Top Ten Things to Do in Barcelona for Travelers Who Hate Top Ten Lists

If you’ve spent more than five minutes Googling “top ten things to do in Barcelona”, you’ve no doubt been subject to a slew of “Top Ten Things To Do In Barcelona” lists. Most of the lists include the easy answers: Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Park Guell. Barcelona “experts” give you a list of locations you can easily find in a guide book at your local library.

This list is different.

We know that fans and clients of Barcelona Experience are looking for something less commercial…you want to carve a path that takes you to both the popular sites and the passed-over gems.

This list is for you, the discerning traveler who’s had enough of the run-of-the-mill lists of common locations.

The Barcelona Experience Top-10 List of
Things To Do in Barcelona

Take in a cocktail at Barceló Raval’s rooftop bar

The moment you step into Barceló Raval’s lobby, you know you’re in for a treat. The ultra-cool interior hints at the gem that awaits on the hotel’s roof. Take the elevators to the top floor, where spectacular 360-degree views of the sea and the city will welcome you to one of the city’s most amazing rooftop bars. Benches line the walkway around the crown of the hotel. Sip a mojito, feel the breeze and drink in the beauty of Barcelona. Click here for the bar’s hours.

Barceló Raval, Top 10 Things To Do In Barcelona
Plenty of sun and endless views atop Barceló Raval (photo courtesy of TripAdvisor via Barceló Hotel)

Get your morning pick-me-up at Satan’s Coffee Corner

“Hole-in-the-wall” is the perfect way to describe this café with the devilish name. Why? Because Satan’s is literally a hole in a wall – you order your coffee through a window. As the text on the window says, “Take Out Only.” The coffee is hot (naturally), the cup designs are unique. You’re bound to ogle at the elegant foam designs the Luciferians craft inside each cup. And if you’re looking for unkitschy accouterments to bring home from BCN, Satan’s sells t-shirts.

 

Stop in for churros and chocolate at Xurreria Terrón

Looking for a non-touristy experience? Xurreria Terrón is a favorite for residents of  El Carmel, a bustling, peaceful neighborhood on Barcelona’s west side. Always packed with locals, you can enjoy churros and chocolate for two for under 5 euros. You won’t find menus in English, or English-speakers, for that matter. Ask for “finos para dos y dos tazas de chocolate” and you’ll get a plate of churros and two cups of chocolate. These churros don’t have sugar on them; take advantage of the sugar dispensers at your table.  Take the L5 metro (blue line) to the El Carmel stop, choose the Llobregos exit and walk downhill until you see Xurreria Terrón.

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Listen to Thursday night jazz at Casa Fuster

The midweek jazz session at Hotel Casa Fuster is famous for its performers, notably the occasional appearances of famed director Woody Allen and his clarinet. Music takes place in a swanky lounge, where music lovers can enjoy the Duke Ellington menu, a 100€ meal; the Louis Armstrong, a 65€ tapas feast; or simply pay the cover charge of 19€, which includes a cocktail. Relax on the eccentric purple couches as you soak up the improvisational evening.

Casa Fuster Jazz, Top Ten Things To Do in Barcelona, Barcelona Blog
The lounge where Thursday night jazz takes place at Casa Fuster (photo courtesy of Hotels.com via Casa Fuster)

Enjoy a lunch at Montjuic’s fortress

The castle at Montjuic has what few other places in Barcelona have: open space, great vistas, lots of breeze and plenty of spots to relax in peace. You don’t have to go into the castle to enjoy the views, though. Walk around the left side of the castle and you’ll find a series of amphitheatre-style benches where you can take in views of the port while you eat lunch. You’ll be in the company of other sightseers, but the experience is well worth the journey. The castle is accessible by foot, by the Montjuic Teleferic and by bus 150 (from Plaza Espanya).

Montjuic, Top Ten Things To Do In Barcelona, Barcelona Blog
The view from the picnic area at the top of Montjuic

 

Gnosh at La Cova Fumada

Another local favorite, La Cova Fumada is the restaurant without a name. Located in the same square as the Barceloneta market, the tiny eatery occupies a small space marked by two wooden doors at the southeast corner of the square. You’ll notice two things right away: lots of people, and no menu. Know your tapas beforehand, because things get quite hectic. Like the xurreria in El Carmel, cameras and backpacks are best left at home because space is a precious commodity at La Cova. Tips and reviews are plentiful at Fumada’s TripAdvisor page.

 

Visit Park Guell at night

Few tourists know that Park Guell is free after 9:30 p.m. Explore the park in the absence of the crowds that cram Gaudi’s urban gem.  The park isn’t nearly as spectacular after hours, but visitors willing to bring a decent flashlight will get a unique perspective of the legendary park. We recommend that you go during the daytime, as the park is well worth the 7€ fee.

 

Double-dip La Maquinista and Sant Andreu

Another outside-the-city treat for those willing to venture beyond the usual places, the neighborhood of Sant Andreu and it’s popular mall La Maquinista are a breath of fresh air for visitors who are looking for some good shopping and a quiet place for lunch. Creatively designed nooks with places to sit, lively playgrounds for children  and stores like Desigual, Zara, H&M and Forever 21 woo the fashion conscious and families. Head to Sant Andreu’s charming downtown for a bite to eat after shopping. The quaint neighborhood has plenty of places to eat, boutiques and a classic-yet-modern feel that will make you glad you took the trip. Hop on the red line at Plaza Catalunya and hop off at the Sant Andreu stop. The 73 bus runs right past the metro station and will take you to and from La Maquinista.

 

Soak up the sun in Castelldefels

Barceloneta Beach is the beach in Barcelona. Always at the top of the list of places to visit, the once-industrial strip of sand is a magnet for nearly every tourist in the city. Want to escape the crowds? Head south to Castelldefels, a sleepy seaside town where atmosphere is much less touristy than its chic cousin to the north. Wide swaths of mocha-brown sand welcome you. A ridge of chocolate-green mountains behind you will make you feel miles away from the madness of Barceloneta. Take the R2 Sud train (not the R2) from Sants Estacio to the Platja de Castelldefels stop, which is one stop past the Castelldefels stop. The trip is within Zone 1, which means you can use your metro card to get there.

Castelldefels Beach, Top Ten Things To Do In Barcelona, Barcelona Blog
The beach at Castelldefels (photo courtesy of Castelldefells Tourism)

 

Score your Tickets

Barcelona is home to a sizable list of Michelin-starred restaurants. Tickets won its first star this past year, charging ahead into 2014 under the helm of world-renowned chef Ferrán Adriá. The eatery’s tapas and atmosphere are a favorite among locals. There’s a tantalizing catch, though. Reservations must be made two months in advance. If you can land a table at this trendy-yet-friendly restaurant, you’re in luck. Click here to access Tickets’ reservation system. (At the time of this post, the next available reservation was July 30.)
If you’d like to know more about Barcelona’s more famous sites like Sagrada Familia, check out our website’s About Barcelona section.

Have you been to any of these spots?  Did you enjoy our top-10 list?Leave us a comment about them…we’d like to hear your thoughts!

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