barcelona's hidden gems


Having been to Barcelona, Spain on several occasions previously, I decided, this time, to do it less touristy and more tasty.


If it's your first time visiting, be sure to hit up the highlights (La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, La Rambla, La Boqueria Market, stroll along La Barceloneta and try to catch an FC Barcelona match at Camp Nou). There's a reason they are highly visited attractions.

However, if you have more time, I recommend trying to include a few of the following off-the-beaten-path experiences. I've also included a few restaurants and bars that I thought were worth mentioning.


STAY:

Airbnb's in Barcelona are often located in local neighborhoods, which allows you to get acquainted with a more authentic way of life. I rented this Airbnb in the Gothic Quarter.


EXPERIENCE:

La Pedrera Night Experience: Casa Milà (commonly known as La Pedrera) was the last private residence designed by Antoni Gaudí, built between 1906 and 1912. Book this experience for a unique, breathtaking and immersive audiovisual show on the roof terrace of an architectural gem.

After the show, stick around for some cava in the grand courtyard (included in the ticket price).

Parc del Laberint d'Horta: This semi-secret storybook hedge labyrinth is the oldest garden in Barcelona. It's a beautiful, quiet space, away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. You can enter for free on Wednesdays and Sundays. Otherwise it'll cost you €2.23. Only 750 visitors are granted entrance per day. Do as the locals do, bring a picnic and enjoy one of the most underrated green spaces in the city.

Paella Making Class: For €39, you get to visit the world famous Mercat de la Boqueria with the chef (to purchase fresh ingredients), sample some tasty tapas/sangria and learn how to cook a traditional Spanish seafood paella. Of course, you get to devour the finished product as well!

INDULGE:

Start your day with brunch at Milk. If you like things spicy, try their signature dish, the chilaquiles.


If you find yourself in the Gràcia neighborhood, have lunch at La Pepita. The artichoke hummus, smoked aubergine (eggplant) fritters, red shrimp croquettes and Argentine beef skewers were my favorite tapas.

On a sunny day, stop by Bo Kaap for some frozen cocktails on the beach.


Back in 2014, I stumbled upon El Nacional, by accident, two weeks after it's grand opening. It's still a gorgeous space, with four restaurants and four bars located under one roof. It's a little over-priced, compared to Barcelona standards, but the setting makes it worthwhile.

Sensi Bistro came recommended by two completely separate sets of friends. It did not disappoint. It's a small place, so be sure to book in advance.

At L'Origen at Restuarant Osmosis the food was great, but I did not care much for the wines that they selected to accompany the courses.


At Indochine Ly Leap, in Eixample, I choose the smaller tasting menu. Whilst the courses were a bit hit or miss, it was one of the more unique and sophisticated interiors I have seen in Barcelona. Once you enter, it's like being transported to an tropical Asian jungle. The tables are suspended above ponds where koi fish swim around and you're surrounded by bamboo, orchids and even a waterfall.

Post dinner, have some adult beverages at Artte, if you're in the Eixample part of town. In the front cocktail bar, you can call other tables using the old phones mounted on the walls. In the back, there is live music.

Paradiso was ranked #20 on The World's 50 Best Bars list in 2019. The bar is hidden behind a fridge door, beside a pastrami counter in El Born. Every drink comes with a trick - smoke, fire, dry ice, props, lights, etc. Order and enjoy!

Stop by Farggi Café, right in the heart of Barcelona if you're craving icy treats!


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