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Barcelona Travel Guide

Barcelona Sports & Activities

"You’ve got to understand about us and Barça," said the barmaid at the little Catalan pub on the Costa Brava. "For all those years under Franco, Camp Nou (the Futbol Club Barcelona’s 99,000-seat stadium) was the only place we could gather in numbers and shout out loud in our own language."

The FBC motto is "Més que un club" ("More than a club"); to its legion of fans, Barça is the symbol of their perennial itch for independence, the vessel of their pride in their decidedly un-Spanish Catalan identity. The way Barça plays the game embodies their sense of solidarity, their sense of style. Twice a year in La Liga (Spanish League) competition they take on archrival Real Madrid; the matches—los clasicos—are showdowns no less political than athletic. When Barça loses (which isn’t often these days), it’s a national day of mourning.

In 2009 Barça claimed a historic Triple Crown, winning La Liga, the Spanish King’s Cup, and the European Champions League. Even the British press wrote that this might have been the greatest soccer team of all time. Since then Barça has gone on to consolidate that claim, winning the 2011 European FIFA Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup with even more grace and authority than in 2009. In 2012–13, they topped La Liga again, though dropping away in the King’s Cup and Champions League in the semifinals—only to come back stronger than ever the following year.

Barcelona also boasts another first-division team, RCD (Reial Club Deportiu) Espanyol. Home ground for Espanyol is the 40,000-seat Estadi Cornellà-Prat, in the city’s western suburb; tickets are easier to come by than for Barça matches, but the local fans are no less loyal.

Is fútbol not your spectator sport? Barcelona’s Conde de Godó tournament brings the world’s best tennis players here every April, while the Spanish Grand Prix at Mont Meló draws the top Formula One racing teams. Home court for the FC Barcelona basketball club, which has sent the likes of Pau and Marc Gasol to the NBA, is the Palau Blaugrana pavilion, next door to Camp Nou. As for keeping active yourself, there are diving, windsurfing, surfing, sailing, and water-sports activities in Barceloneta and all along the coast north and south of the city. Tennis and squash courts are available in various public and semiprivate clubs around town, and there are now nearly two dozen golf courses less than an hour away. Bicycle lanes run the length of Diagonal, and there are bike-rental agencies all over town.

Hiking

The Collserola hills behind the city offer well-marked trails, fresh air, and lovely views. Take the San Cugat, Sabadell, or Terrassa FFCC train...

Sailing and Windsurfing

On any day of the week in Barcelona you can see midday regattas taking place off the Barceloneta beaches or beyond the rompeolas (breakwater...

Scuba Diving

The Costa Brava’s Illes Medes nature preserve offers some of the Mediterranean’s finest diving adventures. Seven tiny islands off the coastal...

Soccer

Futbol Club Barcelona. Founded in 1899, the Futbol Club Barcelona attained its greatest glory in May 2009, when its victory over Manchester...

Swimming

All fees are €10–€12 per day. Club Natació Barcelona. Also known as Complex Esportiu Municipal Banys Sant Sebastià, this club in Barceloneta...

Tennis and Squash

Centre Municipal de Tennis Vall d'Hebron. The Olympic tennis facilities here are open daily 8 am–11 pm. Clay courts costs €22 per hour; hard...

Beaches

Barcelona’s platges (beaches) have improved and multiplied in number from Barceloneta north to the Fòrum site at the northeastern end of Diagonal...

Bicycles and In-Line Skates

Exploring Barcelona on wheels, whether by bike or on skates, is a good way to see a lot, and to save on transport. Bicycle lanes run along most...

Golf

Weekday golf outings to one of the 22 golf courses within an hour of Barcelona are a good way to exercise and see the Catalonian countryside...

Gyms and Spas

Club Esportiu Femení Iradier. Just above the Passeig de la Bonanova in the upper part of Barcelona, this sleek, exclusive club for women offers...

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