Barcelona on wheels
THE 6 BEST SPOTS FOR TWO–WHEELED FUN IN BARCELONA
Beachside boulevards, picturesque back streets and winding roads into the hills above the city. These are all part of Barcelona’s rich urban landscape and perfect for exploring on two wheels. Whether you’re planning to see the city by Segway, eScooter or Vespa, here are six of the best places to roll, glide or cruise to.
One of the most popular spots for a ride is along the city’s waterfront, and with good reason. The calming Mediterranean and the smooth, traffic-free paths are the perfect antidote to the busy city centre. Start at the bottom of the Rambla where the towering statue of Christopher Columbus points out to sea. It’s a gentle glide from here to Barceloneta along the wide waterfront boulevard, arriving at Roy Lichtenstein’s surrealist sculpture, ‘The Head’, created by the American pop artist to commemorate the Barcelona Olympics. From here, continue along to Port Vell, admiring the parade of superyachts in the harbour. This was once a working class area, typically inhabited by fishermen. Now it is home to a mixed international and local crowd, and a buzzing beach area. From Barceloneta beach, you’ll ride along the wide path flanked by rollerbladers and runners, and on towards the Olympic port, built for the 1992 Olympic games. End your ride with an indulgent cocktail at one of the beach’s best-loved chiringuitos (beach bars), such as Xiringuito Escribà.
Ideal for: Segway, eScooter
ARC DE TRIOMF AND PARC DE LA CIUTADELLA
The Arc de Triomf is an iconic piece of Barcelona architecture. Built as the gateway to the 1888 Universal Exhibition, the monument’s front frieze contains the stone sculpture Barcelona rep les nacions (‘Barcelona welcomes the nations’ in Catalan), and the surrounding area is appropriately friendly. The wide pedestrian boulevard leading down from the arch, Passeig de Lluis Companys, is lined with grassy lawns and stone benches. The smooth surface makes this an excellent spot for getting your bearings on a Segway or scooter. Once you’ve got the hang of it, head down to the Parc de la Ciutadella, the city’s biggest central park, and home to some fascinating sights, such as the Museum of Natural Science, and the Cascada, an enormous fountain that looms over a small lake in the north of the park. Animal lovers may be tempted to park their wheels for a longer stay: the Barcelona Zoo can be found at the back of the park.
Stop off at Bendito Pecado just off Passeig de Lluis Companys. This cosy cafe specialises in homemade Venezuelan sweet treats, including giant cinnamon buns dripping with icing, and sticky pastry golfeados. An excellent way to recharge after a long ride.
Ideal for: Segway, eScooter
Overlooking Barcelona is Montjuic mountain, home to beautiful parks and gardens, historic buildings and museums. You can ride all the way up from Plaça Espanya to Montjuic Castle, the fortress at the top of the hill. You’ll go past the Montjuic fountain (come back at nighttime for the light and music show), the grandiose MNAC art museum and the Mies van der Rohe pavilion. Then, just explore the quiet hilly roads, taking in the museum dedicated to artist Joan Miró, the vast Olympic stadium and, hidden away at the back of the hill, a viewpoint with spectacular sunset views over the vast, neon-lit commercial port and the Montjuic cemetery. It’s here where you may stumble upon a quiet little chiringuito, La Caseta del Migdia, tucked away among the pine trees. Time to put your feet up with a beer before your descent back down the mountain.
Ideal for: eScooter, Vespa
Built between 1900 and 1914 at the bottom of the Collserola mountain range, Parc Güell is the work of Barcelona’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudí, (architect of the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló and La Pedrera). The steep incline up to the park is a fair distance from the nearest metro station (Lesseps or Vallcarca on the green line) so perfect for a Segway ride. Gaudí’s multicoloured mosaic salamander, ‘el drac’ (the dragon), guards the main entrance and gives an idea of what lies inside. The architect’s work in this natural setting is both harmonious and unexpected and, as you meander along the little paths, you can admire a multitude of stunning design features, such as Sala Hipóstila, the vaulted space built into the hillside. Also in the park is the Gaudí House Museum, the home of the architect from 1906 until his death in 1926, and which now houses a collection of furniture and objects designed by him. If you’re feeling peckish, stop off at Güelly Sandwichpark: a handy place for a snack or coffee at decent prices.
Ideal for: Segway
The best way to explore the densely forested hills of Collserola which stretch all across the back of the city is with a vespa or eScooter. At 512 metres the highest point is Tibidabo mountain, whose summit is visible from most parts of the city. Here you’ll find the Romanesque church Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor, topped off with an enormous bronze statue of Jesus, as well as the iconic Tibidabo Amusement Park, Spain’s oldest theme park. It still boasts many of its original attractions including a ferris wheel that gives you a spectacular view of the Barcelona skyline. On the way back down, stop off at MiraBlau restaurant for a coffee or snack while you enjoy more panoramic views of the city.
Ideal for: eScooter, Vespa
PARC DEL FÒRUM
Located in the north of Barcelona, at the end of Avinguda Diagonal, this large, mostly concrete space was built for the Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004. Through the warmer months it serves as an excellent festival venue (Primavera Sound takes place here). And, when it isn’t hosting music lovers, it is ideal for speeding around on two wheels. You can ride uphill for an impressive viewpoint over the port, downhill to the enclosed seawater swimming pool or underneath the massive solar panels that define the skyline. The best way to get there is the pedestrian route that leads from the Vila Olímpica. This wide, smooth avenue is always filled with skateboarders and rollerbladers testing out their skills, and perfect for speeding along on an eScooter. On the way back take a pitstop at the park’s most eye-catching inhabitant: BusFood, a big red double decker bus converted into a cafe. Sit on the colourful terrace in the shadow of the bus and tuck into one of their hearty jacket potatoes.
Ideal for: eScooter, Segway