Leisure time in Barcelona

What can you do in your spare time in Barcelona, apart from sightseeing and going out? During the summer you will certainly be at the beach most of the time. Another possibility is to go shopping once in a while. What about enjoying your time in one of Barcelonas’ beautiful parks or do some sports?

Beaches in Barcelona

In the year 1992 beaches in and around Barcelona and the Olympic Village have been cleaned. Since then sand and water are kept clean and the beaches are equipped with lifeguards, sunbeds and showers. As far as the toilets are concerned, the situation is not perfect. Every beach bar (chiringuito) disposes of one toilet, which is not enough for thousands of people at the beach, even though there are quite a lot of chiringuitos along the coast. So you have to be patient when waiting for a free toilet.

Barcelona is known for its’ sandy beach, streching over 4 km and situated next to the city. It is easy to reach by metro and only a short walk from the stop. The beach is divided into 6 parts, which are separated through quays:

  • Platja de San Sebastiá
  • Platja de Barceloneta
  • Platja Nova Icària
  • Platja del Bogatell
  • Platja Mar Bella
  • Platja Mar Bella Nova

Platja is the Catalan name for beach. All beaches are connected through a long promenade, but each has its’ own significant characteristics.

The beaches San Sebastiá and Barceloneta are situated at the Western part of the city and they are mainly visited by tourists, which might be due to their location close to the centre. Those beaches are packed during the summer, you can only see towels. This is the wrong place to relax, because tourists are constantly coming and going, when they are taking a break from sightseeing. Next to Barceloneta is the Olympic harbour and on the other side you find a beach called Nova Icária, which is also jam-packed most of the time. The further you come to the North-Western part, the more beautiful and quiet the beaches become. The most outward beach, called Platja Mar Bella Nova, is the nicest one. You hardly meet any tourists, as it is a walk of 30 min from the Olympic harbour to reach these beaches. It is the place for locals to relax, as they have the possibility to come by car. It is usually quiet during the week but on weekends the beach fills with locals, arriving very early to arrange their places.

Therefore: If you want to enjoy beach and sea in Barcelona, you should choose a weekday to go to the beach Platja Mar Bella Nova. In case you are not willing to walk that far, get some information about the bus driving there.

Shopping in Barcelona

In my opinion Barcelona is a true shopping mekka.

If you stroll along the Avenida Portal del Angel between Plaza Catalunya and the Cathedral you find all sorts of shops like Zara, Bershka, Mango,….. The heart of every (young) female is jumping with joy, because prices in Zara or Mango are lower than in Germany, England, etc. Moreover, you can find different collections and it is very likely to buy some nice Spanish clothes at a bargain price. Be careful before you turn into a shoppoholic!

The Barri Gòtic (old town) is mainly a car-free zone and you can walk around the small winding streets and browse in the various tiny shops and boutiques. This is a very pleasant way to spend your afternoon enjoying the atmosphere, even if you are not buying anything.

Barcelona has the effect of a magnet on trendy people, as there are lots of designer shops. You can find them in the district Eixample as well as the elegant boulevard Passeig de Grácia, where famous shops are presenting their expensive young collections. Rambla de Catalunya, Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes and Diagonal are also known shopping streets, famous for their expensive, noble and fancy shops.

Important!!! In some shops you have to present your valid ID or passport in order to pay with credit card.

Barcelona also disposes of various shopping malls and the most famous one is the relatively new Maremagnum, located in the old harbour (Port Vell). However, it is more a tourist attraction than a shopping centre, housing shops, cafés, restaurants and bars. The shops are on average quite expensive and if you think that Spanish people are going out in those bars at night, you are wrong. Nevertheless, it is worth to take a look; there is also H&M, for example.


Not counting the possibility to go to the gym, there are lots of ways to do sports in Barcelona. You can go to the beach anytime and e.g. join the beach voleyball players. The path along the 4 km beach is perfect for jogging and biking, as well as inline skating. And what would be a better place to do sports than in nature, next to the sea? Another suitable place to run, bike or walk is the Parc de Cervantes, close to the subway station Zona Universitaria, due to its’ size and the good shape of its’ paths. A nice jogging place for runners with better condition is Parc Güell, as you have to cope with some steep parts.

If you are fond of swimming in lanes, which you cannot do in the sea, you can visit the swimming pool on Montjuic called Piscinas Picornell. From Plaza Espanya you can take bus number 50. The outdoor swimming pool is big enough to do some proper swimming and afterwards you can relax on the sunbeds enjoying the sun. The entrance fee is 4 € and there is no student discount.

Furthermore, you should inform yourselves about the sports programme at university, which offers courses or soccer training, etc. You can participate for free and get to know a lot of new people.


There are a lot of parks in Barcelona, inviting you to stroll around and relax. You shouldn’t miss the most famous ones, which are Parc Güell and Parc de la Ciutadella. You can find more information concerning Parc Güell under “sights”

Parc de la Ciutadella

This 30 ha large park is located to the north of Barceloneta and to the east of the old town. The best way to reach the park is by subway, where you can stop at Arc de Triomf and enter the park at the Northern entrance.

After the conquest of Barcelona in 1715 Philipp V. erected a fortress (citadel) on the territory of today’s park. It was used as a prison and served as a deterrence for the Catalan population. In 1878 the fortress was neglected and a park was created, named Parc de la Ciutadella (citadel park). The first world exhibition in Barcelona in 1888 took place on this site and the Arc de Triomf was the main portal.

The former fortress area turned into a beautiful park, a popular place to relax or take a walk. The zoological museum is situated directly at the Northern entrance of the park.
Further highlights:

  • An artificial waterfall built with stairs and decorated with animal figures
  • A small pond surrounded by beautiful plants, bushes and trees
  • The Hivernacle, a glasshouse with heavy iron carriers; inside you find a café, which is worth a visit, so you can enjoy a drink and the special ambiance
  • The palm house; this is a high pavilion, approx. 100 years old with huge palm trees and other exotic plants

In the Southern part of the park you will find the zoo of Barcelona, which, however, is not an absolute must, as it is very small compared to others.

Consecutively you will find a list of more parks, which you can visit in case you have a special interest or enough time left.

  Cactus Parc Montjuic
subway: Paral.lel L3 & cable car
A garden with all kinds of cactuses – amazing!!!
  Parc Labyrinth
subway: Mundet L3
The oldest park of Barcelona, built in 1791; artistically designed paths, a beautiful waterfall....and a labyrinth – quiet, relaxing and very amusing if you get lost inside the labyrinth and can’t find the exit
  Parc Guinardó
subway: Guinardó L4
This park looks like a forrest; has a complex topography in line with the 4 cardinal points
  Jardins del Palau Reial de Pedralbes
subway: Palau Reial L3
These gardens are designed geometrically; you can see beautiful flower beds and huge trees from the royal property – perfect for a picnic
  Parc de Cervantes i Roserar
subway: Zona Universitaria L3
Garden with various roses from all continents; Parc de Cervantes is situated close to the rose garden; it is big and the perfect place for sports
  Jardí Botànic de Barcelona
subway: Paral·lel L3 & cable car
Garden with Mediterranean plants, flowers and trees – worth a visit

Cinemas in Barcelona

Sometimes it is nice to go to the cinema, especially during fall and winter. It is also a good opportunity for exchange students to improve their language skills.
Here a list of the cinemas in Barcelona including their websites:

Icària Yelmo (15 rooms)
Address: Carrer Salvador Espriu, 61
Tel: 93 221 75 85
Subway: Ciutadela (L4)
Bus: Line 41, 92
Internet: http://www.yelmocineplex.es

Renoir-Les Corts (6 rooms)
Address: C/ Eugeni d'Ors, 12
Tel: 93 490 55 10
Subway: Les Corts (L3)
Internet: http://www.cinesrenoir.com

Cinemes Verdi (5 rooms)
Address: Carrer Verdi, 32
Tel: 93 238 79 90
Subway: Fontana (L3) or Joanic (L4)
Internet: http://www.cines-verdi.com

Cinemes Verdi Park (4 rooms)
Address: Carrer Torrijos, 49
Tel: 93 238 79 90
Subway: Fontana (L3) or Joanic (L4)
Internet: http://www.cines-verdi.com

Address: Moll d'Espanya del Port Vell, s/n
Tel: 93 225 11 11
Subway: Drassanes (L3) or Barceloneta (L4)
Bus: 14, 17, 19, 36, 39, 40, 45, 57, 59, 64, 157
Internet: http://www.imaxintegral.com