When it comes to the most exciting cities in the world, most people automatically tend to think of the golden trio: London, Paris, and New York.

But did you know that Barcelona is packed full of treasures too? And I do mean packed!

One of the main European cities for history, art, and culture, Barcelona is especially known for its blend of modernist and Gothic architecture.

As an essential Spanish port, the city is home to popular monuments like the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar and Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona. Sun-soaked beaches, scrumptious eats, and an exceptionally energetic nightlife only serve to enhance the allure of the place.

If you don’t mind venturing away from that overly trodden tourist trail though, you’ll quickly realize there are heaps of hidden gems in Barcelona that are just waiting to be discovered. So, grab your best walking shoes and let’s check them out!

The Spanish and Catalan flag in Barcelona
Let’s jump in :))
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

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What’s Barcelona Like?

With epic beaches and iconic sights like the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona is indeed quite a sight to behold! As one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities, Barcelona sure packs a punch. It’s home to a lively assortment of tapas bars, clubs, and cultural centers like the Picasso Museum of Barcelona. With over 3,500 pieces on display, this museum is bound to thrill art aficionados.

Of course, we can’t talk about Barcelona without mentioning its football culture. The city is famous all over for its local club, FC Barcelona (colloquially referred to as Barça). On match evenings, there’s no better destination than the Bar Llopart where fans gather to cheer on the local team.

In addition to the Sagrada Familia, you’ll find heaps of stunning landmarks in the city. Some of my favorites are the Casa Batllo, La Pedrera-Casa Mila, and the Gaudi Dragon Fountain. If you’d like to cover the top sights in a few days, I suggest that you get a 48, 72, or 96-hour public transportation pass.

Now that you know what to expect from Barcelona, let’s move on to the lesser-known spots.

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    15 of the Best Hidden Spots in Barcelona

    Planning a trip to Spain? Brace yourself: Barcelona will hit you like a whirlwind!

    Whether it’s the food, the culture, or the exceptionally friendly people, this is one city that knows how to charm its visitors. Here are 15 of the best hidden spots that will only enhance your stay in the city!

    1. Uncover the Mysterious Symbols Around the City

    Detailed architecture from El Pont del Bisbe, Barcelona
    Crack the code of these curious symbols!

    Here’s one that totally takes the cake as far as Barcelona hideaways are concerned!

    During my first visit to Barcelona, I was a bit surprised by the number of strange symbols and sculptures speckled all over the city. Tiled lizards, oddly shaped fountains, and curious mosaics embedded within buildings hinted at a more esoteric side of Barcelona that I certainly didn’t know about at the time.  

    If you’d like to know more about this, I can totally vouch for this activity that takes you off the beaten track. A local guide will provide interesting info as you amble through romantic squares and cobblestone pathways in search of the city’s secrets, unsolved codes, and riddles.

    Don’t forget to wear your best travel shoes, though, because there’s a lot of walking involved!

    • Rating: 10/10 – Bucket List Essential  
    • Cost: $255
    • Personal Opinion: Don’t miss it! A must-visit gem of excellence.

    2. Mosey Around the Old Town

    If you ask me, there’s no better way to truly uncover lesser-known Barcelona hideaways than to stroll through the city alongside a local guide.

    This walking tour will take you through the Gothic Quarter in the Old Town. This neighborhood in Barcelona has heaps of small, off-grid alleys that house just about everything. From Europe’s oldest synagogue to a candle-making shop that dates back to the early 1700s, there’s so much to see.

    An ornate bridge in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona
    The beautiful Gothic Quarter.
    Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

    One of the oldest areas of the city, the Old Town is also packed full of hidden gem cafes and lesser-known spots like the Monastery-Church of Santa Ana.

    This activity features some of the best examples of pure Catalan Gothic architecture, like the Santa Maria del Mar and the Barcelona Cathedral.
    The tour features a visit to Boqueria Market, where you can interact with Catalan farmers while browsing through the colorful stalls. For a more authentic experience, I strongly recommend that you consider adding this hidden gem to your Barcelona itinerary.

    • Rating: 8/10 – Hidden Gem Alert
    • Cost: $19
    • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.
    Hidden Gems in Barcelona
    Best HotelBest HostelBest Private Stay
    Hotel SuizoIdeal Youth HostelEntire rental unit in Barcelona

    3. Enjoy a Bird’s Eye View of the City

    Thrill-seekers, this one’s for you!

    There’s no shortage of magical places in Barcelona, but if you want to experience the city from a unique vantage point, you can always take to the skies – literally speaking!

    Man piloting an aircraft while taking in the scenic views.
    Bird’s eye view of Barcelona!

    Perfect for those seeking a break from crowded streets, this 11-minute helicopter ride offers a captivating bird’s-eye view of Barcelona. It’s undoubtedly on the more expensive side, though!

    During the ride, you’ll see the Old Town, complete with the sites that once housed Barcelona’s medieval walls. Don’t forget to bring your travel camera, the views are irresistible. You’ll also ride above the Port Forum, home of the Blue Museum, and a 19th-century square established by a Spanish army general.

    • Rating: 9/10 – Hidden Gem Alert!
    • Cost: $180
    • Personal Opinion: Definitely don’t skip that one.

    4. Watch the Sunset from Turó de la Rovira Hill

    Not only is the Turó de la Rovira hill a hidden gem in Barcelona but also happens to house one of the best viewpoints in the city!

    A person taking in views from Turó de la Rovira Hill, Barcelona
    The views from Turó de la Rovira Hill are nothing short of spectacular!

    At the very top of the hill is found the Carmel Bunkers, a spot known for its 360-degree view of the city. The bunkers were actually built during the Spanish Civil War, so soldiers could keep an eye on the entirety of Barcelona.

    While this site is gradually soaring in popularity thanks to social media, it’s still devoid of those dense crowds of tourists. For an authentic experience, I would recommend staying in Gaudint Barcelona Suites, and when the sun sets, roll over to the park with a picnic basket and some local treat.

    • Rating: 9/10- Hidden Gem Alert!
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: Definitely don’t skip that one.

    5. Learn the Dark Secrets of Barcelona

    Barcelona has a lot to offer after dark. Like, a lot!

    Tapas bars, clubs, live performances…the city’s always buzzing with some kind of evening entertainment. But if you’re in the mood for something different, I can recommend this nightly tour that features heaps of lesser-known secrets about Barcelona.

    A group of tourists standing in front of the Fossar de les Moreres in Barcelona at night

    This off-the-beaten-track adventure takes you through the mazes of lanes in and around historic areas like La Ribera and El Born for two hours. A local guide will let you in on plenty of insider info, including what happened to the victims of the infamous Spanish Inquisition.

    Because this activity involves plenty of macabre, real-life happenings, it’s not recommended for children under 14 years old.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Genuine Delight
    • Cost: $20
    • Personal Opinion: Well worth the detour for a unique experience.

    6. Marvel at the Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau

    In my opinion, your list of secret spots in Barcelona should absolutely feature a visit to the Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau, located in the El Guinardó neighborhood.

    One of the most underrated places in Barcelona, this hospital complex was built between 1901 and 1930. Known for its eye-catching Art Nouveau architecture, this establishment is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Brick and stone buildings and large courtyard adorned with trees and a fountain in Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Barcelona
    Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau is an iconic piece of architecture.

    Considered something of an architectural marvel, the former hospital is made up of multiple interconnected buildings, each boasting brightly colored ceramic tiles, stained-glass windows, mosaics, and intricate sculptures.

    Be sure to check out the hospital’s inner courtyard, a beautiful area surrounded by orange trees.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Worth Bragging About
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.
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    7. Check Out the Hidden Street Art

    In my opinion, no list of hidden gems in Barcelona would be complete without taking a hidden street tour!

    Not only is this one of the best ways to experience how old and modern Barcelona fuse together, but you’ll also get to explore the vibrant downtown area accompanied by a local guide.

    A person hanging out on some steps in Barcelona surrounded by graffiti
    Chilling on the graffitied steps of MACBA in Barcelona
    Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

    As you stroll down those narrow lanes, your guide will tell you more about the street art scene in Barcelona and the popular local artists who left their mark on the city. After admiring the artwork emblazoned on the alley walls, you’ll even get to visit a gallery.

    Bottled water and beverages are provided during the tour.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Worth Bragging About
    • Cost: $30
    • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.

    8. Stroll Through an 18th Century Park

    Not only is this one of the best places in Barcelona, but the Parc del Laberint d’Horta is an absolute dream come true for nature lovers!

    Dating all the way back to the 18th century, this lush spot lies right on the outskirts of Barcelona – more precisely in the Horta-Guinardó district. One of Barcelona’s oldest gardens, this spot offers an idyllic hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

    A lush garden and flower-fringed paths surrounding a fountain in Parc del Laberint d’Horta, Barcelona
    Hidden Gem detected!

    This place is stunning on its own but what made it extra special (at least to me!) was the intricate labyrinth made up of cypress trees. For parents traveling with children, the labyrinth offers plenty to keep the little ones entertained.

    Once you’ve crossed the labyrinth, you’ll be greeted by ancient fountains, lush gardens, and flower-fringed paths meandering through the park.

    • Rating: 9/10 – Hidden Gem Alert!
    • Cost: Free
    • Personal Opinion: Definitely don’t skip that one.

    9. Visit the Pedralbes Monastery

    I’m sure you’re wondering why a monastery, of all things, made this list of underrated places in Barcelona! Well, at least that’s what I was wondering myself when a local friend insisted on taking me there.

    A building with arches overlooking a large courtyard with trees in Barcelona
    This will be the best history class you’ll ever experience.

    After touring this place, however, it quickly became evident that this place is deeply embedded in the city’s medieval past! In fact, the monastery was originally built in the early 1300s by King James II of Aragon as a gift for his wife. The complex became a national monument in 1991.

    Believe me when I say the monastery is quite a sight to behold with its intricate Catalan Gothic architecture, stained glass windows, and delicate stone carvings. Be sure to check out the monastery’s cloister, which boasts a soothing courtyard with hidden gardens and even a fountain.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Worth Bragging About
    • Cost: FREE
    • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.

    10. Have a Pint at a Secret Bar

    There’s definitely no shortage of hidden gem cafes in Barcelona, but did you know that the city has its fair share of secret bars as well?

    One of my favorite bars in the city is the lesser-known Antic Teatre Bar, which is found in the El Born neighborhood. Ironically enough, this Barcelona hideaway lies just a short distance from the popular Palau de la Musica Catalana.

    Not only is the bar cleverly concealed at the end of a narrow street, but it has a pretty nondescript entrance as well.

    Once you’ve headed up the stairs leading to the terrace, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful garden where tables have been set up amongst towering trees.

    Because it’s off the beaten track, it’s still relatively affordable, with most beers costing between $2 and $4. The bar also doubles as a performing arts venue, so be sure to check their program to see if there’s anything you’d like to catch.

    • Rating: 9/10 – Hidden Gem Alert!
    • Cost: Price of a drink maybe?
    • Personal Opinion: Definitely don’t skip that one.

    11. Be Wowed by the Teatre Grec and Grec Garden

    Not a lot of tourists know that nestled on Montjuïc Hill is a historic amphitheater that was once at the forefront of the city’s cultural scene.

    Lush greenery and pink flowers in Jardines del Teatre Grec, Barcelona
    Make the Teatre Grec and Grec Garden your secret escape!

    Built in the early 1900s, this hidden gem in Barcelona showcases old-school architecture inspired by Grecian designs, featuring ancient-style columns and semicircular seating. Nowadays, the theatre is very rarely used, except for special Spanish festivals like the Festival Grec de Barcelona.

    While you’re there, you can also check out the Grec Garden, a picturesque green space located right next to the theatre.

    • Rating: 8/10 – Worth Bragging About
    • Cost: FREE
    • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about.

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    12. Amble Through the Santa Caterina Market

    I always love to interact with the locals when I travel, and one of the best places to do that in Barcelona is no doubt the Santa Caterina Market.

    Most tourists tend to gravitate towards the Boqueria Market, but if you don’t mind going off the beaten track, the Santa Caterina Market is all set to provide a more authentic experience!

    Santa Caterina Market, Barcelona

    This market is housed in a gorgeous building with brightly colored mosaics and an undulating rooftop. A little known fact is that the Santa Caterina Market was once a convent.

    Located in the El Born district, the market is also an excellent stop for foodies who’d like to sample some of Barcelona’s most classic snacks.

    • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a Deeper Look 
    • Cost: FREE
    • Personal Opinion: Well worth the detour for a unique experience.

    13. Go for a Dip in the Fòrum Bathing Area

    Okay, I can’t talk about the secret spots in Barcelona without mentioning the Zona de Banys del Fòrum. Also known as the Fòrum Bathing Area, this place is awash with beautiful views and an undeniably soothing setting.

    Unlike Barcelona’s premier beaches, it’s a slightly more unconventional experience.

    Fòrum Bathing Area in Barcelona

    Bathing area. After all, there’s no sand or shoreline, for that matter, but what makes this place special is that the paved steps lead you right into a swimming pool that extends into the ocean.

    Unlike the beaches, this bathing area is far less crowded, so it’s really worth a visit, especially if you’d like to avoid the summer crowds. Amphibian wheelchairs are available for swimmers with reduced mobility.

    • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a Deeper Look 
    • Cost: FREE
    • Personal Opinion: Well worth the detour for a unique experience.

    14. Hike the Carretera De La Aigues

    Fans of the great outdoors, rejoice!

    If you’d like to enjoy an easy hike with gorgeous views, I can absolutely vouch for the Carretera De La Aigues hike, located in Collserola, one of the must-see national parks in Spain.

    A person riding a bicycle down a dirt road with lush trees and a house in the background from La Carretera de les Aigües, Barcelona
    Follow the path and get stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

    Whether you’re planning an afternoon out with the family or a romantic stroll, this 8,000-hectare Barcelona hideaway is commonly referred to as the green lung of the city. Best of all, this spot can easily be reached by public transportation.

    Stretching over 9km, La Carretera de les Aigües once housed a major pipeline that transferred water from a nearby cistern. In the afternoon, it’s not uncommon to see locals walking their dogs, jogging, or cycling the trail.

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    15. Wander the Horta Neighborhood

    Here’s a real doozy as far as underrated places in Barcelona are concerned!

    Now, I know I already mentioned the Parc del Laberint d’Horta, but if you’ve got some extra time to spare, rest assured! This Spanish neighborhood has plenty of other treasures that are just waiting to be discovered.

    A garden with lush greenery and climbing purple plants in hoarta maze, barcelona
    Look at this color symmetry!

    I would recommend staying at Hotel Medicis, which offers a convenient and comfortable stay, with proximity to one of Barcelona’s emblematic Art Nouveau buildings, the beautiful Laberint d’Horta Park, and La Sagrada Família.

    For instance, this neighborhood is home to the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, which is both a World Heritage site and a Modernist site.

    Don’t miss a visit to the Plaça Eivissa as well. This area is something of a commercial and social hub in Horta. And if all that sightseeing makes you hungry, you can always head to the Louise Se Va café-bar, a local favorite that’s known for its amazing sandwiches.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Genuine Delight
    • Cost: FREE
    • Personal Opinion: Well worth the detour for a unique experience.

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    FAQs About Barcelona’s Hidden Gems

    I can talk all day about these secret spots in Barcelona. Here are some common questions:

    Final Thoughts on Hidden Gems in Barcelona

    I’m sure by now you’ve realized that Barcelona is one of the best places in the world for uncovering unlikely adventures.

    The city’s quirky neighborhoods, ornate buildings, historical structures, and narrow lanes have so much history to tell – if you know where to look, of course! With so many magical places in Barcelona to offer, knowing where to start can be somewhat overwhelming, but I sure hope this guide helped you plan your itinerary.

    If you’d like to prolong the fun and spend more time in the country, why not consider an epic backpacking trip across Spain?

    Looking for more info on travelling to Barcelona and Spain?
    A skateboarder at MACBA in Barcelona, Spain
    Had to take the shot!
    Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

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