Putting the environment at the center of your trip by visiting epic Barcelona nature means helping protect the natural and cultural heritage of the city.
That said, including a day trip to one of the natural parks near Barcelona doesn’t have to be dull – it can be an exciting albeit responsible experience adding layers of depth to the culture surge you’ll get in the city.
It’s also perfect for Barcelona veterans who have already ticked off the best parks in Barcelona as there’s nothing more local then getting out into the natural wealth that surrounds our beloved city.
Here’s how to visit all three of the best natural parks as well as some top activities to do while you’re there.
Parc del Garraf
Our expedition to find nature near Barcelona begins overlooking the sea at one of the most famous nature reserves in Catalonia.
Parc del Garraf covers an area of over 12 thousand hectares and is located between the comarcas (counties) of Baix Llobregat, Alt Penedés, and Garraf in the southeastern area of what is known as the Cordillera Litoral Catalana.
The landscape of the park is geologically formed by limestone and dolomite rocks and a small part of reddish sandstone, but despite a predominantly rocky terrain and an arid climate there’s a strong presence of palms, pine trees, honeysuckles, and evergreen oaks.
Among the unique peculiarities of the area there are also the marsh cane and the dwarf plant – two examples of flora more characteristic of Africa than Europe. To make the landscape of the park even more unique there are the vast expanses of vineyards present in the Penedes Valley, where some pretty damn good wines are produced (check out Mas Comtal).
The fauna of the area has adapted to the meteorological conditions, arid soil, scarce presence of water.
In the park you’ll see incredible wildlife like boars, rabbits, salamanders, Mediterranean tortoises and a wide variety of birds, including partridges, banded eagles, bald eagles, ortolans, wheatears, hawks, and blackbirds.
Parc Del Garraf offers endless options for nature lovers: you can go hiking, caving, climbing or mountain biking. Through these activities you can contemplate the southern Mediterranean landscape of the park in a sustainable and fun way.
TIP: For all activities always remember to bring water, fruit, sunscreen, and hat. If you plan to do a walking itinerary don’t forget to bring good hiking shoes.
Parc del Garraf Information Center
The Information Center of Parc Del Garraf is located on the Carrettera del Rat Penat in the village of Plana Novella.
Don’t worry, you can’t miss it because it’s a historic building from 1894 designed by the modernist architect Francesc Berenguer. Here you can find all the information about on-site activities; they will also offer you free bike rental service and provide you with maps with details about the flora and fauna of the park.
The information office is the ideal place to park your car, get the information quickly, and be on your way.
The information center is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Parc del Garraf Itineraries
The itineraries of Parc del Garraf are perfectly highlighted with signs and maps and can be done without any problem.
The routes pass through different places of the park and are designed to show you the richness of the natural and cultural heritage of the park.
Here’s three of the main routes that you can do:
- Camino de Las Costas. Duration: 2h 30. Difficulty: Low. Leaving from the information center of the Park, this itinerary crosses the ridge of a quarry and then goes all the way to the sea. Along the route you’ll pass through the picturesque village of Garraf, and then through patches of vegetation where you can observe some of the typical plants of the park like palms and the famous sea radish, a plant with pink flowers very characteristic of the coastal areas of Garraf.
- Camino del Mediterraneo. Duration: 2h 30. Difficulty: Low. Starting from the information center of the park (La Pleta) the first km is advisable to do by car since it’s a road with quite a bit of traffic and little visibility. The route crosses part of the Garraf massif, where the karst landscape typical of the area can be seen. After a couple of hours of walking you will arrive at the Morella, the highest peak of the Garraf Massif (600 meters).
- Camino d’Eramprunya. Duration: 4h 30. Difficulty: Medium. The starting point for this route is Masia Can Long, which is a 20-minute drive from the Parc Del Garraf information center. From the Masia Can Long start the circular route that passes through the Sentiu valley, discovering some of the oldest masia (rural buildings typical of the Catalan area) of the area.
- Excursion to the Buddhist Monastery. El Palau Novella, in the heart of Parc Del Garraf, also houses the first Buddhist monastery in Catalonia. We decided to include it among the itineraries because although you arrive by car, continuing to the Avinguda de Plana Novella (the same that also passes by the information center of the park), this place is surrounded by the green of the park and is a very fascinating place both architecturally and culturally. In the Buddhist monastery Sakya Tashi Ling you can do different activities such as visit the Novella Palace, a building dating back to 1890, or enjoy the exhibition of Tibetan art and culture that shows part of the millennial spiritual tradition to the values of Buddhist philosophies. In addition to the visit you can participate in meditation classes and other activities.
How to get to Parc del Garraf
The best way to reach the park is by car.
From Barcelona go in the direction of Castelldefels and follow the road C-31 towards Garraf and Sitges.
When you get to the traffic circle that enters the coast you enter Port Ginesta, turn right on the first exit of the traffic circle (Urb. Rat Penat) and here follow the road that leads to the Parc Del Garraf (indicated).
Where to Eat at Parc Del Garraf
If you plan to make a trip to the park the best solution is to bring a nice packed lunch, but if that’s too much don’t despair! There are two very tasty restaurants:
- Restaurante El Parador Plana Novella: Located less than a kilometre from the Buddhist temple El Palau Novella, this restaurant offers typical Catalan cuisine with tapas and high quality grilled meats. They also offer a children’s menu for €10.00 that includes chicken croquettes or veal escalope with potatoes, drink and dessert. Open for lunch from Friday to Sunday. Reservations recommended.
- Asador Braseria los Cazadores: Restaurant famous for its barbecued meat, with the possibility of trying the famous Catalan butifarra, secreto iberico, and other types of meat typical of the area. From February to April you can also try the famous calçots – spring onions dunked in romesco sauce, another delicacy of Catalonia. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Parc Natural del Montseny
It wouldn’t be Barcelona nature without the Parc Natural del Montseny.
Located an hour’s drive from the city, this spot owes its name to the Montseny Massif and its 3 mountain peaks: the Turó de l’Home (1706 m), Pla de la Calma (1344 m) and the Turó de Matagalls (1697 m).
These 3 peaks joined by the different hills make up part of Montsany Park, declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978.
The Parc Natural del Montseny is a mosaic of Mediterranean and Central European landscapes of extraordinary biodiversity. Among the most emblematic and characteristic places you can walk through forests of cork oak, holm oak, chestnut, pine and fir.
The numerous waterways of the park give life to a large presence of hazelnut trees, ash trees, willows and poplars.
As far as the fauna of the park is concerned, there are many typically Mediterranean species and others characteristic of ecosystems in the central European area, such as the grey dormouse, the European green lizard, the Aesculapian snake, the red frog, and the Montseny newt.
To start discovering the Parc Natural del Montseny, go to the information center of the park and ask away.
For example, if you love photography they can show you the best spots to capture the beauty of a forest, or they will tell you the best places to admire the Turó de l’Home – the highest peak of the Montseny massif.
Inside the park you can try your hand at various activities from trekking, horseback riding (even for beginners), cycling etc.
Montseny Natural Park Information Centre
The most important information office in the park is the Centre d’Informació Can Casades, located in the valley of Santa Fe del Montseny (Ctra. BV-5114 de Sant Celoni a Viladrau, km 21).
The center offers a bicycle loan service and dossiers to learn about the flora and fauna of the park.
The opening hours of the information point are daily from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 3:00 pm to 4:30 p.m.
Another place where you can find a lot more information is El Espai Montseny, which houses the Oficina de Turismo de Viladrau and the Information Point of the Paco Naturale del Montseny.
The Espai Montsany is ideal for introducing children to the grandeur of the park through an audiovisual tour (cost 3 euros) in which legends and truths about the park and the Montseny massif are told.
The space is open from October 1st until May 31st from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and on weekends from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm; from June 1st until September 30th from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
The Viladrau Tourist Office is located at Carrer Migdia 1, one hour from Barcelona.
For additional info here’s a map of the Parc Natural del Montseny to get an idea of the most important places in the park, information points, villages, and some marked routes.
What to See at Parc Natural del Montseny
Listed below are some itinerary proposals and other activities that you can do in the park.
TIP: If you are a fan of hiking, biking, or climbing we recommend downloading the WIKILOC App, which shows you lots of trail maps, route recommendations, and places of interest.
- Santa Fe – Turo de l’Home – Les Agudes. Duration: 4h 30. Difficulty: Medium. This circular route is perhaps the most beautiful of the paths in the area and passes by the two highest peaks of the Montseny Massif. The walk starts from the parking lot of the Sante Fe del Montseny, a stone’s throw from the Can Casadas information center and near the Pantano de Santa Fe, where you begin to climb through a beautiful beech forest. With good weather conditions it is an easy route to do, perfectly marked and also suitable for children. Following the signs you’ll reach the refuge that crowns the Turó de l’Home, the highest mountain of the Montseny. IT offers a spectacular view from its imposing 1708 meter perch. From the hill, follow the mountain ridge up to the Pico de Les Agudes. From here you will begin your descent on the opposite side of the mountain to where you climbed, through a lush forest of ferns and beech trees until you return to Santa Fe. Along the way, just before arriving at the parking lot you will find a fountain that springs from the same bowels of the Montseny Massif.
- Walk in the heart of the Montsany massif. Duration: 3h (round trip). Difficulty: Low. You can also find this route marked on the map we linked above. The hike starts in the main square of the village of Montsany, then passes through an oak forest until it skirts the Tordera River and finally climbs a path that goes up to the Romanesque church of San Marti, a historical site of the municipality of Montseny.
- Horseback Riding Excursion in Turó. This fantastic experience is offered by the association A Cavall pel Montseny located in Santa Maria de Palautordera (half an hour’s drive from the Can Casadas information center). The horseback ride begins in the fields around the facility, surrounded by beautiful valleys and a hill where you can see El Turó de l’Home, the Matagalls, and the Pla de la Calma. After about 25 minutes of riding and crossing the Tordera River you’ll begin a slight ascent to the Turó, where you will also pass through some very narrow paths with dense vegetation. The cost of the excursion is €35.00 and lasts about 2 hours. The horseback riding itinerary is suitable for everyone and it is not necessary to have experience; but do make sure 6ou book the ride in advance.
How to get to Parc Natural del Montseny
The best way to get to Parc Natural del Montseny is by car.
From Barcelona you have to take the AP-7 and continue for about 50 minutes before taking the exit Sant Celoni/Montseny; then continue for about 15 minutes until the tourist office at Masia Mariona.
To get to the Can Casadas information center just follow the same road for another 20 minutes.
Where to Eat at Parc Natural del Montseny
I don’t think there’s anything better than bringing sandwiches and fruit and organizing a picnic with a nice view out front, but if you’re curious and want to try some typical Catalan cuisine then we recommend the following restaurants:
- Restaurante Maria Rosa: Homemade cuisine in a family environment and very attentive. Here you can eat classic Catalan dishes such as sausage with beans, barbecued artichokes, cannelloni stuffed with meat and a mixed grill platter. From February to April you can also try calçots, the famous grilled onions accompanied by a sauce made of fruit and dried tomatoes and different spices. Maria Rosa Restaurant is located on the road leading to the Parc Natural del Montseny, in Ctra. BV-5301, 16 (Montseny). It is open on Thursdays for lunch and from Friday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm.
- Restaurant Can Cuera: Much like the previous restaurant, Can Cuera offers traditional Catalan dishes. They are famous for their grilled meats, among which the lamb and chicken really pop. They also make excellent risottos, including arroz casolà.
Parc de Collserola
If you’ve already seen most of Barcelona’s top attractions or you are tired of staying on the city’s best beaches, we recommend changing ‘habitat’ and in 30 minutes reaching one of the largest urban parks in Europe: the Parc de Collserola.
Given its size, the Parc de Collserola, is defined as the green lung of Barcelona, which, with its 8,465 hectares of forest is 22 times larger than the Central Park in New York and 8 times larger than the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.
From a geographical point of view Collserola is a mountain range that surrounds Barcelona and is located between the valleys of the river Besos and the Llobregat. Among the highest peaks of the Collserola Massif is Tibidabo, which at 512 meters above sea level is also home to the famous Tibidabo theme park and the beautiful Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral.
The real name of the park would be Parc Natural de la Serra del Collserola, but among the inhabitants of Barcelona is simply called the Parc de Collserola. The park is characterized by a Mediterranean vegetation, mainly wooded where we find oaks, holm oaks and cork trees.
Contrary to what one might think, given the proximity of densely urbanized areas, the fauna present in the Parc de Collserola preserves a fairly rich composition. Among the most representative species there are wild boars, the cat-like genet, squirrels, red foxes, badgers, and weasels.
As far as birds, reptiles, and amphibians are concerned Parc de Collserola is an ideal place for these animals: you can see the goshawk, the titmouse, the robin, the tawny owl, salamanders, and frogs.
Parc de Collserola Information Centre
We recently went hiking in the park and I must admit that the Information Center of the Parc del Collserola provided us with an excellent service, giving us a map of the various routes and paths we could take, some practical advice and other general information about the park.
The information point of Parc de Collserola is located in Carretera de l’Esglèsia, 92, a 5-minute walk from the Ferrocarril de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) stop in Baixadora de Vallvidrera.
If you’d like to have a map of the park and the exact location of the park’s information center on the official website of Parc de Collserola you can find all this information and more. The information center is open every day of the year except the 25th, 26th and 1st of January from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm.
What to See at Parc de Collserola
As mentioned above the different itineraries all have the Information Centre as a starting point.
The best thing to do to visit this Barcelona natural park is plan one of the many routes marked on the map that will give you directly to the information center:
- Pantano de Valvidrera Walk. Duration: 45 minutes. Difficulty: Low. The Pantano di Valvidrera is a small artificial lake that was built in 1864 to supply drinking water to the population of the Sarrià district. Today, after many years in a state of abandonment, both the architectural structure and the entire surrounding environment have been recovered. The Pantano di Valvidrera has thus become an area of important landscape and naturalistic value that hosts several species of amphibians and birds of the area. Starting from the information center go to the train station of Baixador de Valvidrera, cross the street and at the fork take the left; continuing for 10 minutes you will come to a crossroads where we will turn to our right and continue for another 5 minutes until the view of the marsh. Once there you can also visit a small exhibition about the quagmire and its surroundings.
- The Budellera Source Walk: Duration: 1h and 20 minutes. Difficulty: Medium. The source of the Budellera was a place to which our ancestors had attributed the virtue of curing stomach problems: ‘budells’ in fact means intestines, and in the past it was said that those who drank the water were cured of stomach pains. The path to get to the Fountain of Budellera starts from the information center and follows immediately to the left with a slight climb surrounded by pine trees. When you reach the first crossroads, follow the red sign for “Font de la Budellera” and continue on your way. After about 45 minutes, and having passed the two farmhouses called Can Xoliu and Can Mando, you’ll have to take a path on the right marked in red. Here the most beautiful part of the journey begins: starting to descend you will enter into a thick vegetation where in some places you will have to crouch (nothing difficult) to pass. After a few minutes you’ll find yourself in front of the spring with a whole garden and tables to relax. If you are with children here you can do a lot of games.
- Carretera de Las Aguas: Duration 2h. Difficulty: Low. Whether you love hiking or biking, the Carretera de Las Aguas is the ideal Barcelona nature walk. The route, about 10 km long, begins at the Mirador de Los Xipres (near the Zona Universitaria) and ends at the Carretera de la Rabassada, where the route ends and begins a descent towards the Cosmo Caixa. Although the beginning is Miraodor de Los Xipres it is easier to reach the station of Peu del Funicolar from Plaça Catalunya with the S1 train and then take the Funicolar to Vallvidrera Superior and get off at the intermediate stop of Carretera de Las Aiguas. Upon exiting the small station you will find yourself directly on the Carretera and can begin your walk. Along the way you will have the opportunity to stop for a snack or simply to enjoy the view in the many miradors (viewpoints), sometimes even equipped with benches and a few tables. This route is ideal for all types of travelers, that in a short time from Barcelona, you can walk for miles flanked on the one hand by the vegetation of the Park of Collserola and on the other by a spectacular view of all Barcelona.
How to get to Parc de Collserola
To get to Parc de Collserola you can take the S1 or S2 train from Plaça Catalunya and get off at the Baixador de Vallvidrera stop, which is located 5 minutes from the park’s information center where the trails begin.
Where to Eat at Parc de Collserola
Trips to the park have a different flavor if you also consider a picnic lunch.
There are many open spaces with tables and benches where you can set up your picnic, asking at the information center will also show you the best spots inside the park.
If you’re not up for packing your own lunch we’ll leave you with two options that are located near the routes:
El Racó de Collserola: This restaurant is located near the park’s information center and offers typical Catalan cuisine at modest prices. They also have a lunch menu from €11.00 during the week that’s one of the top price-quality ratio Barcelona restaurants. From January to April they also offer a set menu with calçots, a typical Catalan dish from a BBQ featuring massive spring onions dipped in romesco sauce and a ton of grilled meat.
Masia Can Cortes: Masia are a very common type of building in old Catalonia, more specifically they’re old stone buildings linked to a family farm. Here you can eat in a beautiful space surrounded by greenery that offers a traditional cuisine, with simple dishes but with an exceptional quality. To reach the Masia Can Cortes you will have to walk half an hour starting from the information center of the park.
If you have any questions leave us a comment below 😉
Have a great day out!