If Barcelona is on your list of destinations this summer, you’re in for a treat. After experiencing the agreeable climate, picturesque beaches and famed architecture of this lively city, it will be hard to leave. In spite of its beauty and charm, however, the crowds of tourists around Barcelona’s classic attractions may leave you feeling like you’re vacationing at a theme park. If you’re looking to incorporate some slightly less chaotic activities into your trip, the following off-the-beaten-track sites in Barcelona are guaranteed to offer a respite from the riptide of tourists on La Rambla and the like.
Parc de Montjuïc
While not exactly a secret, the easy hike up Montjuïc Hill makes for a relatively quiet excursion that will allow for beautiful panoramic shots of the city and the Mediterranean. Flowers, tall trees and peaceful fountains will make your forget about the bustling streets below - though you are only a 15 minute taxi ride to the city center. At the top sits Montjuïc Castle and its gardens. While the views may be captivating, don’t forget to look down and admire the unique mosaic pavement on your way up. A slightly more touristy option for getting up or down is one of two cable cars: the Montjuïc Cable Car or the Teleférica, which both offer superb views, though long waits are not uncommon.
Most tourists end up in Gràcia to see Gaudi’s Parc Güell. If you find yourself there, take some time to explore this charming residential area. The Travessera de Gràcia offers several independent boutique-style shops - a breath of fresh air from the designer fuss of Passeig de Gràcia. This area also boasts a number of plazas and inviting restaurants that, while not tourist-free, are not tourists traps. For a delicious, affordable dinner, try Amelie Restaurant in Placa de la Vila de Gràcia. For drinks and pica-picas, check out Le Châtelet on Torrijos.
On a typical summer day in Barcelona, the central districts are packed with tourists. Restaurants in popular areas compete to sell their generally overpriced and underwhelming fare. There are, however, exceptions. Venturing away from the main drags can reveal some lesser-known gems. One of these is Rebelot Cocktail & Food on Baluard in La Barceloneta. They partake in the Slow Food Movement, which equates to “farm-to-table cuisine” in the US. While not overrun with tourists, it is common to find a wait here. The wait is worth it, however. Also worth braving the crowds for in La Barceloneta is Can Paixano (La Xampanyeria), which will satisfy all your cava and chorizo needs for practically pittance.
If you’re in the mood for Asian food, check out the trendy Mosquito on Carders in El Born. Its stylish artwork, peaceful ambience and good eats (at great prices) are sure to refuel you so you can keep on adventuring. If ramen is your thing, give Koku Ramen a try in the nearby Gotìc district.
If you’re willing to travel, Girona is an amiable little city in northern Catalonia about 2 hours from Barcelona by train. The River Onyar runs through the center of this delightful town, separating the historic district from more commercial areas. Explore by walking back and forth across the bridges that progress up the river. There is plenty to keep you occupied: cute and offbeat shops, delicious food, a cathedral and a multitude of museums. Be sure to stay hydrated, as inland Girona can get much hotter than coastal Barcelona.
There are plenty of off-the-beaten-track sites in Barcelona and with these tips, you'll be able to start planning a fun and unique vacation without the crowds. Maybe you'll even find your own hidden gems. Que t’ho passis bé!