Barcelona is a wonderful city to explore with so many hidden corners to discover. However another of its strengths is that you’re always only a short hop from nature and getting away from it all. Here are some ideas for your time in Barcelona.
Collserola Natural Park
If you turn your back on the sea and look up towards the mountains behind the city you will see Tibidabo, the beautiful Sagrat Cor church and traditional theme park. This is the gateway to the largest metropolitan park in the world, 8000 hectares of rolling hills within easy reach of the centre.
Collserola park boasts a wide selection of walking and biking trails to explore the varied terrain and wildlife. It also offer Astronomy Nights twice a month all year (except August) taking groups out at night and explaining different celestial phenomena with a high-powered professional telescope. If you only do one route, try Carretera de les Aigües for a flat trail with stunning views of Barcelona to spot all the famous landmarks.
Garraf Natural Park.
The park is easily accessible from the popular coastal town of Sitges. Garraf Park covers an area of 12,820 hectares of limestone hills which have eroded over the passage of time to form caves, potholes, sinkholes and limestone pavements. The landscape is mostly Mediterranean scrubland, and once immersed you immediately feel the sense of space and separation from the city.
The park also is home to the only Buddhist monastery in Catalonia, called the Sakya Tashi Ling Buddhist monastery Buddhist monastery, which is open to the public on weekends and holidays. A dramatic coastal walk or bike ride from Sitges to the next port of Vilanova I la Geltru offers fantastic views of the sea and isolated coves before rewarding yourself with the catch of the day in a beach restaurant.
Montserrat is a spectacularly beautiful Benedictine monk mountain retreat about an hour from the city. Not only is Montserrat Monastery of significant religious importance but the natural beauty surrounding the monastery is simply breath-taking.
You can choose to take a funicular to the top of the mountain or scale the summit on foot the hard way and from there explore the Monastery and extensive art museum. If you enjoy walking there is a wide variety of routes through the mountains to experience magnificent views of some of the most unusual rock formations in the whole of Catalonia.
Montjuïc hill looks over the harbour to the south-west of the city centre and is home to a wealth of cultural options such as the Fundació Miró , the Museu d’Arqueologia, the Museu Etnològic and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya-MNAC. The Magic Fountain and Poble Espanyol, the model village where you can take a tour of Spain without leaving Barcelona, are also worth seeing especially with children.
Sports fans may well recognize The Olympic Ring, the main site of the Olympic Games which features the stadium, the Estadi Lluís Companys, Arata Izosaki‘s sports palace, the Palau Sant Jordi, and the telecommunications tower designed by Santiago Calatrava. Take the funicular up to the Michelin star restaurant, Montjuïc el Xalet, to enjoy traditional cuisine with some contemporary touches and spectacular views over the city. This restaurant is spread over three floors, although the best places to sit are the top floor or the pleasant terraces.