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The Montseny Natural Park lies about 40 kilometres northeast of Barcelona and makes for an easy day or weekend trip from the city. The area has been a Natural Park since 1987, although some years earlier, in 1978, the UNESCO designated the 30,000 hectares a biosphere reserve, as part of its MAB (Man and Biosphere) programme. The programme was designed to promote innovative approaches to living and working in harmony with nature, and aims to achieve a sustainable balance between biological diversity, economic development, and cultural values. And the Montseny park truly feels like a place where humans and nature happily coexist.
Due to the differences in altitude and climate that exist within the park, and to the careful preservation of its fragile ecosystems, the area contains a wide variety of fauna that ranges from Mediterranean to alpine. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times and there are also a large number of megalithic structures in the park. Rich in natural springs, the Montseny supplies approximately 50 percent of the country’s bottled water. There are a number of places where you can take the waters. The most well-known spa town is La Garriga which borders on the park. The upper classes have been taking the waters here for over a hundred years and the many Modernista homes by some of Catalunya’s most illustrious architects are testament to the town’s popularity.
Many of the Montseny’s towns, such as Gualba, Viladrau, Arbucies and Aiguafreda, are located just on the edge of the park and have plenty of options for eating and accommodation. Within the boundaries of the park itself there are some tiny villages, such as Campins, Fogars de Montclús, and the town of Montseny. These are all wonderful places to start a hike from and if you go before the weather gets warm you can still enjoy the smell of woodsmoke that drifts through the streets.
And, of course, this is great hiking territory. The Montseny massif is made of three clusters of mountains: the ridge of Turó de l’Home and Les Agudes (1,706m and 1,703m), Matagalls (1,697m) and Pla de la Calma (Puig Drau, 1,344m). They are all joined by the hills of St. Marçal and Collformic and are easily reached for hikes and walks. There are three main trails—the GR 5, the GR 83 and the GR 2—plus many other smaller trails, some of which are paved so can work for a family or people with disabilties.
GR 5: Sender dels Miradors
This route from Sitges to Canet de Mar takes in five different Natural Parks over its 215 km. The 15km Montseny stretch takes about five hours and is suitable for all levels. It starts in the town of Aiguafreda—which lies just to the west of the park—and climbs up to Tagamanent, making a handy stop at the Masia El Bellver, a bar and restaurant where you can refuel.
GR 83: Camí del Nord (also known as Camí del Exili)
Running between Mataró and the French border, this trail retraces the steps of the exiles who escaped from the Civil War to France in 1939. The 21km trail begins in Riells, passing though the Montseny as far the town of Arbúcies.
GR 2: Del Pirineo al Montseny
The GR 2 reaches from La Jonquera on the French border and ends in the Montseny. The Montseny stretch passes through Seva, El Brull and Aiguafreda. Of medium difficulty, the trail covers 14km and takes approximately four hours.
There are plenty of accommodation options in the towns surrounding the park. Here are our favourites within the park itself.
Montseny Suites and Apartments
Located in the village of Montseny these are bright, modern self-catering units for two to four people. www.montseny-apartaments.es
Near the town of Montseny, this small hotel is set in a 17th-century masía and offers all mod cons as well as old-time charm, fireplaces and stunning views. www.canbarrina.com
Hotel Sant Marçal
This warm, cosy three-star hotel is built from the structure of an 11th-century Franciscan convent. Located near Viladrau, but in the park itself, it oozes peace and charm. www.hotelhusasantmarcal.com
For more information about the park:
Diputación website: www.diba.cat/parcs
RENFE runs trains to the following towns: Aiguafreda, Breda, La Garriga, Riells.
For buses to the area see: Sagalés Tel. 938 650 400 or Barcelona Bus Tel. 902 130 014.
For more information about La Garriga’s thermal spas, visit the town’s website: