If the name sounds like Barcelona it’s perhaps no coincidence: Badalona is a coastal town located just outside Barcelona, on the other side of the Besòs river that shoots out into the Mediterranean. Smaller and more relaxed than its larger counterpart, Badalona is a vibrant town popular with locals in the summer and with a thriving arts and leisure scene just waiting to be explored. Here are ten of the best things to see and do in the picturesque town of Badalona, Spain.
Discover the Monastery of Sant Gerònim de la Murtra
This 15th-century Gothic monastery belongs to the order of Saint Jerome and was taken under the protection of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel, who made a habit of staying here during the summer months. In fact, it was here that in 1493 the Catholic Monarchs received Christopher Columbus upon his return from America and, if you observe the stone carvings that decorate the monastery, you will see the portraits of the adventurer and two monarchs.
Take a tour of the Anís del Mono distillery
The Anís del Mono distillery is a stunning Modernist building which has been the main production site of Badalona’s famous aniseed liqueur since the late 19th century. Open to the public with an access charge of just €5,50, a tour of the distillery is a fantastic way to see one of the town’s most impressive sites, while learning about an important part of the city’s economic history. Don’t forget to get your photo taken with the emblematic monkey (mono in Spanish) that sits on the bench outside the building.
It’s not just Barcelona that boasts a lively Rambla – Badalona’s central boulevard is thriving with cafés, restaurants and local stores and is very much the main artery of the city. Less affected by the results of mass tourism than its counterpart in Barcelona, the Rambla de Badalona is the main gathering point for locals and is home to some of the best restaurants in town.
The Pont del Petroli, or Petrol Bridge, is so named as it used to serve for the offloading of petrol products from tankers that came to Badalona. However, in 2009 it was converted into a public walkway, stretching 250 meters into the sea at a height of six meters, and is a popular route for beach strollers and joggers. From the end of the pier you get a great feel of the expansiveness of the surrounding water and, when the wind is up, walking along it can be a wholly invigorating experience.
While the beach in nearby Barcelona is mostly dedicated to swimmers and sun-worshipers, the beach at Badalona is home to a number of water sports and leisure centers offering a wide range of water-based activities. There are jet-skis available for those who feel the need for speed, while those looking for something a little more relaxing can opt for a few hours of paddle surfing instead.
Visit the Museum of Badalona
Badalona is no spring chick – the first settlements in the area date back to prehistoric times and, during Roman times, the town known as Baetulo had a thriving social life, with lots of homes, commercial establishments and public baths. Open since 1966, the Badalona Museum is home to a large collection of relics, which date back to the time of these ancient civilizations and retrace the history of the city from its early days.
If the weather is right, one of the most popular things to do in Badalona is of course to go for a swim in the sea. Much less crowded than Barcelona beach and with a friendly, more local feel to it, the beach in Badalona is well-provided for, with a number of bars and restaurants by the waterfront, including the popular summertime chiringuitos (small enterprises). There are usually lifeguards on duty and clearly marked areas for swimmers and water-sports fans.
Visit the Dalt de la Vila
While Badalona may have the appearance of a modern town today, tucked away in the center you’ll find the remnants of the Old Town, known as the Dalt de la Vila. This is where you’ll find many of the town’s most famous monuments, blending a mixture of older buildings with structures from the Modernist era, such as the Torre Vella, the Santa María church and the Casa Jaume Botey.
Get a taste of the Catalan countryside at the Masia de Can Miravitges
This Medieval farmhouse located on the outskirts of Badalona offers a glimpse of what life in rural Catalunya was like hundreds of years ago. Renovated during the 16th and 17th centuries to adapt to the new technologies and methods used in agriculture at the time, the Masia de Can Miravitges tells the story of how the Catalan countryside evolved from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution and later during the early Modern era.
Go for a walk through the Parc de Can Solei i Ca l’Arnús
Described as the ‘green lung’ of Badalona, the Can Solei i Ca l’Arnús park is a large outdoor area that sits on the site of an old farm which was acquired by 19th-century local entrepreneur Evarist Arnús i de Ferrer. In the 1970s the land came under public ownership and eventually transformed into the popular recreation area it is today. The park contains a number of curated gardens, as well as monuments along the way and summer houses.