This is my insider’s guide to the best parks, gardens and walks in Barcelona! Read about where to go and what to expect. I share my personal experiences, tips and valuable local background knowledge given to me by my dear Catalan friends. My list contains parks that I’ve either been to or I would like to visit. I have included whether you can take dogs, entrance fees and how much time to allocate, though you will still need to Google further information, like addresses and opening times.
The best parks, gardens and walks in Barcelona
The Gaudí Park
The park was designed by Antoni Gaudí, it opened in 1926 and became a world heritage site in 1984. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to do some walking. I like to walk around it at least twice and not always necessarily by choice, it’s just easy to get a bit lost here. It’s worth exploring every pathway, on every level – up and down the steep steps, left and right under the viaducts and along the sloping pathways. The main social area is surrounded by a huge long mosaic serpent bench, which was mostly the work of long time collaborator Josep Maria Jujol. Around siesta time (2–5pm), is a quiet time to queue to see the covered columned area, the hypostyle room. Take your time here because it’s a one way path down to the dragon stairway to see Gaudí’s iconic mosaic salamander and you can’t go back without queuing again. This whole grand main entrance area to the park has the concentration of Gaudí’s fabulous mosaic work. This is not the only highlight of the park though – the views, the architectural details, the plants and all the seated areas are amazing too. I love strolling around on a Sunday (along with all the other cultured people) chancing upon the sounds of selected musicians, sitting in the various different zones and taking in the magical atmosphere. Plan to spend at least half a day here. There are many different entrances into and out of the park. This park is dog friendly. Entrance is free with a Barcelona library card, otherwise you will need to pre-book, entrance 10€.
Parc de la Ciutadella
This public park is a welcome huge green space in the city centre. It originates from 1872 and is situated on the site of the largest fortresses in Europe of the time. You can see this huge monumental waterfall there, with full size golden horses. You can watch tango sessions happening in the raised platform behind the fountain at the weekends. There’s an abundance of sculptures and ornaments scattered around the park, with trees of local interest and lots of grassy areas to sit. There’s a boating lake and over a hundred species of birds have been spotted. The Catalan parliament, the zoo and several other museum buildings are also located here. You can easily kill a couple of hours here or just walk briefly through. This park is dog friendly. Entrance is free.
Jardí Botànic de Barcelona, Montjuïc
The botanical gardens, Montjuïc
This current garden dates from 1999 (there’s also a historical garden nearby that dates back to 1930). In the 1950’s, until the construction of the olympic park in 1987, the area was home to one of Barcelona’s thriving shanti towns, called Can Valero. The sloping hillside is presently planted with 1350 different species, administered by the Botanical Institute of Barcelona. Planting is quite sparse because, well, it’s Spain and it’s naturally arid here but everything is well labeled and they’re aiming to increase the varieties to 4000. When you properly stop to look and take in the nature around you, at any particular given moment, you will find there are many unusual, colourful and shapely species. There are large trees and many well established plant varieties that I’ve never seen before. The garden has plants from five regions around the world that have a Mediterranean type climate – Australia, Chile, California, South Africa and the Mediterranean basin. It’s a lovely walk and you can easily spend a whole day here. This garden is not dog friendly. Pre-book tickets. 5€ entrance.
Torre de Comunicacions de Montjuïc
The telecommunication tower, Montjuïc
This spacious park is dog friendly and is a very pleasant place to have a picnic, hang out, watch the sunset and admire people working out. The sculptural form of the 136m functioning communication tower is an architectural landmark. The design is based on a kneeling athlete offering the olympic torch – which I find a bit of a stretch for the imagination. It was built to broadcast the 1992 Olympics games and also functions as an impractical sundial. The pillars are also some kind of an art piece – I think they look like a suggestion of a future ruin. It’s all very photogenic there and entrance is free.
Castell de Montjuïc
Once you’ve clambered all around Montjuic (at the top), you’ll find yourself at this old military fortress, with roots that date back to 1640. The castle now serves as a visitors centre, with a permanent exhibition about its history. Temporary exhibitions and cultural events are also held within the castle walls. Look at the detail in sedimentary sandstone rock that’s used to build the surrounding walls – it has a wide range of colours and really beautiful patterns. A lot of old Barcelona (including parts of Sagrada Familia and the church on Tibidabu) are built using this high quartz content, hard stone, quarried from Montjuïc. This park is dog friendly.
Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola
Collserola natural park
The Collsorola mountain range is 17 km long and 6km wide and is the largest green space in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Sometimes when I’m there, I feel like I’m walking in the wild mountains of Andalusia, except there’s plenty more people following the network of pathways that fan out all over this mountain range. Views of the city are never very far away. This park is dog friendly but they must be kept on a lead. It’s advisable to bring water and it’s obligatory to take your rubbish home. There are many entrances, one is up behind the University.
Llobregat Delta bird sanctuary
This area of natural beauty with lakes, wetlands and beaches, it is located just outside the city, near the airport. The delta is a protected area because it is a popular stop off for migrating birds, with more than 360 different bird species, some that are conservation priorities. There are many viewing platforms, hides and shelters to observe them from. Be prepared for at least a good 5 or 6 km walk in nature, where you can get all the way down to the sea in places. There’s ample parking and a few different entrances and paths to follow. This bird sanctuary is not dog friendly. Free entrance.
Parque del Laberinto de Horta
This park is not dog friendly, the maze is fun though. There’s a statue of Eros in the centre – an excellent spot if you’re looking for somewhere to propose, maybe? The garden was designed in the neo-classical style, in 1792 – making it the oldest garden in Barcelona! It is well planted, with many hidden gardens. The main house is past its prime and closed. There are plenty of architectural features all through the gardens, like wide stone staircases, and beautiful marble sculptures. Give yourself half a day to enjoy this setting. Entrance is free.
Mirador de Joan Sales
Viewpoint of Joan Sales
Located above Park Güell, enjoy excellent views over the city. This a popular dog walking spot, if you need some doggy energy. This is part of a longer walk around the hills that connects along a pathways left and right.. Entrance is free.
MUHBA Turó de la Rovira
Viewpoint of the Turó de la Rovira
AKA the bunkers – standing 262m high and offers stunning 360° views of the city. This area has a very rich history! Important artefacts from the Iberians were discovered at the summit in 1932, that date back to the 4th century. Anti-aircraft guns were situated on this strategic spot during the civil war.
It’s a strange terrain to walk over – the remnants of housing are still visible, with house tiles, odd steps and different paths. After the civil war the hillside hosted a shanty town called, Els Canons. It hosted 110 huts and 600 residents – made up of mostly poor Andalusian immigrant families. There are the remains of large round water tanks, that were only installed in 1963. It’s a rewarding steep walk up there if you don’t have to do it everyday carrying all your food, water and cooking fuel.
Spending half an hour or so up there (to contemplate life, to study the layout of the city below and to spot landmarks) is plenty and there’s several nice walks down the hill again. This historical place is a dog friendly and entrance is free.
Rambla de Mar
The construction of Barcelona’s seafront promenade started in in 1957. The beach walkway stretches for about 5k from Barcelonetta to the end of Diaganol, with just a hiccup at the marina by the twin towers, where you have to navigate your way away from the beach. It’s wheelchair friendly with cycle paths and a wide pedestrian area. This is also where you will find umpteen discos, outdoor gyms, bars, walk ways and beautiful tanned figures. Just keep your dog off the sand and on a lead.
Port Vell Marina
I also like to wander around the marina and look at the names of the super yachts. There are various public sculptures dotted around, benches, seating areas, grassy knolls, bridges and walkways. There are plenty of high class restaurants and bars lining two sides and it’s dog friendly too.
Jardins de Mossèn Costa i Llobera, Montjuïc
Succulent and cactus garden, Montjuïc
With over 800 species, this is one of the most important succulent and cactus gardens in Europe. It was established in 1970 and enjoys a microclimate of a few degrees higher than that of the rest of the city, this means that non-indigenous sub-desert plants can thrive here. I have yet to visit. Free entrance.
Thank you for reading
I hope you have found this guide to Barcelona helpful. Now, before you go, have a browse of my art – I’ve created a lot of the paintings since living in Barcelona! All my art can be easily shipped worldwide.
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