Barceloneta Beach attracts both tourists and locals alike. // © 2016 iStock
Feature image (above): Watch the Magic Fountain dance in a synchronized display of music, light and water. // © 2016 iStock
Though Barcelona is home to many stunning cathedrals and a variety of impressive museums, it would be a shame for travelers to miss out on the city’s mild subtropical climate and Mediterranean sea breeze. Besides, even the most cultured of clients needs a breather in between all the Gaudi and Picasso. From parks and beaches to movies under the night sky, here are some of the best ways to experience Barcelona outdoors.
Perhaps the most crowded of Barcelona’s beaches, Barceloneta is still worth a visit for the view, as well as the plethora of bars and seafood restaurants. Swimming season is usually mid-April to early October, but when the water is too cold, visitors can still stretch out on the sand or take a bike ride down the boardwalk.
The Greek Theater and Gardens
The gardens surrounding the Teatre Grec (Greek Theater), are a great entry point to exploring the Sants-Montjuic district, which is famous for its expansive parks and grounds, as well as various museums and a castle. Starting from Passeig de Santa Madrona, clients can climb a stone staircase to find tiers of gardens filled with roses, orange trees, “pergolas” (shaded walkways), fountains and a breathtaking view of Barcelona’s cityscape.
It may take some wandering to find the actual amphitheater, which is built into the mountainside on the site of a former stone quarry. Like many of its surrounding gardens, the amphitheater was built for the International Exhibition of 1929. While not actually Greek, its architects drew inspiration from the Epiduro Theatre in Athens. During the summer, the theater hosts concerts and festivals, most notably the Grec Festival of Barcelona, which features international theater, dance, circus and music. During the rest of the year, it’s a serene spot to have a picnic, read a book or just relax and take in the surrounding beauty.
From Teatre Grec, travelers can walk to the nearby Laribal Gardens, located on the steep lower slope of Montjuic, next to museum Fundacio Joan Miro (Joan Miro Foundation). Waterfall fountains, tiled pools, sculptures, a pergola that resembles an elaborate crown and a famous cat fountain all make for a fairytale experience.
The Magic Fountain
Located at the base of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalonia), this synchronized water, light and music show is the perfect way to wrap up an evening after a day filled with art galleries. More than 3,000 workers created the fountain in 1929, and music was incorporated in the 1980s. Advise clients to check the online show schedule in advance and to get there early for a good viewing spot.
National Botanical Garden
Next to the various stadiums used in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, near the top of Montjuic hill, visitors will find the Jardi Botanic de Barcelona (Botanical Garden of Barcelona). Spanning more than 1,400 acres, the garden is divided into sections that house plants from Mediterranean climates, including Australia, Chile and South Africa, as well as a section for the Canary Islands. In contrast to the lush landscapes of the other parks in Sants-Montjuic, this garden has an open and modern feel.
Just half an hour north of Barcelona is the pristine stretch of Ocata beach, where swimmers can splash in translucent water. Families with children will love the flat expanse of sand and the playground structures.
Travelers who visit Barcelona in the summer can take advantage of various open-air cinemas that pop up around the city. One of the most notable screenings takes place at the base of the Montjuic Castle, where visitors can also get tickets for the live music show beforehand and a tour of the castle. Cinephiles can also check out Fort Pienc Civic Center, which hosts outdoor screenings every July.