Sport in general is big in Barcelona and the city is certainly equipped for it – you won’t find many better cities when it comes to choices for exercising outdoors. With its long, open roads, surrounding mountainous terrain and gorgeous sandy beaches, as well as a generally mild climate, Barcelona provides the perfect setting to exercise. The city’s stunning sights alone make it a worthwhile experience, and jogging, cycling or even roller-skating are in fact some of the best ways to see the city’s attractions.
No matter what age you are or what objectives you have, whether you fancy a leisurely cycle or a rigorous run, if you’re looking to exercise outdoors in Barcelona you’ll be more than catered for. Many people come to Barcelona merely to relax and enjoy the city, while others like to keep fit on their holidays. Whatever you prefer, we’ve come up with this outdoor fitness guide in Barcelona to suit your needs. So what are you waiting for? Get your trainers on!
Jogging and walking are perhaps the best ways to explore Barcelona as you are practically unrestricted and free to go at your own pace. There are countless routes you could take to explore the city, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Although it may be tricky in certain areas and at certain times, jogging in the city centre is a definite must. Trotting past the Sagrada Familia, Torre Agbar, Arc de Triomf and through Passeig de Gràcia will almost certainly give you that extra motivation to keep pushing forward! What’s more, most of the centre is structured in such a way that no matter which way you’re headed, it’s very difficult to get lost. Most roads are long, wide and straight, so all you have to do is take your pick.
However, if you’re looking for a long, uninterrupted run, then city running may not be the ideal choice, as it can often feel like an obstacle course – you’ll find yourself dodging pedestrians and stopping and starting a lot trying to cross the busy streets. Though if you have more time on your hands and decide to walk, then of course this will not be an issue. If you’re in Barcelona over the summer, we advise setting off either early in the morning or late in the evening, to avoid the heat and humidity of the daytime.
Located bang in the city centre, the park is easily accessible and perfect for a light jog or a peaceful stroll. Formerly a military fortress, the park currently holds the Museu de Zoologia, various gardens and aboreta, the Museu de Geologia, and the Barcelona Zoo – so there are plenty of sights to see as you move around! It’s also a great picnic spot to relax after exercising.
This park is located slightly further out, in the hills of the Zona Alta, yet is probably the best location in Barcelona if you’re looking for a more arduous jog or hike. Dotted around are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat, as well as lots of benches to sit and rest along the way. Expect to see medieval ruins, Romanesque churches and rustic country houses as you make your way around – the park is full of culture as well as leisure. Overall, it makes for a very enjoyable run or stroll.
Beaches and Montjuïc
Barcelona has seven beaches, stretching over a total of 4.5 km (2.8 miles) of coastline. The Paseo Marítimo, running right beside these beaches, is ideal not only for joggers and walkers, but also for cyclists and roller-skaters. And with the refreshing sea breeze cooling you down along the way, the beach is the ultimate spot to do some exercise. There are also plenty of shops and bars along this long strip where you can purchase some well-earned refreshments!
The mountain and park of Montjuïc are among the more obvious sites in Barcelona to go jogging or walking, given their relatively central location, accessibility and vast, open spaces. Here you’ll find some of the best views of the city as well as lots of water fountains dotted around to cool you off along the way. Again, there are many possible routes you could take – for example beginning at the Serrahima Stadium and continuing along Avinguda Miramar, which passes in front of the Estadi Olimpic and the Palau Sant Jordi.
Barcelona is a cyclist’s paradise. In March, 2007, the City Council began its ‘Bicing’ programme, a bicycle service intended as public transport. It’s a simple concept. Once you have your card, you can borrow a bicycle from any of the many stations scattered around the city, then leave it at another station when you’ve finished, making it possible to cycle everywhere in the city. And with 3,250 parking spaces already in place at street level as well as a comprehensive network of cycle lanes (there over 100km of routes in the city), Barcelona is ready-made for cyclists.
There is a catch though. ‘Bicing’ isn’t available to tourists – you must live in Catalonia to qualify. But still, that’s not to say you can’t take to the city’s cycling routes when you’re on holiday here! The city is full of bike-hire shops where you can easily pick one up.
As well as the beaches and Montjuïc area we mentioned above, there are of course the mountains. If you’re looking for more than just a relaxed ride, Barcelona’s surrounding mountainous regions are excellent for mountain biking. The diversity of the landscape makes it suitable for all levels of mountain bikers. There are various BTT centres in Catalonia, where natural space has been opened up to mountain biking, with many kilometres of sign-posted routes. One particularly popular area for mountain biking is the Parc Natural de la Zona Volcánica de la Garrotxa, where cyclists can take to one of 10 marked trails.
BornBike offers bike rentals as well as guided bike tours of Barcelona’s beaches and Montjuïc. Saddle up for a cycling adventure that lets you discover the history and culture of these two areas of the city from your 2-wheeled vantage point.
Barcelona is often referred to as the skate capital of the world, and for good reason – the city is full of parks, plazas and wide streets perfect for meeting other like-minded skaters. The sport is certainly booming in the city and you’ll often see large groups of skaters gliding through the streets – so why not join in yourself? Here are some of the most popular skating spots in the city.
Barcelona’s 4.5 km of coastline is flanked by the Paseo Marítimo, which sees heavy traffic of roller-skaters, cyclists and joggers alike. In fact, the area is so well-known for its perfect skating conditions that international music artist Shakira filmed her music video ‘Loca’ here, where she can be seen skating along the beach front at Barceloneta.
Many popular skating spots in the city are located around the district of Raval, such as Plaça de Universitat or in front of the MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art), which both offer ample skating space. Also popular is the Arc de Triomf, by the Passeig de Sant Joan and Parc de Joan Miró, which has its very own area dedicated to the activity.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more extreme experience than just a casual skate, you could buy a monthly pass to enter the skate park on Carrer de Pamplona 88 or head down to Mar Bella beach in Poble Nou, where there’s a skate park by the Parc Esportiu de la Mar Bella.
If you’re struggling to find a pair of skates to join in on the action, don’t panic! There are a few places where you can hire them.Inertia skate shop, located on c/ Roger de Flor, 10, offers clients of Oh-Barcelona.com a 10% discount on roller-skate hire. The ‘Decathlon’ sports store (Pl. Vila de Madrid 1-3, Barri Gotic) has a rental outlet and the bike rental shop ‘Scenic’ (c/de la Marina 22, Vila Olímpica) rents skates from 5€ an hour. Here you can also enquire about taking part in organised skating groups, which usually depart from the shop once a week. Happy skating!
Here are a few example exercise routes around the city that we’ve come up with to get you started:
View Example exercise routes in Barcelona in a larger map
Remember, this is just a guide, so there’s no reason not to be creative and let your imagination take the lead. If you’re new to the city, get your hands on a map and off you go!
Roller-skating is also a popular sport, and it is even thought that it might soon be added to the Olympics. Skate-parks that have been designed to accommodate the resurgence of skateboarding can also be easily used for roller-skating, and skaters can pull off similar tricks and manoeuvres to skateboarders this way. Roller skate racing is also quite popular, with people competing to get from one side of an obstacle course to the other in the fastest time.-
Thanks for the comment!
Yes, you’re right. Roller-skating is very popular in Barcelona and a good way to keep fit.
Locals and tourists alike can hire their skates in the city from Inercia. We have more details here: http://www.oh-barcelona.com/en/blog/2012/tourist-guide/activities/inercia-rollerblade-barcelona-617
We hope you enjoy skating in Barcelona!