Exploring the Mountains Around Barcelona on a Campervan
Did you just rent your campervan in Barcelona and are willing to explore the surroundings of the city? This route will provide you with ideas for a 3/4-days trip around the mountain ranges which are closest to the city. It is an ideal itinerary to discover the Catalan backcountry, with plenty of free camping spots to park your caravan, gorgeous winding mountain roads and lots of hiking opportunities. Although it lacks the majesty of the Pyrenees, it does offer a genuine Mediterranean charm.
From Barcelona airport to the hills and far away
Say you’ll pick up your hired campervan at the airport, you’ll want to head northeast to take the B-10 coastal belt (called Ronda Litoral), and will drive through the southern part of Barcelona, to take the old N-II road towards the coastal town of Arenys de Munt. If you feel like giving the beach a miss, then take the faster C-31 and C-32 highways instead.
You’ll be driving next to some of the finest beaches near Barcelona, which definitely beat those in the city, usually overcrowded. Some nice beach spots to check out are Platja d’Ocata (el Masnou) and the more urban Platja de Sant Simó (Mataró). But you’ve got a campervan: go explore!
Once you’ve had enough of sun and sand, it’s time to hit the road again and set forth to the mountains! You’ll drive through Arenys de Munt and Vallgorguina, gradually immersing yourself into the pine and oak covered forests which make up the Natural Park of Montnegre i el Corredor. There’s as many hiking opportunities as you can wish for, refer to this interactive map to learn more or look up the resource-rich website Wikiloc. If you fancy some local gastronomy (and you should), there’s plenty of traditional restaurants in the area as well.
Highlighted on our map are the restaurant Santuari del Corredor, which offers a decent sample of the Catalan cuisine, with superb views over the surrounding valleys, and a free parking spot nearby -Àrea d’Esplai del Corredor-. This area is ideal for the campervan aficionado: it features ample parking slots, public WC, water supply, public grills, picnic area and even a football pitch. All gratis.
Making sense of the mount of Sense (Montseny)
Catalans like to define themselves as a people that balances “seny” with “rauxa”, that is, “good sense” and “impulse”, a sort of local ying-yang thing. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they named a mountain after the former: Montseny. There isn’t any known hill named after its more daring counterpart, although there is actually a Hell’s Peak (Pic de l’Infern) in the Pyrenees, but that’s perhaps a different story.
Anyway, it’s time to close your Westfalia’s pop top and go (north)west! Next destination is the Montseny Natural Park. At it’s more than 1,700m over the sea level, it’s one of the highest mountain ranges south of the Pyrenees, and it’s a paradise for camper motorists, hikers and foodies alike. Check out the official website for all the information or visit any of the tourism offices.
Our recommendation is a somewhat aimless ride along these mountain roads, which should include the ascent to Turó de l’Home (1,706 m), Les Agudes (1,703 m), or El Matagalls (1,697 m), some of the most emblematic -and highly accessible- summits of El Montseny. The forests are stunning, especially at fall, and there are plenty of traditional Catalan restaurants around.
If you’re planning to camp in the wild, make sure to stock your camper’s fridge in any of the bigger towns you’ll drive through, such as Sant Celoni or Arbúcies. Alternatively, there are a few campsites available within the massif, see them highlighted on our map.
La Mola and Montserrat
Time to leave Montseny behind and head southwest. A visit to Montserrat, the famed jagged mountain at the very heart of Catalonia, is a must in any tour by the surroundings of Barcelona. To get there, we suggest a somewhat sinuous route that crosses another natural park, Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac. which should include a stopover up La Mola for magnificient views over Barcelona, the Mediterranean sea, and mountains of the interior, all the way up to the Pyrenees on a good day.
Next stop on the programme is the Montserrat National Park. As soon as you see its ragged silhouette, you’ll realise how it inspired the famous architect Antoni Gaudí in his works la Sagrada Família, Park Güell or la Pedrera. Montserrat, a sacred site for Catalans, offers two main attractions: the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat and a wealth of hiking and rock climbing opportunities. The review of these is definitely beyond the scope of this post, but do make sure to prepare your visit to Montserrat thoroughfully on Wikiloc or any guidebook, since this is definitely one of the region’s highlights to explore.
You can leave your camper at the pay-on-exit car park, closer to the abbey, or at the Santa Cecília free car plot and picnic area, which is the start of many trekking routes. A likely place to spend the night if needed be as well.
Drive back to the city through Sitges and the Garraf cliffs
Now, hopefully you’ve made the most of these days out in the wild, but it’s probably a good idea to head back. Instead of the boring (but fast) AP-7 highway to Barcelona, we suggest a route through the beautiful coastal village of Sitges -must-see- and then across the Garraf coastal range, a breathtaking ride above the cliffs that reach the Mediterranean waters. A good moment perhaps to enjoy the peacefulness of small, inaccessible coves such as that of Garraf (see map), before getting back to the urban frenzy.
Have you done this route on a campervan? Got questions? Share your thoughts!