Photo by Mor (bcnbits)
Barcelona might not seem green to the untrained eye. It’s told that at one point in the early 1900s, city planners included one park per city block in the Catalan capital, but somehow that never happened. Still, Barcelona, or “BCN,” has an abundance of small parks scattered throughout the city, plus the beach, and plenty of green travel options. Check it out:
Want to go for a walk and see people dancing, juggling, and practicing Capoeira? This is the park for you. Located right in the city’s center with plenty of shade trees, grassy areas, and free entertainment, Cuitadella is Barcelona’s most popular park. If feeling adventurous, rent a paddle boat for a half hour and tour around the man-made pond.
Take the tram up to Montjuic from the city center and spend the day exploring its trails and taking in views of the city. Most people go to Montjuic to visit the National Art Museum and Miró Museum (highly recommendable), and then leave, missing all the fantastic pathways and hidden fountains. The best course of action is to start with the museums in the morning and then walk down the mountain to get back to Barcelona’s Plaza Espanya. It’s all downhill and shaded with trees. The paths are good and continually cross roads, making it impossible to get lost.
The Beach, but not Barceloneta
Barcelona didn’t used to have a beach. It is, in fact, all man made. That said, the city has done a stellar job of creating a beachy-BCN. Starting with the nude beach south of Barceloneta and extending far to the north, Barcelona’s beaches are packed in the summer with swimmers, vendors, and people basking in the Mediterranean sun. I do not advise the carefree visitor to swim at Barceloneta beach, the city’s closest patch of sand and sea. Frankly, it’s dirty. If swimming without plastic bags and contraceptive devices appeals to you, then go north, and then go a bit further. Mar Bella and Nova Mar Bella are the best bets for taking a dip. The water is warm and the sand is basically clean. If not swimming, any of Barcelona’s beaches are enjoyable.
A little known park with winding trails and nice views, Guinardo is tucked into a residential area of uptown Barcelona. Here you’ll find locals walking their dogs and making-out among the tree lined pathways. To get to Guinardo it’s necessary to grab the Metro from the center for a 15 minute ride, getting off at the Guinardo stop, and then walking up, up, up. It’s a steep climb up a series of stairs but the park affords nice views of the city and is rarely crowded.
Though not exactly in Barcelona, it’s the largest park in the area. With 8,000 hectares of green space, Collserola offers trails for hiking, biking and strolling. As the website boasts, ‘Collserola is 22 times bigger than Central Park.’ So there. This is also the place to go for a BBQ. It’s illegal to have a BBQ within Barcelona’s city limits (but don’t think for a minute that this has stopped people from trying), so those who like to grill flock to Collserola on Saturdays and Sundays. Lucky visitors might spot a wild boar or badger, some of the park’s infamous wildlife. Collserola is a twenty minute train ride from Barcelona’s center.
Photo by Ben Polansky
Want to find the best lunch in BCN? Barcelona’s outdoor markets provide the freshest produce, seafood, and meat available, and are wonderful places to immerse yourself in the local community. Click here for a complete guide.
Our picks for vegetarian and organic dining options:
Organic : In the Raval neighborhood with lots of vegetarian options.
where: Carrer de la Junta de Comerç, 11
Arco Iris Is in the Eixample and has a daily special. They even do vegan dishes.
where: Carrer Roger de Flor 216
Buen Bocado Restaurant: My favorite falafel bar in BCN. Clean, inexpensive and delicious. Perfect for a quick lunch. There is some seating, or take your falafel outside and sit in the adjacent square.
where: Carrer Escudellers, 31, Ciutat Vella
Getting Around…the Green Way
In addition to author and Barcelona resident Regina WB, many Matador members have spent extended time there, including Matador co-founders Ross Borden and Ben Polansky. Check out their blogs and guides, including tips for travel planning in BCN, picks for craziest bar, reports from Sónar music festival, and much more here.