Living in the city for a couple of months has made me long to be surrounded by the green I’m so used to being surrounded by: the forests, the running trails, and the big grassy spaces. Lucky for me, I have had many opportunities in Barcelona to break away from the tall buildings and busy streets and to step into nature for a while to recharge my soul, find some peace, and make a difference in how I think and feel. Below are a few places on the north side of the city where I’ve been able to do just that. I also included how to get there via public transportation for future IES Abroad Barcelona students and travelers alike!
Carretera de les Aigües (“Highway of the Waters”)
From my apartment it’s usually a grueling 14 minutes of completely uphill city running. I’d totally be cussing you if I said I didn’t take a couple minute break once I finally reached the trail. Luckily, once there, it’s a relatively flat, wide, gravel path along the edge of the mountains allowing for absolutely incredible views of the city. You’ll see lots of bikers, runners, walkers, and dogs. There are stone outlook benches with graffiti on them every couple of kilometers, convenient water spigots, and side trials which are perfect for exploring (think tall grasses, wildflowers, and butterflies). At about 10 km long, any length out-and-back run or walk on this trail should suffice for most.
How to get there: Take the FGC S1 or S2 towards Sabadell to Peu del Funicular. It will take you right up to the trial, no uphill running required, and is only a 20 minute ride from La Plaça Catalunya.
Mt. Tibidabo (“To you I give” See Matthew 4:9)
This was my first hike and my first lookout over the entire city. It can be quite steep at times, but hiking amongst nature and taking in the views along the way make it completely worth it. At the top is a beautiful church, a few cafes, and a small amusement park that lights up at night. You’ll probably break a small sweat on this 6 km up, 6 km down route, but I think any able bodied person could be able to take on Tibidabo.
How to get there: Take the FGC L7 towards Av. Tibidabo to (you guessed it!) Av. Tibidabo, a 15 minute ride from Pl. Catalunya. I would suggest using GoogleMaps to search Av. Tibidabo to Tibidabo after that, because there are a lot of twists and turns to remember.
During my hike of this mountain range, I was able to get my visual fix of rolling grassy hills and my olfactory fix of fresh air. Two highlights included seeing the tall Pi d’en Xandri (Xandri’s Pine Tree) with all of its support beams and meeting an 80 year old man riding a gallant black horse who showed off by popping a horse-wheelie for us (can someone please help me with the real word for this?). It was a tough 16+km hike that I was not mentally prepared for, so bring some water and plan on taking a nap after.
How to get there: Take the metro L3 towards Trinitat Nova to Mundet, 20 minutes from Pl. Catalunya. Get off on the mountain side, not the sea, and start heading north to see what adventures await you.
Parc del Laberint-Jardí Museu (“Labyrinth Park-Garden Museum”)
Deep green and well manicured, this garden museum has several sections to walk through and benches to enjoy the landscape. One can see short, lush grasses and tall trees; vines and flowers; bushes and statues; fancy, iron gates and flowing fountains. If you prefer your nature to be a little more rustic, there is a small forested area in the back with dirt paths, a little river, and a duck house with white fluffy inhabitants. The main attraction is obviously the labyrinth. I was surprised at how bad I was at it, but my initial disorientation made eventually solving the maze by reaching the center even sweeter.
How to get there: Follow the instructions for the Collserola Mountains, except instead of going north, go east and follow the brown signs that read: Parc de Laberint-Jardi Museu. You’ll arrive after about a 5 minute walk.
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<p>Hi all! My name is Emma Ropski and I'm a senior sociology and psychology major at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I am a middle distance runner on the track and field team there and love it to bits. My interests include the sociological imagination, thrifting, lifting, daytime judge shows, and gorditas. I am so excited to share my study abroad experience in Barcelona with you!</p>