Ask any well-travelled skateboarder where the best places to ride are and you’ll find that Barcelona will come somewhere near the top of the list. While the good weather and the proximity to the beach undoubtedly make the city an attractive place to hang out, there are plenty of other reasons that make the Catalan capital a skater’s heaven.
Spend any amount of time in Barcelona and it won’t be long until you notice that skateboarders seem to be everywhere in the city – although in some places more than others. Back in the 1990s Barcelona was a skateboarding Mecca, attracting riders from all across the world in search of a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle and some of the best skate spots in Europe.
Today, while things might have changed a little, Barcelona continues to attract one of the biggest skateboarding communities in the world. Ask any skater what makes Barcelona such a great city for the sport and the answer is generally – aside from the obvious good weather, fantastic food and chilled-out atmosphere – that the city’s design harbors lots of great skating spots and the police are generally much more tolerant of skaters than in other places in Europe.
While Barcelona is famous for its Modernist and Gothic architecture, it’s another aspect of its urban design which is of interest to the skating community. Namely, many of the more modern projects which came about around the time of the 1992 Olympics when Barcelona underwent a large-scale urban renewal nicknamed ‘Barcelona ponte guapa’ or ‘Barcelona make yourself beautiful’. A prime example is the area around Port Fòrum, featured in countless skate videos thanks to its many ledges, stairs and walls to play around with. Not to mention that it’s right by the sea.
From a skater’s perspective it seems that Barcelona looks like one big playground, with opportunities to practice tricks at every street corner. What seems to make this all the better is the fact that skateboarding is generally tolerated by local residents and the authorities much more than it is in other major cities. Most skaters in Barcelona will tell you that it’s rare to get in trouble with the police and if they do intervene it will mostly result in them asking you to move on. In certain spots it’s simply a given that there will be skaters there, perhaps the most famous of which is the museum of modern art, MACBA. While it’s officially authorised to skate there on Tuesday and Sunday evenings, you’ll find dozens of skaters there each day and little attempt to move them on.
Where to skate?
The choices are endless really and if you head out into the city with your board you’ll be sure to find a decent spot in no time. However certain hang-outs are definitely worth a mention, not least of all the aforementioned Port Fòrum area and the MACBA. Here you’ll find plenty of other skaters to socialize with and they’re generally fun places to hang out whether you skate or not.
Other popular spots include the benches outside Sants station – although they have definitely seen better days and are mostly worn out from years of grinding – as well as a collection of ramps, bumps and ledges that can be found along the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes outside Besòs metro station.
Of course it goes without mentioning that there are also a great number of skate parks in Barcelona as well, such as the Forum skate park, or the Mar Bella skate park near Poblenou. There’s also a skate park on Avenida Parallel which was constructed on what was once one of the best skating spots in the city – much to the discontent of the local skating community.
Where to shop and sleep?
If you’re looking for somewhere to buy some new kit then there are unsurprisingly plenty of skate shops to choose from in Barcelona. TacTic is located on the Carrer d’Enric Granados and sells a wide range of skateboards and accessories, as well as surf and snowboarding gear. Hey Ho is located just around the corner from MACBA and specializes in skateboards, clothes and the usual paraphernalia.
Finally if you’re the kind of person who likes to eat, sleep and breathe skateboarding then you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a hostel famous for its popularity with skaters visiting the city. The Sant Jordi Hostel near the Sagrada Família is a self-described “skateboarding hostel” which boasts its own inside mini-ramp and skateboarding-themed rooms.