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Welcome to our Barcelona Series! Here in this series you will learn everything you need to have a perfect time in Barcelona. We are all about eating, drinking and living local and there is no place we like to do all of that better than Barcelona!
Here is what you can expect from this series:
Top Unique Things to Do in Barcelona – You’re Here!
Barcelona is a huge city and there are some many things to do in Barcelona! However, a lot of these things to do in Barcelona are very obvious. Everyone will tell you to visit the Sagrada Familia (which you should) but what if you want to get off the beaten path?? Well, we are here to help you out with our top unique things to do in Barcelona! Barcelona has hidden secrets all around the city and we are here to share them with you!
Unique Things to Do in Barcelona
El Encants Flea Market
Av. Meridiana, 69
El Encants is the oldest flea market in Barcelona. It has been in operation for over 750 years throughout different neighborhoods of the city! The El Encants that you can visit today was built in 2013 and finally gave the market a permanent home.
If you are an architecture fan you are going to want to see this building! It is built up on different levels that surround the center. Then there is the roof which is entirely made up of mirrors! The market is also host to some amazing food stalls just in case you get hungry while browsing.
And for you, vintage lovers, the market is chocked full of stalls ranging from clothing to records, to old toys, to old art, to old screws and tools. If you need anything you are sure to find it here at El Encants at one of their over 500 stalls. Who knows you might just find the most unique souvenir to bring home from Barcelona!
The market is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00-20:00. There is also an auction on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7:30-8:30.
How to Get Here: Take metro L1 (the red line) to Glories. Once you come up from the metro you will see it across from you.
Barcelona Supercomputing Center
Carrer Jordi Girona, 29-31
Did you know there is a supercomputer in Barcelona? Because we didn’t, until friends of ours let us know that hidden away in a church near Camp Nou is one of Europe’s most powerful supercomputers.
Well, we figured we had to check that out! (besides not knowing anything about computers…) The tour was absolutely fascinating helped by the compelling Gregorian chanting playing in the background against the hum of the supercomputer named MareNostrum. While I only understood about 1% of the tour (computer science is not my forte) it was still something very interesting to visit.
I had never even really thought about what a supercomputer looks like or even does. (I now know!) So whether you are curious, a computer nerd or just think this sounds cool, which it is; you should take the trek up to the Technical University of Catalonia and see it!
In order to visit the supercomputer, you must make a reservation beforehand for the free tour. The supercomputer is available for visits on Monday-Thursday from 9-19:00 and on Fridays from 9-13:00
How to Get There: Take metro L3 (green) to Maria Cristina. After you exit the metro take a left onto Avinguda Diagonal and then take a right on Carrer del Tinent Coronel Valenzuela. Once you reach Carrer Jordi Girona do not follow to #29 but head into the park with an entrance in front of you. Take the right into the park and you will soon find the church on your left.
The Mercury Fountain at Fundació Miró
Parc de Montjuïc
The Mercury Fountain located within the Miro Foundation museum in the hills above Barcelona is one of the more innovative and unexpected sites we have seen. The fountain was designed and constructed by American artist, Alexander Calder, for the 1937 World Exhibit in Paris.
The unique thing about this fountain is that it was created to have mercury flow instead of water in honor of the Spanish town of Almaden, which produced around 60% of Spain’s mercury at the time, using a large amount of forced labor. The piece was exhibited with other pieces created by Spanish artists in response to the Spanish Civil War including Picasso’s Guernica.
The fountain is now displayed at the Fundació Miró. Note: it is 12euros to get into the museum so while the fountain is cool you may want to look up what Miró paints before heading over there. While I love art and modern art, Miró is not my favorite and unfortunately, the fountain was broken so can’t say it was worth the money. Hopefully, the fountain will be fixed soon as it is really cool even though Miró is not my style!
The view of Barcelona from the Miró Foundation
*Note, not the Mercury Fountain as no photos are allowed inside the museum*
The museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-18:00, Thursdays from 10-21:00, Saturdays from 10-20:00, and Sundays from 10-14:30.
How to Get Here: Take metro L2 (pink) or L3 (green) to Paral-lel and take the funicular to Parc de Montjuic or after getting off at Paral-lel, take Carrer Nou de la Rambla up the hill and then take the stairs up. Follow Avinguda de Miramar up the hill until you run into the Miro Foundation.
Steel Donkey Bike Tours
Steel Donkey Bike Tours was a highlight of our time in Barcelona. After being here for a month in July we thought we knew the city well but after a tour with Mari from Steel Donkey we realized how much of the city we still had to explore! This bike tour is not your average tour and while you may not visit the big sites you learn all about the more unique things to do in Barcelona!
The tour runs for about four hours and you will traverse across Barcelona on bikes, exploring a local xurreria (we seriously had the best churros and porras there!), learn more about some of Barcelona’s buildings (like realizing a building we walked past all the time is where Picasso was born), spend some time at El Encants, and check out a historical licorera which is a historical site in Barcelona and has been owned and operated by the same family for three generations now.
We learned so much about Barcelona and headed out into some neighborhoods we wouldn’t necessarily have explored as they are off the beaten path. The tour is not a guided tour but a chance for your guide to show you what makes Barcelona special to them. This is not your average tour!
If you want to get to know Barcelona from a local perspective and find things to do in Barcelona beyond the main sites than this is the tour you should take!
Get on your bikes and ride!
Tours are offered on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10am.
Gegants i Capgrossos
La Casa dels Entremesos
Plaça de les Beates, 2
The Gegants i Caprogrossos, giants and big heads, are a tradition where huge paper mache heads and hollow bodies are paraded out through the streets, representing the different neighborhoods of Barcelona.
These giants and big heads are paraded throughout the streets to celebrate numerous different festivals and there are about twenty-seven neighborhoods and organizations that make up the different groups of giants. The giants are joined with neighborhood musicians during the parades and also have a traditional dance that they perform as well!
It is great to see all of the neighborhoods come together, participate and cheer on their giant! We loved how even the kids were involved as several of the big heads and characters.
If you can time your visit to correspond to some of the major festivals in Barcelona you can certainly catch a parade of giants. Try visiting in the middle of September for Merce or in February for the festival of St. Eulalia.
However, if you are in town when there isn’t a festival you can always visit La Casa dels Entremesos, a museum dedicated to the giants. There you can learn all about their history and see some of the oldest giants still used for the festivals!
The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 – 13:00 and 16:00 – 19:00 and on Sunday 11:00 – 14:00
How to Get Here: Take either metro L1 (red) or metro L4 (yellow) to Urquinaona. From there head to the main road of Via Laietana. Then take a left on Carrer de Sant Pere Mes Baix. Take a right on Carrer de les Beates and you will run right into the museum.
Palau de la Musica Catalan
Carrer Palau de la Música
The Palau de la Musica Catalana is a stunning building located in Santa Caterina and is worth a visit. It has some of the most stunning architecture examples of Catalan modernism located in the old quarters.
The building was built in honor of the Orfeó Català, a Catalan choral society, that helped lead the Renaixença, the Catalan cultural renaissance in the mid-1800s. Daily tours are given and you can tour both the inside and the outside. Don’t miss the inside just for the stunning stained glass ceiling in the concert hall!
Serra de Collserola Natural Park, Plaça del Tibidabo
Tibidabo is another unexpected sight and just so Barcelona! If you have seen “Vicky, Christina, Barcelona” you may recognize Tibidabo. Tibidabo is, in fact, an old amusement park located on top of the tallest mountain in Barcelona! It is one of the oldest amusement parks still in operation as it opened in 1899. Today you can still ride some of the older rides, including the Red Aeroplane which opened in 1928. Definitely check it out for its old school charm!
Barcelona is a truly amazing city and full of charm and character. These unique things to do in Barcelona are definitely worth checking out on your next visit to the city! You won’t be disappointed exploring these sights and you will get to know Barcelona better!
*We received a free tour from Steel Donkey Bike Tours in return for coverage in our blog and social media. All of our opinions are our own and we thoroughly enjoyed our day with them!*
Read On to Read the Rest of the Series!
Unique Things to Do in Barcelona – You’re Here
Heading to Barcelona soon? Don’t forget to buy travel insurance! Sure you may not use it but its always good to have. We recommend World Nomads which we have been using for years and have always made us feel secure as we travel around the world!
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