Length 11.5km (7.2), terrain: flat
NOTE: You can reduce the run to 9.5-km if you turn around at the Mar Bella sports hall along the north part of the run, and you can reduce it to 7.5-km if you also leave off the last section to the south after Barceloneta.
Another note: I was just back in Barcelona and re-ran the routes, and then rewrote this one to include more beach and less street -- Dec. 2015.
Barcelona running routes:
Montjuic hill climb
Ciutadella Park route
Old town and harbor route
For more running routes, see Route List.
Barcelona is one of my favorite places on earth: with people strolling past the pet-kiosks along the Ramblas till past midnight, with the moody, ancient lanes winding through the old town, the modern dance-bars of Port Vell pulsing with music, and modern businesses lining Avinguda Diagonal, the crazy Gaudi buildings... And topping it off, there is a lot of great beachfront, right in the center of town.
|Sand, sea and boardwalk as far as you can see|
When I first came to Barcelona, 30 years ago, the waterfront was lined by decrepit industrial ruins and decaying wharves, cut off from the city by the train line. But all that is a thing of the past, as the waterfront has been turned into a swimming/sunbathing/boating/running beach paradise. The 1992 Olympics gave the city the chance to give the waterfront back to the people, and they did it just right.
|View from Mapfre Tower, overlooking the southern section of beach|
So hop on the train and exit at Ciutadella | Vila Olímpica. The station entrance is surrounded by a little park. Head north uphill along Avenida d'Icaria to the main street, Carrer de la Marina, where you turn right and head towards the twin high-rise towers at the beach.
|Monumental artwork at the towers|
The right-hand tower and its giant fish belong to the Casino Barcelona. And just to the left you'll see the vast Port Olímpic marina, the harbor for the 1992 Olympic sailing teams.
|Running past the marina|
You now basically just follow this palm- and park-lined beach promenade all the way to the end towards the northeast for the next three kilometers.
|Volleyball along the boardwalk|
Running north, you'll pass four stone jetties sticking out into the water. Between the jetties, the beach forms a crescent.
|Sunrise along the beach|
NOTE: This is the spot to turn around if you want to shorten this run by two kilometers.
After the northernmost two jetties, at 3-km, the beach ends at still another rocky jetty, where you turn around and head back south.
So just head back past the same stuff you just passed before, and when you get back to the twin towers (at the 6-km mark), stay to the left side and head towards the giant fish, crossing a little pedestrian bridge.
|At the fish|
At the 7-km mark, you'll see the old Barceloneta neighborhood coming towards the water on the right side. Barceloneta is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in town, old harbor-workers' quarters, with wash hanging from every balcony.
NOTE: Barceloneta was included by the Old Town route, so maybe give that a try, too!
|The beach at Barceloneta|
After the last buildings in Barceloneta, a big paved plaza lines the beach, bringing you to the last section of the run. From the 8-km mark, a line of sports halls line the water. There are open tennis courts, a swimming hall, boat clubs, small soccer fields... You're running towards the half-circle of the "W Hotel" at the far end of the beach. (You can shorten this run by two further kilometers by turning around after Barceloneta.)
|The last section by night|
Now just head back towards the twin towers again, soaking in the scenery, hardly believing you're downtown in a big city.