Barcelona is blessed with parks and beaches and the sort of weather that lures you outdoors, but if you need to stretch your wings further than the city allows, heading just out of Barcelona will provide everything you can want from mountain climbing to alpine hiking to beach strolling.
The name translates as Serrated Mountain and this jagged peak is forbidding which makes it even more impressive that there has been a monastery located high up on the mountain since the 11th century. 30 miles (48km) from Barcelona, the monastery itself makes an excellent day’s outing and there are walks further up via a cable car, or down to the sacred grotto. But if it serious climbing you want there are a huge range of routes here. From sporty bolted single pitch routes to classical multi pitch routes of between 200 – 300 metres, there are well over a thousand routes in all. The Gorros area is a good place for first time climbers here. Read more about Exploring Montserrat and Costa Brava.
A little further from the city this is a spectacular place to climb in a gorge with great views of the river below. There are around 200 climbing routes and good cheap hostels to stay in nearby.
The Pyrenees mark the border between Spain (Catalonia) and France. Here you can go for serious hiking or just a gentle nature walk. The Virgen de Nuria valley, which is reached by rackrailway from the small historic village of Queralbs, is a sanctuary of calm with a lake, and lovely walking. There’s a hotel here too. Further into the mountains is the Spanish national park National Park of Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici. Hiking trails in the Pyrenees are marked with red and white stripes painted on rocks and trees. Two crossed lines means do not go that way.
If you like your outdoor activities to be water sports head for Sitges, northwest of Barcelona. Here there are 300 days of sunshine per year and 17 beaches. This coastline is known for its diving, windsurfing and sailing so take your pick. To the northeast of Barcelona is the Costa Brava, a very popular holiday coastline and great for hiking, cycling and water sports.
Catalonia has excellent nature reserves where you can hike, mountain bike, cycle or just take a walk. Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa is volcanic in origin but the modern park is 65% forested. Parc Natural del Delta del Ebre is where river meets Mediterranean Sea and is made up of lagoons and islands. Cycling is a great way to explore here and you can hire bikes nearby. Another way is to explore by boat tour of the river and delta. Great for hiking is Cap de Creus Natural Park with its many archaeological sites, castles and villages.