Barcelona is one of those cities with such abundance of famous landmarks, gorgeous buildings and with so many 'must-sees', that it's easy to spend your time checking out the highlights without truly delving into what makes the city tick. For as much as Modernism, Gaudi, Picasso, Tapas, siestas, fiestas and the Mediterranean have come to define Barcelona for so many people, there's truly so much more to be discovered.
If you want to really dive into the pulse of this seaside town then it’s best to have a little insider information. So if you’re ready to venture slightly off the beaten path for a day, then here are a few key places to check out.
What was recently voted as Barcelona's fastest 'up and coming' neighborhood and for good reason, Poble Sec is a truly authentic Barcelona experience. Not only is it home to Ferran Adria's new culinary hot spot, Tickets, but the neighborhood is full of trendy, cool restaurants, small patios and rustic tapas joints. It's a small 'barrio' with expats and locals alike and way fewer tourists than you’ll find in the Gothic Quarter or Born areas.
Poble Sec Fiestas — Photo courtesy of Poble Sec
If you're in the mood for a night time activity, check out El Molino Theatre, which often has great burlesque shows and then grab a bite at Quimet Quimet, a well known tapas restaurant with no chairs. Patrons eat standing up beside table tops, but the tapas are so delicious that it's well worth tiring out the legs for a bit.
Quimet Quimet — Photo courtesy of Quimet
After you’ve strolled around Poble Sec (and before you engage in the nighttime activities), if you're in the mood for some relaxation by the beach but aren’t up for braving the swarms of people in Barceloneta, hop on the yellow metro line and go to the last stop 'Besos'. This is about the farthest you'll be able to get from the city center using the metro, yet the beach is quiet, clean and wide; an ideal spot to enjoy some down time basking in the sun and swimming in the sea and it’s only a 20 minute metro ride away.
And what better way to end a long day and kick off an evening of fun then with a few glasses of Spanish wine. One of the city's most charming, boutique wine shops, Paladar Vinoteca, conducts daily wine tastings at 6pm. For a small fee you get 4 glasses of wine including an explanation about the types of grapes and the wines themselves. The wine shop is hidden in the Gothic Quarter amongst the tiny narrow side streets, which makes it hard to find if you don't know what you're looking for.
To keep the night going and to avoid any tourist traps, check out one of the clubs in the Gothic Quarter like La Marula cafe or Macarena. And if you're in the mood for live music in a cozy, unpretentious, yet classy cocktail bar, right behind Plaza Sant Jaume is El Paraigua. A restaurant with a downstairs jazz lounge; out of the way and very local.