If you are like me, then relaxing during a vacation can be kind of difficult, I always need to be doing something. That’s why I look forward to cities like Barcelona, where there are a lot of things to do either within or near the city itself. For this challenge, we are going to highlight for you restless leg travelers out there, some of the great hiking spots around the city. What is great about Catalunya is that there is a lot of diversity in the availability of activities. This challenge will feature some experiences within the city limits, just outside of it and various distances within Catalunya itself. You will go inside of volcanos, around the city and to the foothills of ancient glaciers. So, pack a bag and let’s go! For the most part they will be relatively beginner hikes, but always be sure to read the difficulties ahead of time, pace yourself and bring plenty of water.
Now you may have seen Mount Tibidabo through some of our other challenges and experiences. But we promise that if you take the day to hike up there, it will be a unique experience that not many other people have the patience or simply the stamina to accomplish- and would much rather take the funicular. You can find the route starting near Avenida de Vallvidrera and it should take between 3 to 4 hours one way. Be sure to bring plenty of water if you are planning on hiking both up and down the mountain. Admittedly, that is one of the nice parts about this particular experience, you have the choice to only hike half of it if you wish! Once you are finally on top of the mountain, you can check out some of our other experiences to see what you can do up there- have fun!
This next experience will take you to the other side of Catalunya and into the Pyrenees mountains. This type of trip is going to most likely require two-three days and is an excellent experience in every season. The Aigüestortes park was formed thousands of years ago at the end of the Ice Age. As a result, there are glacial lakes located throughout this region of the Pyrenees. Depending on which part of the mountains and park that you decide to check out, there could be varying difficulties for children. We absolutely recommend that you look ahead of time, especially in the late fall, early spring and winter. As you will need more equipment than just a knapsack. Be aware, If you plan on going to multiple lakes, that you make sure to check the distance as it will take quite a bit of time to travel in between the towns.
The next two experiences will be able to be done together but offer a very cool look at two very different volcanos in Catalunya. Be aware though, that none of these volcanos are active! The Santa Margarida is a church that is located inside a now extinct volcano. Apart of the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, this church is probably one of the most unique churches in the world. It is about 1.5 hours north of the city. So be prepared to pack a lunch and bring some water! The original church was built in the 1400s but was rebuilt in the 1800s after being destroyed by an earthquake. Catalunya does sit near an earthquake faultline, although earthquakes are quite rare. This is a relatively easy hike and you will see a lot of children and pets along the path down. However, there is not real infrastructure for the disabled.
Talud del Croscat is really a cool and unique volcano. The starting pointed is located a short drive away from Santa Margarida, this volcano was actually the site of active mining. You will be able to see a huge cut away portion of the mountain, where the mining company had been extracting volcanic gravel. The volcano was mined quite a bit starting in the 1960s-1980s but the government of Catalunya stopped the mining operations in the 1990s after years of protest. Because it is horseshoe shape, it is not possible to go inside of it like the previous experience. But it is a really cool experience to be able to walk around a volcano that has been cut the way this one has. Talud del Croscat actually has helped educators in the area demonstrate what the inside of a volcano looks like, because of the unique cross sections that it has.
Montjuïc has a lot of cool areas, our other challenges have focused on a lot of things that you can do in and around it. But what is overlooked, is the trail that is on the backside. If you take the main route up to the castle take a left off of the sidewalk (if you are facing the castle). You will see a trail that starts its way down the mountain. This little trail is great to get away from the crowds and to see Barcelona in a more natural light. It offers plenty of shaded areas and a truly great view of all parts of the city. The trail can also take you by a few other beautiful spots on Montjuïc, to include the Olympic stadium area and the cemetery. Combine this hike with a few of our other challenges and you will have quite a busy day!