7 Hidden gems in Barcelona

Your local, undiscovered guide to the beautiful city of Barcelona

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  • 10 June 2021
  • • 8 min read

It goes without saying, the city of Barcelona really is home to a wealth of natural and architectural beauty that has built up over years of incredible history. Whether it's your first visit to the city or you’ve been enticed back, there’s so much more to discover than the obvious tourist hotspots! If you're looking to delve deeper into the hidden gems that lie within the Spanish capital, well, we have you covered. Follow our guide to uncover secret botanical gardens, a romantic maze, magnificent viewpoints to watch the sunset and so much more, all within minutes from St Christopher’s Inns Barcelona.

Set off from Plaça Catalunya station or take a scenic walk to any of the undiscovered locations below to get a better taste of Barcelona and take incredible photographs to share when you get home! 

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1. Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera

37 minute walk from St Christopher’s Inns Barcelona

Often referred to as “one of the most beautiful gardens on the planet”, Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera is home to a myriad of incredible plant and tree species, with the greatest asset being its phenomenal collection of cacti that originate from across the world. It’s hard to believe that 40% of its variety were killed off during a frost in 1987! Due to being hidden away in the lower end of La Rambla, it is the least visited of the gardens in the city. This gives you the perfect opportunity to capture an aesthetically pleasing photo free from crowds or simply to get a moment of tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of city life. What’s more, with its central location on Montjuïc hillside, you’ll be able to bask in wide-spanning views of the city’s coastline and port as you descend upon the gardens. Take the time to stroll, picnic, stare and ponder but be sure to have charged your camera before you leave the hostel!

2. Bunkers del Carmel

41 minutes by bus and metro from St Christopher’s Inns Barcelona 

Once used as wartime bunkers and home to military armour, then a shelter for the poor during the Franco regime, now is an overlooked historical monument that provides an incredible panoramic view of the city, completely free of charge! This anti-aircraft battery is 257 meters high, making it a brilliant hike if that's your sort of thing. But if not, you can always just get the bus. Either way, pack yourself a picnic and don’t be afraid to bring an alcoholic beverage as public drinking is widely accepted. You will also find a small museum inside one of the bunkers, installed by the Museu D’Historia De Barcelona (MUHBA) to commemorate its history and purpose during the Spanish Civil War.

We’d also recommend joining the locals and the minimal amount of tourists that often gather to watch the sunset over the city. Listen to music, share stories and bask in the natural beauty while perching on this unspoiled hidden gem.

3. Horta Labyrinth

24 minutes by metro from St Christopher’s Inns Barcelona

Lose yourself among the ancient Laberint d’Horta as you twist and turn through 2,000 feet of pristinely kept towering hedges in the oldest garden in the city. Explore the romance of this archetypal secret maze as you weave your way to the centre, spotting the statues of Greek gods in the pavilions above. Take the time to appreciate the natural elegance when passing the pond nearby and make the most of the unique photo opportunities that will be sure to have your friends green-eyed with jealousy.

Good to know: They do charge an understandable €2.23 entry fee, however, entry is free on a Wednesday and Sunday. Another thing to bear in mind is that they only allow 750 visitors per day, so head there at a reasonable time to avoid disappointment.

4. Botanical garden

18 minutes by car or 39 minutes by bus from St Christopher’s Inns Barcelona

Discover the wonders of nature as you explore the Jardí Botànic de Barcelona. Not only is it a beautiful botanical garden in a Mediterranean climate, but it’s also a great place to learn about the wonders of botany. Walk up to the Institut Botànic de Barcelona (IBB), an institute that specialises in botanical research and is home to a large, comprehensive library. They aim to conserve and disseminate Mediterranean plants from across the world in this incredible garden dating back to 1888. Many visitors often find it hard to put into words the entrancing sense of calm and tranquillity that the gardens possess. So we’d recommend that you take a book, listen to some music or simply take a wander among this exquisite herbarium and experience it for yourself. The garden is also set between a number of stadiums used when the city hosted the 1992 Olympic Games, making it even more worth a visit. 

5. Teatre Grec

25 minutes by bus from St Christopher’s Inns Barcelona

Take a trip to visit the ancient Greek-style theatre, Teatre Grec, built in 1929 by Catalan architect Ramon Reventós. This open-air theatre, located on Montjuïc, is an architectural must-see and often home to some fabulous live events such as plays and concerts. This amphitheatre which can seat 1900 people and spans over 460 square metres was originally built for the Barcelona International Exposition, which is one of the most important events that shaped the city’s urban landscape. As one of the few constructions retained from the exposition, it is now home to “Festival Grec de Barcelona”, the city’s summertime outdoor cultural event. The affair is a longstanding international music, dance, theatre and circus festival dating back to 1976. Fourty-five years on and the festival is still running. Get yourself a ticket to a live performance or wander over in the day to experience what it would’ve been like to sit and watch a gladiator fight during the Roman era… not many people will be able to say they’ve done that!

6. Montjuïc Castle

18 minutes by car or 39 minutes by metro and bus from St Christopher’s Inns Barcelona

Discover the history behind the ancient Montjuïc Castle that dates all the way back to 1640! The castle is an old military fortress situated on the very top of Montjuïc Hill with 360-degree views of stunning Barcelona. It serves as a highly symbolic reminder of Spain's history, having played a part in many decisive battles and been overtaken by Napoleon, it would be a shame to miss out on a visit. Take a guided tour that lasts around an hour to delve deeper into the castle's origins, such as its role in the incarceration of political figures during the Spanish civil war. Learn more about its incredible architecture and gain access to areas that aren't easily accessible by the rest of the public. What’s more, you can take a ride in the Montjuïc cable car to access the castle and enjoy wonderful views of the city in a relaxing and fun way on route. If this doesn't sound like a plan then I don’t know what does!

Good to know: To ride the Montjuïc cable car tickets for €8.90 single or €13.50 return must be purchased; however, it is worth it for the views. 

Tickets for the guided tours range between €4 to €9 depending on the day you decide to go, so check it out before you venture up!

7. Hospital de Sant Pau

11-minute walk from St Christopher’s Inns Barcelona

Built between 1901 and 1930 and designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner the Catalan modernisme architect, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau really is a figure of architectural beauty. This colourful and uplifting masterpiece often leaves visitors in wonder as to why other hospitals are built with such dull sterility. Rightly, this complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site having over 600 years of history behind its walls. Once existing as a medieval charitable home, a modern hospital and now home to the medical faculty and Catalan State Library, there is lots to learn about during your visit to Hospital de Sant Pau. And if its history isn’t grabbing you, then simply to gorp at the exquisite exterior and snap a few pics is definitely worth the 11-minute walk from St Christopher's Barcelona.

Good to know: Tickets to go inside Hospital de Sant Pau typically cost €15 for general admission or €19 with an audio guide.

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