Hiking in Barcelona: 3 Easy Options
Hiking in Barcelona will help you discover one of the glories of Barcelona, its natural landscape.
While the more adventurous traveler may prefer to have a day trip in Montserrat National Park or the Costa Brava, the time-pressed visitor – as well as the local seeking fresh air – can find wonderful hiking trails, a natural park, and a mountain range without leaving town.
Let’s take a look at three of the best options for hiking in Barcelona.
Let’s start with the most approachable destination. Montjuïc is visible from the bottom of the Rambla, providing a suitably dreamy backdrop in many a photo of the statue of Columbus.
Its 184.8m peak can be reached in various ways, and so is open to all fitness and enthusiasm levels.
Cable car or hiking it
The laziest option would be to catch the Telèferic cable car either there (picking up in Passeig de Joan de Borbó) or back.
However, with tickets costing €11 and up, some of us might prefer to get some exercise.
A typical hike could begin in Plaça Espanya.
A magical fountain and museum
From there, you walk past the Font Màgica fountain towards the impressive Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, where there is a choice of steps or escalators.
The views of the city open up almost immediately, and there are a couple of coffee kiosks on the way up.
Another lazy tip
If you are really conserving your energy, instead of heading up the final flight of stairs to the museum, hang a right towards a rather imposing set of steps and look for the final set of escalators on your left.
This will take you to the side of the museum – which is well worth a look in itself – as well as give you a great panorama of Barcelona.
Walking toward the back of the museum, you will find many hiking trails leading in various directions.
Castell de Montjuïc
Following the signs to the Castell de Montjuïc will take you to the summit of the mountain, past the Olympic Stadium.
For those interested in the civil war, the castle will be familiar as a place that served as a prison for anyone the Fascist government deemed to be undesirable. Guided tours are available in English and French.
Montjuic cemetery on the way down
To make it down, almost any of its hiking trails will serve to guide you back to the city. If you head in the direction of the sea, you will be able to explore the far side of the mountain, taking you past the famous cemetery, and affording you a view of the city’s docks.
If the cemetery and docks don’t appeal, or if you’d rather end up close to the town center, take the hiking trail towards the Jardins del Mirador, passing the Monumento a la Sardana on your left.
Some well-earned refreshments
Follow that winding road before turning right into Avinguda Miramar and you have the choice of finding a local bar in Poble-sec or descending through Hotel Miramar and its connected gardens towards Port Vell.
2. Park Güell and Parc del Carmel
When I lived close to Park Güell, perhaps one of the most frequent sights was befuddled tourists coming out of Vallcarca metro and finding a dilapidated square where they expected to see Gaudi’s salamander.
The truth is, Park Güell was intended to be a hunting retreat for Barcelona’s rich rather than an easily accessible tourist attraction. As such, there is a 150m hill for visitors to scale.
Escalators or a hike uphill
Like Montjuïc, you can opt to take public transport or the semi-helpful escalators in the San Francisco-esque Baixada de la Gloria street, or you can choose to attack the steep incline armed only with your hiking boots.
Up and away
Turning left at the top of the entrance in Avinguda del Coll del Portell will allow you to avoid the crowds making a beeline for the Teatre Grec.
Instead, you can follow the hiking trails higher up in the park, which is dotted with picnic tables.
Gaudí or not?
Once you reach the north-eastern side of the park, you have a choice: head back down towards the crowds or continue towards Parc del Carmel.
If you do decide to do the Gaudí thing, you can also exit Park Güell at Carretera del Carmel and follow the long and winding road to Carmel.
While you may have read of the “búnkers” in El Parc del Carmel, it doesn’t actually have any.
However, during the Spanish Civil War, the hilltop of Turó de la Rovira did serve as an anti-aircraft post, and then after the war, the area became a kind of shanty town for Barcelona’s poor.
Since the pre-Olympics clean-up in the 1990s, the area has become increasingly popular first with Barcelona locals and more recently with tourists for its spectacular views.
The route back to civilization is not complicated, but beware that the surrounding area is very hilly indeed.
The local metro is El Carmel, but you would be hard-pushed to find a flat route there, so conserve some energy for the descent!
3. Carretera de les Aigües
After the terrorist attacks in 2017, I went to Carretera de les Aigües.
A little pilgrimage
It was a little pilgrimage to the city I had adopted years before.
I suppose I chose it not for the breathtaking views (similar to those you can glimpse from Park Güell and Parc del Carmel) but for the fact that this destination allows you a very easy way to connect with the Serra de Collserola, the amazing mountain range that envelops Barcelona.
In such a densely populated place, this natural park area is a godsend.
Time for fun(icular)
There is no metro station in this area, but you can take the FGC train service using the same tickets as you would on Barcelona’s buses or metro.
You can leave from Plaça Catalunya, Provença, or Gracia, but keep an eye on the name of the train: the S1 and S2 lines are the only ones that stop at Peu de Funicular, our destination.
Keep your eyes on the stop
As you may have guessed, this leads you to a funicular train station, where you go one stop to Carretera de les Aigües, which is a request stop.
Should you go past the stop, you will be taken to the peak of Tibidabo, Barcelona’s tallest mountain, so you might want to take the funicular straight back down unless you are looking for a hiking day trip.
Once inside the scenic park, you can follow the runners and cyclists along hiking trails that go in both directions.
A 3km walk takes you towards the carpark in Plà dels Maduixers, where you can descend via the winding roads if the more rustic descents on the way do not appeal.
The blue tram
One possible destination as you descend would be Plaça del Doctor Andreu, where you can catch the Tramvia Blau, a ridiculously romantic ramshackle tram that trundles down to Plaça Kennedy, where you can find the Avinguda Tibidabo FGC station.
Other Places to go Hiking in Barcelona
If you’ve enjoyed these best hiking trails in Barcelona, it’s time to venture a little outside of the city to some hiking routes in the mountains, along limestone hills, and all the way to the coastal path near Barcelona.
Here’s a roundup of several routes beloved of Barcelona hikers, some are near Barcelona but others are included because they are so popular with hikers because of their natural beauty:
- Collserola Park is the world’s largest metropolitan park. Very near central Barcelona, there’s a hiking route for every fitness level. The favorite hiking trail is from Vallvidrera to La Floresta. There are several stations that will allow you to reach the trails, including Baixador de Vallvidrera.
- Tibidabo Mountain is the highest peak in the Serra de Collserola mountain range and you can hike a variety of trails up and along the mountains. There’s a Catholic Church on the summit of the mountain with the Torre de Collserola nearby, a tall communications tower built for the Barcelona summer Olympics of 1992. You can see Tibidabo from Montjuïc – it’s only 30 minutes by car from Barcelona.
- Montseny Natural Park is close to Barcelona (40 km away) and is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The most popular hike includes reaching the peak of Tagamanent in the Montseny massif but others include the route of the 7 waterfalls (Ruta del 7 Gorg) and the Can Cuch Chestnut Loop. There are many natural springs and it provides a relaxed day visit.
- Costa Brava to the north of Barcelona, the ‘rugged coast’ of the Girona Pyrenees is incredibly beautiful. The Costa Brava is undoubtedly one of the best hiking spots during the summer months. Walk from Blanes to Loret de Mar, a part of the Camino de Ronda).
- Camino de Ronda (or the Camins de Ronda) (from Blanes to the French city of Collioure). This is the favorite coastal foot trail of an enormous number of European hikers and is located on the Costa Brava. Hike through fishing villages and along stunning white sand beaches.
- A day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat Natural Park or the Vall de Núria in the Pyrenees mountains is a great way to see the surrounding countryside when visiting Barcelona. You can hike to the summit of Vall de Núria or take a more gentle stroll in the gorgeous green valley. In Montserrat Natural Park you can walk among the beautiful oak tree forests and see wild goats and many other animals and birds.
- Parc del Garraf is only 44 minutes by car or 55 minutes by bus in Sitges. it’s a unique phenomenon with a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, an ancient castle (now a farmhouse), yoga and meditation classes amidst sparse vegetation, and Mediterranean shrubs.