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10 Places for Quiet Reflection in Barcelona

May 16, 2022 4:37:00 PM / by Stephen Dwyer

Amidst the busyness of life abroad, it helps to fit some quiet time in. Be it a stroll or a moment to sit and relax in the park, knowing several go-to spots can be helpful. Stephen Dwyer has rounded up 10 spots to let your mind breathe as the reflections sink in.

Bon día!

In this week’s installment, I’m going to tell you about some places around Barcelona that I’ve either read about or stumbled upon that took me out of the hustle and bustle of the city and left space for some quiet reflection. A semester abroad flies by fast, so it’s vital to find moments like these to sit and let all your experiences sink in. I knew I was going to be looking for these places when I got here, so I actually did some research before coming. The book Quiet Barcelona by Siobhan Wall is a great collection of shops, museums, and parks a little more off the beaten path. I’m happy I did this, but honestly I’ve rarely referred to my notes while here because finding a place by accident just makes it all the better. So with that, let’s reflect…

  1. Terrace in Les Corts

Les Corts Terrace in Barcelona

Caption: A small terrace in the Les Corts neighborhood where you can buy snacks, coffee, and drinks.

Located at Carrer de Solà 12-14 I believe, this little terrace might be my favorite discovery so far. I came to Les Corts to do some work in a cafe, and when I was done I packed up and roamed the neighborhood for a bit. After a while, I just happened to come across this small, walled terrace with a Gaudí-like well. I had already drank some tea, so I decided to sit down on a bench and take in the lifestyle. There were people scattered around, sitting at tables and drinking an afternoon coffee or beer. An old lady ducked under the rope to pick some vegetables from the raised garden growing to my right. The sun was shining. It was bliss. I bet the coffee’s good too, so I highly recommend this spot.

  1. Fish Store

Sticking with the random spots, I know this one’s out of left field, but hear me out. I was walking down the street on a Thursday night in Raval, and there were people everywhere as usual. Heading nowhere in particular, I saw a sparsely populated store full of fish tanks. I used to love going to the pet store as a kid and looking at the fishes, so I figured why not poke my head in. I spent a solid 20 minutes there, checking out the different setups they had and enjoying the sound of the filtering water. My favorites were the crabs and the frogs, which they had right next to each other.

Fish store in Barcelona

Caption: A crab display at a fish store in Barcelona.

  1. Collserola National Park

Next, if you’re down for a journey a little further outside the city, then Collserola is a beautiful place to hike and take in the views of the sea and the city from the mountains. From my old apartment I took the L5 to the L3 then walked for a tad over 20 minutes to get to La Carretera de les Aigües, which I did not realize feeds directly into the national park.

Collserola National Park in Barcelona

Caption: It’s even better in person!

  1. Poblenou

Poblenou park

Caption: A graffiti-covered skate park right next to a basketball court and some volleyball nets. It’s usually pretty crowded, but not so much on a damp Sunday.

I definitely read about Poblenou before coming to Barcelona, but I didn’t expect it to offer so much. The neighborhood itself is full of cool restaurants and bars, and it holds the tech district, 22@, with pretty much all of the skyscrapers you’ll see in the city. But closer to the water there’s still a bunch of great spots. Such as this park I walked past that looked extra peaceful on a slow Sunday stroll. A group of guys played soccer, volleyball off to my right, a couple of lads were tossing a frisbee in front of me, and I actually sat down and watched a good portion of a pickup soccer game being played on a field to the left of the skatepark. The courts are a part of Parc del Poblenou, which also hosts an abundance of green and trees perfect for hammocking, and all of the paths will lead you directly to the beach. Which brings me to my next spot…

  1. Bogatell Beach

Bogatell Beach and Playa de la Mar Bella are the two beaches that line the shores of Poblenou, and both are fantastic spots to get away from the more crowded coastal locations and soak in the sea breeze in peace. Not only is it much less crowded than Barceloneta, but I’ve found the waves to be much bigger over here, making for a real life soundtrack right out of a sleep playlist on Spotify.

Bogatell sea wall in Barcelona

Caption: The Bogatell sea wall.

  1. Montserrat

Montserrat in Spain

Caption: Some of the many fantastic peaks at Montserrat, which is less than an hour train ride away from Placa Espanya.

This might be cheating because it’s not actually in Barcelona, but if you want some space to disconnect and reflect, look no further than Montserrat. The Basilica was a little crowded and noisy, but once you start hiking on the trails you can walk at your own pace and take in the majestic views. I didn’t make it all the way up Sant Jeroni, the tallest peak, but even going halfway brings you to some amazing views of the countryside.

  1. Jardins de Laribal

Another nice spot for reflection is near Montjüic at the Jardins de Laribal. Laribal is 3.16 hectares full of different levels of terraces, fountains, and waterfalls running between them. The waterfalls are what puts it on my list because something about running water just helps me think. If you spend some time at the Jardins de Laribal, I also suggest paying a visit to the next spot.

Jardin de Laribal near Montjuc

Caption: The Jardins de Laribal near Montjüic.

  1. Palau Nacional de Montjüic

Just a little up the hill from the Jardins de Laribal is the Palau Nacional de Montjüic, a magnificent building constructed for the World Exhibition of 1929 (along with the Magic Fountain, at the bottom of the Palace stairs). You’re bound to see tourists here, but even with the crowds, I find it peaceful to sit on the steps right outside the palace and listen to the musicians who come up there to perform. Not to mention MNAC, the art museum located inside the palace, which is free after 3pm on Saturdays. With three massive sections (Romanesque, Gothic, and Modern art) you could spend all day there, so it may be worth buying a ticket since the museum closes at 6pm on Saturday, leaving only three hours inside.

Palau Nacional de Montjüic

Caption: The view from the palace is just as beautiful as the art inside.

  1. Parc dels Tillers

Tillers

Caption: Discovering the Parc del Tillers, another quiet spot.

Just a block away from the Arc de Triomf, this little park hid right under my nose for the majority of my time in Barcelona. A couple weeks ago I discovered it, however, on another Sunday stroll and I was a big fan. It’s a rather small park with a concession stand and these cool blue structures made out of the same tiles on the walls in the photo above. That photo was my favorite part because they made a spiral that works its way down to the bottom with trees lining every level.

  1. Parc de l’Espanya Industrial

Parc industrial in Barcelona

Caption: Some fellow hoopers at the park.

This one is neither quiet nor reflective, but exercise is a huge part of mental health, and the best way for me to get my anxious energy out is through basketball. Parc de l’Espanya Industrial, which some friends and I actually discovered through a CAPA: Sports in the City event, is a really cool place to play pickup at night. There’s a nice full court with big backboards and then two more hoops to the side with chain nets. The vibes are always great, with people talking trash in Spanish and old men playing horseshoes or dominoes off to the side. Also, the park itself is beautiful; with a large reflective pool surrounded by big concrete steps and a massive metal dragon that serves as a play structure for kids. Located right next to the metro stop Sants Estacio, this has been our favorite place to go when we want to shoot some hoops.

Thanks, Stephen!

Stephen Dwyer

Stephen Dwyer is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2022, sharing his story in frequent posts on CAPA World. An operations & information management and sport management double major from University of Massachusetts Amherst, he is studying abroad in Barcelona this semester.

Stephen's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Barcelona, Spain, Local Culture