There’s no more revealing, memorable or purely human way to see a city than by taking it in stride by stride, even when you’ve spent a significant amount of time living there. The exciting sensation that characterizes the discovery of what undeniably belongs to you and your “home base” is even more intense when that city is Barcelona. We are certain that running is the best way to truly see it in detail, to view its exuberant gardens through a symbolic magnifying glass, take in its impactful architecture, its bars brimming with energy, and to observe the exciting streets that compose this magical city. As a result, we bring you four running routes through which to see the city: some more urban, others on the wilder side and even one that promises a view of the Catalan capital from impressive heights. Tie up those laces!
The “Take It Easy” Route
|Start:||Pla dels Maduixers|
|Finish:||Plaça Mireia, (Esplugues de Llobregat)|
|Distance:||19 km there and back, est.|
|Terrain:||Elevated, but mainly flat|
Habitual runners already know how difficult it is to find flat terrain in Barcelona – and for that reason, the majority of them aren’t aware of the fact that a pleasant path exists (read: without too many hills) in the Collserola Sierra. For those who still haven’t discovered it, the Carretera de las Aguas (Carretera de les Aigües in Catalan) features 9 km of sweet, beautiful flatness complemented by some amazing views that are definitely worth a visit. The incredible panorama that shows off the entire city, stretching from majestic Tibidabo to the tranquil waves of La Barceloneta, is one of the best to be found. We recommend going an hour before sunset so that you can enjoy the sight of the spectacular landscape as the sun hides behind the mountain.
The “Rocky” Route
|Start:||Parc del Guinardó|
|Finish:||Bunkers del Carmel|
|Distance:||Varies; this route is 5.2 km|
Another option for those who crave less stoplights and more contact with nature is to take our suggested route through Parc del Guinardó. The precious fountains and ancient trees that cover its 15 hectares are just some of the highlights to be discovered. The park is considered one of the “greenest” areas of the city and as it’s divided into three areas: urban, historic and forest, it provides a variety of sub-routes to follow. Here you’ll find very pronounced gradients and steps; if you enjoy mountain trail-running, this is your place. Upon entering and progressing through Parc del Guinardó, there’s the possibility to cross a bridge and continue making your way up until arriving at the bunkers, the remainders of an anti-aerial battery from the Spanish Civil War. Catch your breath after the impressive ascent you’ve just championed and take in another one of the city’s best panoramic views – pure beauty; 360 degrees.
The “On the Boardwalk” Route
|Start:||Plaça de Gal·la Placídia|
|Finish:||La Barceloneta (Paseo Marítimo/Promenade)|
|Distance:||6.5 – 7 km|
|Terrain:||Flat, descending in some spots|
Our third route passes through some of the most well-known neighborhoods in central Barcelona, but we bet you haven’t seen them in this innovative way. Start in the Gràcia district, with its modern architectural jewels, “hipster” cafés and bars, and multitude of ecological shops. Passing the grandiose Avenida Diagonal, continue through the main streets of L’Eixample until arriving at Paseo de Sant Joan. At the end of this large avenue, you have the chance to pass under the Arco de Triunfo, feel like the champion that you undeniably are, and continue through Parque de la Ciudadela’s amazing views and ambiance before beginning your descent to the beach. Once you arrive at the maritime promenade, take a break to breath in and appreciate the fresh air, as well as the ironic juxtaposition of tranquility and nonstop energy that characterizes La Barceloneta. From here, feel free to jump into push-ups, a series of toning exercises or stretching alongside the multitudes of others that come together to workout outdoors.
The “Welcome to the Jungle” Route
|Start:||Sant Pau Dos de Maig|
|Finish:||Gardens of Clotilde Cerdà|
|Terrain:||Flat with a steady descent; ascent on the return|
It may start as a conventional route, but believe us when we say that this course has a lot of potential, as it takes you through some areas of the Poblenou neighborhood that you’ve never seen. The divine sensation of passing the Sagrada Familia mid-stride and continuing on to sprint by the Agbar tower is hard to beat. Making your way deeper into Poblenou, notice its intricacies and jog effortlessly by the district’s park before making your way back up Calle Marina.
On your return, pass over several exceptional bridges, continuing by Barcelona’s monumental, famous Plaza de Toros. And should you find yourself wanting to relax a bit, finish your run with a cold beer at the Antigua Fábrica de Estrella Damm (the Estrella Damm brewery), one of the Sagrada Familia neighborhood’s treasures. Cheers!