The best Hidden Gems in Barcelona – Alternative things to do by a local

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Lately, while surfing the web, I’ve come across some of those Hidden Gems in Barcelona – Articles where self-proclaimed “locals” who spent three months in town for an Erasmus, reveal the supposedly totally secret Unique experiences in Barcelona – about 99% of those posts start with Bunkers del Carmel. Yes, the bunkers are great, and you have a great view from there and all… But a place where tourist buses stop cannot really be described as a secret anymore. Pssst… Wanna hear about another of the super alternative things to do in Barcelona? Sagrada Família… Super secret gem…

But to be fair, it can be quite difficult to find unique things to do in Barcelona, as the whole city is getting more and more adapted to mass tourism.

However, below I would like to introduce you to a few alternative activities in Barcelona that are not included in every Tour or Barcelona- Unusual things to do– kind of post yet and help you get to know the life and culture of Barna’s locals a bit better.


Where to stay in Barcelona: Hotel Santa Marta (Great hotel in the center near attractions & beach) or W Barcelona (Luxury option directly at the beach)

The most popular activities & tours in Barcelona

Sagrada Familia Ticket – Skip the Line

Camp Nou – Barça Museum und Tour

Barcelona Card – More than 25 Attractions

Park Güell – Skip the Line

La Pedrera – Skip the Line

Getting there: Make sure to check for the best flight deals on Flight comparisons like Skyscanner

Transport: T-Casual Ticket (10-trips-Ticket for € 12.15) or Hola BCN Day Ticket

Want to rent a car? You can find great deals on RentalCars. It gets cheaper from El Prat Airport.

Barcelona Must-Have: Practical Spanish Travel Dictionary or Catalan Travel Dictionary and Barcelona-Guide

Hidden Gems in Barcelona – Unique things to do

Park Guell, Barcelona, Catalonia, Gaudi, viewpoint
Not much of a Barcelona Hidden Gem: Park Güell

Barcelona without tourist crowds

Barcelona is a beautiful city. How nice would it be to admire it without the tourist crowds? You might just think now, “I simply visit Barcelona outside the high season and will be fine“, but you would surely be surprised at how many tourists there are even in January.

The trick? The early bird catches the worm … or just the most beautiful photo. If you walk through the streets of Barcelona early in the morning, you can take a look around and shoot beautiful photos, even without a bunch of tourists running through your picture.

Last year, we met a photography enthusiast couple who left the house every morning at sunrise to shoot incredible photos. But just have a look yourself and make sure to leave some love on their amazing pictures.


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Chinese New Year Parade, Barcelona, Arc de Triomf, China Town Barcelona

Being immersed in Chinese culture, try delicious authentic Chinese food, such as a traditional hotpot (Chinese fondue), and buy Asian products in a Chinese supermarket. Does not particularly sound like an activity to do in Spain, right? But that’s exactly what you can do here in the Catalan capital. Although the area around the Arc de Triomf is not officially referred to as Chinatown, you will find mostly Chinese restaurants, businesses, and shopping.

Many of these stores even have their captions in Chinese characters only, so you might wonder if you somehow find yourself in China when strolling around this area.

I, as a big fan of authentic Chinese food, simply love this area (Since traveling to China, I know that the food you get served in Chinese Restaurants in Europe is most of the time not exactly authentic Chinese food (I am looking at you, fortune cookie)). In the Chinatown of Barcelona, however, you can eat like in China, and when our good friend Zihan from China came to visit us, of course, we went to eat with him there.

The best time to come here is on the first Saturday after the Chinese New Year. Then, besides a big parade, there will be a whole event regarding Chinese culture. We come here every year.

See the Castellers

Castellers in Catalonia, Human Towers
Castellers: Human Towers in Catalonia

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site you should not miss is the Castellers. These are towers. To be precise: Human towers. Yes, that’s right, you’ve read correctly. In the eighteenth century, Catalonia’s tradition of building human towers continued to boom. It formed groups (Colles), and even competitions took place.

The Castellers perform at all major festivals in Barcelona, but more often now also outside of events, especially during the summer months.

If you wonder now, what you have to imagine exactly under such Human Towers, you can find out in the following video.

If you would like to see such a show during your visit to Barcelona, have a look at the event calendar of the Castellers here.

Visit the 13 geese of the cathedral

Geese in the cloister courtyard of Barcelona Cathedral

Anyone who visits the most popular sights in Barcelona has probably heard of Barcelona Cathedral. What many don’t know, however, is that there are 13 geese in the courtyard of the famous cathedral that can be visited.

The number of geese symbolizes the age of the young patron saint of Barcelona, Eulalia, at the time of her death. Eulalia was executed in 303 for her Christian beliefs.

You can see the monastery of the cathedral during your visit to the cathedral. Take a short tour of the courtyard and watch the geese waddling and eating.

Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens in Gracia, Barcelona
Gaudí’s first masterpiece: Casa Vicens

Opening hours Casa Vicens: 10 am – 07 pm (Nov – Apr: Mon – Fri. 10 am – 03 pm; Sat + Sun: 10 am – 07 pm)

Entrance fee Casa Vicens: from 16 €

Tickets: We recommend buying your ticket online in advance to avoid standing in line.

Getting there: Metro Fontana (L3), Lesseps (L3)

Arguably every visitor to Barcelona has heard of Sagrada Família, Casa Battló, or Casa Milà (La Pedrera). But did you know that these aren’t the only buildings by popular designer Antoni Gaudí in the Catalan capital? The first building that the artist realized in Barcelona is definitely worth a visit as well. Even if visitors often overlook it.

Casa Vicens has only been open to visitors as a museum since 2017 and is, therefore, one of the city’s newest attractions, even though the building was built in 1885 and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.

The entry tickets, which also include a snack, a drink, and an audio guide, are particularly worthwhile.

The world begins with every kiss

The world begins with every kiss, Barcelona, mosaic, street art

El Món neix en cada besada (The world begins with every kiss). This is the name of the work of art, which is located near the popular Barcelona Cathedral, on the Plaça d’Isidre Nonell, but is overlooked by many visitors. From a distance, you might think that the picture is simple street art that displays a kiss. Anyone who comes closer, however, can recognize that this is a mosaic of many individual images that represent the subject of freedom in any sense.

The artwork was designed by Joan Fontcuberta and set up here in 2014.


Calcotada in Barcelona, Calcosts, Catalan dishes

Similar to the asparagus season in Germany, the Catalans expect their Calçotada. Only at the thought of it, my mouth is watering. In late winter or spring, the time has come: the calçots are harvested. It is a kind of spring onion. These are grilled, usually over an open fire, and then enjoyed with Romesco, or Romescu (A Catalan sauce from tomatoes, garlic, dried peppers, various nuts, and more).

However, as the calçots are usually grilled until the outer layer is completely charred, it is impossible to pull them out of their skin without getting your hands super dirty. Therefore, it is usually eaten with gloves and bibs. The whole thing not only tastes incredibly good but is also really fun. If you visit Barcelona during the spring, you should not miss a Calçotada.

The Greek Theater

The Greek Theater in Barcelona

Opening hours Greek Theater: 10 am – sunset

Entrance fee Greek Theater: free of charge (as long as there is no event taking place)

Getting there: Metro Espanya (L1, L3)

Address: Passeig de Santa Madrona, 8

Later in this article, we’ll tell you where to see ancient Roman ruins in Barcelona. But first, we would like to introduce you to some Greek architecture. The Greek theater, Teatre Grec is located in Montjuïc and is used for concerts and open-air events, especially in summer.

Now you are probably wondering how Greek architecture comes to Barcelona and how old this theater might be. The truth is that it wasn’t built until the 1929 World’s Fair. But even if the theater is not a real relic from ancient Greek times, that doesn’t change the classic charm of this place.

But not only the theater itself, but also the surrounding park, the Jardins del Teatre Grec, is worth a visit. The park is perfect for a little break in the green of Barcelona’s hustle and bustle.

Meet locals

I know that probably sounds easier said than done now but hear me out. Have you ever heard of Couchsurfing? I have used Couchsurfing many times to meet locals when I travel.

Especially for women traveling alone, Couchsurfing often seems quite scary. But did you know that you can also use the platform without staying at someone’s house?

On Couchsurfing, you will also find many locals who just want to improve their English and who would, therefore, like to show you around their city. You can then discover the local’s things to do in Barcelona and not only what your city guide dictates. Be sure to meet in a public place so you can stay safe, even as a solo female traveler.

Couchsurfing and other applications such as Meetup also offer various events such as day trips, picnics on the beach, or language exchanges, where you can meet many locals and even learn a few words in Spanish.

Couchsurfing has given me the chance to meet wonderful people during the last few years, with whom I am still in touch today. Incidentally, Eduardo, my Couchsurfing host from my first trip to Barcelona, and I recently got married. So, you never know who you are going to meet … 


Skateboard Macba, Barcelona, Museum

If you are interested in art and culture, you should not miss these two places. MACBA, short for the Museu d ‘Art Contemporani de Barcelona, is the art museum, while the CCCB, short for Center de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, which is next door, is the contemporary cultural center of Barcelona.

You can watch changing exhibitions in both facilities. Our favorite is the World Press Photo Exhibition, which can be admired every year for a few months at the CCCB. If you are interested in the exhibitions, have a look at the website for MACBA and for CCCB, what’s on offer at the moment.

But even those who are not interested in art or cultural exhibitions can experience something different here. At the door of the MACBA, you will find the city’s skating enthusiasts. Dozens of skaters come here every day to practice and show off what they are capable of. Therefore, this is a popular meeting place for local teenagers.

Related Article: What NOT to do in Barcelona

Nevermind – Skater Bar

Opening hours Nevermind: 07.30 pm – 02.30 am

Address: Carrer d’Escudellers Blancs, 3, 08002 Barcelona (In the neighborhood Raval)


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For all skaters, Barcelona is the perfect destination, because apart from the square in front of MACBA there is another highlight for all skaters: The Nevermind Bar.

It is located in Raval, a neighborhood that, until a few years ago, had a rather bad reputation. From the outside, you recognize it by the chimpanzee with lightsaber graffiti.

Inside you will find a bar and a skating rink. Yes, you heard right. A skater ramp in the interior of a bar. Even for people like me, who are not extremely interested in skateboarding in the first place, this is one of the really different things to do in Barcelona and definitely worth a visit.

Casa Amatller

Casa Amatller in Barcelona
Casa Amatller, Casa Batlló’s underrated neighbor

Opening hours Casa Amatller: 10 am – 6 pm

Entrance fee Casa Amatller: from 15 €

Tickets Casa Amatller: If you make a reservation online in advance, you might be able to get a discount You can find tickets online here.

Getting there: Passeig de Gràcia (L3, L4)

Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 41

If you’ve already checked the city’s most popular sights, you will probably already know Casa Battló. The famous building was designed by Barcelona designer Gaudí and is considered one of the main attractions of the city. What many don’t know, however, is that there is another fantastic building right next door: Casa Amatller.

Casa Amatller was rebuilt in the modernist style at the end of the 19th century by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Since then, it has stood out from the crowd, just like Gaudí’s popular works do. Together with Casa Batlló, the neighboring building Casa Lleó Morera by the designer Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and two other buildings, this block is also known by locals as Mansana de la Discòrdia (apple of discord, where “apple” is the common word used for “blocks of houses” in Barcelona).

Casa Amatller can also be visited and is really worth a look inside. Your visit will be rounded off, depending on the time of day, with a glass of sparkling wine or a chocolate pastry.

Alternative Museums in Barcelona

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Picasso Museum, which is located in Barcelona. But there are many more museums of a different kind.

How about, for example, the Chocolate Museum in El Born? You can also visit the Erotic Museum, located on the famous Las Ramblas mile. During the summer months, you recognize Marilyn Monroe, who stands on the balcony and calls and waves to the people passing by.


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Another extraordinary museum you can visit in Barcelona is the Hash and Marijuana Museum.

MUHBA Augustus Temple

Columns in the Augustus Temple Barcelona
The impressive columns of the former Augustus temple

Opening hours Augustus Temple: Mon: 10 am – 2 pm; Tues – Sat: 10 am – 7 pm; Sun: 10 am – 8 pm

Entrance fee Augustus Temple: free of charge

Getting there: Metro Jaume I (L4)

Address: Carrer del Paradís, 10

Did you know that in the middle of the historic center of Barcelona, you can visit some impressive ruins of an antique Roman temple? Even some locals don’t know this place, even though it is located right in the old town, in Barrio Gotico.

Admittedly, apart from a few columns, there isn’t much left of the former Augustus Temple. Even so, this place is one of the few Roman ruins that date back to when Barcelona was still known as the Roman settlement of Barcino.

It is definitely exciting to see how impressive this temple must have once been, just by looking at the towering pillars.

Cat Café Barcelona

Cat cafe, Kitty, Barcelona, sleeping cat
I almost took this cutie home with me

Opening hours Cat Café: You can find the Opening Hours here.

Entrance fee Cat Café: 2,50 €

Getting there: Metro Fontana (L3), Lesseps (L3)

Address: c/ Terol, 29-33 Bajos 08012 Barcelona (In the neighborhood Gràcia)

Another cool activity in Barcelona is a visit to the Cat Café. As the name implies, here you can enjoy a coffee or tea while petting cats and watching them play. Especially on rainy days, this is a great alternative to sightseeing.

By the way, the cats you can play with are all looking for a home. So if you fall in love with one of those fluffy four-legged friends, you can take them home with you (it’s probably not working that fast, but you get the point).

They also keep a close eye on the animals and take good care that the kittens are not stressed and that they are all well. A win-win, then.

If you also want to visit the Cat Café, you should definitely reserve a seat first. You can do that here. (I do not get any commissions or anything along those lines)

Casa Terradas – Casa de les Punxes

casa de les punxes, Barcelona
Casa de les Punxes, with its sharp towers

Opening hours Casa de les Punxes: 10 am – 7 pm

Entrance fee Casa de les Punxes: 13,50 €

Getting there: Metro Diagonal (L3, L5), Verdaguer (L4, L5)

Address: Avinguda Diagonal, 420

Similar to the previously presented Casa Amatller building, also Casa Terrades was designed by Moderniste architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Located in the Eixample district, this building is probably one of the most overlooked sights in the city.

And that, although the building with its pointed towers clearly stands out from its row of houses. For this reason, Casa Terradas is best known as Casa de les Punxes (House of Spikes).

Even if the view of the outside facade is already impressive, as the building looks a bit like a medieval palace in the modernist style, a visit inside is also worthwhile. Because here, you can discover all the details that its designer has hidden in the building.

Parc de les Glòries

Parc de las Glories, Glories Tower
View from the park of Glòries to the Torre Agbar

Opening hours Park Glòries: 24 hrs

Entrance fee Park Glòries: free of charge

Getting there: Metro Glòries (L1), Monumental (L2)

Address: Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, 10

Ciutadella Park is a popular meeting place and picnic spot for locals and visitors alike. But precisely because of this popularity, the park is always well attended. Especially in summer, it can be hard to find a tranquil spot to relax. If you are looking for a quieter place to relax, the park in Glòries is just right for you.

Since the park was only inaugurated in 2019, it is still a real insider tip, even among locals. In addition to fantastic green spaces, there is plenty of space for the little ones to play, but also some sunbeds where you can soak up the Spanish sun.

Mirador Torre Glòries

Opening Hours Torre Glòries: 10 am – 09 pm (Apr.-Oct.) / 10 am – 07 pm (Nov.-Mar.)

Entrance Fee Torre Glòries: 15 € (+ Cloud City: 22 €)

Tickets: On-site or online here

Getting there: Metro Glòries (L1)

Right next to the park mentioned in the last point, you will find the newest sight in Barcelona, which even some locals don’t know about yet: the Mirador Torre Glòries. Located in Torre Agbar, also called Torre Glòries, this viewpoint offers a perfect panorama over the city.

The new observation point opened its doors to visitors only in May 2022. This is despite the fact that the iconic building has been an integral part of Barcelona’s skyline since 2007. Besides the great view, you can also see the City Clouds exhibition inside.

Mercat dels Encants

mercat dels encants, Market in Barcelona

Opening hours Mercat Encants: Mon + Wed + Fri + Sat: 9 am – 8 pm; Subasta: Mon + Wed + Fri + Sat: 07.45 am – 9 am

Entrance fee Mercat Sagrada Família : free of charge

Getting there: Metro Glòries (L1), Monumental (L2)

Address: Carrer de los Castillejos, 158

After relaxing a little in the park of Glòries, you should definitely pay a visit to the Mercat dels Encants. Because it is located right across the street from the park.

Unlike Barcelona’s most famous market, Mercado de la Boqueria, the local market doesn’t offer fresh food (apart from a few takeaways), but besides that, everything else you could possibly be looking for. In addition to furniture, decorative, and household items, there are a whole lot of treasures to discover here. The market is set up like a kind of flea market, where you can also buy second-hand items.

If you are looking for a bargain, you should definitely not miss this market.

Parc del Laberint d’Horta

Parque del Laberinto del Horta, Labyrinth und Park in Barcelona, Insidertipps

Opening Hours Horta: 10.00 am – 07.00 pm

Entrance Fee Sagrada Familia: 2,23 €, Sundays free

Metro-Stop: Mundet (L3)

I know, I know… Before, I made fun of the “Alternative Barcelona” articles that always recommend the same places, and now I also mention this park but hear me out: This park is really worth a visit and still not as mainstream as the Bunkers del Carmel, I promise.

Horta Park is not only special because it is simply beautiful, no, but it also contains a labyrinth. If you have not gotten lost in the streets of Barcelona yet, here’s your perfect chance.

Moreover, it is much quieter here than in other parks located in Barcelona, as this is a little further out of the city center.


Glass of Horchata in Barcelona
A refreshing glass of horchata is simply part of summer here

For many, eating ice cream is simply part of the sunny weather in Barcelona. While I’m also a big huge fan of ice cream, Eduardo and his friends often prefer to order Horchata instead. Horchata de Chufa is a tiger nut milk. The taste is sweet and, in my opinion, difficult to compare to anything I have ever tried before (Maybe a sweet and weird form of Soy milk).

Although Horchata actually comes from Valencia, it’s also an extremely popular drink here, especially in the summer months. Unfortunately, I can’t promise that you will love it as much as Eduardo does. Some love it, others hate it. While Eduardo is obsessed with Horchata, I usually stick to ice cream. You should give it a try anyway. Maybe Horchata will be your new favorite drink.

Mercat de la Sagrada Família

Sagrada Familia Market in Barcelona

Opening hours Mercat Sagrada Família: Tue – Thu: 7 am – 2.30 pm + 5.30 pm – 8.30 pm; Fri: 7 am – 8.30 pm; Sat: 7am – 2 pm; Sun + Mon closed

Entrance fee Mercat Sagrada Família : free of charge

Getting there: Metro Sagrada Familia (L5, L2)

Address: Padilla, 225

Barcelona’s markets are popular with locals and tourists alike. Probably the most famous representative is the Mercat de la Boqueria, which is located on the popular Les Rambles promenade.

Many of Barcelona’s visitors hardly know that there are other fantastic markets in Barcelona besides Boqueria. One of them is the Mercat de la Sagrada Família, which, as its name suggests, is located in the Barcelona neighborhood of Sagrada Família.

Similar to the Boqueria Market, all kinds of fresh food await you here. In addition, there are also stands that sell jewelry or the like. And although the market is not far from the city’s most popular attraction, very few tourists come here.

Carrer Ample

Leche de la Pantera, Panther Milk, Barcelona, drink, carrer ample

Let us now talk about another milky drink that you can try in Barcelona. Just that maybe you should not share this alcoholic beverage with your kids. (Just saying). Since the 70s, this so-called Panther Milk (Leche de la Pantera), whose exact recipe is not known, is served in Barcelona and is now offered by more and more bars and restaurants. This drink is usually served in transparent glass bottles, through which one can see the striking white or pink color of the milk. After pouring it in, add a pinch of cinnamon on top, and you can enjoy it.

This and, of course, many more drinks, snacks, and restaurants can be found in the locals’ popular Carrer Ample (Broad Street) in the Gòtic district.

Antic Theatre


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Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 11 am – 11 pm; Sun: 5 pm – 11 pm

Entrance fee: free of charge

Getting there: Metro Urquinaona (L1, L4)

Address: c/ Verdaguer i Callís 12, 08003, Barcelona

I got to know this other insider’s tip of Barcelona on my first trip to the city when my then Couchsurfing host and now husband Eduardo led me through the streets of Barcelona. For a beer, we stopped at the Antic Theater, which is not very noticeable from the outside. Upon entering, however, you realize that this is not just an ordinary bar. Because here you can sit in this beautiful backyard where you can enjoy the time outside – like a little oasis in the middle of Barcelona.

Go hiking

Montserrat national park near Barcelona, barcelona hiking tour
Lush green nature in the Montserrat National Park, not too far from Barcelona

When you think of Barcelona, you might only think of the city of Barcelona itself. But you might want to consider visiting the surrounding area. Just a stone’s throw away, you can find idyllic mountain paths with spectacular views over the city.

Another great option is to go on a hiking tour from Barcelona. There are great options in the area – from relaxed coastal walks to exciting trekking adventures in the nearby Pyrenees or the volcanic area of La Garrotxa.

Alternative things to do in Barcelona

In the table below, you will find the most popular sights in the city and their alternative ideas for a visit.

The most popular sights in BarcelonaAlternative Idea
Casa Batlló & La PedreraCasa Vicens, Casa Amatller, Sant Pau or Casa de les Punxes
Mercado de la BoqueriaMercat de la Sagrada Família, Mercat de l'Abaceria Central (Gràcia), Mercat de Sant Antoni
Sagrada Famíliait's truly unique and should definitely be visited
Ciutadella ParkParc de les Glòries, Parc del Laberint d’Horta
Barceloneta BeachPlatja de Castelldefells, Bogatell Beach, Badalona Beach, Sitges
MontjuicBunkers del Carmel
Plaza RealPlaca de Sant Felip Neri
La CatedralChurch Santa Maria del Mar
Picasso MuseumMACBA oder CCCB

More Barcelona?

Make sure to check some more of our Barcelona articles, so you can plan your trip perfectly.

Which things do you like best in Barcelona? Let us know in the comments below!


About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

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12 thoughts on The best Hidden Gems in Barcelona – Alternative things to do by a local

  1. I’m not one to get up at sunrise for just about anything, but *wow* does that photo make it look worth it! I’ve had a hard time finding interesting Barcelona round-ups being the pretty basic things to do, so this is perfect– Antic Teatro, especially, looks so nice! Thanks for the guide 🙂

  2. Such a great things to things to do. I am visiting Barcelona this summer, so I have been reading a lot about the city. Love this unique list of things to do

  3. What a wonderful list of things to do in Barcelona. The city has such an amazing offer. My favorite is the world start with every kiss, and I also like to get lost at La Barceloneta windy streets and eat at the small tapas bars spread over its streets. Nice article!

  4. This is a great list. Antic Theatre looks like a nice stop after hitting the chocolate museum and some of your other suggestions..

    • Hi Sue,

      thank you for your comment! The only drawback about the chocolate museum is that it makes you want to eat even more chocolate haha

  5. Amazing post!! I would add a private boat trip along the coast of Barcelona to enjoy the skyline from the sea. We did it last year. Enjoy Barcelona!!


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