8 Secret Getaway Spaces for Visiting Barcelona
Don’t be afraid to call yourself a tourist, it is not a bad word. There is nothing wrong with indulging yourself in the chaotically long queues to see the world’s most famous sights, in fact, you’ll regret it if you don’t. However, there will come a time when you will want to escape to find peace and quiet and more out of the way sites. Here I will share with you my 8 secret getaway spaces that kept me going during my time in Barcelona.
- Santa Caterina Market
Everyone knows about La Boqueria on Las Ramblas and everyone goes there, but if you want to visit a market where it is actually possible to shop at your own leisure, head to the Santa Caterina Market in El Born. Here you get a mucho more local feel for the city, and you’ll find most of the goodies offered at the Boqueria like fresh fruit and veggies, exotic meats and cheeses, plus a taste of delicious ‘jamón Ibérico’.
- El Carmel Bunker
Ascend to the top of Turó de la Rovira Hill, here you will find history, beauty, and tranquility. Many peaks in the city offer lookout points but the Carmel Bunker is one of a kind. It’s home to the ruins of a Spanish Civil War airstrike shelter where you can explore the military history and get a 360º view of the surrounding area. The best part about this viewpoint is that it is never crowded and it is completely free.
If you don’t want to go far, but are getting a little tired of the city buzz, head to the Gràcia neighborhood, possibly my favorite area of Barcelona. You won’t be alone in this ‘barrio’ but you will have a lot more personal space than you would in the city center. The best part about Gràcia is that it is totally self sufficient. You can stay here all day and never be lacking anything because there are loads of restaurants, bars, boutiques with unique and handmade gifts, and lively squares all ready to be discovered.
- Horta Labyrinth Park
Barcelona boasts an incredible number of parks and the Parc del Laberint d’Horta is one of its most exquisite, and lucky for you it is just outside of the tourist reach. Just 30 minutes from the city center by metro and you will find yourself in the city’s oldest romantic garden. This park is fun for kids and adults alike, as wandering through the giant cypress maze will keep anyone entertained.
- Tapas on Carrer Blai
Although I won’t say that these tapas bars are a secret, I will say that they are worth finding. It is so easy to spend the majority of your money on food when you travel, so I share with you the 1€ tapas Mecca on Carrer Blai in the Poble Sec neighborhood. This is a pedestrian only street lined with bars and cafés, and here you’ll find all you favorite tapas with all the right prices. Not to be missed for those who are watching their wallets while in Barcelona.
- Grab a Bike
I can not stress enough how perfect cycling is in Barcelona whether you are riding solo or on a tour. This is the perfect way to get around the crowds on the sidewalk and metro. It is very affordable to rent a bike for the day and you will find most streets have bike lanes. If you would like a little more structure Steel Donkey Bike Tours offer some really unique options and they boast that no two tours are ever the same as they show you all their favorite non-tourist sights personally.
- Montgat Beach
You have never seen crowds until you have gone to Barceloneta Beach in July. Personally, I found it hard to relax there with so many people on the sand. Montgat Beach is the place to go for a great day on the Mediterranean coast, and while you have to bring your own drinks and no one will offer you a massage, it is well worth it. Travel about 20 minutes from Plaça Catalunya on a Renfe train and you will be in paradise with gold sand, blue water, and miles of space to soak up the Mediterranean beauty.
- Take a Cooking Class
You will love eating while you are in Barcelona. The fresh seafood is unlike any other city, but I never knew where to start when I was cooking at home. Taking a cooking class is a great way to learn a little about the Spanish culture while enjoying a great meal and also gain an understanding of Spanish flavors and ingredients. There are a lot of language exchange groups, like Meetup, that organize cooking classes for travelers making it a great way to meet new people as well.
About The Author: This post is courtesy of Katherine Newman, an American student now loving life in Barcelona. She currently writes for www.apartmentbarcelona.com, an apartment rental agency based in the Catalan capital, which offers accommodation for both short and long-term stays. For more advice and information on what to do in Barcelona, check out their blog.