The Bunkers Barcelona is a real hidden gem. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say it’s quite possibly our favourite spot in the whole of this incredible city.
It’s alternatively known as the Bunkers del Carmel, El Turó de la Rovira, or simply The Bunker. And this hilltop hideaway is a truly chilled out vantage point where you can enjoy some of the most epic aerial views of BCN.
It’s impossible not to feel awestruck as you gaze over the terracotta rooftops stretching out seemingly endlessly around you. From the peak you can pick out many of Barcelona’s major landmarks.
These include the Sagrada Familia, the Palace of Montjuic and numerous surrounding mountains. Plus you can enjoy sweeping views of the coastline.
If you’re looking for something a little different to do in Barcelona that won’t cost you a penny then the bunkers are a must. Here’s everything you need to know about their history, how to get there, when to go, and what to do when you’re up there.
A Brief History of the Bunkers Barcelona
El Turó de la Rovira is the name of the hill that the bunkers occupy. It has huge historical significance to the area.
Probably thanks to the strategic 360 perspective it provides, it has been constantly occupied for hundreds of years. And its those same unique views that made it the ideal place to position anti aircraft weaponry. It was used to defend the city from aerial attacks during the brutal civil war from 1936 to 1939.
These days the guns are gone and just the crumbling, industrial looking concrete defenses remain. But in the intervening years the shelters were adapted into slum housing. In fact an entire shanty town developed in the surrounding area, at one stage home to 7% of Barcelona’s residents.
This was only disbanded in the 1990s with the arrival of the Olympics. The games prompted efforts to upgrade much of the city and ultimately led to the Bunker’s occupants being rehoused.
Having remained largely forgotten for the following decade, the Bunkers del Carmel started to be rediscovered in the early 2000s. This was solely thanks to the unrivalled views they provide.
There is also a small museum built into one of the bunkers which was partially excavated. It now tells the story of the history of the area.
How to Get to the Bunkers Del Carmel
There are various ways to get to the top of the Bunkers Barcelona. However, it’s at the top of a 260 metre tall mound. This means they inevitably all involve a bit of an uphill slog.
Be prepared for a pretty steep climb of up to around half an hour. This will depend on the route you take and how quickly you walk. Plus how often you pause to take in the developing views.
How to Get to the Bunkers Barcelona By Metro
Other guides say that the best metro station to approach the Bunkers Barcelona from is Guinardo / Hospital de Sant Pau. However, we actually think it’s far easier from Alfons X.
They’re both on the Yellow Line 4 but Alfons X is a little closer to the bottom of El Turó de la Rovira. This is where the path up starts so it makes sense to get as close as you can.
Once you arrive at Alfons X take the Ronda del Guinardo exit.
Cross the road that goes down into an underground tunnel and turn left to walk up Carrer de Pere Costa. Next take the first left onto Carrer de Thous.
Walk up here until you come to a funky looking roundabout with a mini water fountain.
Go directly across the roundabout where you’ll come to Carrer de Tenerife. It will lead you to the bottom of the steps up to the Bunker, this is where the steep climb begins.
You’ll know you’re at the start when you see a large playground on your right hand side. There’s a dirt football pitch, some ping pong tables and a kids play area in it.
The stairs have a map by the side of them and a sign that says “Escales de Tenerife”. From here it’s virtually impossible to get lost.
Even at points where the path splits into two, it always joins up again. So just pick whichever one takes your fancy.
Towards the top of the stairs on your left you’ll start to see a large metal bridge that looks like a train track. Aim for that as you need to walk across it.
Once you’re at the other side of the bridge you can see the bunkers above you on the peak of the hill. Now it’s just a case of following the paths that double back up on themselves until you reach it.
Along the route up you will more than likely see some graffiti on the path directed at tourists. Things like “Tourist go home”, “Tourism kills this city”, and other choice soundbites along those lines.
Don’t be put off by this. While there is a small anti tourism movement within Barcelona, it certainly doesn’t reflect the views of the majority.
In fact this kind of graffiti often gets covered up to make the messages read things like “Tourists welcome”.
How to Get to the Bunkers Barcelona By Bus
There is a bus that will actually take you far closer to the top of El Turó de la Rovira than any of the metro stations. However, the walk up is fun and the views get increasingly better the higher you go.
If you’re able then we’d suggest walking from the bottom. If you’re not a fan of walking or would find the 30 minute uphill too much then the bus is probably a better option.
Catch the V17 from wherever is closest to where you are, you can find out by checking on this map. The V17 bus route runs from Port Vell and travels right through the heart of the Gothic Quarter.
It passes Barceloneta, Urquinaona, Passeig de Gracia, and Gracia itself on its way. So if you’re staying in one of the more popular areas you’ll be close to a stop on its route.
You simply stay on it until the very last stop. This is called Gran Vista – Pl de la Mitja Lluna.
From here it’s pretty obvious how to get to the Bunkers. There is really only one route up and it takes around 10 minutes.
The bus approaches the Bunkers Barcelona from the El Carmel side of El Turó de la Rovira. This is the opposite side of the hill to the one you would walk up.
How to Get to the Bunkers Barcelona By Taxi
If you’re not a fan of public transport then you can also get to the top of El Turó de la Rovira by taxi. This is obviously going to be the most costly method.
You’ll still get dropped off at the same point as the bus would take you to. It’s not possible to drive any further than that.
The cost will depend on where you’re coming from and the type of cab you take. Uber is available in Barcelona and will be slightly cheaper than a regular taxi cab.
You’ll still have a 10 minute walk to the Bunkers Barcelona once you get dropped off. As above, just head along the only route that goes upwards towards the top.
Best Time to go to the Bunkers del Carmel
The Bunkers Barcelona are spectacular no matter when you head up there. So don’t worry if you’re short on time or don’t have a choice around when you visit.
However, if you are able to determine when you go, then sunset is undoubtedly the very best time of day to hit this spot. The city is drenched in a soft, golden light that makes it look even more majestic.
Sunset does also tend to be the most popular time for people to go however. And though it’s nowhere near as busy as the top attractions in Barcelona, it does get pretty full.
If you prefer to have a bit of peace and quiet on your own then get up there for sunrise instead. At this time in the morning you’re likely to have it all to yourself.
What to Do at the Bunkers Barcelona
The Bunkers Barcelona is the ultimate chill out spot in the city. And for us it even beats the beautiful beaches that line its coast.
There’s nothing to do here as such, as in there are no attractions other than the views. So don’t expect thrill rides or fountain shows like you’ll find at Tibidabo or Montjuic.
This is simply a sumptuous setting to sit back and think about how awesome life is. It’s also a fantastic thing to do in Barcelona if you are trying to keep your costs down.
Handy Barcelona tip, take a bottle of cava or a few Estrellas and a bunch of snacks. You’ll be in for one of the most picturesque picnics you’re ever likely to experience. Just remember you have to lug whatever you go for up a pretty steep hill, so try not to go overboard. You will regret it.
What Facilities Are There at the Bunkers Barcelona
The Bunkers Barcelona have absolutely no facilities to speak of at the top. There’s no visitor centre, no toilets, no shop, nada.
Remember, it’s a series of historic bunkers that are no longer in the best of shape. So don’t expect facilities in line with those at the Sagrada Familia (although you do get amazing views of Gaudi’s masterpiece from here).
There are a couple of supermarkets outside Alfons X metro station where you can buy some goodies for a picnic before setting off up the hill. You’ll find a few bars around this area where you can have a drink and use the bathroom beforehand or afterwards if necessary.
There is usually at least one guy selling beer, water, and soft drinks from a cool box at the top of the bunkers. However, they’re not permanent and not licensed. Because of this they may or may not be there depending on what time you visit.
They also charge quite a lot on account of having to schlep all of their refreshments all that way. So expect to pay a couple of Euros per drink depending on how good your haggling skills are.
Enjoy Your Visit to the Bunkers Barcelona
Regardless of how many days you have in Barcelona, if you’re up for a relaxing few hours with phenomenal panoramas then we’d suggest making a trip to the Bunkers Barcelona an absolute priority on your visit to the city.
Planning on visiting the Bunkers Barcelona? Have you got anything else you’d like to ask about this lesser known but mind blowing spot? Drop us a note in the comments section below.
And if you’re looking for another adventurous activity while on your trip to Barcelona, take a look at our guide to hiking Montserrat.
Don’t Go Without Insurance
Heading overseas without insurance is never worth the risk. And while the Bunkers aren’t the most dangerous activity you’ll do, getting yourself and your belongings covered in case of accidents should still be a definite.
World Nomads is our preferred choice for great cover and a no bullshit approach, grab yourself a quick quote below: