Go for a sunset sail in Barcelona | ©Bobby Burch/Unsplash

The best outdoor activities in Barcelona

Let’s face it, Barcelona has great weather, lots of sunshine in the cold winters, and hot beach weather in summer. Situated between the sea and the mountains, it means that you can experience a range of activities, without even leaving the city. Living in Barcelona, we often make the most of this and can be found doing some of these activities most weekends. Here’s how make the most of the outdoor activities in Barcelona.  

Listen to the beats of Ciutadella Park 

A great spot for a range of outdoor activities in Barcelona is the Ciutadella Park. Once a repressive citadel, the park is now a vibrant, happy space, where on the average day you can dance to African drumming, watch balancing acts on tightropes and take out row boats on its gentle lake.

Things to see: 

  • The spectacular fountain facade, topped with golden horses and footed by water-breathing dragons. 
  • The burgundy-coloured Catalan parliament building, fronted by a peaceful fountain area.
  • The calm lake with its geese and turtles bobbing up and down.

We recommend taking a picnic and some icy-cold drinks with you to avoid inflated prices at the cafes.

Go to the park for several outdoor activities in Barcelona

Go for a sunset sail

Okay, you’ve seen Barcelona city from the land, but a special way of seeing the city is from the sea. A classic sailing trip lets you get out on the water and see the city in a new light, and is one of the best outdoor activities in Barcelona. Get onboard with a group of friends, or just the two of you for romantic sail at sunset, watching the golden light glisten against the shimmering water. Take in this new perspective and enjoy a stunning view of the city skyline and all its most famous landmarks. Take a refreshing dip in the warm Mediterranean Sea to really make the most of your trip.

Things to see:

  • The undulating Mediterranean and Barcelona’s stunning coastline. 
  • The sun casting a warm hue over Vila Olímpica’s skyline.
  • The W Hotel design reflecting the sea and water in its windows.

We recommend joining captain David on Gemini on his 1940s classic wooden sailing boat for a relaxing sunset cruise. Experience a vintage sailing vessel and learn all about its history. 

Sailing is an ideal outdoor activity in Barcelona
Sailing with Captain David on Gemini is a great outdoor activity in Barcelona

Cool off in an outdoor pool

Summer months can take your breath away quite literally with the amount of heat. If you don’t fancy the beach, then why not take a dip in one of Barcelona’s outdoor pools? While it’s true that most outdoor pools belong to private gyms, there are several which you can pay to visit for the day. These include the seawater pools at Banys del Fòrum, the huge Piscina Can Dragó in Sant Andreu, and the Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc and Piscines Bernat Picornell on Montjuïc hill.

Things to see:

  • The original diving boards at pools from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
  • Awe-inspiring views and different parts of the city.

We recommend the Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc. Not only is it where the 1992 Olympic swimming competitions were held, but it also offers an amazing view of the city from its stadium seats.   

Swimming is a great outdoor activity in Barcelona
Swim in the outdoor Olympic pool in Barcelona ©Jordiferrer/Wikicommons

Go hiking in a natural park

Not many travellers know, but Barcelona is in fact surrounded by a natural park. The hills to the back of the city make up the Collserola, a vast network of undulating landscapes, hiking trails and mountain biking paths. One of the best outdoor activities in Barcelona is in fact hiking. Some of the trails are well signposted with coloured markers, while others are perfect for those who love to get lost and are up for a bit of adventure. One of the simplest routes to take is the Carretera de les Aigües, which goes right across the top of the city and is mostly flat. Most places in the park offer stunning views of the city, right down to the sea.

Things to see:

  • Amazing city views from up high. 
  • Nature such as wild boar or birdlife. 
  • Hidden hermitages, lakes or monasteries tucked away in the mountains.

We recommend going to the Collserola Information Centre to learn about the various routes throughout the park and the things to see there. It’s located just past the Baixador Vallvidera train station.

Going hiking in the Collserola Natural Park is one of the best outdoor activities in Barcelona
Going hiking in the Collserola Natural Park is one of the best outdoor activities in Barcelona

Go for a cycle ride 

Barcelona can be a great city for cycling if you stick to cycle lanes, the parks and boardwalks along the beach. It’s a great outdoor activity, enabling you to see the city from a different perspective. The city’s bike sharing scheme, Bicing may only be for residents, but there are still plenty of places where you can hire bicycles, or even book yourself on a bike tour. In the central areas of El Born or near the Ciutadella Park, you’ll also find bike hire places on almost every corner.

Things to see:

  • The city from a different perspective.
  • A faster way to get around if you want to pack more in. 

We recommend Steel Donkey Bike Tours, one of the original bike tour companies in the city. This is not your typical tour around the park, it takes in more local sights, hidden monuments and non-touristy neighbourhoods.

Seeing the city on a bike tour is one of the best outdoor activities in Barcelona | ©Thingstodoinbarcelona/WikiCommons