Located some 50km north of Barcelona, the Montseny Natural Park is a stunning outdoor area ideal for hiking and mountain biking. Easily accessible via train or car, it’s the ideal place to explore the Catalan countryside as a day trip from Barcelona. Read on for everything you need to know to plan a successful trip to the Montseny Natural Park.
A unique biosphere
One of the reasons that the Montseny Natural Park is so remarkable is the unique character of its biosphere – the living environment of plants and animals – owing to the diversity of climates and landscapes it presents. Starting from the east where the altitude is some 200m above sea level, the Montseny Natural Park has a mostly Mediterranean climate, gradually changing to a Cold Mountain climate at its highest points (some 1,200m in altitude).
What’s more, the landscape of the Montseny Natural Park is characterised by sharp changes in the terrain which is carved out by rivers and cliffs. The landscape changes quite radically within a few hundred meters at times, as a result of rapid change in altitude.
Due to these changing climates, the diversity of the flora and fauna in the Montseny Natural park is incredibly rich. There are numerous types of animal and plant to be found here, some of which are unique to the park – such as the Montseny Brook newt.
Natural and man-made wonders
With so much wildlife to be explored, it’s no surprise that most visitors to the Montseny Natural Park spend much of their time hiking or mountain biking. However there are some remarkable man-made additions to the park which are worth visiting as well.
For instance, there is a handful of buildings and remains, dating back to the time of the Ancient Romans, which can be seen along the ancient Via Augusta and Via Austa walkways.
More recently though, the town of La Garriga was a popular weekend retreat and spa town for rich Barcelona residents during the 19th century. Eager to display their wealth, they hired the best architects of the time to design their holiday homes and as a result there are some remarkable Modernist mansions to be admired, such as the Casa Barbey.
Getting to and around the park
Fortunately, access to the Montseny Natural Park is relatively easy via public transport, although a car will make it much easier to get to the highest points.
From Barcelona, the RENFE train line 3 will take you to stops such as La Garriga, Figaró, Centelles, Balenyà-Els Hostalets and Balenyà-Tona-Seva. Alternatively, the line 2 will take you to Llinars del Vallès, Palautordera, Sant Celoni, Gualba, Riells i Viabrea-Gualba and Hostalric. There are information points in all of these towns offering free maps of the area and advice on appropriate routes, especially if you’re coming for a day trip from Barcelona.
Alternatively, there are many camping spots inside the park which are ideal for longer stays during the warmer months. These are best accessed by car via the BV-5301 and BV-5114 roads, coming off the AP7 motorway. Popular campsites include the Camping Montseny – Can Cervera, the Camping del Parc Gualba and the Les Iles Campsite.
Planning for your trip
The Montseny Natural Park offers many easily accessible routes which are ideal for inexperienced walkers and even families with children. If you’re coming via public transport just for the day, you’ll be be able to purchase water and snacks in the town where you get off the train. That said, remember to bring appropriate footwear and comfortable clothes regardless of the difficulty of your hike.
The great change in altitude means that there can be considerable changes to the temperature within the park and this is something to keep in mind. Always bring something to cover up with as temperatures drop rapidly in certain parts when the sun goes down – even on the warmest of days.
Finally, although the information centres do hand out free maps, these are rather basic and won’t be reliable for anything but the simplest of routes. Consider purchasing a hiking map with all the possible routes marked on it from a local sports shop or from the information centres themselves.