If you think you have misread the title of this article and it is simply about Barcelona you would be understandably mistaken. Badalona is a town just a few kilometres north east of Barcelona, the two cities are separated by the Besos river that shoots out into the Mediterranean. Badalona is a smaller version of its more well known cousin. It has the same look and feel of Barcelona though with a slightly more relaxed air to it making it a perfect day trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Although smaller with a permanent population of 200,000 compared to Barcelona’s 1.8 million don’t think you are coming to a sleepy seaside resort. There are plenty of activities and fun to be had here as well as many wonderful bars and restaurants. So when you take a little day trip here make sure you peruse a few of these options.
Have a wander down La Rambla de Badalona.
Yes just like real life cousins the youngers copy the older ones. It’s not just Barcelona that boasts a lively Rambla, Badalona’s central boulevard is thriving with cafés, restaurants and local stores and is very much the main artery of the city. La Rambla in Barcelona you will find many a tourist trap with bad food in over priced restaurants but this is not so much the case here as it is home to some of the best restaurants in town. The town itself is less affected by the results of mass tourism than its counterpart in Barcelona making La Rambla de Badalona as a gathering point for locals as well as holiday makers.
Walk the Pont del Petroli
This is a public walkway, stretching 250 meters into the sea at a height of six meters, and is a popular route for beach strollers and joggers. The name The Pont del Petroli, or Petrol Bridge, comes from the fact that it used to serve for the offloading of petrol products from tankers that came to Badalona but in 2009 it got converted into the public walkway that it is today. From the end of the pier you get a great feel of the expansiveness of the surrounding water as well as having a beautiful and unique view back towards the town. When the wind is up, walking along it can be a wholly invigorating experience!
Discover the Monastery of Sant Gerònim de la Murtra
If you were to think that Badalona was spawned from an ever expanding Barcelona and was a modern offshoot of it you would be mistaken. This 15th-century Gothic monastery belongs to the order of Saint Jerome and was taken under the protection of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel, who made a habit of staying here during the summer months. In fact, it was here that in 1493 the Catholic Monarchs received Christopher Columbus upon his return from America and, if you observe the stone carvings that decorate the monastery, you will see the portraits of the adventurer and two monarchs. The more we know about Columbus the less we appreciate him being a man of virtue but still visiting this area will give you a real sense of the importance of the history it holds.
Take a tour of the Anís del Mono distillery
If you have never taken a tour of a distillery and learnt the process in making alcohol then this is an absolute must. And if you have already taken one you will know how great they are and will want to sign up to this one too! With a bargain ticket charge of just €5,50, a tour of the distillery is a fantastic way to see one of the town’s most impressive sites, while learning about an important part of the city’s economic history. The Anís del Mono distillery is a stunning Modernist building which has been the main production site of Badalona’s famous aniseed liqueur since the late 19th century. Don’t forget to get your photo taken with the emblematic monkey that sits on the bench outside the building. It looks half human, half monkey it is really rather strange but certainly worth a selfie!
Masia de Can Miravitges
This Medieval farmhouse located on the outskirts of Badalona offers a fascinating glimpse of what life in rural Catalunya was like hundreds of years ago. Renovated during the 16th and 17th centuries to adapt to the new technologies and methods used in agriculture at the time. It’s 4.20 euro entrance price is a snip compared to how interesting learning about how the Catalan countryside evolved from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution and later during the early Modern era.
Go for a walk through the Parc de Can Solei i Ca l’Arnús
This is the Parc Ciutadella of Badalona, just much greener, and dare I say it prettier in parts as well! Described as the ‘green lung’ of Badalona, the Can Solei i Ca l’Arnús park is a large outdoor area that sits on the site of an old farm which was acquired by 19th-century local entrepreneur Evarist Arnús i de Ferrer. In the 1970s the land came under public ownership and eventually transformed into the popular recreation area it is today. The park contains a number of curated gardens, as well as monuments along the way and summer houses. As far as parks go, although relatively small it’s is incredibly picturesque and well worth a walk through.
And for anyone who wants to swerve the culture and head straight to the beach there is a beautiful one all the way along the seafront. The water is clearer than that in front of Barcelona and less crowded. If you are in need of some water sport activities then jet skis and paddle boards are available to hire in outlets along the front. When the sun goes down there isn’t quite the nightlife that the party animal older cousin is renowned for but head to La Rambla de Badalona for a cold beer and take in all this beautiful town has to offer.