If you’ve checked off all of the ‘must sees’ on your to-do list and are looking to delve into Barcelona’s more authentic side, then spend a day exploring some of the city’s lesser known neighborhoods, hole in the wall cafes that are tucked away and hidden in medieval courtyards and fall in love with a city that many locals have yet to discover.
Start the day off with breakfast or brunch at either Federal Café in the Eixample district or Picnic in the Born neighborhood. Both restaurants serve quality early morning menus, which is hard to find in a city that has yet to jump on the eggs and bacon bandwagon. Although both places are well known amongst locals, they have yet to become mainstream with visitors. Federal has a beautiful terrace on the third floor, which is ideal during the summer and Picnic has a few outdoor tables on their cozy patio.
Depending on how you’d rather see the city, either walk or bike to a few different neighborhoods. Biking is a great way to take in a lot of Barcelona and if you only have a day to explore then it might be worth your while to rent at one of the many shops around town. Green Bikes, in particular is a great place to go, the staff are friendly and the bikes are top notch and they are one of the most reasonably priced companies in the city.
Plaza Del Sol at night in Gracia Neighborhood — Photo courtesy of blogs.salleurl.edu
Assuming you’ve already visited most of ‘Ciutat Vella’ (Old City), head towards Gracia Neighborhood, which is above Diagonal street as you head up Passeig de Gracia. What used to be a city unto itself, Gracia is perhaps one of Barcelona’s lesser talked about neighborhoods amongst tourists, but a definite favourite for locals. The ‘barrio’ is full of plazas with charming terraces, cool cafes and trendy restaurants. Boutique shops line the cobblestone streets selling one of a kind clothes, accessories and eclectic unique Barcelona gems. Gracia is a great place to stroll, browse, eat, drink and spend a night on the town at one of the many clubs or late night bars. It’s a very Catalan neighborhood and you’ll usually find teenagers filling the plazas with beers and guitars in tow, until all hours of the morning. Plaza Del Sol and Plaza Rius Taulet in particular, are always hopping.
Another very cool Barcelona neighborhood to check out is Poble Sec. Voted as Barcelona’s fastest up and coming district and coined as the new ‘IT barrio by locals and expats alike, this is another one of the less touristy spots to explore if you’re looking to see how the locals live. Not far from the city center and La Rambla, Poble Sec boasts plenty of hip, young restaurants with a mix of ‘greasy spoon tapas’ to high-end cuisine. Ferran Adria’s new restaurant, Tickets, is located in this neighborhood amongst several other Michelin Star locales.
Traditional Catalan Castellers competition in Poble Sec Neighborhood — Photo courtesy of www.tigurl.org
And even if you’re not an art buff or have an interest in architecture or design, you can’t experience the unique Barcelona without catching a glimpse of some of its gorgeous architecture. In a city known for its impeccable design and striking buildings and there are so many, lesser known structures to explore once you finish with Casa Batllo and the Sagrada Familia. A few notable ones to check out include: Hospital Sant Pau, Palau Guell and Palau De La Musica.
And what better way to end the day than with a variety of authentic Barcelona tapas. Depending on the type of place you’re in the mood for, Barcelona’s tapas’ scene has something for everyone, from posh to rustic and classy to understated. A few worthwhile, off the beaten path tapas places are Paco Meralgo in the Eixample, Ginger Bar in the Gotico and the No Name Café on Passeig Del Born, (in the Born) which serves free tapas if you buy a drink every day after 8pm.