The 1992 Summer Olympics may have been celebrated in Barcelona, but it’s certainly not the only link that the city has with sport. Citizens of the Catalan capital consider sports and outdoor activities as part of everyday life. This ensures a wealth of options for anyone looking to explore Barcelona while also taking in the fresh Mediterranean air and increasing their health levels.
For locals, expats and tourists, some of the most popular sports activities in Barcelona include:
Walking and Hiking
Those keen on a leisurely stroll through the city are in luck, for many of Barcelona’s attractions and well-known architecture are within walking distance from each other. For those who want to up their pace, numerous urban routes can take them through stunning locations. Depending on your level of fitness, you can choose from sport circuits (comfortable walking trails through urban public spaces such as parks and averaging between 700 m – 9 km), more intense trails that pass through numerous heritage sites, or non-competitive hikes between 12 and 15 km that explore Barcelona and Catalonia.
Barcelona is any cyclist’s dream, as the lanes are clean, safe (they are separated from other traffic lanes), and stretch for about 200 km throughout the city. Cyclists wishing to enjoy views of the city, parks and seaside are advised to try The Ronda Verda, a 72km, double-direction circuit which can be accessed from any point. Numerous signs are located throughout the route to make following the trail very easy.
For track cycling, many opt for The Horta Velodrome with its 250 m and 333 m tracks, 50 fixed-gear bicycles, and trial- and BMX opportunities.
As far as mountain biking goes, most people prefer Collserola Park. Approximately 20.4 km long and elevated at a height of 930 m, it offers cyclists breathtaking city views while surrounding them with the area’s unique flora and fauna.
As a particularly popular activity in Spanish-speaking countries, padel remains one of the most well-loved sports activities in Barcelona and is enjoyedby Barcelonians from an early age. Differing somewhat from tennis, padel is played only in doubles (four players) on an enclosed and considerably smaller court – the playing surface measures about 20 m x 10 m. Instead of racquets with strings, solid paddles are used. Padel scoring, however, works the same as in tennis.
Various courts and sport clubs in Barcelona offer opportunities to play (and learn) padel, some of which are outdoors and even have beach views. Club natació atlètic Barceloneta is one of the popular padel teaching clubs, located right near the beach with amazing views of the Mediterranean. With no pressure to become a member, the club provides classes for both young (from 6 to 16 years) and older (from age 17 and up).
Numerous amateur- and professional padel tournaments are hosted in Barcelona, the most popular of which is probably Barcelona Padel Tour.
Locals and tourists wishing to work on their tans while staying in shape partake in beach volleyball. One of the favourite spots for this sport is undoubtedly Nova Icària Beach, situated next to the Port Olímpic marina and stretching about 415 m long. With two volleyball courts, the beach also offers a playground and ping-pong table by the Bogatell breakwater.
Another well-loved (and more tranquil) option is Llevant Beach, located next to Nova Mar Bella Beach. Although it’s located quite a distance from the city centre, numerous public transportation options makes reaching this location a breeze.
Urban Sports Parks
Those seeking more vigorous sports activities in Barcelona have four unique urban sports parks at their disposal. A variety of activity enthusiasts frequent these parks on a daily basis with their skateboards, scooters, roller skates and bicycles.
- La Mar Bella Urban Sports Park is in the district of Sant Martí and has an area layout of about 2,985 m²;
- Àurea Cuadrado Urban Sports Park is located in La Maternitat i Sant Ramon and ups the excitement factor with an urban-like design that has benches, steps, platforms and slopes;
- Via Favència Urban Sports Park, in Nou Barris, comprises 2,200 m² and has all the required elements for an energetic outing;
- Baró de Viver Urban Sports Park, the newest addition, is in the Sant Andreu area and treats sports fans to a dynamic design thanks to its dunes, platforms and rails.
To ensure the continuous cleanliness and safety of Barcelona’s urban parks, users are advised to follow the relevant rules such as wearing the appropriate gear (helmets, knee pads, etc.), respecting turn-taking of other users, and keeping the areas as tidy as possible.
Whether it’s for jogging, hiking, or a water-bound activity, Barcelona is filled with sports clubs that appeal to a variety of sports lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Locals, expats and tourists have their pick of clubs, locations and meet-up groups, depending on whether they’re seeking an intense exercise session with friends or a light, casual excursion with family members.
- Barcelona’s plethora of beaches is not only for relaxation. Residents and guests also frequent the sandy shores to enjoy sailing, swimming, beach tennis, yoga with a sea view, and many other activities. Some beaches even offer exercise machines for a gym workout at no charge. Over the past few years, groups like the Barcelona Beach & Sea Sports have ensured a variety of beach activities and seaside games, regularly working with Adalis Barcelona Padel Tennis for beach tennis sessions.
- To explore Barcelona’s neighbourhoods on foot, meet up with The Barcelona Casual Runners group on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 8 for a 9 – 11 km run. Participants can jog (or walk) at their own pace and complete as much of the trail as they like while meeting new faces.
- Those who seek to discover the nearby mountainous ranges can join up with The Barcelona Hiking & Outdoors Group. The group, which include members of Spain and Catalan’s hiking associations, sets up monthly hiking and skiing trips and is ideal for tourists and locals looking for adventure outside the city.