Want to know what the Carmel Bunkers are all about? Going off-the-beaten-track is one of the best ways to discover Europe, and Barcelona’s Carmel Bunkers are a real hidden gem. Take a step away from the crowds of Park Guell and Sagrada Familia and venture up to the Bunkers del Carmel for views of Barcelona that will leave you speechless. We might even go as far as to say it’s one of the best views in Europe. If you’re after an awesome free view of Barcelona, or just something a little more offbeat, visiting the Carmel Bunkers is the perfect thing to do. From the Bunkers you have a view of everything, from how huge and majestic the Sagrada Familia stands above the city to the Barceloneta beach and the sea into the distance.
Read on to find out more about how to get to the Bunkers, a little bit about them and a few tips and tricks.
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ABOUT THE CARMEL BUNKERS
The Carmel Bunkers, otherwise known as The Bunker, Bunkers del Carmel or El Turo de la Rovira, despite what the name suggests do not and have never had any bunkers. Back in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War, the top of Turo de la Rovira (the hilltop where you’ll find the Bunkers) was used as a base for anti-aircraft warfare and defending the city from aerial attacks.
After the war the Bunkers del Carmel became a shanty town, home to around 7% of Barcelona’s population. With the Olympics coming to town in 1992, the people living here were rehoused as part of the city’s efforts to improve, and so the Bunkers gained its deserved reputation as the best viewpoint in Barcelona. For a while it was pretty much abandoned, visited only by locals in the know of what incredible beauty they offered. Now, more and more people have been discovering its 360 views but while it’s busier than ever it’s still one of the most beautiful yet quietest spots in the city.
Whilst there are little to no facilities at the Bunkers nowadays, there is a small museum which will tell you more about the history of the Bunkers del Carmel.
HOW TO GET TO THE CARMEL BUNKERS
Getting to the Carmel Bunkers is way easier than a lot of people make out. With 3 different ways to get there, there’s a decent route whether you’d like to walk a little bit, a lot or not really at all. We recommend you download the Citymapper App which is awesome for telling you exactly how to get around Barcelona, even to the Bunkers. But we’ll break it down for you, too…
Getting to the Bunkers by Metro is the route which will require the most amount of walking. While it’s a nice walk, it’s all quite uphill so - pre-warning - if you’re not up to it then it’ll literally take your breath away!
The metro part is easy, simply get on the L4 line in the direction of Trinitat Nova and get off at Alfons X. From there, you might want Citymapper up on your phone to give you a helping hand. It’s about a half an hour walk up hill, and on your phone it’s likely to show up as MUHBA Turo de la Rovira. Don’t let the walk put you off as once you’re there resting your feet in front of the best view in Barca, all those regrets will slip away.
While the bus to the Bunkers does stop right in Barcelona city centre at Plaça Catalunya, if you want to save time we recommend you take the Metro first and then the bus. After that there’s just a 10 minute walk up to the top. Unless you really fancy the hike from the metro, getting to the Carmel Bunkers by bus would be our top choice.
From the centre of Barcelona, take the L3 line in the direction of Trinitat Nova to Vallcarca. Just outside the station here, there’s a bus stop where the number 22 bus picks people up to go to El Carmel (walk as though you’re on your way up the hill and you’ll find the bus stop). All you need to do is stay on board right until the end when it arrives at Gran Vista, Turo de la Rovira.
Hop off the bus then bare right up the winding road on foot, you can’t really go wrong as either direction you choose to take from here will lead you to the top. The walk does get your heart pumping (we’re heading to the hilltop remember), but it’s only 10 minutes and the views along the way make it all so worth it!
Of course, there’s the option to take a taxi which will take you as far as you can go - further than the bus. From Las Ramblas, a taxi will cost you about €15, or from Park Guell it’s just €10. Either way, if you’re going for the views and don’t fancy the effort, a taxi is an easy (but much more expensive) option.
WHEN TO GO TO THE BUNKERS
The Bunkers are stunning at every time of day, so the short answer is it doesn’t really matter what time you arrive.
Whilst the view at sunset is absolutely spectacular, this is by far the busiest time and the best sitting spots will probably be taken. So unless you sit and hold your spot for hours before, you’re unlikely to get a photo sat at the edge without masses of people surrounding you. Of course, it’s not all about the photo! But if you’d like to relax and enjoy the view with a beer and a little peace and quiet, sunset probably isn’t the time for you.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Here are a few ways you can make your Carmel Bunkers experience the best it can be.
Take drinks up
Right at the top of our list of tips for the Carmel Bunkers - bring a drink or two with you! Before you start your journey to the top, pop by a local store to pick up a couple of cans of beer or a bottle of wine. Nothing beats a good view like a good view AND an alcoholic beverage.
Unless you go for the taxi option, we recommend you don some comfy shoes for the journey. And definitely don’t wear shoes that could easily slip off - just imagine being sat, feet over the edge for that perfect photo and losing a slider to the Turo de la Rovira…
Sunset is the busiest
As we mentioned before, if you want to avoid the crowds it’s best to avoid sunset. However if you’re not bothered and like a little atmosphere, the sunset view is unreal.
Bring a jacket
If you do get there for sunset, bringing a jacket or a blanket is wise. Being at the top of a hill, it’s pretty breezy which is amazing on a boiling hot day, but when the sun starts to set and you’re just sitting there, you’ll no doubt feel a little chill.