Cool Things to To in Barcelona
Everyone's heard of the main attractions in Barcelona, like La Sagrada Familia and the Picasso Museum, but what about some of the cool and different thing to do in the capital of Catalonia? In a city as magical and mysterious as Barcelona, naturally there's plenty to experience that goes beyond the ordinary, the kind of experiences that stay with you long after you've left and will mark your holiday in BCN as a bit different than the usual round of Gaudi, paellas and sangria. From unique restaurants, bizarre museums and one-of-kind bars, to authentic local tours, secret gardens and thrilling activities we've compiled a few of our favourite unique and alternative ways to pass the time in Barcelona. So here they are in no particular order...
Above: Take in a flea market under the Torre Agbar with Steel Donkeys...
1) Dine In The Dark
Barcelona's Dans le Noir? is no ordinary restaurant, so be prepared to be taken out of your comfort zone during this insightful sensory and culinary experience where your dinner is taken in the pitch black. Blind waiters lead you into a lightless room and attend your every need as you learn to eat without your eyes (best wear a bib!). Whilst the food is top notch it's the experience and what you learn that is making this one of coolest things to do in Barcelona! If you're looking for a little something different to do with your friends then a meal at Dans le Noir? will definitely stick in the memory.
Passeig Picasso 10
2) Chill Out In Sub-Zero Beach Bar
It's not often you need a fur-lined Arctic coat to enter a bar in Spain, but at Barcelona's Ice Bar you'll be grateful for it - and the gloves as well. Literally on the beach at Port Olimpic you can switch from sweltering hot sands to Siberian sub-zero temperatures in seconds. Drink vodka from frozen glass, admire Gaudi-esque ice statues and then ask the cutie next to you if they'd like to share body warmth - just for survival purposes of course!
C/Ramon Trias Fargas 2
3) Ride A Steel Donkey
The 'Steel Donkey' in this case is simply a euphemism for an ordinary bicycle - but there's nothing ordinary about Steel Donkey Bike Tours. Gaudi and the Old Town are off the menu. Instead you'll visit the village-like district of Gracia, or the old-industrial ruins of Poblenou, taking in recycled workshops, flea markets and squat houses en route. An action-packed day on two wheels.
4) Get Cooking - Spanish style!
Learning how to prepare the perfect paella and mix the tastiest sangria by taking cooking classes with a Spanish chef. The paella of course is one of Spain's signature dishes - a vast platter of rice and meat/seafood/vegetables (or all three!) normally made to share. Fun, friendly and a little bit messy this is a great activity to do alone or with friends and learn a skill that will definitely make you popular back home. Check out our article on food and drink activities for more gastro fun and frolics.
5) Go To A Nudist Beach
Barcelona's residents are not shy, as anyone who's visited the city's beaches will testify. Half-naked is standard, but if you really want to let it all hang out then head down to either Mar Bella beach, or the Southern stretch of Barceloneta (called San Sebastien) towards the W-Hotel. On both these stretches of sand you'll find some liberal folk bronzing their bits and you're more than welcome to join in! At Mar Bella you'll also find some cool gay-friendly chiringuitos for post-tanning mojitos.
6) Create Your Own Cava
Cava is of course the Spanish version of Champagne and during this zany activity you'll take the train out to a 1000 year old farm house in the Penedes wine region of Spain and bottle your own brew! You'll taste three different varieties of the sparkling stuff and then 'disgorge' the bottle and apply your own custom made label, whilst learning a lot about Cava production in the process. If that tickles your taste buds, then check out this article for more wine-related trips and tours, including city-based tastings (if you don't have time to leave Barcelona!).
7) Skateboard At MACBA
That's right grandpa, Barcelona is currently considered the skateboarding capital of the world and is all the rage with the Catalan cool kids who take their boards wherever they go. You can catch them practicing their tricks every evening on the Plaza del Angels by MACBA, and soak up some of the alternative vibe with 1 euro beer from a friendly Pakistani vendor. If you want to join in check out Free Skate Shop just round the corner.
Placa del Angels
8) Get Lost In A Labyrinth
Few locals ever make it as far as the Parc del Labirint in Horta (nearest metro however is Mundet), making this green space a great place to lose both yourself and the crowds. As you have guessed by the park's name the centrepiece is its wonderfully intricate maze, designed in the 18th Century by the architect Domenico Bagutti. There's a token entry fee of around 2 euros, although if you're really feeling the squeeze there's free entry on Wednesdays and Sundays. All in all a great option if you're travelling with kids.
Passeig dels Castanyers 1
9) Chase The Shadow Of The Wind
If you haven't heard of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind head straight to our Barcelona books section now! This magical masterpiece has inspired more than one paperback lover to descend on BCN and retrace the footsteps of the young protagonist Daniel Sempere. Take a tour with Iconos Serveis and you'll mingle fiction with reality as you step into the very streets and visit the actual buildings that form the backdrop of the book.
10) Learn To Speak The Lingo
If you're in town for longer than a few days you might want to consider signing up for an intensive Spanish course - in which case check out our page on language schools in Barcelona. Speaking a foreign language is certainly an exhilarating experience, and at the same time it's a great way to meet other students and make some new friends with whom to explore the city. If you don't have time for that you can always check out our Spanish and Catalan language tips. Thanks to modern technology you can even click and listen to some popular phrases in both idioms.
11) Get Covered In Chocolate!
And there you were thinking the best thing to do with chocolate was eat it... well think again! Having it rubbed all over your body by an expert pair of hands is definitely the way forward, and a chocolate massage for two could be the perfect way to spice up a romantic weekend in Barcelona! Not only that but chocolate, when rubbed on the skin, is supposed to have a slimming effect on the body, help burn fat, diminish cellulite and have an anti-ageing effect as well. The rich aroma of course is famous for inciting pleasure! The team at Barcelona Massage can help you organise anything from a chocolate rub down to a sea-shell massage and much more.
12) Sail Away On An Ocean Breeze...
In case you forgot folks, that big blue thing on your left/right is the Mediterranean sea! Why not charter a yacht from Barcelona and explore the marvels of the Costa Brava coast? Or, if you're feeling lush, take a sailing trip out to the Balearic islands, such as Ibiza! Yachts can be hired bareboat or with a skipper, whilst keen anglers can even indulge in a bit of deep sea fishing in the Mediterranean. For more fun in the waves check out our article on water sports in Barcelona.
13) Shake Up Your Drinking Habits
If you've been ordering the same thing behind the bar for too long now, then how about enrolling for some cocktail classes in Barcelona... under expert guidance you'll learn how to mix some of the tastiest concoctions known and serve them up with panache. Mark our words, once you've mastered the simple art of making the perfect caipirinha you'll be the most important guest at any party. Organising by partners of Barcelona Life, the experience is perfect for stag dos or hen parties, or any party-minded group of friends.
14) Party On The Seven Seas
That's right m'hearties, get as drunk as a sailor with 79 other wild young things during the Barcelona Booze Cruise, which sets sail twice or thrice a week during the warmer months and features BBQ, DJs, games and a shipload of beer, cocktails and sangria. Definitely one of the best things to do in BCN for party animals! Check out this crazy video for a preview of what to expect.
15) Get Electric! On Two Wheels
The Catalan capital is chock-a-block with providers offering a little sightseeing via cycling, but how many of them also offer you a turbo-boost in the form of assisted battery power? Take a bike tour with Barcelona e-Bikes and you'll be racing around the city on a vehicle that is something between a traditional bicycle and a scooter - and which can get you up and down hills even a doped-up Lance Armstrong would quiver at. Great for covering a lot of ground, without having to get on a tourist bus.
16) Race A Ferrari Around An F1 Circuit
It's not every day you get to drive a Ferrari. And it's not every day you get to race around the Circuit de Catalunya, official track of the F1 Spanish Grand Prix. Put the two together and you've got a very special luxury day out indeed. Check out the Barcelona Ferrari driving experience for more details!
17) Embark On A Treasure Hunt
Race against opposing teams, and the clock, as you navigate the winding streets of the Barri Gotic and beyond in a bid to find the (proverbial) treasure in this interactive urban game! You'll have to solve cryptic clues, consult your compass and move sharpish to claim the winner's bottle of Spanish champagne. Just one of many zany and adventurous activities offered by the inventive Lifestyle Barcelona tour company!
18) Hold A Mammoth's Tusk
There's a new museum in town if you haven't heard. And it's big, bad and hairy... or at least its exhibits are. In Barcelona's Mammoth Museum you'll find skeletons millenia older than the city's Roman walls, which have been recently unearthed in the marshes of Siberia and presented for your pleasure. Best of all visitors are allowed, and even encouraged, to handle some of the exhibits including the tusks and molars of woolly mammoths and the hide of a woolly rhinoceros.
19) Eat Tapas... And Dance Flamenco!
Ok you don't get to actually dance flamenco. That's best left to the professionals! But you do get to see a first class show by some of Spain's foremost musicians and dancers, and then enjoy some traditional Spanish cuisine in the form of tapas. This night costs just 27 euros and is great way to combine two of Spain's most famous traditions into one evening. More dedicated gourmands meanwhile might want to go on a guided tapas tour of Barcelona... or independently explore the best tapas restaurants in the Catalan capital.
20) Take a Funky Tricycle Ride
Sit back, you're on holiday! Let your iron-thighed guide do the work and take a sightseeing tour of the city on one of Funky Cycle's rickshaws. More commonly associated with the Far East these three-passenger tricycles are perfect for trundling along the beachfront and up La Rambla whilst your guide points out sites of interest. Ecologocial, fun and a little different!
21) Hmmmm, still thinking about this...
...meanwhile please share your own thoughts in the comments section!
Still not sure what to do in BCN? Are you crazy??? Try swinging by our guide section for the essential attractions and a break down of the best districts. Or read up on our recommended tour providers for more original (as well as tried and tested) activity ideas... for a different take on things consult this nearly-as-awesome-as-ours list by Time Out.