Barcelona’s long summer days and temperate year-round climate make it a nature lover’s paradise, even if it’s not the first thing tourists think of when they consider visiting Barcelona. From the beaches to the mountains to the city’s many urban green spaces, there is plenty to keep the outdoor traveler busy in Barcelona. Be sure to check out our in-depth guide to all the natural sights you need see while you’re in Barcelona, but if you’re looking for the ultimate one-day itinerary, here is everything you can tackle in a (very active) day. Be sure to wear comfy sneakers.
Start at Barceloneta Beach early in the morning and enjoy a jog, breathing in the salty air before the tourists descend. The W Hotel towers over this side of the beach strip, so you’ll always be able to use that as a landmark.
If you feel like going for a swim, head towards Bogatell or Mar Bella. The water here tends to be cleaner, and you’ll be in the company of locals who like to start their day with a plunge. Grab an acai bowl or smoothie at Fit Bar to recharge.
Next, head up towards Montjuïc Castle to experience the most fragrant area of the city. You can get there either on foot from the Drassanes metro station or via the cable car that leaves directly from the beach. If you opt to walk, be prepared for a 45-minute hike to reach the top, and take advantage of the many scenic spots to pause and catch your breath.
If you do decide to walk, stop by the Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera down the steps. Very few people know about this place. The garden is full of cacti in all shapes and sizes. This place is mostly visited by local photographers who like to snap close-up photos of the exotic natural decor.
Continue following the path up to the castle. Once you arrive, walk around and take in the hilltop views. The castle has well-manicured lawns, lush gardens, and lovely fountains. This is also a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch if you plan ahead.
When you’re ready to move on, head down towards Placa d’Espanya, stopping at the Jardines de Joan Brossa. This is a very calm spot where you can walk around in peace above the hustle of the plaza underneath. If you head down toward the National Art Museum, which looks like a Disney castle, you’ll get a sweet view of the entire square and fountain.
If you didn’t picnic at Montjuïc, this is a great time to grab lunch. Across from the fountain, you’ll find Arenas Mall, which used to be a bullfighting arena but now serves as a shopping center with plenty of food outposts. Whatever you grab, take it to the rooftop to enjoy a meal with a view.
Once you’ve replenished your energy, hop on the metro or rent a bike to go to Parc Güell. Here you can really get your hike on. Don’t spend much time around the Gaudí sculptures (all those tourists will slow you down) and head up along the dirt path instead. You’ll be surrounded by blooming plants and trees, and you’ll see plenty of dogs running around with their owners.
Follow the winding path up the hill; you’ll pass a kids playground, which means you’re on the right track. The path is rocky but not at all tough to climb. (Regular sneakers will do just fine.) Once you get to the top of the hill, you’ll get a 360-degree view of Barcelona. Stop to meditate, tan, or simply take a siesta.
Coming down and heading left from Parc Güell, cross the street and hop over to the Bunkers del Carmel. This is the ultimate place to watch the sunset in Barcelona. There’s usually someone playing guitar to make the experience all the more charming. The bunkers are quieter than the park and offer another incredible view of the city, looking towards the beach with the Sagrada Familia sticking out from the cityscape.
By now, you should be pretty darn exhausted, so head down into Gràcia for dinner, where you’ll find quite a few veggie options if you’re a health nut, such as the cozy Cafe Camelia and Vacka, a vegetarian burger shop. That would be the perfect ending to a very active day. Or, you can go the alternative route and treat yourself to tons of tapas, wine, hot chocolate and churros. You’ve certainly earned it.