Barcelona is a big city. A noisy city. There are always loads of people. Especially in the centre of the city, obviously, since that's where most of the tourists are. One time a friend in Norway asked me how I managed to stay there over time and seem so happy about it. He had done a two week Spanish course there once, and had gotten totally stressed out about the constant noise and movement. He complained that the city never sleeps. I would never have complained about the same thing, coming from a relatively sleepy Norwegian city! I loved how vibrant and alive Barcelona is. How there's always something going on, events, festivals, how the cultural offer is immense and how you just can't really get bored. Or if you get bored, it's your own fault, not the city!
But not all people like this, and anyway- sometimes us humans need to wind down and connect a little with nature, so I have collected some places where you can find peace and quiet, let your thoughts speak and not get drowned out by traffic and noise.
Carretera de les aigues and Collserola
Barcelona is sort of built in an uphill, and all the way up to the top is a huge green area, la Sierra de Collserola, actually said to be the largest metropolitan park in the world (as a comparison it is 22 times bigger than Central Park in NYC). It’s more like a huge forest than a park and it's not IN the city centre, but not far away either- just about 8 km from the heart of the city, Plaza de Catalunya.
Collserola is great for a lot of different activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking, walking the dog, picnics etc. but I wanted to point out La Carretera de les aigues.
How to get there:
FGC train from Plaza Catalunya to Av.Tibidabo. Then change to tram/bus or walk up the hill (beautiful 15min walk, just follow the tracks of the tram and you won’t get lost). Once up by the funicular going to the top of Tibidabo, keep on walking straight and after about 500m you reach the beginning of Carretera de les Aigües.
Get FGC train Plaza Catalunya to the stop “Peu de Funicular” and change to the Funicular going straight up to Carretera de les Aigües. It leaves you right on the pathway.
Parque de la Ciutadella: By many called Barcelona's green lung. This park is located quite centrally in the city, but is big and lovely. It has beautiful architecture (for instance the Museum of Zoology, Museum of Geology, the Parliament of Catalunya) lots of green, a little lake with rowing boats, and lots and lots of places to lay out blankets for a picnic or just reading in the sun/shadow. There seems to always be some kind of activity group there, practicing yoga, meditation, martial arts or drums and other percussion instruments. It's beautiful and peaceful- you can always find a quiet corner.
How to get there: The closest metro stations are L1 (red) Arc de Triomf, and L4 (yellow) Ciutadella/Villa Olimpica.
The maze of the park is fun, but there's so much more. Beautiful sculptures, water (in different forms) a neoclassical garden, a palace, and then at the back of the park is where Collserola starts - perfect for a picnic!
How to get there: Get on the Green metro line (L3) and take it all the way up to the stop Mundet. The park is just a few minutes walk from the metro station.
El Diposit de les Aigües
This is a little secret! Hush, don't tell anyone! The library at one of the universities in Barcelona was once a reservoir building to store water for the waterworks in the afore mentioned Parc de la Ciutadella. The library is located at the Campus Ciutadela of Pompeu Fabra University.
“The construction is a copy of a Roman prototype comprising a labyrinth of parallel arches four meters wide and 14 meters high, which cross over in a barrel vault and extend as if by mirror effect along its 65 meters of depth.”
I think the space is truly beautiful, the silence and the tall pillars makes it very special and almost ceremonious. And I love the fact that it is a somewhat hidden treasure in the bustling city of Barcelona. Not to mention my love for books, there is something so comforting about being surrounded by them!
How to get there: The campus is located just behind the Parc de la Ciutadella, and the metro stop with the Yellow line, L4 is Ciutadella/Villa Olimpica
|Via, see more fabulous photos here|
The beaches. Especially in winter, spring and autumn, the beaches are lovely for reflection, thought and calm. In peak summer season, the beaches will be extremely crowded. That's when I always went out of the city to some other fabulous beaches, really worth the short train ride. (But if you want to go to the city beaches in summer and don't fancy lying 'on top' of strangers - go as far away from Barceloneta as you can get. The farther away, the less people and less tourists. While it can be really crammed at Barceloneta, closer to the shopping centre Diagonal Mar you can find a spot with some space between you and the next person.)
How to get there: For the beaches it's the yellow metro line (L4) you'll need to use. The stops Barceloneta, Ciutadella/Villa Olimpica, PobleNou and El Maresme i Forum are good stops.
Not all parks are relaxing though,
Parque Guell is fantastic to visit but very crowded,
although if you go early morning during the week it can be a lovely calm place to be.