One of the reasons I love Barcelona is its impeccable location – nestled snugly between the sea and mountains, we’re quite spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing what we want to do on the weekends. Fancy a day with your book on the sand? Not a problem. Fancy a day hiking or biking in the mountains? We’ve got you covered.
Next to the sea is one of my favourite places to be – but I can only spend so much time on the beach, because 1. I burn, and I burn baaaad 2. I get really bloody restless (I can’t be the only one who can only take so much relaxing, no?). Growing up in the South Wales valleys, I’m a sucker for hills and green landscapes – and I can’t get enough of their continental counterparts here.
Tibidabo, Montjuic, and Montserrat are by far the most well-known of the mountains – the former two being a lot easier to reach, while Montserrat is around 60km outside of the city. All are unique in what they have to offer at their respective summits – Tibidabo hosts a theme park and Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, a magnificent church looming over Barcelona from the hilltops; Montjuic is topped by a magnificent castle ; while Montserrat is multi-peaked, and is home to an incredible monastery – but are, as you’d expect, packed with tourists the year round.
While wanting to visit and take in as much as I can, I really do relish any chance I get to avoid the tourists and the expensive entry charges, and am always itching to explore some of the more ‘untapped’ parts of Barcelona. When my friend told me about Bunkers del Carmel and its free 360 degree views of the city, I had to get my little bum there ASAP.
It’s not the easiest of places to get to in Barcelona (I’ve put a ‘how to get there’ at the end of this post) and the walk will make you sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat, sweat up those steep hills…
But boy, is it worth it.
Unfortunately, I was only able to take one picture with my DSLR as it wouldn’t focus (I later learned that this was because I’d accidentally switched to manual mode…genius) so I had to rely on my iPhone – but you can still make out the Sagrada Familia, Torre Agbar, Hotel W etc etc… If you’re nimble enough to climb over some barriers, you can sit on the forefront of the bunkers and dangle your legs off the edge. Also, please, PLEASE, wear comfortable shoes. Put the flatforms away for this lil’ excursion.
The only downside to visiting during the day is that there is absolutely no shade – so make sure you’re prepared in the form of hats, layers of suncream, and something to cover your shoulders – and it can get pretty bloody windy, as evidenced by the attempted pictures below… After searching the #bunkersdelcarmel hashtag on Instagram, I found swathes of arty shots people had taken – group jump shots, people in twisty yoga positions – alas, this day was not my day to shine.
We spent about two hours up there, just sat relaxing and talking. Visiting on a Monday afternoon, there were very few people there and it was perfectly serene and peaceful. However, knowing that people visit at night to watch the sunset, I wasn’t about to endure a case of FOMO…so back up the hill we trekked one night a couple of weeks later; and the views were just as incredible at dusk.
The few hours I spent at Bunkers were honestly some of the best I’ve had in Barcelona to date. Watching the city bustle from above; seeing the sun slowly melt into the sea; saying nothing but listening to the voices around are experiences I’ll never forget. Barca, you are beautiful.
How to get there
We drove there by entering ‘Carrer de Budapest’ into Google Maps, which will take you to a car park at the bottom of Parc del Guinardó. Parking is free, and then you follow the trails up to Bunkers. There are no directions, but just keep heading up!
Take the yellow line/Line 4 to Alfons X, and walk through the park – it will then take you around half an hour to walk up to Bunkers (take a map/enable GoogleMaps – but the route is easy enough to follow).
You can catch the number 24 bus from Passeig de Gracia to Carrer Muhlberg, or the V17 bus will take you straight to the entrance of Parc del Guinardó. Again, it’s a simple case of walking upwards!
What do you think? Would you visit Bunkers?