Go Offbeat: 5 Alternative Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain

alternative things to do in barcelona

Barcelona has a rich aesthetic heritage and is an important cultural hub and a major tourist destination. Surrounded by the Mediterranean, it is the capital and largest city of Catalonia and is one of the popular Roman cities you should visit if you love arts, history, architecture, and the likes. From guided tours of museums to historic buildings and monuments, Barcelona offers a host of interesting places to those looking for a rich Western culture. While the classic Roman sights will never disappoint, if you are intending to explore a bit more of the hidden corners of Barcelona and planning to go offbeat, we’ve got you covered. Check out this list of the fun and unique alternative things to do while in Barcelona, Spain!

1. Seen the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya? Check out CCCB Exhibitions instead

Edifici CCCB
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user redy used under CC BY 2.5

One of the most visited museums in Barcelona, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC), is the national museum of Catalan visual art and is renowned for its outstanding collection of Romanesque church paintings, and for Catalan art and design works from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Don’t forget to check out the collection of Romanesque and medieval mural paintings as well as the modern section, featuring the masterpieces of Matisse, Picasso, Sisley, Dali, and other Spanish artists. Many of these are of modest size but represent artistic creation generally not available elsewhere due to the arduous task of preserving it.

If you’re visiting the National Art Museum of Catalonia, then you might also consider visiting the more vibrant and captivating Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB). The public consortium showcases spectacular exhibitions, concerts, literature festivals and international debates around contemporary culture in the form of visual arts, film, music, transmedia activity and performing arts, all with the sole aim to promote new technologies and languages, explore the ongoing fusion of languages and different genres, and take in-house productions to other national and international arts centers, museums and institutions.

2. Skip clubs like Razzmatazz and go to a street fiesta/festa

Fiesta de gracia Barcelona 2014 - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gerardo nuñez used under CC BY 3.0

Sure you’ve got your dose of fun in the sun along the city’s coastline during the summer, but you can also party in huge music festivals, outdoor film festivals, big local festivals. Razzmatazz is undoubtedly Barcelona’s one and only legendary club with numerous pumping dance floors and bars. A lively musical evening with a wide choice of music in the background and quality sound systems makes it a popular venue for tourists in search of a big night of adventure and a go-to place for Barcelona’s young party freaks.

On your next visit to Barcelona, go offbeat and visit one of the ongoing cultural festivals which bring together dozens of people from around the world, encompassing an eclectic performance of dance, music, and theater. The fiestas of the city have a long tradition and are one of the most famous attractions in Barcelona for the various organized activities. One can witness giant parades, popular food stalls in the streets, children’s workshops and other fun activities. While there is some kind of celebration all round the year, most street parties are observed during the summer months, when the many neighborhoods of Barcelona gather together to enjoy their pride in their community.

3. Been up to the top of Parc Guell? See an equally beautiful city view from Bunkers del Carmel

Bunkers del Carmel Barcelona
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Barcelonatips used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you want views over Barcelona from high up, you can visit one of Barcelona’s iconic parks, Parc Guell, perched high on the hills. This colorful urban park was named after the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who projected it in 1900. The park features peaceful greens, winding walkways, man-made walls, and many sculptures and mosaic artworks designed by Gaudi himself. And the sweeping views of Barcelona from the cross-topped hilltop of Turó del Calvari in the southwest corner, are like no other!

But wait till you visit Bunkers del Carmel, comprising of a number of old abandoned underground military bunkers high above the city of Barcelona. During the Spanish Civil war, bunkers were built as anti-aircraft bastions to examine the entirety of the city. Post the war, the guns were removed and the bunkers were simply left to crumble. This is undoubtedly one of the city’s hidden gems, although it’s becoming an increasingly popular spot to visit. Besides its fascinating history, the best reason to visit this incredible place is that it offers a breathtaking view of the city so that you can see all the major landmarks and monuments at once. It is a great place to capture the hues of colors at dusk and watch the sun set over the city while playing your favorite music, taking pictures or enjoying a picnic.

4. Been to the crowded beaches of La Barceloneta? Picnic at the charming Parc del Laberint d’Horta

Parc del Laberint d'Horta Barcelona 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Till F. Teenck used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Barcelona is a beach lover’s paradise. Bustling Nova Icaria and La Barceloneta may be the most lively and popular, offering plenty of things to do besides swimming, diving, windsurfing and kite surfing. Or, if you’re in the mood to relax, you can bask and soak up the warmth of the Spanish sun with a good read and a refreshing drink. There are family-friendly resorts with facilities such as beach huts, umbrellas and recreational sports such as volleyball or rugby in close proximity to most beaches. Plus, there are some amazing seafood eateries and beach bars along the shore.

However, as an alternative, beat the summer heat by visiting Barcelona’s oldest park, Parc del Laberint d’Horta, which is the green jewel of the area featuring a garden with a woodland setting, flower beds, small squares, tall trees, gazebos, and a waterfall. This family-friendly park is suitable for day trips and is no more than 10 minutes’ walk from the Mundet metro station. All around the park, there are numerous mythological sculptures, some depicting motives of Greek civilization and others showcasing folk motives, as well as a number of fountains and springs, all of which add to the beauty and peace of the garden. There is a hedge maze that gives the park its name, made up of pollarded cypress trees. The labyrinth is a meeting place where young and old alike, who visit this picnic spot at the foot of the Collserola Ridge, can relax under the shades of the trees or cabanas and admire the works whilst enjoying a nice breeze. The best part about this spot is that it is not flooded with tourists or visitors and is a great way to escape the city, and find your calling in some wilderness while capturing some great photos.

5. Seen the zoo and aquarium? Explore one of the city's amusement park, Tibidabo

Break the monotony and dive into the world of fun at Tibidabo amusement park
Source: Pixabay

When traveling with family, you might want to consider visiting the Barcelona zoo located in the historic garden, Parc de la Ciutadella in the north east of Barcelona. With home to over 400 different species of animals, the zoo also offers a range of fun workshops, guided tours and interactive activities where you can watch live penguin feedings, discover the African Savanna and get to know the giraffes, gazelles, dolphins, tortoises, hyenas, elephants and even get up close with real-life dragons and alligators.

The Barcelona L'Aquàrium in Port Vell, a harbor in Barcelona, Catalonia, is equally enchanting. It is Europe’s largest aquariums and contains around 66 Mediterranean and tropical tanks which are home to 11,000 animals from some 450 different species, including 8,000 fish and 11 sharks. A transparent 80-meter-long (262.5 feet) tunnel runs through the Oceanarium where tourists can walk among sharks, morays, ocean sunfish and other species.

If you have marked these two off your bucket list and are still craving for something youthful and energetic, try visiting Tibidabo, which is perhaps one of the most fitting of Barcelona’s attractions for kids and adults alike. It is the only amusement park in Barcelona and is 100 years old, and boasts of over 30 exciting rides and shows that will make you discover the city and have amazing views from the top. This magical place also has an array of restaurants and cafes, indoor dining, picnic areas, and everything you need to make your visit to the park an enjoyable one.

Choose the road less traveled in Barcelona

If you enjoy all-inclusive vacations, then the remarkable city of Barcelona will never cease to allure you. As with any other travel destination, Barcelona offers a little bit of something for everyone. There are so many beaches to choose from, as well as fantastic nightclubs, parks, museums, and bars. Many people are oblivious to all five things listed here, so be sure to check them out for yourself. When you get back home you will have some amazing stories to share with friends and family about these hidden travel gems that you explored.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

I hail from India. A finance professional turned entrepreneur, I'm also an avid traveller, content writer and reader by passion. I enjoy intellectual challenges, exploring new cultures, meeting new...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Barcelona
Good things are meant to be shared!