The capital of the Catalonian region in Spain, Barcelona plays host to numerous architecture masterpieces with its landscape dotted with majestic buildings. The rich culture can be found and tasted amongst the myriad of activities you can try on your trip here. Travelling often opens new doors for learning. If you are bold and adventurous enough, you can surely make your vacation in Barcelona — or any other destination for that matter — a fun and unforgettable one.
If you decide to go offbeat, we’ve got you covered. Check out this list of the unique things you can do in the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region!
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1. Watch a movie at an open air cinema by the beach
Movie screenings are fun, but the experience can be turned into a unique one when done outdoors! When in Barcelona during summer, you shouldn’t miss the open air film screenings held at Sant Sebastià beach. Organized by Cinema Lliure, it showcases independently produced films of various genres. Imagine watching a flick in the midst of the fine sand, with a view of the ocean and the pretty colors of sunset — isn’t that lovely? It’s free for everyone so make sure you arrive early to get the best viewing spot. If you’re into filmmaking, you might even get to meet like-minded individuals at Cinema Lliure.
2. Pretend you’re a legit Formula One race car driver
Not all people are lucky enough to drive a race car at the official track of the Formula One Spanish Grand Prix! While you’re in Barcelona, you might as well grab that once in a lifetime chance. Pretend you’re a legit F1 race car driver: put your gears on and drive around the famed Circuit de Catalunya. Just make sure you have a driver’s license and you really know how to operate one! If you want to take the experience to a whole new level, look for a tour which will allow you to drive as far as the Catalan countryside.
3. Have a dinner in the dark
Travellers looking for a unique dining experience in Barcelona need not spend a ridiculous amount of money. In Dans le Noir located at Passeig de Picasso, you can have a dinner in the dark — literally! Aiming to give guests a whole new culinary experience, the restaurant guides the guests into a room where there are absolutely no lights. Blind waiters are the ones serving the tables. They’re specially trained for this and can surely attend to the guests’ needs. Aside from learning to eat without using your sense of sight, it is a remarkable way of appreciating these differently-abled folks.
4. Join a pillow fight on the streets
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Pillow fight? Why not! On the streets? Yes, there’s such a thing! In Barcelona, there’s an International Pillow Fight Day which is held once a year in April. People gather at Plaça Catalunya with their fluffy weapons and have a huge (take note: friendly!) pillow fight with different people from all walks of life. It’s surely a peculiar yet fun way of meeting new friends! The event is free of charge and also open even to kids. Just remember to be responsible and help in cleaning up after the fun!
5. Indulge in a chocolate massage
Chocolates are nice treats to eat, but there’s something else you can do with it when you’re in Barcelona! Get yourself an aromatic chocolate rubdown at Barcelona Massage — a perfect romantic activity for couples and also a relaxing reward for those who are going solo. Aside from the soothing aroma of a chocolate massage, it is believed to have an anti-ageing and slimming effect on the body. If you’re not such a fan of chocolates, there are also other unique massage options available, like the seashell massage.
6. Attend a live concert
Music fans, there’s no reason for you not to visit Barcelona when taking a trip to Spain. You can attend classical concerts at live music venues like Razzmatazz and Apolo, be amazed by the grand designs of concert halls of Gran Teatre del Liceu, or indulge yourself with some jazz music at L'Auditori. Whatever genre you’re interested in, you’ll surely find an ideal musical performance for you here!
7. Go sightseeing aboard a rickshaw
Get a fresh perspective of Barcelona’s charming streets aboard a rickshaw! Recommended for those who are looking for an alternative way to tour around the city, the three-wheeled ride can take you to city attractions like Sagrada Familia and Parc de la Ciutadella. If you wish, you may also ask them to take you to the beautiful beaches at Barceloneta and Port Olimpic. The rickshaw seats are padded, ensuring a comfortable ride. Come to think of it, this is also an environmental-friendly way of sightseeing!
8. Go back in time and relive the 1992 Olympics
The year of 1992 was a momentous one for Barcelona because that was when the city hosted the Summer Olympic Games. Some events were done at Parc Montjuic while some were held at a huge open-air Olympic Stadium and a modern indoor hall called Palau de Sant Jordi. Another must-see here is the Olympic Gallery, containing an array of significant artifacts related to the 1992 Summer Olympics. If you like strolling, the landscaped walkways within the sports complex are ideal for a morning or afternoon walk. Sports enthusiasts shouldn’t miss this place when travelling to Barcelona!
9. Learn the basics of kitesurfing and sea kayaking
In case you’re visiting Barcelona and you find yourself craving for some adrenaline rush, you can always go to Costa Brava. Here, you’ll find a variety of watersports and if you’re staying for a few days, you can even enroll for kitesurfing or windsurfing lessons. Meanwhile, if you would like to catch a glimpse of Costa Brava’s beautiful beaches, bays and coves, you should opt for a sea kayaking activity. Not a fan of challenging watersports? Rent a yacht and enjoy sailing along the coast!
10. Cook your own paella and create your own sangria mix
One of the best souvenirs you can take home from a trip is a local recipe you have learned to prepare by heart. If you’re interested in cooking (or if you have zero experience but you’re willing to try), you can enroll in the Gourmet Cookery Classes in Barcelona. Learn about the basics of the Spanish cuisine and get to prepare your own version of the classic local favorites like paella or tapas. Instructors also teach students how to mix Spain’s famed drink called sangria, a concoction of red wine, fruits and sweeteners. Sounds good? Surprise your loved ones with a hearty meal when you come back home!
11. Fill your tummy with some delicious tapas
Speaking of delicious Spanish fare, one should never leave Barcelona without indulging in tapas. It is a snack and also an appetizer which can be either be served hot or cold. Hot tapas are usually made of fried baby squid, while cold ones have olives and cheese on them. Some of the best tapas bars are located at the Raval and Gracia districts. If ever you’re dropping by these areas, take note to have a hearty serving of tapas and a refreshing sangria to pair with it!
12. Experience the Arctic in the middle of Barcelona
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
You can now experience Arctic right in the heart of Barcelona! With its beaches and hot sands, it’s surely a crazy idea to even think of wearing a fur coat when in this Mediterranean city, but you’ll surely need it when you enter the famed Barcelona’s Ice Bar. Make sure you have some gloves with you too! Enjoy the below-freezing temperatures right as you enter the bar and experience drinking straight from a frozen glass. Another thing that makes the ice bar special: the Gaudi-esque statues made of ice!
13. Learn why Barcelona is the skateboarding capital of the world
If you want to go local and see what the cool kids of Barcelona are up to, come to the Plaza del Angels by MACBA. See them with their boards and be amazed by the skateboarding tricks they execute flawlessly. Unknown to many, Barcelona is currently the skateboarding capital of the world. You have to catch the action before your very eyes so you can prove it! Dare to join the skateboarding fun? Check out the Skate Shop and see what they can offer to you!
14. Take up a free Salsa dance lesson
Looking to do something productive yet fun when visiting Barcelona? Take up a free Salsa dance lesson at Parc de la Ciutadella! It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie, just bring a partner and wear something comfortable but appropriate for the dance. Local groups host such events and one of them is Salsa als Carrers. Make sure to check out their social media pages for announcements and class schedules! Other great options for dance lessons are Antilla and Mojito, although they might require a small fee from the participants.
15. Check out colourful street art
Barri Gòtic, also known as the Gothic Quarter, is the oldest part of Barcelona. It contains some of the city’s most precious architectural and historical gems, including Cathedral of Santa Eulalia and Plaça Reial. Apart from all these classic attractions, what makes the Barri Gòtic so unusual is its street art. Many walls and even doorways are painted in varied hues and themes, showcasing diverse talents of various artists. Just pay attention to every street and every corner you’re passing, and you’ll surely find something unique!
16. Join a photowalk
Creative tourism is now a thing, letting travellers experience the beauty of the country while learning and showcasing their skills at the same time. Filled with ancient sights and local art, Barcelona is one of the best destinations for this new way of exploring! Bring your cameras with you and join a photo tour like those offered by Foto Ruta. Tours range from the most basic ones to the most challenging, including iPhoneography classes and Streetscape Tours.
17. Check out Instagram-worthy design stores and cafes
Can’t get enough of Barcelona’s picturesque spots? Pay a visit to Passeig de Gracia and check out the shopping district’s array of design stores and even cafes. Many international luxury brands are available at Passeig de Gracia, but if you are on a budget trip, a walk here is a must for gorgeous street views you can add to the pool of your travel photos in Instagram!
18. Brush up your knowledge on Modernisme
The Route of Modernisme is not just for art aficionados. It’s also for ordinary travellers who are looking for an alternative way of knowing Barcelona through arts and architecture. The route includes Arc de Triomf, built in 1888 and designed by Josep Vilaseca, and Casa Estape, a house constructed in 1907 which has a distinctive dome. Other attractions composing the Route of Modernisme are Parc de la Ciutadella, Hivernacle and Umbracle, among others.
19. Unleash your inner kid at a local park
Barcelona has some of the best parks that cater to both kids and kids-at-heart. For a fun day outdoors, you can visit Turó de la Peira Park with plenty of spaces to sit, a viewing platform and most of all, a playing area for kids. It is also filled with plants and trees, giving off a refreshing vibe that would help you loosen up. Parc Castell de l’Oreneta is also a must-see, where you will find miniature castles and steam trains.
20. Visit just in time for a street festival
Schedule your Barcelona trip in accordance with one of the city’s street festivals so you can experience how to party like a local! One of the grandest festivals of the city is the La Festa Major de Gracia, held every year in August. Streets are decorated by the residents themselves and these masterpieces get even more beautiful when illuminated at night. Although the festival started with only locals participating, tourists are welcome here as long as they respect the local culture. If you’re a fan of music, make sure to attend free concerts during the festival too!
21. Sunset and drinks at Bunkers del Carmel
Make like a local in Barcelona and pack some snacks and drinks and head to the Bunkers del Carmel near sunset. Or, if you prefer the dawn, take along a thermos flask full of coffee and catch the sunrise. The Bunkers del Carmel are old abandoned fortifications and anti-aircraft defenses. There’s a great view from up there, and you will probably meet some of the locals doing the same thing. During the day, there’s a pleasant route down a hiking trail that goes into a cool forested area. However, hiking up is quite a challenge with lots of steps. Those who don’t enjoy that kind of thing may catch a bus to the area. Catch a number 119 bus to the Panorama - Labèrnia stop. From there, it’s not a very long walk.
Bunkers del Carmel
Address: C. Maria Labernia s/n, 08032 Barcelona, Spain
Website: Bunkers del Carmel
22. Shop like a local at La Boqueria Market
La Boqueria Market is where the locals go for fresh produce. Get an authentic feel for Barcelona by browsing the stalls. There are hundreds of stalls there and they served the city of Barcelona since1836. It’s the Spanish answer to Venice’s Rialto Market. It’s popular, colorful, and a bit chaotic, but great fun to spend a few hours there. The place is loud and full of stalls selling fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, sweet delicacies, and those famous Catalan pies. If you enjoy people-watching and browsing stalls, as well as indulging in local delights, then you will enjoy yourself here.
Mercat de la Boqueria
Address: La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Website: Mercat de la Boqueria
Go off the beaten path in Barcelona
Barcelona offers extensive options for accommodations, sightseeing, shopping and dining — catering to the varied needs of every kind of traveller. Even for those who decide to go off the beaten path, the city is one of the best destination options in Spain!
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