City Breaks

Secret Barcelona

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Here's our secret guide to Barcelona

Barcelona is a city rich with history, culture and great tapas, but there's also another side to this brilliant city that you shouldn't miss. To get you inspired for your trip to the home of Catalan, we've put together a guide to the secret spots in Barcelona, from small museums and charming parks, to underrated restaurants and bars the locals love.

Secluded spots

Parc del Centre del Poblenou

For a break from the bustling streets of Barcelona, enjoy an afternoon spent in the Parc del Centre del Poblenou, a lovely oasis in the centre of the once industrial Poblenou district. Designed by the French architect, Jean Nouvel, this park opened in 2008, and is the perfect green space during the spring and summer months.

The entrance of the park is surrounded by bright green trees and bushes, as well as fuchsia-coloured flowers, which climb across the archway. Inside, there are even more beautiful flowers, herbs and shrubberies, as well as huts for children to play in, which are situated around the main meeting point, Plaça de la Sardana.

Wander into this beautiful park in Poblenou

Wander into this beautiful park in Poblenou

Plaça del Pi

If you want to escape the busy streets of Las Ramblas, and the occasional tourist trap, a great alternative is the markets of Plaça del Pi, which is located just around the corner. Popular with artists and bohemians, the area is dotted with stalls selling everything from handcrafted woodwork, to paintings and artistic prints. There's also outside seating for when you fancy a coffee, and stands that sell homemade honey, jams and Spanish cheeses. On top of the great shops, the area is very picturesque and situated opposite the stunning Santa María del Pi church, which has a large rose-shaped stained glass window at the front.

Peruse the market stalls of Plaça del Pi

Peruse the market stalls of Plaça del Pi

Clandestine culture

Iluminarte Galeria

If you're a fan of art, and wish to discover more about the local artists, check out the Iluminarte Galeria in the Poble Sec area of the city. Managed by three friends, this stylish red brick gallery includes exhibits of both established and unknown artists from Barcelona and Europe.

Unusually, the gallery also specialises in decorative lamps, which they create themselves onsite using old film negatives. They sell the decorated lamps, known as lumendos, in the gallery, so be sure to stop by the shop to buy a holiday souvenir.

Palau de la Musica

Known as the home of Catalan music, and headquarters to the Orfeó Català (Barcelona's choral society) this incredible building is a must-see for culture vultures wanting to explore something other than the work of Gaudí. Designed and built by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the building is an exquisite example of Catalan architecture. The palace includes intricately decorated columns and stone carvings, but the main feature is the main concert hall's stained-glass skylight roof. Painted to resemble the burning sun, this unusual but beautiful piece of art is at its best at midday, when streams of light shine through.

The main concert hall of Palau de la Musica

The main concert hall of Palau de la Musica

Sala Montjüic Open Air Cinema

For a fun and unusual experience, head to the top of the Montjüic hill where between June and August, an outdoor cinema screens a range of great films, from classics to modern hits. For the best experience, bring along some deck chairs and your very own tapas picnic, and relax under the stars.

Secret eats

La Llavor dels Orígens

If you want to sample some true Catalan cuisine, then an evening spent in La Llavor dels Orígens is a must. Just a one-minute walk from the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mer, this charming restaurant is one of two in the area, and offers up understated great-tasting food with an eco-friendly twist. The menu changes between seasons, but you can rely on there always being true Catalan classics, such as pan con tomate and crema Catalana, which is served with a shot of sweet Spanish liqueur.

Dig into a crema catalana

Dig into a crema catalana

La Plata

For a great glass of wine and plates of mouth-watering tapas, make your way to La Plata, a charming 65-year-old bar that's located amidst the winding streets of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. Small in size, decorated with beautiful mosaic tiles and dotted with barrels of quality wine, it's the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by as you dig in to bowls of olives, anchovies on toast, deep-fried fish, and fresh tomatoes with sliced onions.

Find hidden gems in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Find hidden gems in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter

Els Tres Porquets

Located in the Poblenou district, and perfect for after a visit to Parc del Centre, this blink-and-you'll-miss-it restaurant is a must for foodies. Sat on upright barrels-come-tables, you'll get to dine on plates of ham, manchego cheese and truffles to start, as well as a range of delicious mains too, from tuna covered in a honey, soy and ginger sauce, to steamed mussels. Arguably, one of the best dishes is revuelto de setas, an incredible type of scrambled eggs that includes Galicians potatoes, goose eggs and morels.

A hidden stay

The Hotel Miramar Barcelona

For a stay well away from the usual hustle and bustle of tourist life, enjoy a holiday at the Hotel Miramar Barcelona. With luxury suites, an azure pool, great bars and a restaurant, and even a spa and gym, it's a hotel with everything you'll ever need. If you have any time spare, between exploring the city and eating delicious tapas, be sure to relax with a drink on your private terrace, or enjoy a stroll through the hotel's garden, where in amongst the orange trees, you'll feel a world away from the city below.

Getting there and around

If this post has got you feeling inspired to take a walk off the beaten track during your trip to Barcelona, make sure you make the initial journey with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. It only takes 35-minutes to cross the Channel with us, so you'll soon be relaxing with a glass of sangria in hand.

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