Sometimes you need a break from the tourist traps that are on everyone’s bucket lists. There are other (perhaps) less popular areas that allow you to enjoy the city without being constantly bombarded with people. These not-so-secret secret spots are either areas that locals tend to enjoy or not as many people venture out to. Here are some of these recommendations!
Montserrat, which literally means “saw mountain” in Catalan due to the serrated edges of the mountain, is a prehistoric mountain and well-known as the site of an ancient Benedictine abbey called Santa Maria de Montserrat. Founded in the 11th century, sometimes it is regarded by some as the location of the Holy Grail from the King Arthur legends.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take Line R5 from Plaça d’España to Manresa and get off at Monistrol de Montserrat
Duration: 1h 30min
There are several ways to get to Montserrat – you can take the train and transfer to a cable car or a rack railway or you can take the train and hike up to the monastery. To get a great view of the mountains and the towns, I would recommend taking the cable car. The cable car is at the Aeri de Montserrat stop on Line R5 (one stop earlier than Monistrol de Montserrat) and the ticket machines sell combination tickets. Just make sure to buy the Cable Ride (Aeri ticket version) and not the Cremallera ticket version, which is for the rack railway (funicular). Timetables and fares can be found here.
I wish I had known about Sant Jeroni – this hike takes you to the highest vista point overlooking the fairy castles and surrounding areas. It’s the most popular hiking spot and takes a few hours out of the day so I would recommend skipping the first hike to preserve energy. Don’t forget to purchase the combo ticket (€35,30)so that you can take the funiculare up to the starting point! The combo ticket will also allow you to go to Santa Cova Cave where the Black Madonna was hidden and later found.
SANT JERONI HIKE:
Take the Sant Joan funiculare to the start of the trail which is to the right of the exit. The paths are well marked: Trail 1 leads you to Sant Jeroni and Trail 2 leads you back to the monastery
Duration: 2h 30min
There is also a sculpture called Stairway to Heaven that is great to check out – people used to climb up the sculpture to the top for Instagrammable photos and while there is a fence around it now, you still can at your own risk.
BUNKER DEL CARMEL
A more local viewpoint of the city, Bunker del Carmel is a great spot to have a quiet picnic or drink vino/beers with your friends while taking in the panoramic sights of Barcelona. Take some bread and cheese, some wine, and definitely a bottle of water to the top and see the sunrise or sunset. You can see La Sagrada Familia and the water on one side and the mountains on the other. It’s a straight uphill walk up the stairs but it’s definitely a rewarding view so I would recommend doing the stairs instead of taking the cab to the top.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Take Line L5 to El Carmel and take the stairs (about 2km) to the top
OTHER LESSER-KNOWN SPOTS IN BARCELONA
- Parc del Laberint d’Horta: One of the oldest gardens in Barcelona, it is perfect for wandering and getting lost in
- Casa Amatller: Located right next to Casa Batlló, it is a prime example of the Modernisme style of architecture in Barcelona and is regarded as one of the most important modernist buildings in the city
- The interior is even more impressive with its beautiful ceilings and stained glass, an impressive fireplace, and some original furniture
- Santa Maria del Mar: It is a stunning Gothic church that dates as far back as the 14th century
- Parc de la Ciutadella: A park that used to be the only green spot in Barcelona
- Magic Fountain of Montjuïc: A fountain that lights up at night, sometimes they incorporate music to the light show on the weekends