Barcelona has an abundance of places to see however some of the best spots are off the tourist trail, such as Montserrat, Gracia and the Roman ruins under the city. Here are some of the top off the beaten track places that are worth checking out!
About an hour or so just outside Barcelona dwells Montserrat, an enormous mountain that’s 1236 metres high and where the Santa Maria de Montserrat, Benedictine abbey, is located. It’s a great day trip from Barcelona if you want a break from the city. The Catalan meaning of Montserrat is “jagged mountain”, which is fitting, as the formation of the mountain is a collection of roughly shaped rocks, which looks unusual. The mountain is pertty big and it’s possible to keep walking and climbing for hours. Along the way you will come across the Rack Railway, an interesting feature for train buffs, various religious sculptures and wonderful views.
The monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat, is Catalonia’s most significant sanctuary, which houses the Virgin de Montserrat and one of the world’s oldest publishing houses, Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat that published its first book in 1499. Montserrat is easily accessible from Barcelona by train from Plaça de Espanya station to Monsterrat Aeri. To access Montserrat you can buy a ticket for the cable car or the Rack Railway or there is the Tot Montserrat option, which is a combined ticket including all transport, access to theMmuseum and lunch too! Or you can just purchase the TranMontserrat, which covers all transport. All these tickets can be purchased at the metro station in Barcelona. Tours on Montserrat are also available and a recommendable way to see the mountain.
Passeig de Picasso
Back in the city in the Borne neighbourhood opposite Park Ciutadella, is one of the most underrated and magnificent streets in Barcelona – Passeig de Picasso. Nearby surroundings, other than the Park, include the Museu de Ciències Naturals and the Arc de Triomf. The tree-lined, wide street, with a beautiful stone arch and pillared covered pavement on one side and the park on the other side, boasts an array of amenities such as a Greek Coffee Shop, a health food shop, Aire de Barcelona for a massage and bathe in renovated Arabic baths, Bikecelona – what else but a bike rental shop, or get a bite to eat at iKebana restaurant, serving Japanese and Brazilian cuisine.
Another gem in Barcelona are the Roman ruins below Plaça del Rei that can be accessed via the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat. The Roman ruins are still noticeable and its possible to see the grid plan of the former Gothic quarter. Also some of the Roman ruins have been used in the Basilica La Seu. Museu d’Història de la Ciutat is just a stone’s through from Jaume 1 metro station in the Gothic barrio.
Uptown, out of the whirlwind of the centre, lies the trendy neighbourhood Gracia – once a village. Beginning at the top of Passeig de Gracia, this area offers a different vibe and it’s a great spot to potter about, with lots of boutiques, coffee shops and lots of beautiful squares to relax in. Amongst Gracia’s offerings are Plaza del Sol, Park Güell, Gaudi’s Casa Vicens, the art-house English cinema Cinéma Verdi and a mass vibrant cafes restaurants and bars. For clothes shopping check out the independent designer boutiques on Carrer Verdi. If you’re visiting in mid-August see the Gràcia Festival, which is a wild, week long, free fiesta with street decorations and live music. For nightlife when the festival isn’t on, head to Plaça del Sol, which is packed full of lively bars and a nightclub club too.