Great Running in BarcelonaMay 15, 2020
Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular tourist and conference destinations. The city is a fabulous mix of a preserved gothic quarter, modern, fashion-oriented development, accessible waterfront and beautiful parks on the outskirts. There are some terrific running options near downtown hotels and the convention center. The absolute “musts” are along the waterfont/beach, the Montjuic area, and Ciutadella Park. It’s also fun to do a “tourist run”, which includes some of Barcelona’s most famous streets and sites — but they get crowded so it’s best to run early. Another ‘must’ is to get up into the hills, mainly Parc Collserola, which in addition to fabulous trail running, has great views of the eight-spired, iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Barcelona has great public transport, so it’s easy to do a run one-way and hop the bus or metro. The metro also takes you to Parc Collserola.
Barcelona weather is good for running. Winters are relatively mild, with temps rarely falling below freezing. Summers can be hot, but tolerable. Air pollution can be an issue in the city. Try to run early. Beach area often has better air.
The Iconic Routes
- Ciutadella Park
- Barcelona ‘Tourist Run’ (go early!)
- Parc de Collserola/Carretera de les Aigues
5.5 miles Out and Back. Paved. Start: Passeig de Borbo, near W Hotel or at any point. MAP
Barcelona’s waterfront was significantly redeveloped for the 1992 Olympics and is now one of the city’s highlights. There is terrific running right along the water, easily accessible from many downtown hotels and the convention center. The W hotel, near the start of the run, is one of the newer and fancier hotels in the city. The main run along the water is about 3 miles one way along a paved path. It’s also possible to run on the beach (not 100% seamless). Landmarks along the way, from west to east include the stairs from the W to the Plaça de la Rosa del Vents, sculptures along the beach in the Barceloneta fishing neighborhood, Golden Fish and the Torre Mafre en Hotel Arts, and the modern harbor of Port Olimpica.
Barcelona Waterfront with Les Ramblas
8.8 miles RT. Options for longer/shorter. Start: Placa de Catalunya. MAP
This is a nearly 9-mile run, that includes the famous 1-mile jaunt down Les Ramblas from the Placa de Catalunya to the water, and then combining the waterfront run above. La Rambla is a tree-lined pedestrian mall, with many shops, restaurants, and sites. Run down to the Christopher Columbus monument and then continue along the water. Or, if it’s early or quiet, take a detour and enjoy some of the labyrinthine streets of the Gothic Quarter.
Barcelona Major Sights
6 miles. Start: near Museo del Disseny. MAP
Note: Streets can be busy and crowded — go early!
This is a tour of some of the major sites of Barcelona and is a complement to the Las Ramblas/Gothic Quarter area. Starting near the Design Museum, pass by the famous Sagrada Familia. Then, the Eixample area with some famous architecture along the Passeig de Gracia, Modern Art Museum, the niversity, Arc de Triomf, and the National Theater. Of course you can modify this and add on streets as you like, such as the Parc de Ciutadella (from Arc de Triomf), and the Gothic Quarter just to the southwest.
The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city of Barcelona. It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the Mediterranean seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere. It’s hard to proscribe a particular run within the quarter’s labyrinthine streets and squares. Best to explore on your own (go really early), or do the 1-mile around the wall perimeter. Or, combine with Las Rambles.
Montjuic and More
6.8 miles RT. Options for more. Start: Mirador de Colom (Columbus Monument). MAP
This is an epic Barcelona run, covering some of its most famous sites. We start you at the centrally located Mirador de Colom. After a brief run along the waterfront, head into the garden park, and then do the switchback roads up to the Montjuic Castle. Then, pass by the Botanic Gardens (option to add on here by going into the park), and the Olympic complex (detour possible here too). The second half of the run takes you by the Maragall Gardens, the National Art Museum and the Miro Foundation, and the Greek Gardens. There are several options to add to the runs by going into the parks and garden paths, or to vary the direction or order.
3 miles RT (1 mi around park perimeter). Start: Villa Olimpica. MAP
Ciutadella Park is a centrally located, easily accessible, green and quick space for a run. The 70-acre park is home to the Barcelona Zoo rounds include the city zoo Parliament of Catalonia, a small lake, museums, and a large fountain designed by Josep Fontserè. The trails are easy and very pretty, with some lovely vegetation. It is about 1 mile around the perimeter of the park. We start the run nearby at the Olympic Port. It’s easy to add to the route, with some paths around the Olympic Port, the World Trade Center, or along the waterfront.
Two miles from the Placa de Catalunya, Parc Guell is a magical little gem designed by famed architect Antonio Gaudi. There are ornamental gardens, great ceramic lizards, a Hall of Columns made from pillars of contorted stone, a curvy 499-foot bench (the world’s longest), a bizarre gingerbread-style house, and panoramic city/sea views. An add-on option is Parc de la Creuta del Col, which is 1/4 mile to the west, or dipping into the adjoining Born and Barri Gòtic can add some mileage, and the unusual feeling of running through a maze.
Carretera de les Aigues/Parc de Collserola
4.85 miles ONE-WAY. Unpaved. MAP
Info on how to get there by Metro/funicular here.
Park Collserola is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Easily reachable by public transport. A very popular running route, at the southern end of the park, is Carretera de les Aigues. From this rolling dirt road, there are great views of the city, the Gaudi cathedral, and the Mediterranean, with markers along the way. A treat at sunrise or sunset. Easily accessible by public transport — take the S1 or S2 lines, which run every few minutes, 20 minutes to El Peu del Funicular and then the funicular. Info here. You can then join the path headed in either direction. It is 4.85 miles one-way, and fairly flat. Can get crowded. There are many other trails in the park for running.
Parc De Collserola: Killer Trail Run
If you want to get a good sense of the Park, this is a challenging, 11-mile trail run. More than 1,800 foot elevation gain. Popular with mountain bikers. We start the route at Parc Central de Barris, near the Llucmajor metro stop, which is a few km north of the heart of the city.
There are hundreds of hotels all over Barcelona with a huge range of styles and pricing options. For the best running options “out your door”, try to stay within a mile or two from the waterfront and Parc de la Ciutadella — basically inside of Avenue Diagonal. The Montjuic area is a 1–2 miles west of Las Ramblas.
Running Stores and Group Runs
The best dedicated running stores are Bikila, near Parc de Ciutadell, and Deportes Atlata Domingo Catalán near the Montjuic area. There are also several stores associated with the running shoe companies — New Balance has an ‘experience store’, and there are also Puma, Asics, and Adidas stores. See map above.
Group runs from the stores are not as prevalent as in some U.S. cities. There are a couple of companies that do running tours that need to be booked:
Barcelona Casual Runners. Meetup with group runs Tuesday & Thursday 8pm at the Parc de la Ciutadella.
Running Tours Barcelona. Wonderful selection of guided runs. Highly rated.
Barcelona Marathon. March. Over 17,000 runners. New course is that is “flat, fast, scenic,”says race secretary Carmen Ruiz.
Barcelona Half Marathon. May.
Cursa del Corte Ingles. May. One of the world’s largest running events. Similar to the Bay to Breakers run. 12k.
The Nike Firefighters 10-K (April) attracts about 5,000 runners.
Cursa de la Merce Half-Marathon and 5-K. September are part of the city’s annual 4-day, wine-and-cheese festival