Only an hour from the world-famous architecture and bustling streets of Barcelona, the natural parks of Montseny, Montserrat, Sant Llorenç del Munt i L’Obac and Garraf offer fine hiking trails with dazzling views.
The best way to explore this diverse region is on foot and there are several long-distance trails crossing the mountains, plus plenty of magnificent day walks to choose from.
Traverse the rugged limestone landscape of Garraf Natural Park and climb the highest peaks of the lush mountains of the Montseny massif. Or take any of the trails among fascinating rock formations in the Montserrat or Sant Llorenç del Munt i L’Obac natural parks and your steps will be accompanied by far-reaching and dramatic views.
As autumn brings cooler temperatures and spectacular colours, it's the perfect time to strike out of Barcelona and take a hike. Here are six great options to choose from.
1. Les Agudes and Turó de l’Home
Climb the two highest peaks of Montseny Natural Park by following the 7.1-mile (11.5km) circular trail that starts from Santa Fe, the starting point for some of the most popular journeys through the park.
The waymarked, well-trodden path zigzags uphill through lush forest to the peak of Les Agudes (5,587 feet; 1703m) where you will be greeted with extensive views of the beech forest-covered mountains of the Montseny range.
Continue on the most scenic route that traverses the ridge between the two highest peaks before it makes the final ascent to Turó de l’Home (5,597 feet; 1706m).
From the summit enjoy the 360-degree panorama, dominated by the nearby Les Agudes, before beginning the descent back to Santa Fe.
2. Turó de Morou
If you want to marvel at the highest peaks of the Montseny mountains without climbing them, you might consider the 4-mile (6km) Turó de Morou trail, which also starts from Santa Fe.
With no significant elevation, this short, waymarked woodland trail takes you to a rocky viewpoint where the panorama unfolds towards the north and the rocky face of Les Agudes. On the return leg the path skirts around the Santa Fe reservoir (pictured) which was created in 1935. Take a picnic or treat yourself in the snack bar at Santa Fe after your walk.
CRISTIAN IONUT ZAHARIA/Shutterstock
3. La Mola
If you have to choose one walk in St Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac Natural Park, you'll want to climb the highest peak, La Mola (3,622 feet; 1,104m).
Many trails lead to the monastery on La Mola and this circular 6.5-mile (10km) route, which starts from Torre de l’Àngel car park just outside of Matadapera, might not be the easiest, but your efforts will be rewarded with an unforgettable panorama. From the summit – on a clear day – you can even make out the Pyrenees in the distance and the nearby mountains of Sant Llorenç Natural Park dominate the immediate scenery.
The monastery was built during the 11th century and inhabited by Benedictine monks – however, it was abandoned by 1637 and then destroyed by Napoleon’s troops. The current, late-19th-century building is true to the original Catalan Romanesque design. Today there's also a restaurant there where you can have a light lunch and a refreshing drink before you start to descend.
4. Montserrat Monastery from Monistrol de Montserrat
This dramatic monastery, with a striking vertical rock face behind it, is a destination of pilgrimages as well as daytrippers from Barcelona.
You can opt for the scenic cable car ride to the monastery, but the most rewarding approach is to follow a section of the GR96 long distance trail from the village of Monistrol de Montserrat. It's only a 2.5-mile (4km) hike, however there are some very steep sections with numerous steps to climb. Allow some time to visit the monastery that enshrines Our Lady of Montserrat, one of the black Madonnas of Europe, and have a meal in the restaurant or stop for a drink at one of the cafés before returning to Monistrol de Montserrat.
You can descend by cable car or rack railway or follow a section of the GR5 long distance trail to enjoy yet more breathtaking views. If you're not ready to leave this magical place, you can spend a night or two in the hotel close to the monastery too.
5. Sant Jeroni
Beginning at the Montserrat monastery, this 6.5-mile (10km) circular route climbs to the highest point of the Montserrat range.
Fascinating pinnacles dominate the scenery as you make your way up the myriad steep steps towards the peak of Sant Jeroni (4,055 feet; 1,236m), where a jaw-dropping 360-degree panorama awaits you. On a clear day you'll be greeted with views all the way to the Pyrenees.
During the descent, allow plenty of time to marvel at the rounded rock needles around you and the buildings of the monastery standing proudly by the cliffs down below. You can slightly shorten your walk by taking the Funicular de Sant Joan back to the monastery. Take drinks and snacks for the walk and then you could treat yourself with a meal in the restaurant near the monastery.
6. Garraf to Bruguers
This 10-mile (16km) linear trail follows a section of the GR92 long distance trail and offers some magnificent views of the Balearic Sea and the coastline before it takes you through the rugged limestone landscape of Garraf Natural Park (pictured). The gentle climb to La Morella (1,948 feet; 594m) will be rewarded with far-reaching views, and the close proximity to Barcelona allows you to spot some of the famous landmarks of the city.
Don’t forget to take your binoculars, either, as Garraf Natural Park is a great place for bird watching – you might spot black eared wheatear, rock thrush or Bonelli’s eagle, among many other species.
Take a picnic that keeps you going and then you could grab a well-deserved meal at the restaurant located near the 13th-century church Ermita de Bruguers at the end of the trail.
Lead image: Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock
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