I recently finished a 6-month internship in Barcelona, and I have to say I absolutely loved the time I spent there. I was able to discover many amazing healthy hotspots and ways to live a fit and healthy life while living on a student budget. Even though Barcelona may be more known for its paella, sangria and party scene, it’s actually the perfect place to live a fit life. Whether you’re going to Barcelona for an internship, a semester abroad, moving there for good or just stopping by for vacation, read more for my recommendations!
When knew I would be moving to Barcelona for 6 months, one of my first questions was how easy it would be to maintain a clean and healthy lifestyle in a city known for its parties, red wine and ham. After 6 months spent in Switzerland prior to moving to Spain, it was clear that the “healthy foodie fitness” trend was really not one present in Europe. I had done some googling before leaving for Spain, but all I really found were blog posts saying that following a Mediterranean diet of bread and Spanish ham was actually good for you, but being someone who doesn’t eat meat, I knew I definitely wouldn’t be hopping on board to the Spanish diet any time soon. I therefore decided to wait until I got there to see how everything would go.
1. Keeping fit in Barcelona is actually very easy. I was surprised when I first arrived at the number of people that are jogging in the streets. Along the beach in Barceloneta (where I lived), there is a beautiful, wide, boardwalk full of people walking, running, jogging and roller blading. Definitely a perfect place to go for a run, even more so to see the amazing sunrise on the water if you get there early enough!
2. The city is full of public parks, the most beautiful being Parc de la Cuitadella in my opinion. These parks are the perfect place to get a good workout in; not having a gym membership is not an excuse. I would often go to the park near my house (parc de la Barceloneta), and use the bench to do my Kayla Itsines circuit trainings, or do other crossfit inspired routines.
3. There are biking paths absolutely all over the city. Bike rentals are also very cheap (usually around 3 Euro an hour), so I definitely recommend going for a long bike ride as your LISS (low intensity stead state) exercise of the day. Plus it’ll allow you to discover more of the city than you could by foot.
4. Mont Juic is one of the two mountains situated in Barcelona. I had initially tried to bike up the mountain, however the pedestrian paths have stairs which makes it a little difficult, so I would recommend jogging or walking up instead. It makes a perfect LISS training as well as having the steepness add an extra little challenge.
5. Mont Tibidabo is the second mountain of Barcelona, located in the north of the city. There is a great running path that goes along the mountain and continues to neighbouring mountains as well. From the path there is a cable car that brings you up to the top where there is a beautiful church and old amusement park, but I recommend going up by foot. It’s a bit of a hike since it’s quite steep and the path seems to have been created by many people simply walking the same way rather than actually being constructed, however it’s a lot of fun if your up for it. The amazing view of the whole city once at the top is worth the journey.
1. Although it may seem as though all Barcelona has to offer is deep fried tapas and an excessive amount of meat, there are actually some healthy, even vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the city. Head to the “hotspots” category on the homepage of my blog to read about a few of the best fit-food-friendly hotspots of the city.
2. Fresh produce is very widely available and affordable in Barcelona, making it easy to follow a healthy, even plant-based diet if desired. Grocery stores tend to be more expensive and offer much less variety than markets, however what is cheapest are the “frutas y verduras” stores. You’ll be able to find at least one if not several on each block. The produce is not organic, however most of it is locally produced in Spain and highly seasonal. It is good to know that actually all produce in Barcelona is highly seasonal. You’ll have much difficulty finding berries out of season, and frozen fruit does not exist even in big grocery stores. If you are therefore very keen on continuing to eat strawberries through the winter, make sure you stock up and freeze your own.
3. Grocery stores offer very little organic, gluten-free or lactose-free foods. There are however many health food stores (usually called “deiteticas”) around the city (I had two within a 2 block radius of my house). These shops are often quite small but offer a good range of healthy organic foods. There are also bigger healthy grocery store options such as Vertias, Obbio and Feeld Organic. There was a Veritas close to my house so that was usually my go-to (plus it’s open on Sundays), however Obbio and Feeld Organic have cafeterias inside the grocery store which serve healthy food and drinks, which makes them nice shopping stops. They all offer very similar products, however between the three, I found the prices at Obbio quite a bit lower. Other great places to buy healthy food are Mother’s and Organic Brothers, both located in Sant Antoni. Mother’s is a small store started up by 2 girls from the U.S., and sells jarred jucies, homemade granola and nut mixes as well as lots of vegan baked-goods. Organic Brothers has two shops on the same street, with one selling mainly nuts and spices, and the other selling fresh organic produce at a very affordable price.
1. It’s true that the “health and fitness” culture is not very prominent in Barcelona, but there are many things that make this city perfect for following a fit life. A major bonus of the city is its climate. I don’t think I have ever lived anywhere with such amazing weather. It doesn’t rain very often; therefore it’s easy to plan outdoor workouts. The constant breeze coming from the ocean makes runs along the beach pleasant even during the hot summer months. The winters are quite mild (usually between 5-10 degrees Celsius) which makes for perfect outdoor running weather as well.
2. The city hosts quite a few races per year, which are extremely popular. There is the annual triathlon held at the end of the summer, the New Years 10km run and many more.