off the beaten path barcelona

The Ultimate Off the Beaten Path Barcelona Guide

Barcelona is one of Europe’s most beautiful and beloved cities. It is also a major tourist destination and has a very well-defined list of things to do and see that can make it hard for visitors to get off the beaten path.

You may have to search for them, but Barcelona off the beaten path activities and destinations will make your itinerary all the most interesting.

Hidden gems in Barcelona range from less-visited Gaudi masterpieces to cool tapas spots run by up-and-coming chefs, plus unique experiences in Barcelona like classes and tours that you’ll never forget.

Keep reading for our ultimate off the beaten path Barcelona guide, including all the off the beaten path things to do in Barcelona that you just can’t miss. These Barcelona hidden gems made our experience in this city unforgettable – and we want to share them all with you!

barcelona off the beaten path

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Barcelona Off the Beaten Path

If you’re looking for an experience off the beaten path, these are the hidden gems in Barcelona and the unique experiences in Barcelona you shouldn’t leave off your itinerary for this incredible city in Spain!

  1. Discover Spanish cooking
  2. Gothic Quarter hidden gems
  3. Gaudi at night
  4. Carrer de Petritxol
  5. Underrated markets in Barcelona
  6. Barcelona from the water
  7. Live music in historic spots
  8. Barcelona’s best desserts
  9. Underrated Gaudi masterpieces
  10. Barcelona’s best tapas

Learn to Make Paella

Paella is just one of those Spanish dishes that you have to try, but why stop at just tasting it when you can learn to make it?

Taking a cooking class with a local chef is a great way to delve deeper and one of those off the beaten path things to do in Barcelona that you’ll never forget.

I highly recommend this La Boqueria Market tour and paella cooking class if you’re interested in not only learning a new dish but having an unforgettable experience! You’ll also learn how to make sangria and some other tapas, as well as learning all about Spanish food in the market from local chefs.

This tour and cooking class is an unmissable experience and an incredibly well-done experience for any traveler. A trip highlight, for sure! Keep in mind before you book that this tour isn’t available on Sundays, as La Boqueria is closed.

I’ll always rave about food tours as travel experiences. These food tours and cooking classes often lead to some of the most meaningful moments in travel.

They often lead to great conversations, meaningful cultural exchange, and much more that becomes more memorable for you than just another meal at a restaurant.

Read More: Looking for vegan eats or healthier options in this city? make sure to check out this vegan guide to Barcelona for some perfect spots you won’t want to miss.

La Casa de l’Ardiaca

Somewhat hidden in the shadow of the Barcelona Cathedral, La Casa de l’Ardiaca is one of my favorite hidden gems in Barcelona. You won’t want to rush through the Gothic Quarter and miss this!

La Casa de l’Ardiaca is a Gothic palace built in the 16th century, but its history goes much deeper. As you’ll find upon entering the building, the palace is attached to part of the Roman walls and aqueducts that are still visible in the Gothic Quarter – an arcade hangs out over the basement, revealing to visitors the Roman foundations below.

After visiting the Roman walls and aqueduct in the basement, head upstairs to the rooftop, where you’ll see a lovely view of the ornate Barcelona Cathedral entryway and overlook the Gothic Quarter streets.

This is a shady, uncrowded, and relaxing spot elevated above the city where you can stop for a moment and take it all in.

Despite being right in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, this historic destination is one of those Barcelona hidden gems you don’t want to miss. Visiting will make your experience in this beautiful neighborhood all the richer.

casa de la ardiaca
Casa de L’Ardiaca

Gaudi at Night

If you’re headed to Barcelona, of course visiting the beautiful masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi will be on your must-do list! These destinations are a part of every Barcelona visitor’s to-do list, but there are a few unique ways to enjoy them that make them so much more of an experience.

You can kill two birds with one stone by visiting these destinations at night!

Pro-Tip: MAKE SURE you pre-book your tickets to these attractions, no matter when you visit – lines quickly get long, and pre-booked tickets will save you HOURS!

La Pedrera, also known as Casa Mila, offers tickets to an incredible evening audiovisual show on the rooftops. Among the incredible sculptures, statues, and angles of the Gaudi rooftop, this show is one of many unique experiences in Barcelona and a fantastic way to take in this unmissable destination.

These audiovisual shows include a guided tour of La Pedrera, plus the opportunity to take in the show, see the view over Barcelona at night, and enjoy a champagne toast at the end.

The La Pedrera Night Experience show is by far the best way to take in this incredible attraction! These shows run nightly and are an affordable yet unforgettable off the beaten path Barcelona experience.

Skip the Lines in Barcelona

Don’t forget to book your tickets in advance for Barcelona’s favorite must-see attractions in order to skip the lines!

granja viader

Carrer de Petritxol

One of the best parts of travel is always trying new foods! If you’re in Spain, that inevitably means tasting paella, tapas, jamón ibérico, and of course… churros and chocolate!

For the best place to taste Spain’s most famous dessert, head to Barcelona’s Carrer de Petritxol in the Gothic Quarter.

This historic street is hidden within the Gothic Quarter, and home to a cluster of the city’s oldest and most well-loved churros and chocolate destinations.

Walking this historic street and tasting the churros and chocolate that these hidden gems in Barcelona are known for is a favorite off the beaten path Barcelona experience.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Best Churros in Barcelona for an in-depth guide to the city’s best churros and chocolate located on the Carrer de Petritxol.

We tried far too many churros and chocolate while in Spain… so if you’re looking for the hands-down best, make sure to check out the cafes on the Carrer de Petritxol. Our favorite was Granja Dulcinea!

If looking to learn more about Barcelona’s history while enjoying these churros and chocolate, I recommend that you combine churros and a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter. This is also a great option if you’re visiting the city on a short trip!

Best Hotels and Hostels in Barcelona

santa caterina market

Santa Caterina Market

One obligatory stop on every Barcelona visitor’s itinerary is La Boqueria market – but what about Barcelona’s other great food markets?

If you’re looking for some other delicious destinations and unique experiences in Barcelona, head to Santa Caterina Market in the El Born neighborhood.

Located one block away from Barcelona’s Cathedral, Santa Caterina Market is within walking distance from some of Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks but receives only a small percentage of the visitors. Here you’ll find many more locals in this beautiful market, plus an array of foods to try as you explore.

The outside of the market is composed of bars, cafes, and restaurants where you can sample some of Barcelona’s iconic dishes, and without paying the high tourist prices you’ll find at La Boqueria. When the weather is nice you can take advantage of outdoor seating as well.

You won’t want to skip this market! Visiting was one of our favorite alternative things to do in Barcelona.

Read More: Barcelona’s Santa Caterina Market Guide

See Barcelona From the Water

Barcelona is a bustling, major city – but it’s also a Mediterranean beach town. Despite Barcelona’s position on the Mediterranean, seeing the city from the water is still one of those off-the-beaten-path things to do in Barcelona.

One of the best ways to enjoy Barcelona, and an unforgettable experience in this city, is to take in the city from the water by enjoying a catamaran ride leaving from the city’s Port Vell.

Catamaran cruises offer some of the best views of the city and are an unforgettable travel experience in Barcelona – I highly recommend setting aside an hour or two to experience the city by sea!

There are several catamarans that organize excursions on the water, and at every price point, making it a much more accessible excursion than one might think. The most inexpensive catamaran excursions with lovely city views cost as little as 10 Euros or less!

Some of the best excursions combine a catamaran cruise with live music at sunset, which is a romantic option and a perfect way to enjoy the city on a summer evening when it’s a little cooler.

Another popular option includes combining a catamaran excursion with a tapas and wine tasting on board – a great way to combine a food tour and boat excursion in one!

I recommend booking ahead of time, as we had far fewer date options once already in Barcelona!

No matter what type of cruise you choose, don’t miss this unique experience on the water – it’s definitely one of the hidden gems in Barcelona, and a great addition to any itinerary.

Live Music in Placa Reail

Plaça Reial is one of the Gothic Quarter’s largest and most impressive plazas, and isn’t necessarily one of the Barcelona hidden gems – most visitors end up here at some point!

However, you won’t want to just pass through this beautiful plaza – try to time your visit when there is live music here when the weather is nice.

In addition to hosting regular live music performances, the plaza is host to a variety of different events, including flea markets, food festivals, craft fairs, and more.

We stumbled across many different events in just a short time in Barcelona, and we tried to pass through every evening on our way to enjoy tapas to make sure we didn’t miss any!

The best way to learn about events in Plaça Reial is by checking out WeBarcelona – here you’ll find info in English and Spanish on events of all kinds, and plenty of unique things to do in Barcelona.

While the plaza is surrounded by restaurants, I don’t recommend that you eat here. The food is overpriced and geared towards tourists, so it’s neither very good nor a great example of Spanish cuisine.

However, if you’re here to watch live music or another performance, grab a drink and enjoy the door seating in these restaurants when events fill the plaza. That’s one of the best ways to enjoy this Barcelona off the beaten path activity.

barcelona placa reail

Pastisseria Santa Clara

One of the best parts of travel is always trying new foods – and Barcelona is known for having plenty of unique dishes and treats worth trying. Located in the Gothic Quarter, Pastisseria Santa Clara is a bakery and cafe that is the perfect place to try some of Barcelona’s sweetest treats.

As opposed to some of the fancier cafes in the area, Pastisseria Santa Clara is much more simple, and also much more affordable. You’ll find every type of sweet and savory pastry you can imagine here.

Here are some of the Barcelona classics worth trying:

  • Crema Catalana: A Catalan specialty and a must-try when in Barcelona! Crema Catalana is very similar to creme brulee but flavored with citrus.
  • Ensaimada: Traditionally from the Spanish island of Mallorca, this sweet bready treat is fantastic with coffee.
  • Coca de Vidre: This thin, sweet biscuit is often flavored with almonds and anis and is a Catalan specialty.

The owners are very sweet and helpful and work right alongside their employees in the shop every day. Make sure to stop into this Barcelona off the beaten path favorite to taste your way through the city’s best desserts.

Casa Vicens

When you think of the Gaudi masterpieces in Barcelona, you certainly think of Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, and the beautiful Casa Batlló and La Pedrera… but have you ever heard of Casa Vicens?

Casa Vicens is also known as Gaudi’s first house, is also one of his most magnificent creations. While this off-the-beaten-path Barcelona masterpiece may not be as famous as Gaudi’s others, it is arguably more beautiful and interesting than any other!

Just like when you visit any of the other Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, you should pre-book your ticket to Casa Vicens online. This will allow you to skip any lines there may be when there. If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide, schedule a guided tour to Casa Vicens – standard tickets don’t include an audio guide.

barcelona tapas


You can’t come to Barcelona (or Spain at all, for that matter!) without sampling your fair share of tapas. However, Barcelona is filled with tapas spots, many of them catering to tourists. You have to head a bit off the beaten path to find the Barcelona hidden gems.

If you’re looking for fantastic off-the-beaten-path Barcelona tapas, Tapeo is a great place to try more than just your standard tapas. Tapeo was founded by a well-known chef in Barcelona and has inventive and delicious twists on all the favorites.

Make sure to try favorites like the “bombetas” stuffed mashed potato balls, pork ribs, and stuffed squid! Plus, you have to have the sangria here – it was the best we tried!

Of course, don’t let your tapas exploration stop at just one restaurant. The El Born neighborhood where you’ll find Tapeo is home to some fantastic tapas spots – make sure to try El Xampanyet (directly across the street), and other El Born favorites like La Plata and La Alcolba Azul.

Looking for more food-related hidden gems in Barcelona? Make sure to check out the number one rated food tour in the city, the Tapas and Wine Small-Group Walking Tour with local guides. This tour is an in-depth way to get to experience Spanish cuisine, including multiple stops for tapas and drinks around the city at some of the most beloved local spots.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.