Non-Touristy Things to Do in Barcelona: Insider Tips for Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Christian Petzold

Published July 13, 2023
Non-Touristy Things to Do in Barcelona

Barcelona, a city known for its breathtaking architecture, vibrant atmosphere, and rich cultural heritage, offers a treasure trove of experiences beyond the well-trodden tourist paths. If you’re seeking an insider’s perspective and yearning for off-the-beaten-path adventures, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to our guide on non-touristy things to do in Barcelona.

In this guide, we’ll provide you with insider tips and unique recommendations to help you uncover the non-touristy wonders of Barcelona. Get ready to explore the city’s neighborhoods, immerse yourself in the Catalan culture, venture into hidden corners, and embrace the true essence of Barcelona.

Non-Touristy Things to Do in Barcelona

1. Exploring Barcelona’s Neighborhoods

Barcelona’s diverse neighborhoods offer unique charm and character, inviting you to explore like a local and uncover hidden treasures. 

Gracia allures with its bohemian atmosphere, narrow streets, and lively squares. Discover independent shops, cafes, and captivating street art. Don’t miss Plaça del Sol and the beautiful Clock Tower in Plaça de la Vila de Gracia.

Embrace the transformed allure of El Raval, once edgy, now trendy, and vibrant. Immerse yourself in street art, independent shops, and exceptional bars and restaurants—experience cutting-edge art and culture at MACBA and CCCB.

For a relaxed vibe, Poblenou beckons. This former industrial area now exudes hipness, boasting independent shops, cafes, and restaurants. Stroll along Rambla del Poblenou, a tree-lined avenue hosting exquisite tapas bars.

Rambla Del Poblenou

Savor the local atmosphere in any neighborhood, uncovering Barcelona’s non-touristy gems. Wander off the beaten path to unearth something new and remarkable.

2. Immersing in Catalan Culture

To truly experience Barcelona like a local, immerse yourself in the vibrant Catalan culture. Here are a few non-touristy ways to do just that:

  • Attend a Castell’s Event: Castells are human towers built during Catalonia’s festivals and other cultural events. These towers can reach up to ten levels high, requiring incredible strength, agility, and teamwork to build. Attending a Castell event will give you a unique insight into Catalan culture and traditions.
  • Visit a Local Market: Barcelona has many local markets where fresh produce, meats, and seafood are found. Visiting a market is a great way to experience the local culture and interact with friendly vendors. Some of the most popular markets in Barcelona include La Boqueria, Mercat de Sant Antoni, and Mercat de la Concepció.
La Boqueria 2
  • Try Catalan Cuisine: Catalan cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients and bold flavors. Some of the most popular dishes include pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato), escalivada (grilled vegetables), and botifarra (Catalan sausage). Trying these dishes at a local restaurant or market will give you a taste of authentic Catalan cuisine.
Rambla Del Poblenou 1
  • Learn the Sardana Dance: The Sardana is a traditional Catalan dance performed in a circle. It is often accompanied by live music and is a great way to experience the local culture. You can learn the Sardana at many Barcelona cultural centers and dance schools.
  • Attend a Traditional Catalan Festival: Barcelona has numerous traditional Catalan festivals annually. Join Festes de Gràcia’s festivities, where neighborhood streets come alive with elaborately decorated squares and vibrant parades. Experience the rich celebrations of La Mercè, Barcelona’s largest street festival, featuring concerts, street performers, and traditional dances.
  • Participate in a Correfoc: Experience the exhilarating Correfoc, a traditional Catalan street fire run. Join the procession as performers dressed as demons and mythological creatures dance to the beat of drums, setting off fireworks and sparklers. It’s a thrilling and immersive cultural spectacle showcasing Catalan passion and folklore.
  • Witness the Castellers: Experience the awe-inspiring tradition of Castellers, where teams create human towers that reach dizzying heights. These displays of strength, balance, and teamwork are a testament to Catalan identity and unity. Attend a Castellers performance to witness this unique cultural spectacle.

By immersing yourself in the Catalan culture, you can experience Barcelona like a local and gain a deeper appreciation for the city’s rich traditions and history.

3. Nature Retreats in and around Barcelona

If you’re craving a break from the bustling streets of Barcelona and yearning to reconnect with nature, you’re in luck! Several incredible nature retreats in and around the city offer the perfect getaway. Here are some top picks for experiencing the beauty of the outdoors while enjoying some non-touristy things to do in Barcelona:

  • Montseny: Just an hour from Barcelona, Montseny is a hidden gem. This natural park is one of Catalonia’s oldest and most well-preserved treasures. You can easily reach it by train or car. Once there, immerse yourself in the lush greenery and diverse wildlife. Embark on one of the scenic hiking trails for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Collserola Natural Park: Located on the outskirts of Barcelona, Collserola Natural Park is a fantastic escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s a sanctuary teeming with wildlife, including wild boar, foxes, and birds of prey. Take advantage of the numerous hiking trails that provide sweeping panoramas of the cityscape. It’s the ideal spot for some fresh air and tranquility.
  • La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park: About a two-hour drive from Barcelona, La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park is an awe-inspiring destination. This unique park boasts over 40 volcanic cones and mesmerizing lava flows. Follow the well-marked hiking trails and marvel at the park’s extraordinary geological wonders.
  • Catalonia Ecolodge: Nestled in the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees, Catalonia Ecolodge is a sustainable haven for nature enthusiasts. Here, you can engage in various activities like hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The lodge uses renewable energy and delights guests with organic, locally sourced cuisine.
  • Mas Salagros EcoResort: Situated just outside Barcelona, Mas Salagros EcoResort is another sustainable retreat that will captivate your senses. Engage in yoga sessions, embark on invigorating hikes, or even saddle up for a horseback ride. Powered by renewable energy, this resort even features an organic farm that supplies the restaurant with fresh, delectable produce.

Whichever nature retreat you choose, you’re guaranteed a serene and revitalizing escape from the city. It’s the perfect opportunity to engage in non-touristy things to do in Barcelona and reconnect with the tranquility of nature.

4. Offbeat Museums and Galleries

Looking for non-touristy things to do in Barcelona? Discover offbeat museums and galleries that offer a break from the usual attractions.

Step into the Museum of Funeral Carriages, a unique showcase of Barcelona’s 18th-century funeral carriage history. Explore horse-drawn carriages and early 20th-century motorized hearses, accompanied by a fascinating collection of funeral artifacts.

Explore the Erotic Museum of Barcelona, dedicated to the captivating history of eroticism and sexuality. Uncover exhibits featuring erotic art, vintage pornography, and a curious collection of antique sex toys. It’s a visit that piques the curiosity of the open-minded.

Erotic Museum Of Barcelona

Art enthusiasts, take advantage of the Joan Prats Art Gallery. Immerse yourself in contemporary works by established and emerging artists. From painting to sculpture and photography, the gallery offers diverse mediums. Stay updated on their exhibitions and events by checking their schedule beforehand.

5. Day Trips to Hidden Gems

Looking for non-touristy things to do in Barcelona? How about escaping the bustling crowds and embarking on a day trip to some hidden gems? Check out these unique and off-the-beaten-path destinations that are sure to leave a lasting impression:

  • Montserrat: Just an hour from Barcelona, lies Montserrat, a stunning mountain range housing a Benedictine monastery and a stunning basilica. Inhabited by monks since the 11th century, this place offers breathtaking views from its mountain peaks and many hiking trails. For an even more awe-inspiring experience, hop on a cable car to reach the mountain’s highest point.
Montserrat 1 1
  • Tarragona: Just an hour away from Barcelona, is calling you with its irresistible coastal charm. Get ready to dive headfirst into its captivating history while you wander through Roman ruins like the theater and circus. When it’s time to unwind, picture yourself lounging at the breathtaking beach or getting blissfully lost amidst the enchanting narrow streets and vibrant buildings of the charming old town. Trust me, history buffs won’t be able to resist the delightful playground that Tarragona has in store.
  • Girona: Just about an hour north of Barcelona, you’ll stumble upon the medieval gem known as Girona. Get ready to be transported back in time as you soak up the epicness of the well-preserved old town, surrounded by ancient walls and majestic towers. Prepare to have your mind blown by the jaw-dropping cathedral and take a leisurely stroll through the 12th-century Jewish quarter. Oh, and if you’re a Game of Thrones fanatic, keep your eyes peeled because you might recognize some iconic filming spots. Girona has got it all – history, charm, and a touch of fantasy. 
  • Sitges: Just a quick 30-minute drive south of Barcelona, is a delightful coastal town with a vibrant character. Its stunning beaches, charming, colorful houses, and narrow streets create a picturesque backdrop for your vacation. Sitges also boasts a range of museums and art galleries, making it an ideal spot for art enthusiasts. And when the sun goes down, the town truly comes alive with its buzzing nightlife. So, if you’re yearning to relax by the sea while indulging in non-touristy things to do in Barcelona, Sitges is a must-visit destination.
  • Cadaqués: Explore the picturesque coastal town of Cadaqués, located about two hours north of Barcelona. Known for its charming white-washed houses and narrow streets, Cadaqués has attracted artists and writers over the years due to its stunning beauty. Discover the famous Salvador Dalí House-Museum and indulge in delicious seafood in this idyllic Mediterranean setting.
  • Vic: Venture to Vic, situated about an hour northwest of Barcelona. Famous for its medieval charm, Vic boasts a well-preserved old town with cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and a bustling market square. Explore the impressive Romanesque-style Vic Cathedral and savor local delicacies at the traditional food market.
  • Pals: Step into the medieval past by visiting the town of Pals, located approximately two hours northeast of Barcelona. With its ancient walls, medieval towers, and narrow stone streets, Pals is a charming destination for history enthusiasts. Enjoy panoramic views from the top of the Torre de les Hores and soak in the medieval atmosphere of this well-preserved Catalan gem.
  • Besalú: Immerse yourself in history by visiting Besalú, a medieval town around two hours northeast of Barcelona. Cross the famous 12th-century Romanesque bridge, explore the well-preserved Jewish quarter, and marvel at the grandeur of the 11th-century Church of Sant Pere. Besalú offers a captivating journey back in time.
Besalu 2
  • Rupit: Experience the allure of Rupit, a charming village nestled in the mountains about two hours north of Barcelona. Wander through its cobblestone streets, visit the picturesque Rupit Castle, and marvel at the breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Take advantage of the stunning Rupit Waterfall, a natural wonder that adds to the village’s enchanting ambiance.

Overall, there are plenty of hidden gems to explore outside Barcelona. Whether interested in history, nature, or just relaxing by the beach, there’s something for everyone. So why not take a break from the crowds and discover some off-the-beaten-path destinations?


In conclusion, Barcelona has a lot to offer beyond the typical tourist attractions. From stunning panoramic views to hidden neighborhoods and tranquil gardens, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path adventures to be had. By exploring these lesser-known spots, you can get a unique and authentic experience of this vibrant city.

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