Thanks for checking out my top 10 alternative things to do in Barcelona!
If you are doing your research on things do to in Barcelona then you will be forgiven for thinking that you will spend your entire time here looking at Gaudí architecture and endlessly people watching on the famous La Rambla. My alternative things to do in Barcelona can offer a much needed break from the crowds of tourists you will come across everywhere else in this city.
Now I’m not saying don’t do it at all, especially as the numerous Gaudi masterpieces dotted around the city are genuinely very impressive, and are truly masterpieces in every sense of the word. But if you’re looking for things to do that wont be found in your standard TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet guide, then the next 10 suggestions are certainly something for you to think about.
So lets get right to them.
1 – Bunkers del Carmel
This hidden gem isn’t quite as unknown as it used to be however it’s still somewhere many tourists don’t hear about or get the opportunity to see for themselves. As an Airbnb host it is one of the places I always suggest to my guests, and the ones who actually go always come back completely blown away.
These old military bunkers, left over from the Spanish civil war, used to be used as anti aircraft installations. From the view over the city you can see why. These days though they are the perfect spot to go and watch the sunset. Take a few beers, or a bottle of wine if thats more your style, and watch the sun set over this beautiful city. If you want an idea of what it’s like, watch this timelapse I took up there.
To get there: You can take a city bus (line V17) or if you’ve got a half decent sense of direction rent a scooter! Although I still get lost trying to find my way there even now. Who knows though you may stumble across another hidden gem along the way.
TIP: If you plan on visiting Park Guell (another of Antoni Gaudís works) the bunkers are not far from there. If you chose to walk its only about 15-20 minutes from Park Guell to the Bunkers. Time it so your trip to the park finishes just before sunset and thank me later.
2 – Secret Garden Bar (Bar Jardín)
The clue is in the name with this one, it’s a place that not many locals have even heard about. Its nothing fancy at all but if you like the chilled out vibe then its definitely worth stopping by for a drink or two.
To get to the bar you have to find one of the many cheap souvenir shops around the city. Once you’ve found it, walk to the back of the shop and there will be some stairs leading up to an outdoor courtyard where the bar is hidden. Its an open air bar with about 20 or so tables and a pretty good selection of beers. Service is a bit on the slow side but it adds to the chilled out atmosphere in my opinion.
To get there: The souvenir shop that hides the entrance of the bar is located in the Gothic Quarter of the city. Search for “Carrer de la Portaferrissa, 17” Then head to the back of the shop and up the stairs.
TIP: Perfect spot after a day spent walking around the busy streets as you feel like you have been transported a million miles away from all of the crowds.
3 – Indoor Karting Barcelona
Out of all the alternative things to do in Barcelona this is one of my favorites for sure. If you’re looking for a bit of an adrenalin rush then paying a visit to the Indoor Karting Barcelona will not disappoint. Not just a go karting track, they also have an 8 lane bowling ally, laser tag arena, race simulators, bar and restaurant. Located just outside of the city in Sant Feliu de Llobregat you will have to either get a taxi there or if you have rented a car, take that. But once you’re there you will love it.
This was the first indoor karting track in Spain and to this day remains the biggest. The recent addition of the bowling alley, laser tag and restaurant makes it the perfect place to spend a few hours with friends.
Laps are timed and my personal best is a 44.165 so if you go and beat my time then let me know in the comments!
TIP: Ring them before you go to make a reservation as they can get very busy especially at the weekends.
Telephone: +34 936 857 500
Address: Pol. Ind. El Pla, Carrer de Laureà Miró, 434, 08980 Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Barcelona
4 – Cannabis Clubs
Probably the least known thing on this list by visitors is the fact Barcelona has a cannabis scene that rivals Amsterdam. At its peak there were over 300 coffeeshops in Barcelona and there are still 100s today. So if you are into that kind of thing then you defiantly shouldn’t miss it. (I did say you wouldn’t find these suggestions in your standard travel guide didn’t I).
Now unlike Amsterdam, the coffeeshops (or associations as they are known here) are not open to the general public and if you didn’t know they were there, you would miss them completely. They operate as private members clubs. You have to sign up by giving them a copy of your passport as well as paying an annual subscription fee which varies from place to place but is normally about €20. Once signed up you can come and go as many times as you like for the next 12 months.
However you can’t just show up and expect to sign up. You must be ‘introduced’ by an existing member.
TIP: Take a walk down La Rambla and listen for the whispers of “hey guys, coffeeshop?”
5 – Labyrinth Park of Horta
Ever wanted to get lost in one of those cartoonish mazes made from perfectly trimmed hedges? Good well I’m not wasting my time writing about this suggestion then.
This labyrinth is in the grounds of an old but grand stately home with some extremely impressive gardens surrounding it. The labyrinth itself is the big attraction though. Take a walk around the gardens and you feel like you have been taken back in time to the 18th century when the work on the estate began.
But be aware that once you get into the labyrinth you might not be coming out for a little while as it definitely lives up to its name. The best part? Its all completely free!
How to get there: Passeig dels Castanyers, 1, 08035 Barcelona.
TIP: If you’re traveling with kids take them along as it’s a great place to hang out for the afternoon in the sun and it’s very popular with the little ones.
6 – MACBA – Street Culture/Skateboarding
Now if you’re into skating at all you probably already know that Barcelona is the skate capital of Europe. Even if you’re not into it, it should still be on your list of things to check out as there are some of the worlds best skaters based here in Barcelona.
MACBA, or Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, is a museum in the Raval neighbourhood of the city. It features a big area, or plaza, out front with a big set of stairs leading up to the entrance of the museum.
Why am I talking about a museum?
Well the plaza out front is one of the most popular skate spots in the city, it’s actually a very famous skate spot. Its featured in a long list of movies and even in the classic game Tony Hawk Pro Skater.
How to get there: Plaça dels Àngels, 1, 08001 Barcelona
TIP: Can’t skate? Go along anyway and watch how the professionals do it, just don’t forget the camera some of these guys are unbelievably good!
7 – Outdoor Cinema in Montjuic
If you’re lucky enough to be in Barcelona during July or the first part of August then you definitely have to check when the next movie is on. The outdoor cinema is exactly what it says on the tin and isn’t known very well by tourists.
If you have been reading around elsewhere, then visiting the mountain that hugs the outskirts of the city and where the 1992 olympic stadiums were located will probably be on your list of things to do. Montjuic is a beautiful place to explore with various viewing points and parks that look out over the city.
Time your exploration of Montjuic to end around sunset (when the movie begins) and curl up on a blanket at the Outdoor Cinema with a burger and some craft beer. They show all sorts of movies and if you’re here when one is on you just cannot miss it.
TIP: If you don’t have a blanket of your own to sit on, or you feel like you want something a bit more comfortable, then they provide deck chairs at a small extra cost.
8 – Flamenco on Robador
Flamenco isn’t traditionally from this region of Spain at all. In fact it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to Spanish culture. Traditional flamenco comes from Andalucia. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t find a good show here.
If you go to one of the big shows, for example on La Rambla, it’s pretty much a tourist trap. Super expensive and not very authentic. The flamenco show on Robador is a much more authentic experience and only costs €4.
The bar is very small from the outside and it might look like you have gone to the wrong place but trust me you wont be disappointed. The crowd is mainly locals so you know it must be good. Don’t judge a book by its cover especially with this place, first impressions can easily be misleading here.
How to get there: Carrer d’En Robador, 23
TIP: Like I said, get inside and experience it for yourself before you judge. It really is a great find!
The last two items on the list are both outside of Barcelona but if you find yourself with a free day then they could be perfect for you.
9 – Castelldefels Beach
You can’t come to Barcelona and not go to the beach at least once. But if you don’t like the idea of Barceloneta beach, which is right on the cities doorstep and where pretty much everyone goes to soak up some sun, then look bit further.
Castelldefels is a small town about 20 minutes from the centre by car or 30 minutes by train with, in my opinion, the best beach in or around Barcelona.
It is also much cheaper than in the centre of Barcelona so if you fancy a paella on the beach which is both good quality and not going to break the bank then go to Castelldefels. As you can see above, the sunsets are pretty awesome as well.
How to get there: Take a Metro to Sants Estacio train station and then change to the R2 line heading towards Castelldefels.
TIP: Just go if you have the time don’t even think about it.
10 – Montserrat
Lastly we come to Montserrat. Montserrat is a multi peaked rocky mountain range about 1 hour from Barcelona centre by car or 3 hours by train (due to the changes and stops along the way). So if you don’t have much time this probably isn’t going to be doable for you but if you can I highly recommend going.
This one is going to take a whole day if you do decide to go and you will come back ready for a cerveza and bed. If you do decide to go then you also have about a 2-4 hour hike ahead of you once you get there. At the top of the hiking trail is the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery, and the views are increadable.
Pretty special eh? Do I need to say anymore?
How to get there: Best to search “Barcelona to Montserrat” in google as there are a number of changes you have to make and times and routes may change. I don’t want to be responsible for getting you completely lost!
TIP: If you don’t feel like the walk back down, or the walk up for that matter, then you can take a cable car. Although I do recommend at least walking up to get the full experience.
Well thats my top 10 alternative things to do in Barcelona. Hope you find some of them useful, if you did leave me a comment and let me know!
Feel like going on a day trip outside of Barcelona while you are here? Then check out my Top 5 Day Trips From Barcelona.
Have fun in BCN!