Fresh Air; our parents forced it on us as kids saying it was “good for us”. Turns out our parents were right. It is. A widely cited study from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has found that individuals living within 1 kilometre of green space are less likely to experience depression. Other studies have found links between spending time in nature and improved immune system, better sleep and heightened memory function.
So its a bit disheartening that Barcelona has dangerously few green spaces. A recent report by the World Health Organization claims that Barcelona’s ratio of public park to number of residents is shockingly low by global standards.
As a response to this, the municipality has decided to implement superblocks, large swathes of urban space which will be closed off to traffic and converted into green public spaces. Once implemented, you can expect to sleep better at night due to the lack of cars, and also expect your walk to work to get a lot more pleasant! (Sorry drivers, pedestrians and bikers are taking over soon!)
In the meantime, here’s our guide to getting some fresh air in and around Barcelona.
Carrer de les Aigües: Just outside the city (but still on the metro line!) you’ll find the Carrer de les Aigües. This 4 km trail is perched atop the Serra de Collserola, marking the borders of Barcelona. The panoramic views look like they’re straight out of a postcard, and the fresh air will help you appreciate it too!
Parc de la Ciutadella: This central park has quite an unfortunate history as a military citadel built by Philip V. To give the city’s residents a chance to breathe, the atrocity was converted into a public space for all to relax. This labyrinthine park now features a zoo, bird sanctuary, a Gaudi-designed fountain, artificial lake, and plenty of flora and fauna to quench your thirst for nature.
Montserrat: Reachable through a convenient train from Placa Espanya, Montserrat is a truly breath-taking destination. This grand mountain range features some odd rock formations which ensure that its unlike any hike you’ve done before. You can take one of the short trails (30 mins or so) or otherwise let your inner explorer out and take on the 6-hour Sant Jeroni trail to get to the highest point of the mountain.
Parc del Laberint d’Horta: When in Barcelona, visiting Parc del Laberint d’Horta is a must. After all, how many cities can boast a massive labyrinth made out of shrubbery? This is a perfect place to get lost — almost literally — and experience some greenery.
Montjuïc: Montjuic features a multitude of great places to hike and walk around in nature. Some highlights include the Fundació Joan Miró Gardens and the Montjuïc Botanical Gardens. Otherwise, climb to the top and take in a breathtaking view of Barcelona.