RUNNING AT CARRETERA DE LES AIGÜES
If you live in Barcelona, you’ve more than likely taken advantage of its beaches. The seafront offers a great running route. However, the beach is only one of the great landforms the Catalan capital has to offer.
Barcelona boasts mountains as well, and, just recently, we had the chance to test out one of the most popular mountain routes in the city: Carretera de les Aigües.
This trail, situated on the Collserola mountain, boasts an end-to-end dirt path – from Vallcarca i Els Penitents to Esplugues de Llobregat – of approximately 10 kilometers that overlooks the city. It’s a favorite of locals for walking, cycling and running. After having experienced the “Road of Water” as first-timers, we’d like to highlight what makes this a top running spot:
- Majestic views of Barcelona and the ocean
- Crisp, fresh air
- Mostly flat trail with uphill and downhill options
The first thing that strikes you when you arrive is the incredible view of the city. You can see everything from Besòs to Aeroport de Barcelona-El Prat and beyond. Famous staples of the city such as Sagrada Familia, Torre Agbar, the Mapfre towers, MNAC, Camp Nou, etc. are all visible along the way with the Mediterranean as the backdrop. If you look at the mountains, you’ll also see Tibidabo and Torre de Collserola. On a sunny day, it’s pretty tough to best this panoramic view.
In addition to the views, the route provides crisp, fresh mountain air. It’s refreshing to breathe in the clean, earth-scented air as you get in a run along the dirt pathways. We found it helped propel us throughout the run.
Another advantage of running up here is that, in spite of being up in the mountains, the route is mostly flat. The vast majority of it doesn’t require you to grind away at grueling uphills. If you need to hash out an interval run, this is a plus. However, if you are looking to get a more intense leg and lung workout, there are sections of the trail that do offer the chance for exactly that. The uphills and downhills are quite steep and pose a great challenge for runners looking to build endurance and resistance.
There are other features that we liked from this route, too. There are water fountains spotted along the way, which are always welcome during a run. There are also numerous ways to extend the run, whether you choose to do laps or run up from Sarrià or any of the other districts/neighborhoods that lie below the pathway; if you choose the latter, be prepared for a laborious workout. On weekdays, there is little traffic, so you’re not competing for space with other runners and cyclists. The weekends are busier, so keep that in mind. The other part of running up here that’s enjoyable is that you get a nice escape from the busy city below. It’s full of beautiful trees, flowers, and color that can only be offered by nature.
We highly recommend this running route. It can be great for regular runs or as a way to mix up your running routine. Just make sure to wear appropriate running shoes. Some of the trail has some rocky spots that can trip you up. If you prepare well for the route, we think you’ll like running up on Collserola.
How To Get There
By train: Take the S1 or S2 from Plaza Catalunya (or from Provença/ Gracia / Muntaner) to Peu Funicular. Once at the Peu Funicular station, walk up the stairs to the funicular. When you enter the funicular, press the “Carretera de les Aigües” button before departing so that the funicular will stop there. Upon leaving the funicular at the stop, you’re ready to run!
On foot: If you want to get there by walking (or running), expect a strenuous uphill workout. There are many access points, as we mentioned earlier, and you can find one that works well for you. We went up from Sarrià using Avinguda de Josep Vicenç Foix and Carrer Major de Can Caralleu.
BY EMILY BENSON
PHOTOS BY ISABEL TROYA