The Lesser Known Gems of Barcelona

As a thriving European metropolis, many people make their way to Barcelona each year to see the famous sights like Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and Las Ramblas. Each of these offer something breathtaking and unique to their visitors, but for those who have been to Barcelona before or are spending more than a few days in the city, you may want to explore beyond the key sites. This list is therefore a compilation of the tourist activities in Barcelona that may not be on your radar just yet. So book your Barcelona hotel and add some of these activities to your trip’s itinerary.

The Castle Atop Montjuic

Photo by Fen via

This is a popular tourist activity but something most people seem to skip during their first trip to Barcelona. The low hill in the city known as Montjuic features an impressive castle that has seen some of the most intense moments of Catalan history. You can hike up to the Montjuic Castle through small gardens or you can take the gondola up, both offer unique and breathtaking views of the city. Explore the grounds of this 17th century castle and try to spot the harbor, the surrounding hills, and the Sagrada Familia from atop the highest level. On the way down, you can stop off at the gorgeous Palau Nacional. Peruse the impressive art collection or merely enjoy the view from the steps.

The Gran Teatre del Liceu

Photo by Stuart Jamieson via

One of the most riveting cultural activities in Barcelona is a performance at the Gran Teatre del Liceu. Here you can enjoy operatic delights like Carmen, Falstaff, and Les Miserables. While sitting in the opulent theatre, you’ll be blown away by the passion of the actors and the intricate costumes. You can buy your tickets online in advance, but be sure to use the visual helper to preview your seats vista. If you are under 35 and are a morning person, you can line up early for same-day tickets sold at 50% off. This is a bit risky, but if you get there early you’ll have better luck.

Picasso Museum

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Though another well-known site, most people skip over the intriguing and breathtaking Picasso Museum. Housing one of the most extensive collections by the Spanish artist, you’ll enjoy a breathtaking stroll through the five joining palaces that make up this space. The museum was first conceptualized by Picasso’s lifelong friend Jaume Sabartés in the 1960’s and was built in Barcelona at Picasso’s own suggestion. He felt he had many ties with the city, which are chronicled throughout the museum. Picasso and Sabartés personally donated many of the works on display, some of the most remarkable being from Picasso’s Blue Period. Book your tickets in advance to see these remarkable works and avoid the notoriously long lines.


Photo by Yagiza Neo via

About an hour outside the city of Barcelona sits an impressive monastery atop the tall peaks of Montserrat (or ‘serrated mountain’). Brave souls can hike their way to the top and are rewarded with absolutely stunning views of the surrounding villages and mountains. Once you ascend the final hill, you’ll see the Benedictine Abbey known as Santa Maria de Montserrat, believed to have been founded in the 11th century. The impressive basilica houses the Virgin of Montserrat statue which is the favorite saint of Catalonia. You can wait in line to see the statue up close and enjoy works of art along the way. Stop for lunch in the cafeteria before taking the gondola back down, giving your feet a much needed break.


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