Barcelona has a privileged position. Wedged between the sea and the mountains, it is an ideal base for walks and hikes in nature. Here are some of my favourite walks in and around this dynamic city.
Collserola National Park
The sprawling, 8,000 hectare Parc de Collserola is the largest metropolitan park in the world. It’s popular for local residents looking for a nature escape from the city. Given its size, there are numerous hikes to choose from. Barcelona Navigator has a list of some of the best.
If you’re looking for an easier walk or introduction to the vast park, take the train 15 minutes from Plaça Catalunya to Baixador de Vallvidrera. Stepping out of the station, you’ll have immediate access to several easy trails. Even better, Baixador de Vallvidrera is still within Zone 1, so you can use the T-10 ticket to get there.
I couldn’t write a post about nature walks around Barcelona without mentioning Montserrat mountain. It is one of the most popular day trips from the city and for good reason.
It takes a little more time and effort to get there than other walks in this list, but the journey is special in itself. You have the option of taking the rack railway or cable car from the base of the mountain to the top. After a stroll around the monastery, you will want to take on one or more of the hiking trails to enjoy the nature and the sweeping vistas.
To make the most of your day in Montserrat, it’s best to do some research first. I found this site helpful when organising my trip.
Parc del Laberint d’Horta
On the outskirts of Barcelona as the city is giving way to the mountains you will find this delightful labyrinth and park. The neo-classical gardens cover 55 hectares and are beautiful in every season.
The labyrinth is the focal point, but the expansive gardens are a lovely setting for a weekend walk. Entrance is free on Sundays which means the park is busier, but who can argue with free entry?
If you’re feeling adventurous there are plenty of strenuous hikes starting in this area, heading onwards and upwards to the mountains.
Bunkers del Carmel
Offering one of the most stunning views of Barcelona, the Bunkers del Carmel can be reached by an easy-to-moderate (depending on the heat!) hike. The former Civil War anti-aircraft defences are abandoned today. Their position offers a 360 degree view of Barcelona—a nice reward after the short hike.
You’ll still hear the bunkers referred to as the city’s “best-kept secret” but the truth is that the secret has been out for some time. Although you might be sharing the view with other locals and visitors, it’s still a wonderful vista.
Parc de Cervantes and Parc de Pedralbes
These two parks are near Camp Nou on Avenguda Diagonal. Surprisingly, they have become two of our favourite spots for a weekend walk. They’re not particularly well known, especially among tourists, in part due to their not-so-central location.
Cervantes is a large rose garden, while its neighbour Pedralbes has an old palace and fountain at its centre. Another draw is the dragon gate of the Güell Estate just outside Pedralbes park. In his first commission from Eusebi Güell, Antoni Gaudí designed two gatehouses, including a magnificent dragon which stands guard over the property.
Avenguda Diagonal is a busy and congested avenue during the weekdays because many businesses are located here. On the weekends it is transformed. Peaceful and pretty, you can take an easy stroll along the wide, tree-lined avenue to visit the parks. Otherwise, the Palau Reial metro station leaves you just outside Pedralbes park.
Parc de la Ciutadella
A popular hang out for people of all ages, Parc de la Ciutadella is one of the best-loved parks in Barcelona. It’s also one of the best known. This means that it gets busy on sunny weekends, although it’s large enough for you to find your own bench or patch of grass.
The Arc de Triomf was built as the access gate for the 1888 Universal Exhibition. From the Arc de Triomf, walk through the buzzing thoroughfare to the entrance of the park (which was the site of the World Fair). Once in the park, be sure to visit the large fountain; it is said that Gaudí as a young student contributed to its design.
Do you have any other favourite walks in or around Barcelona? If so, please share with me below! I’m always on the lookout for new routes and sights.