Barcelona’s five best picnic spots

Picnic basket by langalex

With the exception of rare rainy days, spring and summer in Barcelona scream for picnics, play outside, and doing everything (literally) under the sun. The city’s many terraces, ever overflowing into sidewalks and plazas, underline this idea of outdoor eating, drinking and celebrating as a Barcelona way of life.

But why pay extra for a sandwich at an outdoor table among the seething crowds? You can just as easily escape to a Barcelona park for a cosy picnic, no terrace surcharge required. No blanket or picnic basket? Beach towels and a plastic grocery bag will do the job in a pinch. So grab your gear and some portable eats, and spend a few enjoyable hours eating, drinking and lounging on the lawn – the Picasso Museum can wait for a cloudy afternoon sometime soon.

El Parc de Joan Miró

Parc Joan Miró by Ed YourdonTaking up four full blocks of Barcelona’s central l’Eixample neighbourhood, this park is best known for Catalan artist Joan Miro’s towering, 22-metre sculpture, “Dona I Ocell” (woman and bird), donated to the city of Barcelona by the artist. Built on the land once occupied by the old city slaughterhouse, the park is a welcome refuge just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Plaça Espanya and the Arenas shopping mall.

After examining the intricate mosaic work on Miró’s masterpiece, why not nibble stuffed olives and feast on fresh fruit in the shade of massive pines and palm trees? When you’re finished feeding your face, you can always burn any excess calories with a quick pick-up game of ping-pong or petanca.

Address: C/ Tarragona, 74
District: L’Eixample
Metro: Metro metro -Tarragona, Metro metro – Espanya
• Opening times: Mon-Sun from 10:00 until dusk

Parc del Laberint d’Horta

Picnic by vana_gwenWander the grounds of the oldest garden in the city at Barcelona’s Garden Labyrinth Park. Hidden behind the historic family palace of the Dukes of Llupiá, at this park there’s a tri-level, neoclassical 18th-century garden, complete with a topiary maze of cypress bushes. On the bottom level, walk among evergreen walls in search of mythological figures like Eros, Echo and Narcissus.

Afterwards, pay your respects to the figures in the cupolas overlooking the maze, Danae and Ariadne, human women that were unfortunate enough to hook up with Greek gods and heroes. Climbing still higher, sit and relax at the reservoir that waters so much green. Watch the fish swimming through reflections of tree and blue skies.

There are picnic tables at the park’s entry, but we recommend grabbing a seat somewhere inside the gardens – there are park benches, if you’re really opposed to sitting on the ground, and the superior views trump tables every time.

Address: Passeig dels Castanyers, 1-17
District: Horta-Guinardó
Metro: Metro metro – Mundet
• Opening times: Mon-Sun from 10:00 until dusk (a small entry fee is required)

Jardins de Can Sentmenat

Jardins Can Sentmenat by nvainioStroll among stately, well groomed hedges and life-sized female statues in the Can Sentmenat Gardens, created by Catalan nobility at the end of the 19th century. Once the residence of the Marquis of Sentmenat, Can Sentmenat is an ideal spot to get away from the traffic and noise of Barcelona’s city centre. So take a few hours to get lost in the 9-hectare wooded area, take in sweeping views of Barcelona from the terraced gardens, snap shots of a waterfall, and scarf Spanish jamón on bread under the shade of 100-year-old palm trees.

Curious as to why there are so many students milling about? Since 1994, this historic home has housed the EINA School of Design and Art.

Address: C/ Can Caralleu 16-18
District: Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
Metro: Reina Elisenda L6 Ferrocarriles
• Opening times: Mon-Sun from 10:00 until dusk

Parc de l’Espanya Industrial

Parc de l' Espanya Industrial by niall62Flanking the west side of Sants Estació, Barcelona’s main train station, this park fuses Barcelona culture and industry in a striking way. A row of nine lighthouses loom above white stairs that lead down to a large pond where weeping willows bend closer, as if to trail their branches in the shining water. In the park’s pond, Neptune stands watch over the waters, protecting mother duck and her ducklings, while Venus lounges, impassive, untouched by the splendour that surrounds her, on a rock.

Embrace your inner child with a slippery trip down a dragon’s tail – the 150-tonne sculpture was designed by Andres Nagel to be a slide. Afterwards, savour a sandwich as you soak up the sun on the lawn; cop a squat with your favourite book on the steps or stretch out in the shade of tall trees.

Address: C/ Muntades, 37
District: Sants-Montjuic
Metro: Metro metro , metro  Sants Estació
• Opening times: Mon-Sun from 10:00 until dusk

Jardins del Palau de Pedralbes

Jardins Palau de Pedralbes by Poble MeraBehind a tall wall embroidered with cascades of vivid purple bougainvillea and a massive wrought iron gate, you’ll find the Pedralbes Royal Palace Gardens. A beautiful woman crouches in the centre of an oval-shaped reflecting pool. Too bemused by her surroundings (or perhaps her reflection) to move, she’s been perched here for years, and finally became a study in stone.

Follow meandering rock footpaths to find a small waterfall and two works by a young Antoni Gaudí. Sit under the shade of his curving, parabolic pergola clothed in lush greenery, and find your way through the park’s bamboo forest to get a good look at his “Fountain of Hercules,” a bust of the Greek hero perched above a wrought-iron dragon’s mouth that flows with water, not fire.

Address: Av. Diagonal, 686
District: Les Corts
Metro: Metro metro , Palau Reial, Tramvia, tram, tram Palau Reial
• Opening times: Mon-Sun from 10:00 until dusk

A little advice

Don’t spend time in Barcelona’s parks after dark. Just like in any large metropolis, these public spaces can be unsafe (and unsettling) when the sun goes down.