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Barcelona is a great city for cyclists, whether you’re after a leisurely pedal or a demanding hill climb. Surrounded by both the Mediterranean sea and some pretty spectacular hills, there are plenty of great options for exploring the city by bike. Here’s our pick of some of the most scenic routes in and around the Catalan capital.
The smallest of Barcelona’s surrounding hills, Montjuïc is home to a number of attractive landmarks such as the Joan Miró Foundation, the Olympic stadium and of course, the Montjuïc Castle. This route starts off at the monumental Plaça d’Espanya before heading down Av. Reina Maria Cristina and turning right towards the Av. de l’Estadi, for a gentle climb to the top. Alternatively you could turn left and then take C/Leida and the Passeig de Santa Madrona for a slightly more challenging hike. When you’re at the top swing round the Olympic Stadium before heading towards Montjuïc Castle via the Passeig del Migdia (along the way you’ll find a great little outdoor bar hidden round the back of the castle).
Why not combine your ride with a tour of some of the most famous sights in Barcelona? Starting off by the Born Cultural Centre, this route takes you through the heart of El Born before cutting up Via Laetana and making your way towards the Gothic Quarter. Soak up the atmosphere of these historic neighbourhoods before heading into the more contemporary Eixample district, home to the city’s favourite Modernist marvels. Admire Antoni Gaudí‘s Casa Batlló on the Passeig de Gracià and Casa Mila just round the corner, before heading to the real jewel of the crown, the Sagrada Família. From here it’s back down towards the Old Town via the Arc de Triomf, before finishing off in the Parc de la Ciutadella to cool down by the fountains.
Enjoy the beauty of Barcelona’s seafront views with this route, taking you from the Mirador de Colom all the way to Port Fòrum and back. Starting off by the Mirador, cycle along the side of the old marina Port Vell before taking the Ronda Littoral by the Barceloneta. Alternatively you can follow the Passeig Joan de Borbó up the side of the port and arrive at the beach from the tip of the Barceloneta. Arriving by Port Olimpic continue along the side of the beach, making sure to check out Frank Gehry’s El Peix along the way. From this point onward it is smooth cruising all the way to Poblenou and the Parc del Fòrum, where you can either choose to keep cycling north towards Badalona, or make your way back into the city.
This route combines some of the toughest climbs to be found around the city, such as Santa Creu d’Olorda, Forat del Vent, Conreria and Vallesana. Start your route off in the neighbourhood of Sarrià – Sant Gervasi before carrying on to Gracià, roughly following the Ronda del General Mitre. From there take the Avinguda Meridiana through Sant Andreu, before crossing over the Besòs river and following it up stream until you reach Montcada i Reixac. Brace yourself for the C/ del Cementeri and the hike up to Forat del Vent before heading back down towards Sant Cugat del Vallès. From there it’s uphill again towards La Floresta and La Plana, making your way towards the iconic Tibidabo mountain. Then time to cruise down to Sarrià – Sant Gervasi again.
This offers the best of both worlds: the spectacular views you get from being high up, but the comfort of a flat track – once you get the initial hike out of the way! The name of this route means ‘Passage of the Waters’ and is a reference to the fact that water pipes used to run along it, explaining why it is so flat. You can access the route by beginning the climb up Mount Tibidabo and following sign posts about half way. The track is nearly 10km long, running all the way to Esplugues de Llobregat and offers some of the best panoramic views of the city to be found find. It’s incredibly popular with cyclists and runners, especially at weekends, but can be much quieter during the week. You can also make things a little easier for yourself by getting either the Tibidabo or Vallvidrera funiculars up to the heights.