I few months ago I travelled around Costa Barcelona, the area in Barcelona province near the city, to discover the fabulous getaways that are within easy reach via a day trip. When you venture a bit outside the city, you can take in a multitude of experiences that suit families particularly well because of the combination of the sightseeing, Catalan culture and physical activities.
Here are our top 6 family day trips from Barcelona
1. Donkey trekking
The Catalan donkey is endangered, but El Rucs de Corredor in the natural park of Corredor-Montnegre lets you get up close and personal with this kind as well as other types of donkey and burro, learning about their use and habits. You can even take a guided ride on the back of one. We saw a baby donkey still living with its mother (they are separated when they are 6 months old), the equivalent of donkey stallions (exhibiting their manhood) and groups of Catalan schoolchildren having a go. The rides are single file through tame countryside near the preserve, with donkeys following one another (or jockeying for position as they did on our ride). This makes them easy work for younger children, grandparents or anyone who thinks a horse is just way too much effort. My 10-year-old would love how cute they are and how easy to control.
Ideal for: Younger kids from age 4, animal lovers
Where it is: About 50 kms from Barcelona
Veïnat Rimblas, s/n Bústia 2012
08318 CANYAMARS (Barcelona)
Tel: 610 89 99 26
http://www.rukimon.com (Foreign-language only)
2. Segway riding in a natural park
Let’s face it: Your kids will get a real kick out of seeing you try to ride a Segway. You’ll have the last laugh by actually doing it, masterfully I might add. Then all of you will go up and down hills and explore the Sant Llorenc del Munt Obac Natural Park. A guide from Dinamic Solutions will have you up on the vehicles in no time and then lead you around the park. Segways move by responding to changes in weight so kids will need to be of a certain weight — ask before you book. (Read more about Segway riding in Barcelona province and see my video about how you ride a Segway.)
Ideal for: Outdoor-loving families who want to experience nature at a different pace, seen-it-all teens
Where it is: About 45 minutes’ drive from Barcelona
3. Nordic walking at a winery
Usually we don’t take the kids on winery tours (they get so drunk, it’s embarrassing). But at Alta Alella winery, you can jazz up the usual vineyard tour with Nordic walking. I always thought this “walking with ski poles” was a bit geriatric. I ended up panting at the top of the first hill, wondering how to control my errant sticks. At the top of one of the subsequent hills, we stopped for a tasting, looking out at the vineyards on one side, the sea on the other and agreed: Life is good. Confident cyclists can opt for a half day electric bike tour to the winery from Barcelona city via We Barcelona, run from April to October. Alta Alella is an organic winery, started by a family passionate about preserving the area’s natural flora and fauna. The scenery’s gorgeous, the modern visitor centre is stunning…and the wines? Pour me another glass and I’ll tell you.
Ideal for: Active kids school age and above, families who like to try something new
Where is it: About 20 km from Barcelona, accessible also via bus
Cami Baix de de Tiana s/n
Mobile: +34 628 624 182
Telephone: +34 93 469 37 20
4. Cycling in the Penedes wine region
The Penedes is the of the largest wine region in Spain. There are some 300 wineries and 80% of the production goes to making cava. To see some of it, we got on our bikes and toured the region with a guide and along the way saw owners picking peaches (farmers are prohibited from irrigating the trees so they cull the smaller ones to intensify the taste and aroma of the remaining ones; pressec d’ordal or “peaches from Ordal” are prized for their deliciousness). Sant Pau D’Ordal is also known for its restaurants and has a peach market in summer. We chatted via our guide with farmers digging in the fields. We went up rolling hills and down and eventually ended at the Eudald Massana Noya Winery. Take a tour and have a tasting: It includes their delicious organic biodynamic wine for the adults and — a nice touch — a grape juice tasting for kids.
Ideal for: All ages. Let them know your cycling level and need for child seat, etc.
Where is it: About 50km from Barcelona
5. Travelling down the coast and eating seafood
Sitges is known for its romantic atmosphere and bohemian vibe as well as its beaches. Just down the road is Vilanova i il Getru, a port city with a marina, that has been called one of the most beautiful in Europe and which hosts superyachts of the rich and famous. I can confirm that eating seafood caught that morning on a restaurant terrace, just across the road from the wide sandy beach in Vilanova feels like a day well spent. That’s even before sunbathing on one of the sandy beaches, watching fisherman unload that day’s catch, taking a boat tour around the harbour or attending one of the city’s innumerable festivals. My biggest piece of advice: arrive hungry.
Ideal for: All ages of seafood lovers and water babies
Where is it: 30 minutes from Barcelona
Vilanova i Il Getru
6. Exploring the most unusual natural park
You’ll admire the flowers. You’ll watch the birds. And every few minutes you’ll hear a roar and look up to see the underside of a jet right there. The Espais Naturals Del Riu is part of the Llobregat Delta and within a stone’s throw of Barcelona-El Prat Aeroport. Despite that, these guys are serious about preserving the environment. The day we cycled out to one of the outlooks, rangers were mobilised to deal with a tourist who’d wandered into a restricted zone. You can walk round or rent cycles in town and ride out. Unusual, interesting, full of wildlife — I promise, it will be one of the most remarkable nature reserves you’ll ever see.
Ideal for: All ages for walking; confident cyclists for riding because of the journey from the city centre
Where is it: Minutes from the aeroport
Delta del Llobregat
http://www.portadeldelta.cat/espais_naturals_de_riu (Translated by Google)