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Our favorite hidden gems in Barcelona

Discover here our Top 10 Hidden Gems of Barcelona!

Barcelona basically has everything you could possibly want and need. The city offers the most stunning architecture, it has the beach, delicious food and great culture. For that reason, the city attracts millions of tourists every year. Here you can completely immerge yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, and experience all of the excitement. But sometimes all you need is just a little bit of peace and quiet.

Since the COVID19 situation Barcelona experienced a little less tourism. As much as a burden this situation was and still is, it was also a welcome relief for its main citizens. The calmness in the city was something that Barcelona hadn´t experienced in many years.

Since a few months the first tourists are slowly making their way back to the city. And as it gets busier every day, the necessity to find a place of tranquility returns. Luckily Barcelona has a wealth of hidden, tranquil corners to find a bit of peace and quiet and avoid the crowd for a moment.

Plaça de Sant Felipe Neri

Little cozy square of Sant Felipe Neri
One of our favorite hidden gems

This romantic square in the heart of the old city is often described as ´moving´, due to the serene atmosphere but also it´s tragic history.

The narrow streets of the Gótico come out into this courtyard, that has a little fountain in the middle. The square is overlooked by the baroque church of Sant Felip Neri and usually is an oasis of calmness.

During the civil war, in 1938, a bomb was dropped by the army of Mussolini. The bomb exploded directly in front of the church and killed 30 people. Most of whom were children from the attached school. The traces of the bombs are still left on the walls of the church.

Being a very religious man, the story goes that Antoni Gaudí visited the church often.

How to get there:

The nearest metro stop would be Jaume 1. The square is located in the old town of Gótico and would be a five-minute walk from the big cathedral of Barcelona.

Discover many other hidden gems with one of our private guided bicycles tours. Or join our daily Highlights tour discovering Barcelona´s most famous. For more information regarding our different guided bicycle tours, CLICK HERE – SEE TOUR

Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera.

Botanic cactus garden in Barcelona
One of our favorite hidden gems

This botanical cactus garden, that bears the name of poet Miquel Costa I Llobera, was constructed in 1970.

It offers around 800 different cactus species as well as different palm, olive and fig trees.

The park is one of the lesser known of Barcelona and is situated at Montjuïc. the hill that also overlooks the city. Therefore, you can be sure of great views on the city but also of the sea and harbor.

The area where the park is situated has its own microclimate. The average temperature is a few degrees warmer than the rest of the city. Therefore, it makes the area a perfect place for the cacti to grow.

Combine a visit to the gardens with a nice stroll around Montjuïc. Here you can breathe fresh air and have a vermouth at the nearby restaurant (with fantastic terrace!) ´Martínez´

How to get there:

The park has several entrances. The main entrance is located between Carretera De Miramar and Paseo de Josep Carner.

The Bunkers del Carmel

a panoramic view of Barcelona seen from the Bunkers del Carmel
One of our favorite hidden gems

One of Barcelona´s best kept secrets, if you are looking for spectacular views of the city, are the Bunkers. Therefore, the place gets more popular every day.

The Bunkers del Carmel are situated on top (257 meter) of the Turó de la Rovira hill, in the El Carmel district. These underground military bunkers were used as anti-aircraft fortifications.

Mostly to defend against attacks from the fascists, during the Spanish Civil War in 1937.

Post-war the area was mostly a squatter place that was holding over a few dozens of self-build houses. Eventually these were destroyed to clean up Barcelona for the 1992 Olympics

Nowadays you will find mostly locals and a handful of tourists gathering here. Since it´s the best place to see the sunset go over the city, play the guitar and enjoy some cervezas.

How to get there:

Get out at Guinardó Hospital de Sant Pau metro stop and walk up the Parc del Guinardó, until you reach the top.

Alternatively, you can walk up the hill from El Carmel metro or El Coll La Teixonera metro. You also can take bus number 24 from Passeig de Gracia and walk from Carrer de Mühlberg or number V17. This bus will drop you at the entrance to the Parc del Guinardó.

The Montjuïc cemetery

Even though it´s a strange place to find tranquility, one can find peace of mind at a cemetery. Especially if it´s surrounded by pines and situated at the top of a hill. The Montjuïc cemetery opened in 1883 and is the biggest cemetery of Barcelona. Here you can find among others the famous graves of Isaac Albeniz, Joan Miró, Lluís Companys and José Buenaventura Durruti.

The cemetery style could be described as modernist/neo-Gothic, with large statues of saints.

Some of the coffins are above the ground in large graves. Up to eight graves are located there on top of each other. Different architects, sculptors, and other craftsmen contributed the most beautiful cemetery architecture and sculptures. It contains work by Josep M. Jujol, Josep Puig I Cadafalch and Eusebi Arnau.

To walk around the cemetery completely would take you about three hours. Shorter plans are also available at the main entrance office (Mare de Déu del Port)

How to get there:

The Cemetery is not the easiest to reach, but the best way would be to take the 21 bus. The bus will take you from Plaça de les Drassanes to the bottom of the cemetery. After, you could take the 107 bus to take you to the top.

Parc del Laberint d'Horta

labyrinth park de Horta in Barcelona

Find your inner Alice and discover all the hidden corners of this beautiful maze.

Located in the district Horta Guinardò, you will find the pretty Laberint d´Horta. This labyrinth is the oldest of its kind in Barcelona.

It was designed in 1792 by the Italian engineer Domenico Bagutti, being an assignment from the owner of the estate, Joan Desvalls. Joan Desvalls was the Marquis of Llupià and Alfarràs.

The park counts over nine hectares and is divided into neo-classical and Romanesque gardens. It also features a waterfall, a moss garden, two Italian-style temples, mythological statues and beautiful Tuscan columns. You will mostly see locals in this park.

How to get there:

You can take the green L3 metro line that stops at Metro station Mundet. From there it´s a 10-minute walk to the labyrinth. 

Monestir de Pedralbes

monastery of Pedralbes in Barcelona

Monestir de Pedralbes is another nice and quiet place, where you can walk around and really feel the history.

It has been preserved very well. The beautiful gothic monastery was built in 1326, upon the order of Queen Elisenda de Montcada.

Until 1983 it was inhabited by the nuns of the Order of Saint Clare. Some of the most famous architects of the time worked on the project, Ramon Despuig and Berenguer de Montagut. Who also designed the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar.

The Monastry of Pedralbes is the largest in the world, with each side of the square structure being 40 meters long.

Part of the Monastery has been made in to a museum, where you usually will be able to see an exposition. The Monastry also holds a (medicinal) garden in the middle.

How to get to there

You can take the L6 metro line to metro stop “Reina Elisenda”. When you come out of the train station, turn right and follow the road until you see a stone cross. The Monastery is through an arch on the right. It’s about a five-minute walk, just past the US consulate

The Rosaleda de Cervantes

Rose garden Rosaleda de Cervantes in Barcelona

Who doesn´t appreciate the smell and the appearance of roses! The Parc de Cervantes is a special area in the Pedralbes neighborhood that features 245 varieties of roses.

It is one of the lesser known and calmer parcs of Barcelona.

The park was created in 1965 by the architects Lluís Riudor and Joaquim Maria Casamor. It includes a collection of about 245 different varieties and 10,000 rose bushes, set out along a landscaped area.

It´s covering about 9 hectares and features varieties in all shapes and colors from every continent of the world. The area where roses bloom – from April to November – is known as the pergola.

In addition to the rose garden, the Parc de Cervantes also has a has a small open-air museum. You can combine a visit to this parc with a visit to Monestir de Pedralbes (mentioned in 6.) as they are located in the same area.

How to get there:

You can take the green metro line L3 towards Zona Universitaria and also get out at this same end station. From here it´s a 4-minute walk to the park.

 

Observatorio Fabra

The Observatori Fabra, the astronomical observatory located in Barcelona

The astronomical observatory is a unique place where you also have a fantastic view over the city. The building was designed by the Barcelonan architect Josep Domènech I Estapà and opened its doors in 1904.

It belongs to the Royal Academy of Science and Arts, its main activity the study of asteroids and comets. It is the fourth most ancient observatory in the world that is still functioning.

The Fabra Observatory organizes tours that are a magical experience. The tours include observations of the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn or Mars, according to the time of the year.

The observations are made just as they were a century ago. Namely with the giant refracting telescope, that dates from 1904. Furthermore, it offers the possibility of a dinner under the stars!

When you are entering or leaving, there is also a short botanical route around the surrounding gardens. Here you can see cypresses, pines, mimosa, laurels and mastic out of others.

How to get there:

The journey time between Barcelona and the Fabra Observatory is around 23 minutes and an 8 km distance. This included an average layover time of around 5 minutes.

You can take the S1 or S2 trains that departs from plaça Catalunya towards the Peu del Funicular.

From there you can take the FV up to Vallvidrera Superior. The funicular here will take you to the Cami de l´observatori.

Aire Ancient baths, Barcelona

Inddor bath in ancient setting, Aire Ancient baths, Barcelona

Enjoy a magnificent experience of total and utmost relaxation. At Aire you can indulge yourself through the pleasures of water, in an ancient and magical atmosphere.

The luxurious Arab baths are truly one of a kind, inspired by baths in ancient civilizations.

The Spa is located in the El Born neighborhood and occupies the area of a former meat storage facility. It features archaeological remains, such as old water wells dating from Romanesque times integrated in the spa.

The facilities include pools of different temperatures, hammam steam baths, aromatherapy, therapeutic showers and massage. Fun fact, you even have the possibility for a wine bath!

How to get there:

Located in El Born, the closest metro station would be Barceloneta or Jaume 1. Address: Passeig de Picasso, 22, 08003 Barcelona

Hospital Sant Pau

Hospital Sant Pau is definitely not your regular hospital. Instead, the complex is more like a work of art, which brings color instead of clinical sterility.

The Hospital Sant Pau is a beautiful modernist building, by the architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner. With its orange and pastel green colored tiles and art nouveau interior, the atmosphere inside feels relaxed and peaceful.

You may wonder why not all hospitals are built that way.

The Hospital Sant Pau was founded in the early 20th century. It was built as the population of Barcelona was rapidly growing and lacking a modern hospital. The old 15th century Santa Creu hospital getting outdated.

 

Nowadays the active departments have been moved to newer buildings nearby. The hospital itself was restored to its original glory and partially converted to an exhibition hall and galleries for cultural purposes. The hospital is rightfully on the list of UNESCO World Heritage.

How to get there:

You can take the Metro L5 towards station Sant Pau/Dos de Maig or the bus: H8,19, 47, 117 or 192.

Article by Esther VDB for Say Barcelona Bike Tours

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