While Barcelona has lots of green space – almost 3,000 hectares spread out over 34 parks and gardens – not all of it makes for good summer picnicking. What you need are those dark, open refuges under the treetops, where you can breathe and relax and your wine isn’t going to start boiling. And especially now, with everyone warily eyeing indoor seating and air conditioners due to Covid-19, taking shelter under some precious shade is even more appealing.
In a previous piece on outdoor feasting in Barcelona, we extolled the virtues of the pine-shaded stretches of green grass alongside La Mar Bella beach in Poblenou as well as La Ciutadella, the most popular city park in central Barcelona, and offered tips on where to buy excellent food items in the nearby El Born neighborhood.
But this summer, we are becoming better acquainted with a larger area that’s full of fantastic picnic spots and beautiful shade: Montjüic. Located at the southern end of the city, this hill – whose name translates to “mountain of the Jews,” likely a reference to the medieval Jewish cemetery on one of its slopes – is home to public parks, viewpoints, walking paths, two botanical gardens, stadiums and other Olympic facilities (from the 1992 Games), bars and restaurants.
Amidst all these attractions, there are numerous picnicking options, from El Mirador del Mitjdia, which has a large area full of picnic tables, pines and a bar, to Miramar Avenue, what has incredible views over the city’s seafront. Or there’s the top of Joan Brossa garden, a classic picnic area that hosts the popular Sunday event “Brunch in the Park,” the successor of “Piknic Elektronic,” which used to bring together food carts and electronic music in a park setting.
But maybe our favorite picnic spot in Montjüic is the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer garden, a beautiful area dedicated to water plants and very close to the funicular station. While there are no wooden tables, this green zone has large swaths of grass, flower beds, a small lake, and fantastic trees that cast delightful pools of shade. On weekdays, it’s easy enough to find one of these sought-after shaded spots, but during the weekends, we recommend arriving early and bringing hats, just in case you can’t score one of the garden’s dark, cool corners.
Maybe our favorite picnic spot in Montjüic is the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer garden, a beautiful area dedicated to water plants and very close to the funicular station.
The nearest neighborhood to buy supplies is Poble Sec, but we prefer to stock up in Sant Antoni, which is still relatively close by. First and foremost, we visit Mercat de Sant Antoni, the recently renovated municipal market, for all kinds of food, from fresh produce to nuts, olives, charcuterie (Iberian ham, cheese, chorizo, etc.) and even oysters. For prepared dishes, we stop by the Llegums Cuits stalls. Although their name means “Cooked Legumes” in Catalan, these shops offer much more, including pasta and rice mains, vegetable or meat stews, and grilled chicken, all to take away. One of the most appealing Catalan summer specialties at these stalls (and at Masclans Origens, an iconic traditional market shop specialized in cured fish) is esqueixada, a cold salad of tomatoes, fresh peppers, onion, olives and cured cod that is both delicious and cooling on hot days.
Talking about beating the heat, the star of summer in all of eastern Spain is horchata, an earthy and sweet chilled beverage made from tiger nuts (currently considered an energizing super food), water and sugar (although you can always ask for sugar-free). You can buy a takeaway bottle at Horchatería Sirvent on Carrer del Parlament – it’s one of the most remarkable and historic establishments in the city and is very close to Sant Antoni Market. Cold horchata with a couple of fartóns (long and light sweet bread specially made to absorb drinks) or some of their ice cream would be a perfect merienda (afternoon snack) in the park.
If you want your picnic to recreate the sensation of visiting a local bodega for afternoon drinks and snacks, head to Conservas Latorre Punset, also very close to the market, where you will find prepared dishes like potato omelets and croquets as well as olives, anchovies and vermut – a one-stop aperitif shop.
For proper all-in-one shopping, we visit Ametller Origens, a small Catalan chain specialized in high-quality products grown and made locally. There’s a shop nearby the market where you can get some snacks, juice and even artisanal bread. If you don’t mind another stop, though, we recommend buying your bread at Pa Serra in Poble Sec, very close to Montjüic’s shaded slopes. Established in 1929 and now run by third-generation baker Conrad Serra, this old bakery has an open obrador, bakery-kitchen, and makes loaves out of stone-milled organic flours; they also have their own sourdough. While the bread is excellent, don’t miss out on the muffins (trust us).
To quench your thirst on these hot summer days, you may want a specific type of vermut, wine or beer. Celler Florida, a great wine shop and bar close to the Sant Antoni Market, has a fantastic variety of bulk and bottled local wine and vermut. For beers, you have a wide selection in the Sant Antoni neighborhood, from Fàbrica Moritz Barcelona, a local brewery, to Lambicus, for more European flavors. Closer to Montjüic, in Poble Sec, you can also get wine, craft beer and vermut at Celler Cal Marino.
Now that our picnic basket is full, all that’s left to do is recline under the trees of Montjüic, which keep us (and our drinks) nice and cool.
Montjüic is accessible by foot or public transportation (the cable car from La Barceloneta or the metro and funicular from Paral·lel). It’s even easier to reach by electric scooter, which can be rented across the city.
Editor’s note: As summer heats up, we’re looking to get outside. So we asked our contributors to write about their favorite spots to eat outdoors as well as nearby shops to fill a picnic basket for Picnic Week 2020.