Barcelona: 8 things not even the locals know about

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Judit Llordés

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Barcelona: one of the most popular cities for Italian tourists. In the post you will find 8 curiosities and travel tips that will make you experience an alternative holiday.

To discover Barcelona off the beaten track can seem like an impossible feat, especially as it is very popular with tourists. But you're in luck, because we're about to reveal some of the city's best kept secrets - just don't tell anyone! Read on to discover the best hidden corners to eat, drink, shop and make the most of your stay in Barcelona!

1. Gaudí without the endless queues

Strolling along Passeig de Gràcia, lined with modernist street lamps and stately homes, you will immediately notice the queues of people around the block to visit two famous Gaudí masterpieces: La Pedrera, or Casa Milà, and Casa Batlló. They are both incredible places to see, but if you want to discover Gaudí's architecture without spending hours in line, just get away from the center of Barcelona.

The fairytale Bellesguard Tower It is a 15 minute uphill walk from Tibidabo train station and will amaze you with its dragon-shaped roof and oasis-like garden. Out of town, the C√≤lonia G√ľell it can be reached in 20-25 minutes by train from Pla√ßa d'Espanya. Here you will come across Gaud√≠'s Crypt as you stroll through the only former workers' village‚Ķ and best of all, you won't be surrounded by a million other tourists!

2. Stroll along the ‚Äúother‚ÄĚ Rambla

Tell the locals about your plans to visit La Rambla and they will most likely respond with a plaintive sigh. In Barcelona, ‚Äč‚Äčthe word "rambla" simply indicates a street with a large pedestrian crossing in the center. So feel free to skip La Rambla with its hordes of tourists and go in search of the Rambla del Poblenou! This pleasant road stretches from Avinguda de Diagonal past Torre Agbar to the beach and is the ideal place to take a stroll in search of a place to eat. Sample one of the dozens of varieties of madeleines from Madeleine Mon Amour and have a dinner of meat, cheese and traditional Catalan wine under the sparkling lights of Can Recasens, open for over 100 years (don't say we sent you!).

3. Avoid the beach crowds and go to the beaches just outside Barcelona

Unless they have a beach volleyball tournament or a pilates + paddle surfing lesson to attend, you are unlikely to find many locals on Barcelona beaches, just masses of tourists! Do as the locals do and go out of town. To the north, try Ocata, just a 30-minute drive from Plaça de Catalunya (you'll need a metro ticket covering two zones), or try Platja de Castelldefels to the south (1 metro zone and 35 minutes from Catalunya). It will be a much more pleasant bathing experience!

4. Go past Park G√ľell and visit the Parc del Laberint d'Horta

While everyone else is lining up to take a selfie with Gaud√≠'s salamander in Park G√ľell, take the metro to Mundet to visit one of Barcelona's most peaceful and unspoiled parks. The jewel of the Parc del Laberint d'Horta is a splendid labyrinth of hedges with a Greek sculpture in the center. There is also a beautiful reflecting pool full of cute gazebos and magnificent walking paths. Wednesdays and Sundays it is free!

5. Go to a tapas bar where there are no photos of the dishes on the menu

If you want to taste real tapas, stay away, very far from the Rambla and Plaça de Catalunya. Head to the quiet and familiar neighborhood of Horta (subway Virrei Amat or Vilapicina) to dine at L'Esquinica.
Get there early so you don't have to wait for a table, as locals start queuing up as early as 08.30 for the coveted seat! They offer all the great classics like a patatas bravas and calamares a la Romana, but don't miss the fish-based delicacies like clams and grilled squid. Be sure to water it all down with a bottle of Turbio!

6. Go shopping wild… in outlets

Tourists love the vibrant and colorful design of the Catalan brand Desigual, but we all know it's not cheap. Fortunately for you, you will find an outlet in a relatively central location, at Carrer de la Diputació, 323. Just around the corner, the outlet of the Spanish clothing giant, Mango, is waiting for you at Carrer de Girona, 37, and a shop at discounted prices from the charming Spanish brand Nice Things across the street.

7. Get out of the city for a breath of fresh air

Head into the hills for a picturesque hike or picnic and surround yourself with Catalan families. From Plaça de Catalunya, take the FGC for 15 minutes to the Baixador de Vallvidrera stop. From here, you can exit the station and cross the road to have a picnic around the pretty reservoir, or hike up the hill dotted with trails leading to Tibidabo or the surrounding villages of Les Planes and La Floresta (which boast excellent, authentic restaurants with home cooking!).

8. Treat yourself to a cocktail in a XNUMXth century villa

Treat yourself to a drink in style at Villa Torre Rosa, transformed into an elegant cocktail bar with a splendid internal garden about 20 years ago. Being off the main tourist circuit, it won't be crowded! Go in the evening when the garden is illuminated by twinkling lights and order a tropical drink with a parasol, or go on the weekend from 12.00 to 16.00 to partake in the authentic "vermouth". This is the original Barcelona brunch - consisting of homemade vermouth, Iberian ham, cheese and all kinds of seafood.

Do you want to learn Spanish and integrate into the city like a real local? Take a look at the Spanish courses in Barcelona proposed by ESL to give your language skills a good dusting.

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