Experience the Drama and the Heart of the Coastline in Barcelona

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Barcelona City Walks

Now that we have established that the local food alone is worth a trip to Barcelona (by eating a lot of it, intrepid adventurers that we are), only one question remains: how do we get all those calories off our waistlines? Well, by walking, of course.

I am sure you had already figured that out all by yourself. The website is called Easy Hiker, after all, not Heavy Eater.

A walk will come in handy for another reason: it’s surely a good idea to reconnect with nature after all the artefacts (architecture and museums) that you will have been seeing.

Instead of taking you for a single day-long walk – if that’s what you want, look for inspiration here – we shall invite you today to two short 1-hour walks through adjacent parts of the city. You can squeeze them individually between other items on your travel agenda or, if you feel like it, knock them together into something that will occupy you for a whole morning or afternoon.

Our Suggested Barcelona City Walks

We start at the Arc de Triomf. (Catalan, the language spoken by most people in Barcelona, sounds a lot like Spanish, but written it often looks like some sort of pidgin Esperanto.)

"Arc de Triomf - Barcelona City Walks"

A few hundred meters to the south of the Arc (and the metro station of the same name), you will find the Parc de la Ciutadella. Barcelona – unlike, say, London and New York – is not famous for generously dimensioned green spaces, and there is not even an equivalent to Paris’s vast but scruffy Bois de Boulogne. The Ciutadella may be less famous and much smaller than any of these three, but it offers something else: it has been landscaped not to mirror the spread and sprawl of “real” nature but the carefully conceived artifice of an operatic performance.

The Ciutadella leads the visitor from the bombastic overture of the Zoology Museum near the entrance …

"Castell des Tres Dragons - Barcelona City Walks"

… along the quiet banks of the (even in December) sub tropically lush lake …

"Lake in Parc de Ciutadella - Barcelona City Walks"

… slowly building up the tempo with the classically balanced facades of the conservatory …

"Greenhouse in Parc de Ciutadella - Barcelona City Walks"

… passing the odd divertimento along the way …

"Elephant statue in Parc de Ciutadella - Barcelona City Walks"

… to the crashing crescendo of the large cascada, the fountain-cum-waterfall which is the dramatic highlight of the park.

"dramatic fountain in Parc de Ciutadella - Barcelona City Walks:

Fountains, triumphal arch, hippogriffs, the Birth of Venus, the quadriga: all of this was only added after the park had been long finished and the general public had complained that this section of it looked “boring”. The “upgrade” took six years to complete, almost as long as the construction of the entire garden, and it is said that one of the assistants of the head designer was a certain Antoni Gaudí. (One wonders what became of him.)

Once you have crossed the Parc de la Ciutadella, you are now almost standing by the seaside. On your right hand side is Barcelona harbour, and on its outer periphery, you will find the world-famous Barceloneta beach, the Mediterranean equivalent to Rio’s Copacabana. It may perhaps not be a terrific idea to walk down this beach in summer, but in winter it is a blissful experience.

"by the Barcelonata beach - Barcelona City Walks"

The beach is quiet but not abandoned, with plenty of people huddling around in pairs or sitting in their winter coats on the cafe terraces.

"picnicking in Barcelona beach -Barcelona City Walks"

The shadows are long and the sunlight is pleasantly mild rather than blistering: even at mid-day, it feels like four o’clock in the afternoon. The whole scene looks like a TV ad for life insurance or some other product aimed at the over-55s: look, it seems to say, this is how beautiful autumn can be – it isn’t always a bleak, wind-swept, miserable day in Grimsby or Hull.

"playground by Barceloneta beach - Barcelona City Walks"

The best stretch of the beach lies between the futuristic, D-shaped W Barcelona hotel and the “Peix”, Frank Gehry’s 56-m long sculpture of a filleted fish, ready for some giant’s dinner table.

"walking towards the Frank Gehry fish - Barcelona City Walks"

Perhaps it’s just me, but that’s what I will be taking home from Catalonia: that wherever you go and turn in Barcelona, food is simply everywhere.

Have you got your own Barcelona city walks that you’ve enjoyed during your visits that you can share with us?

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10 comments to Experience the Drama and the Heart of the Coastline in Barcelona

  • Nathalie, there is so much to see and discover walking in Barcelona. For that matter, in any city you will visit in the future too.

  • Jeff, Barcelona would definitely be to your liking. So much culture and culinary offerings to experience and photograph.

  • End of the year is the best time to visit Mediterranean cities, Agata. And yes, you should go back for a longer stay. So much to see. We’ve been there 3 times in the past and each time, we found new things to do and visit.

  • Absolutely right, Megan. We always take the city in through walking. So much more to discover, even the odd local’s eating place.

  • Marcia, it could be fun living in Barcelona. Aim for it. One can always dream and that dream could very well come true!!

  • I love your musical description of Ciutadella Park. Except for the fountain, I don’t remember much of the park – and Barcelona has changed so much, especially with the construction for the Summer Games.
    I hear you on the food too. I gained so much weight when we were there and we walked everywhere – hardly took the metro. Ever! Confession time: I wanted to live in Barcelona, for the food, the art, the culture, and the food. It’s divine and delectable!
    Thanks for sharing this walk. You’ve taken me to Barcelona and I want to go back!

  • We love walking as much as possible and this looks like quite an enjoyable walk!

  • Ive always operated off the notion that calories while on holiday don’t count :D But yes, walking is a brilliant way to work off that extra indulgence which all so often comes with visiting a new place in the world!!

    I love walking to discover a new city anyway though, and Barcelona is a fabulous place for it, we found that pretty much everything within the city is less than a 30 minute walk from each other, so highly recommend city walks too :) Such a fabulous way to get a more immersive experience than you would on a tour bus, you can get lost and discover hidden local neighborhoods, and there’s a great feeling of exploration than if you were with a guide.

    Thanks!

  • And this wonderful blue sky!

    I loved Barcelona! I visited this city for a short workshop for early stage researchers and I had a few afternoons to explore the downtown. The time was not very fortunate, though. It was June. The extreme warmth made people faint in the streets. In one afternoon I saw 4 emergency interventions. I must say, I did not see that much. I was really tired with the sun and blisters on my feet.

    It can mean only one thing: I have to go back in December! And I will follow your footsteps!

  • A wondrous journey and a fantastic way to burn off those calories too!! I missed so much on my fleeting trip to Barcelona last May, I must return again soon especially now after reading your post and seeing your beautiful pictures!!

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