Barcelona is one of the world’s most spectacular metropolitan centres. With its endless cultural events, bustling sidewalks and stunning architecture, it’s easy to become enthralled with the hypnotic city lights. But do you remember what it’s like to hike a mountain path or listen to the waves crash against a cliff? Do you recall the last time you ate amongst the leaves or slept beneath the stars? Spring and summer in Catalunya are the perfect seasons to reconnect with nature as a family, and we’ve got some great suggestions for your next outdoor adventure.
Smell the roses at Jardí Botànic Marimurtra
Perched atop the breathtaking cliffs of the Costa Brava, the Jardí Botànic Marimurtra in Blanes is ranked among the top botanical gardens of the Mediterranean. Explore 16 hectares of local flora and fauna as well as tropical, desert and aquatic plants, and enjoy outstanding panoramic views of the rocky coast, deep blue waters and isolated cales. Far away from the roar of the city, Blanes is still accessible by train, making Jardí Botànic Marimurtra a perfect option for a day of sweet aromas and ocean breezes.
Cycle in the Parc de Serra de Collserola
Located in the mountains northwest of the city centre, the Serra de Collserola Park is the largest natural reserve in the Barcelona metropolitan area—8,000 hectares with over 1,000 species of typical Mediterranean fauna. Multiple road biking and mountain cycling trails throughout the park feature stunning city views, and vary in difficulty and length. Cyclists can download maps to go it alone, or join a guided half-day tour. If bird watching interests you, bring along binoculars to see blackbirds, tits and robins all year long, and birds of prey in September and October.
With origins dating back to 888 CE, the Monistrol de Montserrat (Montserrat Monastery) is easily one of the most picturesque and historic places in the province of Barcelona. The monastery is nestled among the protruding cream-coloured rocks and greenery of the Montserrat mountain range. Ambitious hikers can climb the steep five kilometres from the train station to the monastery, while those looking for a less strenuous ascent can hop on the aerial cable car for 360 degree views of the mountain and town below. Once at the monastery, choose from various 1.5-hour hiking routes to historic chapels, hermitages and various religious works of art.
Picnic in the city’s best parks
Barcelona is packed with hidden pockets of nature perfect for al fresco eating. Among the vastest of the city’s parks is Parc de l’Oreneta, which spans 17 hilly hectares shaded by hundreds of cedar, pine and evergreen broadleaf trees. The park’s wooden picnic tables overlook a panorama of the city, and are a perfect spot for an afternoon meal. After lunch, scoot along on the miniature train or explore the hills on horseback. Another city gem is Parc de Cervantes. Located just off Avinguda Diagonal, this well-tended rose garden has 245 varieties on display and is full of palm trees, lush lawns and winding walkways. The park also has a large playground for some post-picnic games.
Kayak the Costa Brava
Get to know the Costa Brava like never before on a kayaking adventure. Explore the coast’s most pristine cales, secluded beaches and vast sea caves not accessible by land. Dozens of companies offer family tours that range from two-hour trips to all-day excursions, as well as all-inclusive adventures with breaks for snorkelling, swimming, sunbathing and lunch.
Design a sustainable garden in Montjuïc
On the first Sunday of every month—with the exception of July and August—the Museu de Ciències Naturals hosts a family game at the Jardí Botànic where children collaborate to develop sustainable, resilient botanical gardens. During each session they are presented with a specific goal—revive the garden after a summer drought, design a garden to study a specific specie, avoid pests, etc.—and are challenged to make strategic decisions to help the garden thrive. Participation is free and open to children aged 7 and up.
Sleep under the stars in Torre de la Mora
Rent a campsite plot, tent or bungalow on some of the region’s last-remaining, undeveloped coastline. The Torre de la Mora campsite is sprawling—spanning from deep inside the forest right up to the waterfront, and families can choose how isolated or how central they’d like to be. Amenities like a swimming pool, playground and recreational sports area keep the kids entertained, and WiFi areas and a local supermarket provide some basic comforts.
Whether you prefer a quick outing within Barcelona or a weekend outside the city, there are many close and convenient places to help you reconnect with nature. So, lather on that sunscreen, fill your daypacks and venture out as a family to enjoy the stunning natural landscapes of Catalunya.