Our explorations of history, culture, and spectacle will take place during one of the most exciting times in the year: Carnival. During our week together, we will celebrate Carnival with shows inspired by the golden age of classical music and cabaret in Barcelona. And on our final evening, we will don our best outfits and enter a lavish 17th-century palace for a Masquerade Ball.
Whether this is your first time in Barcelona or your fifth, this adventure is an extraordinary opportunity to fully immerse yourself in one of the most diverse and breathtaking cities in Europe with a curious group of 20 Atlas Obscura explorers.
- Down the rabbit holes of history: Each day on this carefully curated tour, you’ll be peering into a different corner of Barcelona’s fascinating history—from science and medicine to art and religion to sin and vice.
- Live music and performance: Experience a classical piano concert inside a private library and a cabaret performance at a tango bar.
- Carnival Gala and Masquerade Ball: On your final night, transform into your most glamorous self and allow yourself to be swept off your feet in a colorful whirlwind of dancing, costumes, cocktails, and opera, all at a lavish Baroque palace.
YOUR EXPERT ORGANIZERS AND GUIDES
Felipe Trigo is a native of Barcelona. He has a degree in History, with a specialization in the contemporary period, as well as experience as a local guide, curating itineraries aimed at discovering the most surprising and hidden elements within the city. Inspired by a special devotion to stage arts, Felipe has directed the underground cabaret company Kriminal Kabarett since 2011, working with prestigious artists in Europe. Since 2014, he has served as co-director for Hendrick’s Congress for Curious People in Spain, a chapter of the original Congress of Curious Peoples based in Coney Island, New York.
Irina Sytcheva is an international tourist guide with a degree in tourism who has worked for top companies in both Spain and Russia. Her focus is on Modernist art, and she leads the official tours in Park Güell and other Gaudí architectural masterpieces. Irina is one of the most important collaborators in the Centre d’Estudis Domènech i Montaner, translating the architect’s bibliography to Russian. She also organizes extraordinary events related to classical music and culture.
A $300 non-refundable deposit is required to secure your spot, as we have a limited capacity, and we expect the trip to fill quickly. The trip will cost $2,977—the $300 deposit plus the $2,677 final payment—and will cover all fixed costs including all accommodations, meals, and activities listed in the itinerary below.
Please email us at trips@or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.
Arrive and Settle In
- Today, arrive in Barcelona and make your way to Hotel Oriente, set in a 19th-century building and located a 20-minute walk from the beach. Take the chance to rest from your travels.
- If you have time to wander and explore on your own, we’ll happily provide recommendations. If you plan to arrive early, we can also arrange extra nights at the hotel for you.
- At 8 p.m., we’ll stroll from our hotel over to 7 Portes, which offers some of the best paella and seafood in the city. Here, we’ll raise our glasses to celebrate the beginning of our exciting week in Barcelona.
Myths and Mysteries in Ancient Barcelona
- Today, we will set out to discover the most interesting myths and mysteries along the oldest streets in Barcelona. After breakfast at the hotel, we will begin our tour at the Arús Public Library, which has a spectacular interior.
- From here, we’ll continue with a fascinating walk into the medieval district towards Santa Maria del Pi Church. Receive insight into some of Barcelona’s most shocking and enigmatic passages of medieval history, from ghost legends and the legacy of the Inquisition to alchemy and occult sciences.
- As we continue our winding journey through Barcelona’s supernatural history, we’ll see Sant Just i Pastor, rumored to be the oldest church in the city. If we have time, we’ll also make a short visit to Santa Maria del Pi Church and its Gothic bell tower.
- For lunch, we’ll rest our feet and feed our appetites on traditional Catalan cuisine at Can Culleretes. Founded in 1786, it is the oldest active restaurant in the city.
- After our relaxed lunch, we’ll visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, housed within the Palau Nacional, a grandiose, hilltop edifice. Here, we invite you to rediscover Barcelona’s great International Exposition of 1929 held atop Montjuïc, a mountain revered as magical since antiquity.
- This is an opportunity to unveil the secrets of the National Palace itself—we will visit the museum vaults, which are home to Romanesque paintings, Gothic and Renaissance sculptures, and Baroque and Romantic masterpieces.
- This evening, you are free to wander and dine on your own, though you’re also welcome to join your guides at one of their favorite local spots.
The Golden Age of Spectacle
- Today, we will venture into the Raval district. We’ll be devoting our attention to art, science, medicine, and death, and exploring aristocratic palaces and former pleasure venues.
- Our first stop will be the anatomical amphitheater, one of the most well-preserved in the world, at the Royal College of Surgeons.
- Next, you’ll hear about the decadent Belle Époque era in Raval and the frightening story of Enriqueta Martí—a serial killer said to be the “vampire of Raval.” Time permitting, we’ll visit the splendid La Paloma Sala de Ball (Paloma Ballroom), a treasure from the period.
- We’ll have lunch in Plaça Reial (Royal Square), in one of the city’s most special restaurants: El Taxidermista, a former, historic taxidermy shop and once Salvador Dali’s favorite spot in Barcelona.
- After lunch and perhaps an aperitif, we’ll continue to Palau Güell, an astonishing aristocratic residence built by Antoni Gaudí for his patron, Eusebi Güell. Güell, one of the richest men in Spain, commissioned the world-famous Park Güell with its iconic mosaics.
- From here, we dive into Barcelona’s sin city: “Barri Xino,” the former “Chinese district,” frequented in the 1930s by writers such as Jean Genet and Georges Bataille. Tracing the route of their adventures, we will pass through a neighborhood defined by its scandalous brothels, cabarets, and clubs.
- We’ll soon find ourselves on “Avinguda del Paral·lel,” a street that was devoted to spectacle between 1894 and 1936, often compared to Broadway in New York or the Montmartre in Paris.
- Our day tops off at the tango bar Tinta Roja, a magnificent venue where we’ll enjoy a cocktail and a tribute to the golden age of spectacle in Barcelona: a performance by one of Barcelona’s best in the contemporary cabaret scene.
Gràcia & Sant Pau i la Santa Creu
- Today, we’ll embark on a walking tour of Gràcia, one of Barcelona’s most exciting districts. An independent village until 1897, it’s well known today for being one of the biggest cultural centers in the city.
- We begin with an exclusive visit to Oleguer Junyent’s workshop, an extraordinary Belle Époque atelier. Venture into the private art studio of a Catalan genius who devoted his life to painting, writing, collecting, and stage design. In addition to Oleguer’s paintings, sculptures, models, and various other works, the workshop contains one of the most complete collections of automata in the city.
- For lunch, we’ll drop into the nearby Da Greco, which has a variety of delicious pastas and seafoods.
- After lunch, we’ll explore the history of science and medicine with a visit inside the Sant Pau i la Santa Creu complex. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul), now a World Heritage Site, is an extraordinary example of Catalan Gothic architecture, home to spectacular sculptures and mosaics.
- We’ll get to visit almost all of the complex, erected between 1905 and 1930 by Lluís Domenech i Muntaner and his son. Our tour here ends in the former House of Convalescence, now the headquarters of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, a wondrous building which still impresses with its chapel and elaborate ceramics.
- We’ll provide suggestions for dinner. For those in the mood to stay out longer, we can bring you to some of our favorite spots for a proper cocktail.
Occult Treasures of Tibidabo Avenue
- This morning, we begin in the former village of Sant Gervasi with an unusual tour through the splendor and decadence of bourgeois Barcelona. We’ll meander along Tibidabo Avenue and visit the palace which hosted the Soviet embassy in 1936, and learn in detail about Soviet intervention in the Spanish Civil War.
- We’ll trace the path of aristocratic residences, such as the Villa Hispanoárabe, an incredible private residence inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Granada. After this tour, you’ll understand why Barcelona was called “the City of Prodigies” between 1888 and 1936.
- For lunch, we’ll settle into the restaurant Asador de Aranda.
- After lunch, we’ll visit the Almirall Library. Notorious for its masonic architecture, it is now a private residence. Here, we’ll enjoy a relaxed and romantic evening, with a glass of cava—a traditional Catalan drink very similar to champagne—and a classical music concert. The private piano performance will feature the music of famous composers who lived close to Tibidabo, such as Richard Strauss and Enrique Granados.
Labyrinth Park & Gardens of Pleasure
- The last day of our adventure through Barcelona will be devoted to the exquisite art and culture of the city’s 18th century, with a tour through Parc del Laberint d’Horta (Labyrinth Park) in the morning—and tonight, our spectacular Carnival Masquerade.
- Our explorations within Labyrinth Park will reveal the best-kept secrets in this aristocratic garden of pleasures. Built in 1791 and inspired by the myth of Ariadne and the Minotaur, this garden is a luxury for the senses.
- During our walk, we’ll learn about the influences of early Romanticism, illustrated in cemetery ruins and certain exotic architectural elements, as well as the memories of special historic events.
- We’ll soon find ourselves inside the Palau de les Heures, home to an air shelter built for the President of Catalonia in 1937.
- Lunch will be at Can Cortada, an 11th-century castle transformed into a mansion in the Baroque era.
- Before our big night, we’d like to transport you back to the Age of Enlightenment with a theatrical tour. Costumed interpreters playing Giacomo Casanova and his lover, the dancer Nina Bergonzi, will guide you through the couple’s erotic adventures, reminiscing upon their 1768 visit to Barcelona. We’ll discover the scandalous stories behind the most important Baroque palaces, the masked balls organized by the former governor, the mysteries of Count Cagliostro, the favorite places of famous libertines, and other hushed aspects of private life from this century.
- We’ll share a last dinner at the restaurant El 300 del Born. Over traditional dishes from that time period, we’ll look back on the past week—and hundreds of years—that we’ll have explored together, and discuss our outfits for the upcoming evening spectacular.
- As a magnificent final celebration and send-off, arrive at Palau Dalmases in your best ballroom attire for the Carnival Gala and Masquerade Ball. This palace, a lavish residence with a Baroque courtyard designed to evoke the myths of Neptune, Lord of the Seas, is famous for playing host to exclusive gatherings of 18th-century intellectuals, musicians, and artists. This ball will be attended by our Atlas Obscura group and local revelers alike. We’ll pay tribute to Barcelona’s most memorable Carnival nights with cocktails, opera, and theater performances inspired by the Rococo Era— before taking to the dance floor.
- Wake up and enjoy breakfast at your leisure. This morning, we bid farewell to new friends, fellow explorers, and wonderful guides. Depart for flights or trains home, or onto your next destination.
- While this is the official end of our time together, we are happy to arrange you extra nights at Hotel Oriente if you would like to extend your time in Barcelona, and to provide suggestions for other things to do and see.
- Until the next adventure!
YOUR BARCELONA EXPEDITION INCLUDES
- All lodging in double-accommodation rooms at the Hotel Oriente for the duration of the tour. (Single supplement for a private room is available for $450. Otherwise we’ll work to place individuals of the same sex together.)
- Daily breakfast at the hotel, five lunches, and two dinners.
- Two expert guides, with a great depth and breadth of knowledge about Barcelona, its elaborate history, and its vibrant arts and culture.
- Admission to all proposed activities and events, including the Carnival Gala and Masquerade Ball on your final night.
- A full briefing packet for each explorer, including logistical and contact information, recommended reading list, and packing list.
- A curious group of fellow Atlas Obscura explorers, excited to discover all that Barcelona has to offer!
We recommend you have a medium fitness level to fully participate in this trip. You should be comfortable staying on your feet for long stretches at a time, and walking anywhere between 3 to 6 miles a day. We will be out and about most of each day, with time to rest at lunch and dinner, both of which will take place on the later side.
You will be charged a $300 deposit to hold your space. This deposit is non-refundable after three days. The final payment of $2,677 will be due by November 15, 2017. We will provide an option to pay in two installments, due October 16 and November 15. All reservations will be final after this date, and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the trip’s Terms & Conditions. For those wishing to have a single room and/or extra nights at the Hotel Oriente, optional supplements will be included with the final payment.
TRAVELERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR
- Transportation and flights to and from Barcelona.
- Transportation from the Barcelona airport (or other origin) to the group’s hotel.
- Individual travel insurance (optional).
- Baggage charges.
- Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings.
Please email us at trips@or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.
(via Atlas Obscura)