Barcelona, getting off the beaten track
Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist city destinations in the world. Its streets are always full of people, regardless of the season. It is a favourite city break destination for British tourists: famous because of its good weather, its delicious Mediterranean food and its spectacular architecture – cradle of artists as important as Gaudí. But Barcelona is much more than a simple tourist city. Probably, most of you already know the typical and always crowded tourist streets, monuments, clubs, restaurants, shops or museums. But, what about the other Barcelona? There is another city behind this scene: an alternative, amazing city that hosts a reach subculture. Art, music, cinema, gastronomy, and a whole world to discover!
Let’s begin with an alternative tour among the city. Everybody knows Ciutat Vella (Old Town), that includes El Barri Gòtic, El Raval and El Borne, and forms the monumental center of Barcelona. But moving away from the crowds around El Born and the Gòtic Quarter and heading down to Barceloneta, we find an old fishing village close to the harbour. It’s less crowded and feels more authentic than other parts of the city. The area was developed on a grid pattern and the narrow streets hanging with washing give it a certain air of Naples. There are lots of restaurants, specialist in seafood.
Poble Sec is a charming neighbourhood located between El Raval and Montjuic. Despite its excellent restaurants, nightlife and central location, this neighborhood is off the radar for most Barcelona visitors.
In guidebooks, Poble Sec is usually lumped in with the gardens, museums and Olympic constructions of Montjuic – if it’s even mentioned at all. But with low-key hotels and apartments available to rent, Poble Sec is a wonderful place to visit and to stay in Barcelona. It has ethnically diverse, quiet streets, real local flavour and a wide variety of dining and nightlife options.
Sarrià is a gorgeous, 1,000-year-old village. It has become a haven for petit bourgeois merchants, writers, and artists, as well as a home for many Barcelona schools occupying what were once summer mansions for the city’s commercial leaders. It’s a must to do a stop in Bar Tomás, famous for its patatas bravas (potatoes with a sauce of pounded garlic and olive oil).
Good food, better restaurants
Flash Flash (C. La Granada del Penedès, 25) was inaugurated in 1970, and has become an essential reference point. Hamburgers, steaks salads, and over 70 types of tortillas are served up in a pop-art setting of funky black-and-white murals and white leather banquettes. It’s completely authentic!
Misaki (C. Aribau, 40) is a small Japanese restaurant. It offers a very large variety of dishes and regional specialities in a familiar, cozy space. Probably, it is one of the best Asian food restaurants in Barcelona, even you will not find it in any restaurants guides. Do not expect to find a super-modern local. This is a family, small restaurant managed by Misaki, where you’ll eat quality Japanese food. Delicious!
L´Hortet (C. Pintor Fortuny, 32) is the best vegetarian restaurant and enough of a reason to travel to Barcelona! For less than 10 euros you can have a nice three course menu. Vegan vegetarian-friendly place that offers a good value set menu at lunch time. Don’t miss it!
7Portes (Pg. Isabel II, 14) it is one the most classic of Barcelona’s eating-places. Here you can enjoy the finest Catalan cooking in an intimate setting or in one of the spacious banquet halls, accompanied by Spain’s best wines and “cavas” (sparking wines) from the well-stocked cellar.
Gaudi, off the beaten track
Gaudi’s work is admired by architects around the World as being one of the most unique and distinctive architectural styles. His works are all over Barcelona. There are some world famous Gaudi´s builds like Parc Güell, Palau Güell, Sagrada Familia, Pedrera or Casa Batlló that give Barcelona a special magic. But there are some of Gaudi´s lesser-known, beautiful contributions that you shouldn’t miss:
- The Gigantic fountain in Parc de la Cuitadella
- The Three Graces Fountain in Placa Reial
- The amazing wrought-iron embellished street lamps that line the streets are 125-year-old originals in the heart of the city. In Plaza Reial, by Las Ramblas, Passeig de Gracia and the old port entrance.
More than culture: more music, more art, more cinemas…
MauMau: (C. Fontrodona, 33) this cultural centre and lounge club built into an old warehouse is discreetly hidden away in a quiet backstreet. It’s a unique space, ideal for all kinds of presentations and projections: art, theater, lectures and other activitie. Since May 2002, Maumau runs a Funk, Soul, HipHop & Rare Groove session, weekly at dance venue Apolo. There is an interesting weekly agenda with the best of alternative culture in Barcelona!
Antisonar: Anti-Sonar is the alternative music party to Sonar, which runs in Barcelona at the same time. It’s totally free. Whereas Sonar attracts a moneyed, trendy, international crowd, Anti-Sonar is an anarchic impromptu festival for the scruffier inhabitants of Barcelona who can’t afford or simply resent the festival and the hordes of techno tourists that take over the city for the weekend. Don’t expect any big name DJs. Expect unrelenting hard techno, and bring your own water, beer, absinthe, and sun cream, as you’ll be dancing through into the morning. Usually located on the outskirts of the city near to the Sonar by Night festival site, follow the crowds or ask around.
Cinema Maldà: (C. del Pi, 5) located in the middle of Ciutat Vella’s neighbourhood, this special cinema projects Bollywood’s movies in original version and independent movies. This spring, cinema Maldà, now known as the Maldà Arts Forum, expanded it programming and artistic offer to include other arts such as music, theatre, performance, literature or journalism. It is a must for all film fans. On top of providing high-quality cinema, Maldà allows its visitors to enjoy two films (run consecutively) for the price of one.
There are infinity proposals to enjoy of the other Barcelona: the city that many tourists and even Catalan people do not know. Look for the best alternative leisure and cultural offers of the city in `La Butxaca´, a very special leisure guide of Barcelona (it’s very difficult to find). And now, have a great and different time in this original city.
Similar blog posts
From the UK's most popular travel bloggers
13th April 2021 by Inside the Travel LabThe best southern Spain road trip itinerary through fiery Andalucia
Al Andalus. I think about those words right now amid another sea of change. Al Andalus refers to the part of southern Spain previously ruled by the Moors, a rough approximation of modern day Andalucia. Coins from 716 bear the name in both Latin and Arabic and the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Granada reveals its history through its name: Alhambra. The red one....
13th April 2021 by Inside the Travel LabHoly Week in Seville
Holy Week in Seville (Semana Santa) marks one of the most important events in the year in this part of Andalusia. What began as a religious festival has grown to encompass the whole city, with even the schools and metro systems adjusting accordingly. Witnessing what happens during Holy Week in Seville will remain with you long after locals swap the incense and swishing robes for polka dot dresses and dancing in the following festival Feria de Abril....
26th March 2021 by Two Monkey's TravelHow to spend 3 days in south Tenerife
Tenerife has two parts, the North and the South. Each of them has different characteristics. From their weather to restaurants, traditions, and culture. However, both are extremely wonderful and worth to visit. In this article, we will be focusing on South Tenerife, Spain. It offers a lot of fun and exciting activities. South Tenerife Airport is also the second busiest airport (next to Gran Canaria) in the Canary Islands. ...
24th March 2021 by Inside the Travel LabHow to spend a perfect week in Spain
When it comes to spending a week in Spain, you'll find many ways to slice and dice an itinerary. Spain's a fascinating country with different languages, landscapes and loves. Here's our inside itinerary for one week in Spain for first-timers. Plus, some suggestions for secret spots and the next places to visit. First of all, you need to make your peace with the fact that you cannot hope to see it all. Spain is a big place, with culture and atmosphere crammed into every last rocky cove, grand...
28th February 2021 by Two Monkey's Travel9 things to do in Barcelona that you should not miss
You’ll never be short of things to see and do in Barcelona; a weekend break is just not enough time to fully appreciate this bustling and vibrant city. I could give you a list of things to do in Barcelona as long as your arm! If art and architecture are your bags, Barcelona has so much to explore – there is something for everyone....
24th February 2021 by Two Monkey's TravelWeekend itinerary in Santander, Spain
Looking for inspiration for a weekend in Santander? Read our tips below on the things to do in Santander, Spain plus a sample weekend itinerary, where to stay, how to get around, and best restaurants to try! Santander is the capital city of the Cantabria region on Spain’s north coast. It is known for its peace and quiet surroundings, varied transport and communications infrastructure and its mild climate all year round. In this wonderful place, you’d enjoy a lot of outdoor activities that...
16th February 2021 by AndyAffordable beach holidays during winter
We’re in the peak of winter and have been stuck at home for a long time, so we can’t help but dream of destinations currently enjoying some of the warmest days of the year. Trade-in your winter scarf and gloves next year for a beach towel and flipflops somewhere warm. It doesn't have to break the bank either - there are many lovely beach destinations that are perfectly affordable and will allow you to enjoy a relaxing sunny holiday right in the middle of winter. Let’s take a look at...