I didn’t have a lot of time in Barcelona, but I still had the goal of trying to do some hiking. And, of course, I decided that I wanted to climb to the top of Tibidabo Mountain, the highest mountain in Barcelona and in the Serra de Collserola.
In fact, you can take a funicular to the top of Tibidabo Mountain, where there is an amusement park and the Sagrat Cor Church (which can be seen from far distance, overlooking the whole city of Barcelona). But I didn’t want to use the easy way to go to the summit; I wanted to hike there by myself!
But is it really possible to hike there? Before I started, I did some research on internet and the information I found was rather incomplete. I couldn’t find out if there was an official trail and I even read on some websites that walking to the summit was not recommended. I finally decided to ignore this, and I opted for a hike through the Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola.
So I took the metro to the Baixador de Vallvidrera station. I walked out and found myself in a park in the mountains, where a wild boar was casually walking on the path. I immediately knew that I was going to love this hike.
Hiking through the Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola gives access to Tibidabo Mountain by its northern flank. There is no direct trail to the summit, rather you have to take a series of trails to get there. I first followed the signs to Vil·la Joana, the former residence of the Catalan poet Jacint Verdaguer.
Near the residence is the information centre of the Parc Natural de la Serra de Collserola. It is possible to consult the maps of the area and to visit an exhibition on the history and geology of the park (unfortunately only in Catalan and Spanish). After a short stop in the centre, I decided I was ready to head for the summit.
You must first follow the trail towards Turo del Puig. The climb is easy and steady. It must be said that I was lucky weather-wise, it was not too hot, and the forecasted rain wasn’t happening. And, something that particularly surprised me, there was no one but me on the trail.
I finally arrived at a junction where there was a sign indicating the way to Tibidabo Mountain. The trail I took was narrower and wilder as it ran along the side of the mountain. Once again, I was completely alone in the forest, except for the few cyclists I met riding downhill on their mountain bike.
Here and there between the trees I could see the distinctive silhouette of Sagrat Cor Church, indicating the location of the summit. The trail also offered a nice view of the mountains of Serra de Collserola.
I eventually exited the forest to follow a quiet street in a neighborhood on the mountainside. Then at the end of a narrow staircase, I pushed a wrought iron gate and I found myself in the middle of the crowd at the top of Tibidabo.
In fact, I get the impression that the word “crowd” is a little weak to describe the number of people at the top. It reminded me of Sulphur Mountain in Alberta, with its quiet trail that leads to a summit crowded with tourists.
It must be said that the view at the top of Tibidabo is particularly impressive. Barcelona extends to its base and beyond you can see the Mediterranean Sea. In my case, the sky was a little overcast which reduced the visibility, but I still took a few minutes to enjoy the scenery (while trying to ignore the tourists swirling around me trying to find the best spot for a selfie).
I took the opportunity of being there to visit the Sagrat Cor church (which seemed less impressive inside than outside). I avoided the amusement park which was rather busy, and I vaguely considered the idea of going down by taking the funicular. But as I still had a little energy (and I did not want to queue for the funicular), I decided to walk down.
This time I walked down on the southern flank of the mountain. There is no official trail, but I followed the road for a few metres, then a narrow path going along the funicular (where I saw some cactus!). I was eventually back to the busy city, where I found a subway station so I could return to my apartment.
In short, don’t believe those who say you can’t hike to the summit of Tibidabo! It’s a quick hike not too complicated to do if you want to get out of the city!
Altitude : 512m
Ascension : 380m
Trail to the summit: 3-4km
Access : Baixador de Vallvidrera metro stration
What a beautiful post, Vanessa! Many years ago, I spent a few days in Barcelona at the end of a cruise. Gaudi’s famous cathedral was one of the highlights of our trip. Sagrat Cor church is also beautiful, though a polar opposite in design. Thank you fro sharing your journey. <3
Thank you for reading, Cheryl! Barcelona is such a beautiful city, with so many interesting places to visit! I really hope I can go back one day! 🙂
Well done you! I’ve been trying to remember when we were in Barcelona. So very much to see there! We spent a beautiful day in Girona too. I confess, we took the easy way up and it was quite early in the day so not crowded, thankfully.
Thank you! I always enjoy a good mountain walk so I wanted to find a way to get to the top on foot. At the end, it was worth it, and a good way to explore Barceloa differently!