Barcelona is the typical long weekend getaway, and for good reason! The weather is beautiful, the food is to die for, and there’s more staggering architecture than anyone could get around to see in a year, but what about the lesser-celebrated sights of Barcelona?
Interestingly, there are still a few hidden gems left in this tourist heaven. If the Casa Batlló or soaking up the sun by the sea are top of your list, then maybe stop to consider some of the secrets that you could miss!
Parc Del Laberint
Barcelona is lucky to have more than its fair share of beautifully landscaped green spaces, but the oldest of them all is too often forgotten. Designed in 1792, the Parc del Laberint emulates a stunning 14th-century home, known as the Torre Soberana.
The showstopper in this garden is undoubtedly the 820-yard-long hedge maze, which makes for a rather romantic way to spend a sunny afternoon.
The rest of the grounds are equally as stunning, spanning a total of 55 hectares. The formal parts of the garden are neoclassical in style, with perfectly manicured flowerbeds, secluded squares and even a romantic waterfall.
It’s possible to feel like you’ve stepped into a period drama as you wander around these parts. The informal sections of the garden take the form of sparse woodland, with beautiful mature trees to protect you from the Spanish sunshine.
Among the woodland, be sure to look out for hidden mythological figures, all sculpted by artists. For a €2 entry fee, it’s possible to while away a whole afternoon here — or even longer if you pack a picnic!
After a walk around the gardens, you’ll probably have built up an appetite, assuming you didn’t pack the picnic! The Casino Barcelona might not be one of the first places you’d think to try for a special meal, but that’s why it makes it onto the list!
The casino is famous for being home to the EPT Barcelona, a tournament organized by the poker giant PokerStars, who will soon be celebrating their 200 billionth hand.
So, not only does the Casino Barcelona provide state-of-the-art entertainment facilities, but it also has a menu you won’t be able to resist.
There are three different menus here, which makes it affordable for most budgets. The specialities menu is the least expensive, but still features a selection of delicious dishes, which don’t feel inexpensive at all.
If you feel like splashing out, then try the degustation menu or order à la carte. Vegetarians may want to avert their eyes for the next part!
All the dishes are well put together and delicately balanced, but the suckling pig confit is out of this world.
For those who prefer fish, the sea bass is a delicate dish served with lightly pickled baby vegetables. It’s unusual to see such clever cooking in a commercial setting, but this is a meal to remember.
El Sinagoga Mayor
This place is truly a well-kept secret, so well kept, in fact, that it’s entirely possible to walk past again and again and never notice it!
You’ll find that this synagogue, located in the old Jewish Quarter, has a tiny entrance that looks much like any of the homes in this area. The inside of the building is also small, but the history surrounding it is fascinating.
The public is welcome to a tour, which will teach you about the 6th-century origins of this tiny synagogue, the oldest in Europe.
The building itself still retains its original medieval architecture, and one of the rooms has a glass floor that allows you to see the excavation below the building.
Although this isn’t somewhere you could while away a whole day, the feeling of standing where people have worshipped for centuries is something truly unforgettable.
If you find yourself in the Jewish Quarter, then it would be a crying shame to miss this ancient place.
For a truly unique culinary experience, you must contact Oriol Serra, a fisherman who will cook for you on his terrace in Sitges.
If you want the full experience, then you can join Oriol on his 7-meter fishing boat and quite literally, catch your dinner yourself.
You need a group of 4–10 people, and with wine, the whole experience will cost you about €100 per person. It’s not the kind of meal you could afford every day, but it’s one that you’ll probably remember for the rest of your life.
While the menu varies depending on what they catch that day, you will not go hungry. Expect a cornucopia of seafood that’s likely to include lobster, prawns, monkfish and octopus.
The emphasis here is on the freshest ingredients cooked to allow their flavours to shine. If there are a few of you, then you might be lucky enough to try his paella, a dish that is so often badly cooked in Barcelona tourist traps.
This paella, however, is subtly flavoured with saffron and dotted with fresh clams and mussels as well as fat, tasty prawns and served with local wines. Eating seafood this fresh is an experience that everyone should try at least once in their lives.