Barcelona: is this the best running city in the world?

Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with visitors flocking to the Catalan capital to experience the city’s unique cultural, artistic and architectural heritage. Throw in great tapas, a lively night-life, the glorious city beach, perfect climate, and probably the best domestic team in world football and it’s not hard to see why an incredible 18 million international visitors were estimated to have made the trip to Barcelona in 2016 alone.

Barcelona, however, is also a running enthusiast’s dream with a mixture of terrains and run-types for the distance runner to get their teeth into and plenty of spectacular sights and scenery to take in along the way.

Over the course of the next few weeks, this blog will be tracking some of the city’s ‘must runs’ with suggested routes, maps, photographs and sights to look out for. So what are you waiting for? Get out there!

W Hotel to Poblenou Skate Park and back

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Beachfront and W Hotel
  • Run type: flat, paved, out-and-back
  • Location: beachfront
  • Distance: medium (5 miles / 8km)
  • Starting point: W Hotel

To kick things off, we’ll start with a middle distance route along Barcelona’s iconic waterfront – probably the most popular spot for the city’s many runners. We clocked this run at pretty much 5 miles (or just over 8km) dead and the route is almost completely flat so this is a great run for people wanting to keep their mileage ticking over midweek. In addition, because of its flat trajectory and lack of roads to cross / other interruptions, it’s a perfect route for running those intervals, strides or fartleks to hone your speed.

W to Poblenou

The starting point we chose is the striking W Hotel (known locally as the Vela or ‘Sail’ Hotel) located at the far end of the Passeig Maritim – although you could pick any spot along the route as your start and finish point. From the W Hotel, you will run in a north-easterly direction up along the coast, passing a host of beachfront bars and cafes (remember these for your post-run refreshments!).

After about a mile-and-a-half, you’ll go over a small hump-backed bridge and pass the Barcelona Casino on your left and the Port Olimpic marina on your right. After the marina you can either go down a ramp to the right and run tight to the beach or take a slightly more elevated route to the left – your choice but either way it’s virtually impossible to take a wrong turn: just keep following the path. Handily, there are plenty of water fountains along the way to keep you hydrated.

After about 2.5 miles, you reach the skate park at Poblenou which is a natural turning point to loop round and head back the way you came until you’re back at the W. Next stop: one of those beachfront cafe bars we mentioned earlier for your well-earned reward…

Turning point, skate park
Turning point at Poblenou

As any schoolkid will tell you, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. That being so, this route makes a great dawn run as you can watch the sun coming up out to sea as you run along the east-facing shoreline. Check out the photos we snapped along the course and tell us what you think!

Need help with your training? Book a training session with Run Barca.

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Dawn runner on the Marina wall
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Early morning at Poblenou
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Morning Workout
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Poblenou Skate Park

4 thoughts on “Barcelona: is this the best running city in the world?

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