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Visiting Barcelona? Explore its Hidden Gems like a Local


| 5 mins read

“To travel across Spain and finally reach Barcelona is like drinking a respectable red wine and finishing up with a bottle of champagne.” 

~ James A. Michener

Barcelona, the vibrant capital of the Catalonia Region in Spain, is known for its stunning architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture. It is home to the world-renowned marvels of architect Antoni Gaudí, like the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and Casa Batlló. Millions of tourists primarily travel every year to see these three fantastic sites! However, beyond the spotlight lie the hidden gems waiting to be discovered by travellers. 

After all, there is a popular saying that a traveller is not truly a traveller if he/she does not touch the true essence of the place like a local! Read this blog and learn about the offbeat visits in Barcelona that will fascinate you with their uncovered stories!

Bunkers del Carmel: Witness Barcelona's Panoramic Splendor 

Bunkers del Carmel

Perched high on the Turó de la Rovira hill, the Bunkers del Carmel offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Barcelona that is sure to leave you in awe! It offers views of the Sagrada Familia, the sprawling expanse of hill Montjuïc and the vast Mediterranean Sea, serving as a tranquil escape from the bustling city! What makes this hidden gem truly fascinating is its historical significance. The bunkers were built during the Spanish Civil War as anti-aircraft batteries, and today they stand as a testament to the city's turbulent past. So whether you're a history enthusiast, a photography lover, or someone seeking a unique experience, the Bunkers del Carmel should be a must-visit on your wishlist. To enhance your experience, hire a local guide who can regale you with the stories of the Spanish Civil War while climbing to the top. You can even enjoy it as a picnic spot and watch the sunset over the cityscape. 

El Raval: Dive into Barcelona's Eclectic Neighborhood

El Raval

For an authentic Barcelona experience, head to El Raval, a melting pot of different cultures and lifestyles. It is home to a vibrant street art scene, where colourful murals and graffiti adorn the walls, adding an artistic flair to the neighbourhood. El Raval has undergone a significant transformation in recent years and is now home to hip cafes, trendy art galleries, and eclectic shops. While spending a day in El Raval, take advantage of its signature market of La Boqueria, a food lover's paradise. From traditional tapas bars to trendy eateries, its diverse culinary scene caters to all tastes. However, if you are on a limited time, it is best to hire a local guide who can create a food tour so that you can taste the best in a short duration!

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista: Step into Barcelona's Art Nouveau Wonderland

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

While Gaudí's masterpieces dominate Barcelona's architectural scene, a lesser-known gem that shouldn't be missed is the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista. Once a hospital, this Art Nouveau complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What is truly fascinating about this creation of Lluís Domènech i Montaner (a contemporary of Gaudí) is the fact that the masterpiece was truly ahead of its time! In the era when sustainable elements were not even talked about, Mr Monatner incorporated innovative features of natural ventilation, abundant natural light, and green spaces within the complex to create a healing environment for patients. While in Barcelona, step into a wonderland of intricate details, vibrant mosaics, and lush gardens as you explore this architectural marvel. You can also better explore the extensive network of underground tunnels with your local guide, which were constructed to connect different hospital pavilions. 

Mercat dels Encants: A Shopping Paradise

Mercat dels Encants

With its origins dating back to the 14th century, Mercat dels Encants, also known as Els Encants Vells, is Barcelona's oldest flea market, offering a unique shopping experience for tourists and locals. From vintage clothing and antique furniture to quirky collectables and secondhand books, you can find an array of unique and one-of-a-kind items here. A fascinating aspect of the market is its iconic mirrored roof. Designed by architect Fermín Vázquez, this modern addition reflects the surroundings, creating a visually striking effect. For a more immersive local experience while browsing the market, engage with the sellers and hear their stories. As for souvenirs, whether you buy a vintage fashion gem or an antique piece of furniture or a quirky trinket, all the items will carry the unique charm and character of Barcelona's oldest flea market.

Gràcia: Discover Barcelona's Bohemian Enclave


Tucked away from the tourist crowds, the neighbourhood of Gràcia offers a bohemian charm that is truly captivating. This residential district is known for its vibrant squares, independent boutiques, lively atmosphere and cosy cafés. The best time to be in the neighbourhood is during its annual August festival of Festa Major de Gràcia.  During this time, the streets are transformed with creative and elaborate decorations, showcasing the artistic spirit of the community. Each street competes for the title of the best-decorated street, resulting in a visual spectacle for visitors. One of the best ways to explore the neighbourhood is by reserving a full day, as there is much to see! You should then visit the bustling squares of Plaça del Sol and Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, also perfect spots to soak in the local atmosphere. You should also check out the pedestrian street of Carrer Verdi, known for its small cafes and unique souvenirs, and Casa Vicens, one of the lesser-known works of Antoni Gaudi. 

Hire a local guide and venture beyond the well-trodden paths to be rewarded with unforgettable experiences, breathtaking views, and a deeper understanding of what makes Barcelona so unique.