Sustainable Travel Guide to Barcelona

Sam Ross
Jul 23, 2023

Barcelona is a city that (like many other European cities) has borne the weight of excessive tourism and this has had a degree of negative impact on the city and its inhabitants. Barcelona is an incredibly attractive city and because of this it will always appeal to visitors; yet if all were to adopt a mindful attitude to their visits, Barcelona could be enjoyed without detriment.

In recent years there has been a big push with regard to sustainable tourism in Barcelona, and it was sparked off by local business owners and eco-friendly visitors with a shared wish to maintain the city’s equilibrium. As a visitor to Barcelona, you might be wondering how you can contribute to this much-needed balance. The below guide will be a great place to start!

Sustainable ways to get around Barcelona

There is a multitude of public transport options in Barcelona, including metro and bus, but the most sustainable way to get around is by bicycle or electric scooter. Cycling around the city is easily done and makes for a pleasant time as it can be done at a leisurely pace without navigating crowds. It’s a wonderful way to explore the city. If you like that idea, check out Barcelona Cycle Co; they’ll happily rent you a bike and even book you a tour and store your luggage.

If you want to get around more quickly and feel comfortable tackling foreign roads, consider a YUGO electric scooter. These guys are all about sustainability; you can pick up one of their bikes in whatever area you find yourself in, leaving it in another (provided there’s a station there). YUGO’s electric scooter sharing system has an app you can use to find, hire and drop off a scooter wherever is most convenient. You’ll only pay per ride, so it’s cheap and cheerful too.

Sustainable eating in Barcelona

Do a foodie walk or barrio tour with Barcelona Plan·it

One very convenient (as well as sustainable) way to explore Barcelona is a tour with Barcelona Plan·it. They will create you a customised itinerary to suit your interests so that you don’t miss out on any of the city’s hidden gems. Barcelona Plan·it also offer ‘foodie walks’ that are very popular with eco-friendly folk.

They’ll take you on a stroll around the most authentic neighbourhoods (barrios) pointing out interesting details, and with a focus on sustainability. This is their passion and they do everything they can to instill the same in the minds of travelers passing through. It’s a great way to learn about Barcelona’s culture while tasting some of the most delicious, sustainably-sourced foodstuffs in town.

La Tetería Barcelona

This specialty teahouse in the heart of the Gothic Quarter will effortlessly lure you in based on their tea range alone. However, you can also find a myriad of healthy homemade dishes with sustainable ingredients, plus vegan snacks and healthy treats, cold-pressed juices and coffees.

It is undoubtedly one of the best spots to while away a couple of hours in a lovely atmosphere; think bright, stylish, comfortable and quirky. Artwork done by locals adorns the walls, and it’s for sale so they’re supporting local businesses too. You won’t have tasted teas quite like these as the range of flavours is truly unique, which only inspires you to come back for more or buy a load to stuff in your suitcase!

Vega Raw Organic

Vega is another great eatery you should visit if you’re into vegan and organic food. It doubles up as a café/restaurant and a shop, so you can stop by for a bite to eat and pick up some local, eco-friendly bits to take away with you while you’re at it. Choose from a self-service buffet or the daily menu; either way, the vegan dishes with their Catalan influences are both delicious and nutritious, service is friendly and allergies are more than catered for. Oh, and one more tip: don’t miss out on the exceptional ice creams and the array of mouthwatering desserts.

Sustainable shopping in Barcelona

Pick up some new clothes in Biaitee

In Barcelona’s trendy and authentic El Born neighbourhood sits a lovely store by the name of Biaitee. One glance around the store conveys their dedication to fashionable style, quality and (of course) sustainability. Most of the stock is of the company’s own creation, and it has all been made locally – sometimes even above the store, which incidentally is made from recycled wood.

Biaitee also has a passion for upcycling, so you can find pre-loved items with a modern twist designed for both genders and all ages. As they’re happy to spread the love, they also stock handmade eco-friendly items made by other brands, some of which came all the way from Burkina Faso.

Grab some accessories from Home on Earth

As no trip is complete without a worthy souvenir or two, why not pick up some sustainable memorabilia? Home on Earth is just the place, thanks to the founders’ love of natural materials and beautiful design. As they are of Danish and German descent, Nordic designs feature strongly in their collections.

Everything you see is unique and well made, so why not treat yourself to some home accessories, yoga props, or a hammock (to mention a few possibilities)? Prices are reasonable and efforts are collaborative, so rest assured you are also benefiting local artisans with the proceeds of your purchases.

Sustainable accommodation in Barcelona

Sleep Green: The certified eco-hostel

You will no doubt be looking for a comfortable and eco-friendly place to rest your head when your jaunts around the city are complete. Barcelona has several hostels and hotels that care about sustainability, but Sleep Green is a firm favourite, as well as being the first urban youth hostel in the country to be granted the EU eco-label. They’re very well situated right by the Plaza Catalunya too.

Sleep Green could be considered the city’s pioneers of eco-friendly hostel accommodation. Here you can expect to find energy efficiency, green practices, recycling, water conservation and chemical free cleaning products. Dorms are made up of four to six beds and you’ll get a free locker and WiFi, as well as use of the shared kitchen if you want to cook.

Casa Bella Gracia: The eco-friendly boutique hotel

If you’re not particularly enamoured with the idea of a hostel, how about a sustainable boutique hotel instead? Casa Bella Gracia happens to be situated in one of the city’s most charming neighbourhoods, Gracia, which is dotted with cool shops, cafés and eateries, as well as some lovely plazas to relax in.

The hotel consists of twelve rooms, all of which are decorated in simplistic perfection and heavily influenced by sustainability. Again, the focus is on efficient and renewable energy, sustainable materials and supplies. So sustainable is this place that it doesn’t even have a reception! You’ll be given a code on booking, which will give you access to your room and a lovely roof terrace too.

This guide has only touched on a few of the sustainable activities, eateries, accommodations and shops in Barcelona, so rest assured the city will never leave you with nothing healthy or eco-friendly to do even for a day! It is more than possible to leave a positive mark on the city while having the best time possible, if that is your intention. Enjoy Barcelona!

Note: GOOD Travel scans the globe for organisations and individuals committed to doing GOOD work in the tourism sector. In order to elevate the great work we learn about, we occasionally have guests bloggers recommend organisations and individuals we do not know personally in order to share their story and inspire change. Do you know of other organisations or individuals doing GOOD work that we should highlight? Let us know! For more details on how and why we feature different tourism businesses, please see our terms of service.

July 23, 2023
5 min read