21 of the best alternative Barcelona tours
It may seem obvious, but by far the best way to explore this sprawling the city is by jumping on a tour. Whether it’s Gaudí, the beaches or the whole load of top-notch restaurants that have drawn you here, walking, cycling or running your way round en grupo is your best bet to really get to know the Catalan capital. Our pick of the best tours in Barcelona packs in all the essential things to do here – a stroll down La Rambla, a quick stop at the Sagrada Família – but also some routes that’ll take you past the traps and off the beaten path, all with the help and direction of knowledgeable guides primed for questions and armed with answers. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Barcelona
The 16 best things to do on La Rambla in Barcelona
Looking for the best things to do on La Rambla? You’ll inevitably wander along Barcelona’s most famous boulevard at some point – so use this as your whistlestop guide. This 1.2km boulevard starts at Plaça de Catalunya and ends at the statue of Christopher Columbus down by the port. Nowadays, you won’t see any caged animals being sold on La Rambla (this was banned in 2006), but you will notice that its various sections were named after saints (like Santa Mònica, or Sant Josep, whose stretch is also known as La Rambla dels Flors), a reference to the period between the 16th and 18th centuries when the street was lined with churches and convents. While none of these remain, the Barcelona Cathedral, with its breathtaking neo-Gothic façade and rooftop gargoyles, is just a short walk away. Aimed at long-time Rambla ramblers and first-timers alike, this is your guide to the best things to do, places to shop, restaurants, bars and cafés to stop in, attractions and monuments to admire along a street that’s unlike any other. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Barcelona
9 ‘hidden’ Instagrammable places in Barcelona
From architectural wonders to beautiful beaches, Barcelona has heaps of spots that make for that perfect Instagram picture. But not all of them are in plain sight. So as you explore the many attractions in Barcelona, this list will help you find some off the beaten path that give you unique photos. Sometimes a simple visit to a rooftop bar can lead to the most incredible view of a Gaudí creation, or your adventures might take you to a hidden house full of mystery. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the locations here will definitely be worth something closer to a thousand likes. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Barcelona
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Located on the world-famous La Rambla, the building that houses the Poliorama Theatre was constructed in 1899 and has been operating as a theatre since 1982. The ground floor of the venue was designed by Josep Domènech i Estapà (who was also responsible for the construction of La Fabra Observatory and the building that is now the CosmoCaixa, among others), with the purpose of being the seat of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. The space was put to many uses over the years, but sinde the 1970s it's been given over to the performing arts, and is one of the most popular theatres in the city. Programming includes theatre plays, flamenco shows, concerts, and performances for families and kids.
Located on C/Pàdua, Casa Padua is an absolutely stunning house that seems to be hidden from tourists, seasoned travellers, and even locals. A huge red door and window shutters of the same colour blend perfectly with a marble wall that’s partially covered with a lovely floral pattern. If you’re lucky, the shutters will be open and you can get a peek at some lovely stained-glass windows. The origin of this wonderful building remains a mystery to this day. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any information in the city archives about this house designed by renowned Catalan modernist architect Jeroni Granell i Manresa, who is also well known for his work on the stained-glass windows in the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site. Until the mid-1970s, this location was the headquarters of a perfume factory, and if you strain your nostrils hard enough, you just might smell something faint emanating from the rich floral decorations on the walls. After being abandoned for years, Casa Padua was restored by Alonso Balaguer, who won a prize for best restoration work for his efforts. While much of the history of this building remains lost, it still arouses the interest of passers-by with its incredible colours and floral designs.
Pont del Bisbe
Walking through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is a thrilling experience for visitors. Its winding streets are full of secrets and surprises that will take your breath away. And if there’s one perfect place that captivates the experience, it’s the Pont del Bisbe (Bisbe Bridge). Uniting the Casa dels Canonges and the Palau de la Generalitat, the Pont del Bisbe is a large marble structure with lovely Gothic-style columns. It’s also covered in interesting designs that help add to the overall feel. While it may seem like the Pont del Bisbe was always part of the furniture, it’s actually a recent addition to the Barri Gòtic. Constructed in 1928 by Joan Rubió i Bellver, the little bridge has helped make C/ de Bisbe one of the most photographed streets in Barcelona. Unfortunately for Rubió i Bellver, the city council rejected his plans to put up many other buildings in the Gòtic. Furious, the architect incorporated a skull-and-dagger motif on the underside of the Pont del Bisbe, and legend has it that anyone who looks at it will be cursed with bad luck. Another myth says that the dagger can never be removed from the skull or the city of Barcelona will be destroyed. But, on a positive note, apparently if you walk backwards under the bridge while looking at the skull, one wish will be granted. You just have to decide, is it worth the risk?