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Barcelona Off the Beaten Path: 8 of the Best Things to Do

Discover the best of Barcelona off the beaten path. Explore El Poblenou and Poble-Sec neighborhoods in Barcelona, Spain.
We recently found ourselves in Barcelona with the gift of about eight hours to explore between the time our bus arrived from Costa Brava and our flight home.  

While definitely a top destination, we'd been to the city twice already so we wanted to explore Barcelona off the beaten path a bit this time to get a more local flavor taking advantage of some awesome Barcelona travel tips

Let's explore where to go if you are a repeat visitor to Barcelona who is tired of the tourist crowds! 

Things to do in Barcelona Off the Beaten Path

We focused in on El Poblenou, the up and coming Tech quarter of Barcelona and Poble-Sec, a neighborhood that is just a couple Metro stops from La Rambla but is still a world away from the hoards of tourists that descend on Barcelona. 

Here are eight highlights (about one per hour!) of our afternoon adventure.

1. Explore Parc de l'Estació del Nord

A small shady park featuring concentric circles of trees lies just outside the bus terminal at l'Estació del Nord.  We sat on a bench for a few minutes admiring the scenery and the playful doves overhead.
Off the Beaten Path Barcelona: Parc de l'Estació del Nord

2. Walk Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park is just a short detour between the bus terminal and El Poblenou and we took time to stroll arm in arm past the fountains and pink Parliament of Catalonia.  
Off the Beaten Path Barcelona: Ciutadella Park

3. Look for Old Time Signs

I love the atmosphere in Barcelona.  Old fashioned restaurants and bars that have been around for years beckon to passersby with quaint neon signs.  
Bar Restaurante Bar Picanton - neon sign in Barcelona

4. Experience the Rebirth of a Barcelona Neighborhood

El Poblenou used to be a center of heavy industry in Barcelona.  All that changed at the start of the 21st century when plans were implemented to turn El Poblenou into a thriving innovation district.  

This was largely deemed successful and today a stroll through the neighborhood showcases old meeting new in the look and feel of the architecture.
Off the Beaten Path Barcelona: Old smokestack in El Poblenou neighborhood

5. Enjoy a Menu del Dia on Rambla del Poblenou

The sun was shining brightly and a cool breeze filled the air as we sat down to lunch along Rambla del Poblenou. We treated ourselves to an affordable 3-course lunch with a bottle of wine.  

The food was excellent and the relaxing atmosphere made the experience even sweeter.  I could get used to this!
Barcelona Off the Beaten Path: Menu del dia at La Tertulia along Rambla del Poblenou

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking to escape the tourist hordes in Barcelona for a more chill vacation? Head over to Costa Brava. Spend a day in charming Girona, discover an alternative side to Lloret de Mar, and spend a relaxing day in Palafrugell.

6. Admire Barcelona Architecture

We moved on by Metro to Poble-sec where we took a walk to orient ourselves in the neighborhood and admire the stately apartment blocks that give the area a regal feel.  
Off the beaten path Barcelona: Apartment blocks in Poble-Sec

7. Watch the Transformation from Industry to Playground

Like El Poblenou, Poble-Sec also seems to be a neighborhood in transition.  We spotted Jardins de les Tres Xemeneies which was set on the site of an old factory.  

Edgy skaters and street art collide with this high end neighborhood. The park definitely captured our attention as we walked past.
Parc de les Tres Xemeneies in Poble-sec neighborhood of Barcelona

8. Eat Tapas at Blai 9

We finished our brief stay in Barcelona with a real treat: Tapas at Blai 9.  Poble-sec features an array of restaurants and tapas bars along pedestrianized Carrer de Blai.  We peeked into Blai 9 and the array of imaginative bites on display drew us in.  

Each tapa is nestled in a color coded plate so we took what we wanted and then the bartender counted up the plates and gave us our bill at the end.
Barcelona off the beaten path: Tapas at Blai 9

Map of Barcelona Off the Beaten Path

Since both El Poblenou and Poble-sec are a bit off the standard tourist trail, I thought I'd end this post with a map of some of the key areas that we covered. Click on the image below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps.

Map of Barcelona Off the Beaten Path

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Things to do in Barcelona Off the Beaten PathThings to do in Barcelona Off The Beaten Path

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other destination ideas in Spain? Why not:


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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Barcelona Off the Beaten Path: 8 of the Best Things to Do
Barcelona Off the Beaten Path: 8 of the Best Things to Do
Discover the best of Barcelona off the beaten path. Explore El Poblenou and Poble-Sec neighborhoods in Barcelona, Spain.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog