Fancy a break from Barcelona but short on money and time? Get the most out of your travel card and escape the city without even leaving. Your Zone One T-10 ticket can be used on the Metro, and both Renfe and Rodalies train networks. Barcelona’s metropolitan area is awash with day trips to locations of natural splendour free from the summer crowds. Here are five of the best.
Parc del Laberint d’Horta
Waterfalls overrun with moss, terracotta stone covered in ivy, headless statues and lagoon-like ponds with large fish disappearing under the thick green sludge. This cool and wet oasis is reachable by metro. Take the green line to Mundet, exit and walk 200 metres east along Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron. Take the second left and the park’s entrance is just next to the area’s Velodrome. The buildings have fallen into disrepair, providing a rather spooky gothic feel once the sun begins to set. The large and numerous gardens on different levels of the grounds have been well maintained and extend all the way around the back. Highlights: Picnic under the high trees. Try to find your way through the 18th-century hedged maze.
If you’re travelling from the centre of the city, head straight to the belly of Plaça Catalunya’s underground collection of platforms to find its rail network. Jump on a train on the blue R1 line in the direction of Maçanet and in just 15 minutes you’ll reach Montgat and find the water clearer and the sand finer than any other city beach. Not quite the picture-perfect beaches of the Costa Brava, but certainly not the crowded ones of Barceloneta, Montgat’s beach is a perfect location for a lazy summer’s day. Leave the station, cross the road and pass under the tracks to find the beach path. Head left and pass two small beaches. Turn the corner and Montgat’s beach will be right in front of you. Just to your left is a blue and white restaurant that looks over the Mediterranean. If you don’t want to stop for food here you can keep walking a few kilometres until El Masnou (Zone Two). There are a few bars back in the square opposite the station too. If you fancy passing the day more adventurously there is a wake boarding centre near the station. Highlights: Wake boarding centre, sailing and a small church in the centre of the old town.
Collserola - Baixador de Vallvidrera
This stop on the Rodalies line in the direction of Terrassa and Sabadell is the gateway to long walks around Collserola’s densely-packed mountains: over 300 species of animals, rabbits, squirrels, badgers, blue tits, woodpeckers and birds of prey—they’re all here. There are two main directions for picking up the trails. The first is directly in front of you and leads to the heart of the forest’s rich natural habitat and an information centre-turned-museum. The other direction—found by exiting the station, crossing the road and walking down Carrer Torrent de Rovello is Carrer de les Aigües: a popular route with long distance runners that provides views of the city you’ve just left behind. The clear air is perfect for a day’s hiking, and all walking routes are reliably signposted. Highlights: Catalunya’s most popular poet, Jacinto Verdaguer’s old farmhouse and museum. Plenty of lunch spots in both the sun and shade amongst the thousands of deciduous trees.
Collserola - Les PlanesAlight
From the train and you’ll find yourself nestled in between two thickly covered mountains. Cross the tracks via the bridge and head towards the only road in sight. Once there cross and follow the path that snakes right, deeper into the mountain. Once away from the traffic, walk no more than five minutes and you’ll find the unmistakably green groves and tabletops of the outdoor barbecues. There are picnic tables at the back and a play area for children at the side. Open all summer round the trees keep it somewhat cool. The location is extremely popular with the locals who set up camp for a day of chargrilled food—so make sure you get there early. Highlights: The cheap costs: A table is €10, grill €5, firewood €6 and charcoal €5. This will be enough to keep the barbecue going for three to four hours.
Just shy of half an hour on the Renfe R2 train line, this is the most southerly point of Barcelona’s metropolitan area. Located 18 km outside of the city, there are two train stations on the same line: Castelldefels (town) and Castelldefels-Platja (beach). Stay on the train until the second stop to be closer to the beach— all you need to do once off it is walk the three blocks down Avinguda Republica Argentina. It’s not a surprise that this is home to many of Barcelona’s wealthy elite when you see the five kilometres of uninterrupted beach. Once done with the beach, walk in the direction of Barcelona and take Carrer Onze and then Carrer Pineda to the town’s other station. If the 10th-century castle that towers over the city tempts you, continue past the train station onto Avinguda Santa Maria and go as far as Plaça de l’Esglèsia. Continue along Avinguda Primer de Maig until Can Roca, turn right and you’re at the castle’s imposing entrance. Sants, Passeig de Gràcia or Estaciò de França are your departure points for this one. Highlights: Seemingly unlimited restaurants serving fresh fish. A beach stretching 5kms. Windsurfing.