Barcelona, the city with more than what meets the eye?

20/02/2023

A mixture of sun, sea and city life – not to mention tapas and sangria around every corner – here is why Barcelona might just be the perfect getaway.

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Image by Florence Head

By Florence Head

As no stranger to the bustling streets and idyllic blue skies, Barcelona has something for everyone. On the surface: there is amazing architecture, a sandy beach and brilliant food, but when walking around the city, there is so much more to be discovered. Being lucky enough to have visited Barcelona a fair few times, I thought I would share a couple of my favourite must-see places which not everyone may think of.

There are so many amazing ways to get around Barcelona. The three locations I am going to mention are accessible by bus, bike, car, cable car, funicular, on foot or, if you’re feeling daring, a moped! Using apps such as Smou (for bikes), YEGO (for mopeds), Citymapper (for buses and walking) and TMB (for metro) – everything you need is right there. Most of the roads in Barcelona are one way systems which can make navigating all the easier, definitely speaking from experience when sitting on the back of a moped.

A science museum would not usually be at the top of every person’s list in their own country, let alone when travelling to a new one. However, when I asked my boyfriend what he would most like to do in Barcelona – he showed me one photo. It turned out to be ‘Cosmo Caixa’, a science museum hidden within the mountains surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The particular outstanding feature of this museum was the indoor, underwater rainforest with over 100 species from the Amazon within 1,000 square metres. Stepping into the rainforest, you are able to spot: turtles, alligators, capybaras, piranhas and other creatures you may recognise. Glass walls allow people to watch all underwater species from the outside, many locals sit alongside the aquarium peacefully drawing the fish swimming by. Make sure you watch out for the authentic regular heavy rainfalls within the Barcelonian jungle, too! Being one of my favourite spots in Barcelona, I couldn't recommend it more.

Secondly, recently becoming increasingly popular on social media, the Carmel Bunkers are an incredible place to watch the sunset and relax with the people near and far who come to see this spectacle. A little off the beaten track (depending on which route you take), these are a real gem. One is able to see the square patterns of a bird's eye on Barcelona, with views reaching from the coast along to the business district and back to the famous W hotel. I’d recommend bringing some snacks and drinks up to the viewpoint, there are often people with speakers already there! Make sure you are in comfy footwear and you have a jacket for once the sun goes down. The bunkers have an amazing view all day long and although not as busy as Las Ramblas at night, sunset is the busiest time. Once a base for anti-aircraft warfare and defending the city from aerial attacks during the Spanish Civil War, the bunkers were left almost abandoned and were only visited by the locals who knew of its beauty. Even now as more people discover it, it is still quiet of crowds and a place that simply can’t be missed off of your itinerary. When I visited, I took the long walk up through many winding streets however quickly realised there were many simple ways to reach these bunkers. By using the Citymapper app and following the locals (which always works wonders), there is a bus stop right by the bunkers which winds down all the way back into the city.

Another hidden gem, literally, is the El Paradiso speakeasy bar located within a small pastrami deli shop. One push of a fridge door gives way to a vibrant, colourful, exciting surprise of 2022’s world’s best bar – El Paradiso. Each year there is a different theme to this crazy bonanza; last year was magic and space, however this year recognises the Evolution of Humankind. Each drink on the menu will wow you in its own creative and unique way. From flower-topped cocktails which numb your sensations, to a hurricane in a glass with a glowing kryptonite base. From the moment you sit down to when you leave, the entire experience is personalised to you. Being lucky enough to have a seat upon the bar, we were allocated our own El Paradiso connoisseur. He asked us our ‘typical’ cocktails or drinks we usually have before running through the menu, recommending what he thought we would like. Each drink was made before our very eyes, using fresh ingredients and jaw dropping techniques. The customer experience in this place was among the best I’ve ever seen, with huge ‘Hola’s’ and ‘Hellos!’ as each guest entered through the small door. Of course in a place like this, it doesn't come as cheap as The Lowther or a Spoons pitcher. Paying for the once in a lifetime experience and brilliant taste sensations, it is well worth the €13 average per cocktail which equals to a mere £11 or so. The atmosphere was absolutely electric and definitely one of my favourite memories in Barcelona.

All in all, I hope this short but sweet guide to my top three places in Barcelona may provide some inspiration when planning your next trip. Of course the classics such as: Las Ramblas, Parc Guell, Parc de la ciudad, La Boqueria, La Sagrada, Mountjuic, Casa Batllo and Camp Nou  – should not be missed out either. Barcelona has so much to offer and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a spot of sun with something everyone will love!

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