries metro. It opens on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am – 8 pm. It has 500 stands of second-hand products, collectibles and antiques. The building itself, with incredible shapes and reflective materials, is worth a visit for its striking modern architecture.
Address: Carrer de los Castillejos, 158
MUSEUMS & ART GALLERIES
El Born Cultural Centre
Over 40 years after its closing, the old iron-covered market of El Born is now back under the name of EL Born CC (Born Cultural and Memorial Centre). It was the city’s central food market right up until 1971. Today, the building is completely reinvented and recalls a hard period of the history of Barcelona: the war of Spanish Succession (1701-1714).
The excavation work undertaken in the subsoil of the old market unearthed an archaeological site considered to be exceptional in terms of size and condition. The medieval and modern remains include 42 streets and 60 houses that formed part of the Ribera district.
This building also hosts literary, musical, theatral activities and a very interesting bookshop.
Address: Plaza comercial 12
This is a must call for all art lovers!
Situated on one of the most interesting streets in the Gothic quarter, Sala Parés is probably the oldest privately owned commercial art gallery in the world. Though the nameplate by the entrance says 1877, the gallery has actually been in business since 1840.
The building hosts three public showing spaces, including Galleria Trama upstairs, and a private salon for clients to buy and sell work. The gallery represents a strong stable of international artists and has an impressive collection of 19th and 20th century Catalan and Spanish work.
At the start of the 20th century Parés played a significant role in launching the careers of many significant fine artists. The gallery has the distinction of being the first gallery to publicly exhibit Picasso’s work.
While in Carrer de Petrixol, you could also enjoy a delicious chocolate con churros (for breakfast or as an afternoon snack) at any of the many places you’ll find on this street (great recommendations given further down this blog).
Address: Carrer de Petritxol, 5
The City Museum (MHBA-Museo de Historia de Barcelona)
The City Museum is a fascinating place for anyone interested in the history of Barcelona (Barcino for the Romans), which actually dates back to Roman times (more than 2,000 years ago). Many of the artifacts displayed here were discovered accidentally, right on the very site where the museum is located.
The Palau Padellàs that houses the museum was relocated, stone by stone, to make way for a road construction project. When it was being reassembled at its current location, ancient Roman remains were discovered underneath the foundation.
We suggest you visit the museum late in the morning and then enjoy lunch at the nearby Cat Bar, which is one of the best vegan restaurants in Barcelona.
Address: Plaza del Rei
Barcelona is well known for its iconic architecture but it’s the Catalan Modernism by architects such as Antoni Gaudí that really stands out in this city. The number of Modernist buildings in Barcelona is pretty extensive. If you love this style of architecture, you’ll be like a kid in a playground that can’t wait to visit them all. We have selected three secret spots that are, as yet, less known but equally impressive, compared with the must-see Sagrada Familia, Casa Batló or Parc Güell.
This magnificent building will truly blow you away! It was designed by architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. This elegant Modernist palace is now owned by the Caixa Bank Foundation, which has restored it to gleaming perfection.
The building has been turned into a space for talks, exhibitions and workshops on issues surrounding social transformation. There is also an interesting exhibit with audio-visual displays about the palace itself and the Catalan Modernisme movement.
Address: Passeig Sant Joan 108.
Another striking gem from Josep Puig i Cadafalch, the Amatller house is next door to Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Batló. The building was designed for the chocolate baron and philanthropist Antoni Amatller. Cadafalch combines Gothic window frames and Romanesque flourishes with a stepped gable borrowed from Dutch urban architecture. The 1st floor, where Amatller and his daughter Teresa lived, has been converted into a museum, with the original furniture and decor.
Another secret to share: all visits include a taste of Amatller chocolate at the end…
Address: Passeig de Gracia, 41
A Unesco-listed masterpiece, this private house was Gaudí’s first major architectural project. Commissioned by stock and currency broker Manuel Vicens i Montaner, the house was constructed between 1883 and 1888 as a summer home. Tucked away west of Gràcia’s main drag, the richly detailed facade is awash with ceramic colour and shape, including distinctive marigold tiling and remarkable inspiration of Mudejar style bricks.
The house has been open to the public since November 2017. Make sure you pencil it in on your “to do list” while in Barcelona.
Address: Carrer de les Carolines, 20-26
PARKS & GARDENS
For decades following its creation in the mid-19th century, this park was the city’s only green space. The 70-acre (280,000 m2) grounds include the city zoo, the Palau del Parlament de Catalunya (siege of the regional government), a small lake, the museum of natural sciences and a large fountain designed by Josep Fontserè.
The site was originally constructed under the kingdom of Philip V, the Bourbon king who sieged control of Barcelona in 1714.
Today, this is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Here you can rent a boat on the lake, take a walk/jog around the plentiful paths or just simply spread out a blanket for a picnic or a siesta and feel the city all around you.
Address: Passeig de Picasso, 21
The Hortá Labyrinth (to play hide and seek)
Did you know that there is a labyrinth in the middle of Barcelona? The charming and romantic Parc del Laberint d’Horta is certainly one of our favourite secret spots in the city. At the center of this unique park, you can find a maze, which consists of two-meter high hedges.
Laid out in the late 18th century by Italian engineer Domenico Bagutti, the park is home to artistic landscape gardening; flower beds, small squares, side paths, a maze created from cypress trees, mythological sculptures, tall trees and a waterfall. The whole area makes up a total of 55 hectares and it’s only a 20-minute ride on the metro (Line 2) from Plaça de Catalunya.
As a curiosity, some scenes from the film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer were shot in this very garden.
Address: Passeig del Castanyers 1
If you’re looking for the best views and photo points of Barcelona, you have to visit Bunkers del Carmel. This park is still off the main tourist radar, mostly because it’s pretty far from all the main tourist attractions. Join the locals and head up here at sunset with a bottle of wine and some nibbles to admire the impressive 360º view. From here you easily spot all of the city’s most famous landmarks AND the ocean as it melts into the sky on the horizon. Along with the stunning views, there’s also a small museum inside one of the bunkers where you can learn about the bunkers use during the war, and their unlikely evolution into a shanty town during the 40s and 50s, known as The Cannons neighbourhood.
Address: Carrer de Maria Labernia
BARS & RESTAURANTS
When you’re done exploring the city, or perhaps if you’re just looking for a break, Antic Teatre is the place to head over to. The setting is under the shade of large fig trees hidden away in a 17th-century building. You’ll find it down an alley opposite the Palau de la Música Catalana. Try to get there early as there’s often a queue for tables on the buzzy boho garden terrace. Perfect for morning coffee or something stronger later in the day. This terrace is home to the creative and bohemian people of Barcelona.
Cool, trendy and vibrant, makes this secret spot well worth the hunt!
Address: Carrer de Verdaguer i Callís, 12
The Moritz Factory
In just few words, this is a theme park for beer lovers.
Even though Fabrica Moritz is not located close to the usual suspect places, it is definitely worth a visit if you are in Barcelona.
Unlike its crosstown rival Damn, Moritz markets itself as the only beer brand in the world whose labeling is entirely in the Catalan language.
The company was founded in 1856 by an Alsatian immigrant, Louis Moritz Trautmann. After ceasing production in 1978 due to the energy crises, the brand was relaunched in 2004 by Trautmann’s descendants.
Check online for available tours and tastings.
Address: Ronda San Antoni, 39
La Fonda de España by Martin Berasategui
Gastronomy is one of Hotel España‘s major commitments, with chef German Espinosa under the guidance of Michelin starred chef Martín Berasategui as gastronomic manager.
This beautiful restaurant is located within the Modernist dining room which was originally designed and decorated by Domènech i Montaner. Berasategui has recovered the old concept of the fonda (inn) by making a commitment to the most traditional style of cooking, while embracing modernity at the same time.
The restaurant offers many enticing dining options including the “Journey through Modernism” menu.
Address: Carrer de San Pau, 9
Fancy a coffee in heaven? Café Caelum (Heaven in Latin) is not just a pleasant tea/coffee house and a gift shop but a taste of paradise in the Gothic quarter.
This is no longer a secret spot in the city but it’s still a must and you have to experience it at least once.
On the first floor you can buy a wide variety of delights made by nuns and monks across the country (including irresistible Toledo marzipan). But the most breath-taking spot is downstairs, in the basement. The ground-floor cafe is a dainty setting for decadent cakes and pastries. In the stone-walled underground chamber, flickering candles cast a glow on the ruins of a medieval bathhouse. Enjoy your favorite drink and step back into the Middle Ages.
Address: Carrer de la Palla, 8
This is a local institution in Barcelona, but in the winding alleyways of El Born, you’ll need to keep an eye out to spot it. This bakery/patisserie is famed for their stuffed croissants. The perfectly flaky, buttery croissants are the stars of the show here, but you’ll also be tempted by everything else on offer! With sweet treats piled high on rustic wooden tables, farmhouse style kitchen cupboards reaching to the ceiling and the smell of fresh bakes wafting from the ovens you’ll feel like you’re in someone’s private kitchen.
Advice: Make sure you get there before 12 or the croissants will be sold out.
Address: Carrer dels Flassaders, 44
Petrixol Street: chocolate heaven
If you are looking for streets with this special charm in Barcelona, you can’t miss carrer Petritxol. It is a pedestrian street known as the street of chocolate in Barcelona. Why? Carrer Petritxol is documented since 1340, the name petrítxol comes from the word “pedrítxol” that refers to the stones on the ground that blocked the carriages from entering a certain street. Petrítxol was the first pedestrian only street in Barcelona city back in 1959.
As you walk along the street you will notice that there are ceramic tiles that show information about parties, weddings or any other kind of social gathering that took place in the chocolateries in the street. The tiles also have information on the births and deaths of famous people from the city such as the opera singer Montserrat Caballé who used to rehearse in her studio in this very same street.
Carrer Petritxol is where all Barcelonins would go with their grandparents to have an afternoon hot chocolate and delicious pastries. There are so many good options here, it’s hard to pick one but we have chosen our very favourite:
Granja La Pallaresa
The best churros and chocolate experience in Barcelona! This old-school chocolate shop was opened in 1947 and has been serving traditional thick, dark hot chocolate with freshly whipped cream ever since. The perfect company for dipping into that irresistible chocolate is their crispy churros, suizos or ensaimadas (traditional sweet pastries).
Address: Carrer de Petrixol, 11
Have you ever watched artisans in glass, leather, ceramics or jewellery working live in one place? Poble Espanyol is a unique space with about twenty handicraft workshops. Due to this singularity and the quality of the works produced, this is undoubtedly one of the best concentrations of craftsmen in Barcelona and the entire country.
Here you can buy items that are original, high-quality, exclusive and… unique! But Pueblo Espanyol (meaning ‘Spanish Village’) is much more. It’s a whole experience in its own, an intriguing scrapbook of Spanish architecture. Built at the time of the International Exhibition of Barcelona in 1929, El Poble was born with the aim of concentrating the soul of Spain within a single space. This open-air museum is also unique thanks to the recreation of 117 buildings, on a real scale, all from different Spanish regions. This allows you to discover the variety of the architectural heritage of the Iberian Peninsula.
Address: Av. Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 13
La Manual Alpargatera
This traditional shop is a must-stop for travelers in Barcelona and a preferred choice by locals due to their comfort and authenticity. Established in 1943, La Manual is the oldest shop of its kind in the city and the client list includes Penélope Cruz, Jack Nicholson, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Salvador Dalí.
They offer affordable, custom-made espadrilles (similar to a deck shoe), 100% handmade in Barcelona. They only use natural materials and timeless design.
Once considered a cheap, throwaway piece of footwear, this espardenyeria has made the ecological footwear a cool ‘must have’ again.
Address: Carrer de Avinyo, 7
Located in the heart of Barcelona, near the church of Santa María del Mar, Casa Gispert is a delightful traditional shop selling all kinds of spices, chocolates and organic products. Their specialty still remains their delicious freshly roasted nuts.
The store, which has been around for more than 160 years, still preserves its old-world charm and original decor, offering visitors an authentic shopping experience and a sweet taste of nostalgia. Opened in 1851 by Doctor Josep Gispert, the warehouse was designed to store and commercialise overseas products such as tea, cocoa, coffee, and spices from the Americas.
Thanks to its high quality products, Casa Gispert has been recognized as one of Europe’s 10 best food artisans.
Address: Carrer dels Sombrerers, 23
If you are dreaming of travelling to Spain, now is the time to start planning and we highly suggest to include Barcelona in your itinerary. Besides the multiple activities in the city, you can also take amazing day trips to explore the surrounding areas such as the Penedès wine region, the Montserrat sanctuary or the dramatic landscape of Costa Brava. If you are travelling with kids, we highly suggest to read our previous post “Explore the Costa Brava with kids” . You will find great inspirational ideas for the most incredible family vacation.