Barcelona is known for many things – the sunny weather, the architecture of Antoní Gaudí, La Rambla boulevard — the list goes on. As wonderful as those are, that’s not the Barcelona we’re going to talk about today.
We’re going to tell you about all the best places you’ve never heard of for eating, drinking, dancing, and generally exploring the city’s culture and heritage!
Below are some of Barcelona’s hidden gems…
To begin, you can book accommodation in the Gràcia neighborhood. Although it’s only about 10 minutes from the city center, Gràcia offers an entirely different experience. A small, tight-knit community, Gràcia is an amazing mixture of elderly people and young bohemian culture.
Piercings, tattoos, and dreadlocks are more the norm than khakis and button-ups, and visitors are treated to a unique view into local culture. Plus, this little neighborhood has everything you need, from a wide variety of restaurants and bars to international stores and local shops side-by-side. Never fear, there’s also a wonderful nightlife here — especially during their street decoration festival, Festa Major de Gràcia, which is held over five days in August.
Locals go all out in their artistic expression during the day and at night the festival becomes a sea of drink stalls and live music.
Also consider staying in the La Ribera neighborhood of Barcelona, historically the home of wealthy merchants and artists. Today it has a modern twist with access to more traditional sites like the Church of Santa del Mar, the Picasso Museum and the sprawling Park Ciutadella.
Culture in Barcelona
There are obvious places of cultural importance in the city of Barcelona, and then there are our suggestions! First among them is the Barcelona Erotica Museum, located near the Gothic Quarter in the center of town. The museum is by no means large, but it does have a rather impressive collection of erotic art, contraptions and ideas. Not for the shy or easily embarrassed, this museum takes a sultry stroll through the history of eroticism.
At the other end of the spectrum we have the family-friendly Chocolate Museum! This delectable museum explores how chocolate has evolved in Spain over the past 500 years. It was first introduced by the conquistador Don Hernán Cortés and, although it started as a murky, unappetizing water, the museum shows how modern chocolate has many varieties and uses. This is perhaps best epitomized in the museum’s impressive chocolate sculpture.
One more place to visit off the beaten path is the Mercury Fountain, designed by Alexander Calder for the 1937 World’s Fair. Located at the Fundació Joan Miró and safely protected behind a sheet of glass, this beautiful (and deadly fountain) pumps liquid mercury, of which the mines at Almadén, Spain were the largest producers for many years.
Barcelona Food and drink
It’s almost impossible to know where to start when it comes to food in Barcelona, so take a tapas or gourmet walking tour to explore some of the best places in the downtown area. For fast, cheap and delicious tapas, try La Esquincia which has a vast array of options (though not many vegetarian or vegan ones) and serves the locally beloved drink vino turbio (a house wine shaken until frothy). If you’re dying to try Catalan food, the traditional Els Pescadors in Poblenou has you covered, especially if seafood is your thing! Another option is Quimet d’Horta, which has been around for over 85 years and is famous for the ciabatta sandwiches.
When it comes to nightlife, Barcelona has a ton of great and inclusive options. For women travelers and LGBT ladies looking for a dance night, try Girlicious or Tarantina. If you and your partner are looking for a quieter night, try La Sue BCN which has poetry recitals, Barça matches and a more elegant vibe. For slightly more touristic-style partying, check out the Gothic Quarter for cocktail places like Milk Bar or travel to Royal Square for Tarantos and its Flamenco reputation.
The history of Barcelona cannot be ignored. Lovely tourist spots like the Castle of the Three Dragons, the Roman Walls and the Barcelona Cathedral can hold you spellbound for hours on end. If you get a chance to explore a bit further afield, the MUHBA Refugi 307 is an excellent place to visit. In the late 1930s, Franco’s army attacked Barcelona with a series of bombs, forcing The Passive Defence Board to begin building shelters. Refugi 307 (shelter number 307) consists of 400 meters of tunnels and visitors can learn what it would’ve been like to live there during the Spanish Civil War.
Castle Stern is another option for historical exploration. Although it was originally a castle, this countryside ruin now resembles a ship, which is how it got the nickname Castle Stern. Not much remains from the original structure, but it’s worth the trip out of the city to see some of the rural landscape and walk among the ruins of the former Castell de la Popa.
With Spain’s gorgeous weather, exploring outdoor attractions should be part of your plan. One of the coolest outdoor excursions that many people don’t know about is the Labyrinth Park of Horta. Originally part of a private residence owned by the wealthy Desvalls family, today the hedge maze is part of the oldest garden in the city. Navigate your way around the 2,000 feet of maze and you’ll be treated to statue of the Greek god of love, Eros, which waits in the center of the labyrinth!
Although Montserrat is hailed as the mountain range to visit, Tibidabo is laden with legend and provides spectacular views of the city. According to local legend, Tibidabo is the place where the devil tempted Jesus, but today it tempts only with diversion. There is a beautiful Catholic church, Sagrat Cor, and an amusement park which can be reached by a cable railroad built in 1901.
If you’re up for something a bit darker, the Poblenou Cemetery is intriguing from many points of view. Aside from the beauty of the cemetery, Poblenou is actually the first necropolis in Spain, and is split into two areas — the original cemetery and the 19thcentury extension — both of which feature historic sculptures and ornate tombs.
No matter where you go in Barcelona you won’t be disappointed! We hope you’re inspired by some of the places on our list and that you see something new on your next trip to this amazing city!
More links for women travellers…
- Tours for Women around the World
- Tour Companies run by Women around the World
- Accommodation for Women around the World
- Women who are Local Tour Guides
- Retreat Places for Women Around the World
- Tours which include Retreat Themes