Getaway to Maresme: Family activities

You're off to the coastal region of Maresme for some nautical activities, to ride donkeys and to discover the legacy of the Indianos
By Xavier Amat |
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Here's a 48-hour trip to Maresme that's ideal if you're going with kids. And if you're not, you'll still have a great time with this itinerary. Whether you want to ride a donkey or discover the Roman or Indiano past of the area, we've got something lined up for you. There's also fun to be had in the sea. Whatever you choose, you won't be hearing anyone complaining of being bored!

IN COLLABORATION WITH BARCELONA ÉS MOLT MÉS AND THE DIPUTACIÓ DE BARCELONA

Rucs
© Manel Cuesta

Afternoon day 1: A ride on a strong, docile animal

Your adventure begins by finding the road connecting Dosrius with Canyamars. There, inside the boundaries of the Montnegre-Corredor Natural Park, a side road will lead you to Rukimon, a park that's home to all the donkey breeds found on the Iberian Peninsula. Once inside, you'll see how easy it is to make friends with this docile animal capable of carrying heavy loads with ease. The company organises donkey rides for the whole family, birthday parties, routes especially designed for children, and country rambles. A great place to spend a pleasant afternoon and to start the getaway off on the right foot (or should we say hoof).

Port d'Arenys

Morning day 2: Arenys Harbour

The only port in Maresme county is in Arenys de Mar, and it's a pleasure to stroll among the boats and the nets bundled up on the docks to watch the vessels coming and going followed by flocks of seagulls, or to watch the fish auction.

Beyond the hustle and bustle, the harbour also offers nautical activities, such as sailboat trips, kayaking, scuba-diving courses for beginners and rentals of captained boats. A fun and original option for a family outing is a fishing trip, which takes about four hours and even includes the chance to swim in the open sea.

Come lunchtime, the port has many excellent restaurants to choose from; as you might imagine, they specialise in seafood dishes with the fresh catches of the day.

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Arenys de Mar

Afternoon day: An Indiano town

Staying in Arenys de Mar, you move back onto terra firma. The town forms part of the Network of 'Indiano' Municipalities, and it's easy to see why as you walk down from the top of Arenys, following the course of the famous water channel in order to discover the legacy of the Indianos from one end of the town to the other. Arenys was the point of departure for many Indianos, the adventurers who voyaged across the Atlantic in the 18th and 19th centuries to seek their fortune and, if the wind blew in their favour, returned wealthy. Many of them were hugely successful and, once home again, built grand mansions in their native land, some of which are still inhabited while others form part of the municipal heritage.

Perhaps Arenys’ most famous Indiano was Josep Xifré, the very same who gave his name to the Porxos d’en Xifré in Barcelona (Passeig d'Isabel II, 8-16). In his hometown of Arenys Xifré funded a hospital for the poor, a large building in which his mausoleum was also built. Although this is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular constructions on this route, there are others worth discovering, including the Asil Torrent, the palatial El Paraíso, and Can Còrdova. Don’t forget to take a look at the Sinera Cemetery either, a lovely site immortalised in the verses of Salvador Espriu and closely linked to this afternoon’s walk, as some of its majestic vaults are the final resting places for the Indianos of Arenys.

Museu de l'Estampació de Premià de Mar

Morning day 3: Premià de Mar and fabric printing

During the same period when some of Arenys citizens were embarking for America, other locals stayed in the port town to earn a living in the textile industry, one of the region’s great economic engines for decades. Proof of this can be found in the former gas factory in Premià de Mar, home to the Printing Museum, Spain’s only museum specialising in textile printing. This morning's itinerary will give you a fascinating insight into the history of the technique, the chemistry of the trade and the art of manual fabric printing. It also explains how the printing process became industrialised, completing a very educational visit which begins with the clothes of the ladies returning to Catalonia in the 18th century. They were actually the trigger for the Industrial Revolution here, and the exhibition displays dresses, moulds and original tools from each stage of the sector’s evolution.

When you leave the museum, we recommend taking a stroll around the town so you can look at the Sant Cristòfol Church, the Neoclassical buildings such as the Masia Ribas or the Noucentist constructions like Can Roure. What's more, in 2015 Premià de Mar opened its very own Roman Museum to exhibit the unearthed part of a singular octagonal building situated in a Roman villa. Originally this would have served as a reception pavilion for someone high up on the social scale, but later on it became a centre for wine production.

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Celler Romà de Teià

Afternoon day 3: Teià and wine from Roman times

Now that you've seen places related to the Romans and wine making in Premià de Mar, you can take the opportunity to visit nearby Teià, with its wonderful Vallmora, Enotourism and Archaeological Centre: the perfect segue between the two towns. The Romans produced wine all around this region, a trade which continues to thrive in some places and with great success, for instance in the DO Alella vineyards. In the Archaeological Park you'll find cellars dating back 2,000 years, complete with cisterns, ovens where they fired the amphorae, and a pair of reconstructed presses, which are exact reproductions placed on the precise location where they were found. Enjoy a journey into the past before returning to the present and the conclusion of this trip.

Restaurants, Catalan

Can Casellas

Here they follow Josep Pla’s maxim, 'Don’t travel far away to look for what you’ve got close at hand.' Their dishes are made using locally sourced market produce and vegetables from their own garden, making for exquisite dishes that combine elements of traditional Mediterranean cuisine with more contemporary approaches. Meat and fish dishes, pasta and rice dishes: everything is top quality.

Restaurants, Catalan

El Parador de Canet

The folks at Parador de Canet say their approach is to make sure their customers have a pleasant time, and part of their success has got to be thanks to the restaurant’s friendly service, lovely rustic design and, most important, home-style dishes using locally sourced produce.

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Restaurants, Catalan

Sumac

This is a well-decorated restaurant serving well-presented dishes incorporating locally sourced, seasonal produce. If you’d like to sample their varied cuisine, try the tasting menu. If not, you’ll be happy with whatever you opt for, whether that's a more traditional dish or a more daring choice.

Restaurants, Seafood

El Hogar Gallego

Products from the sea and the vegetable patch. This seafood restaurant, which is a classic in the town of Calella, first opened back in 1977 and brings together the finest produce from Galicia with the finest locally sourced products. They have their own fish tank, and the most prized pieces – the large-scaled scorpion fish, John Dory, sea bass – are presented to diners by two waiters who carry them on a cart while the customers decide what they prefer – it’s quite an experience!

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Restaurants, Catalan

Can Formiga

Seafood and mountain dishes come together at this long-standing restaurant that combines traditional roots with avant-garde touches. The setting is also charming: a house that was built in the mid-18th century with a small but cosy dining room. Here you’ll find tempting dishes like monkish or cod in ‘suquet’ – a light seafood broth.

Hotels, Spa hotels

Aqua Hotel Onabrava & Spa

This large and elegant hotel complex has 350 rooms and is located very close to the beach in Santa Susanna. With the latest technology in its rooms and public areas and even gymnasium equipment, one of the hotel’s biggest attractions is its health centre which consists of four distinct areas: a spa, a gym, a saltwater swimming pool and a treatment zone. Outside you can take advantage of another swimming pool, hydro massage area and terraces. It’s a whole world for you to enjoy.

Hotels

Hotel Rosa Nàutica

The Rosa Nàutica is a beachfront hotel that meets requirements in every way with their rooms, buffet restaurant and additional services. It's ideal for families, with a swimming pool, rooms that sleep four people, a recreational area, and a mini club that organises activities for children. Grown-ups also have plenty to do here, with shows staged for adults and a gym.

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Hotels

Hotel Volga

Among the abundance of hotels in Calella, the four-star Hotel Volga is one of the premium-range establishments. You have to take into account, however, the fact that this is a large (164 rooms), family-oriented establishment that can get quite lively in summer. However, that takes nothing away from its services, which are top quality, or from its comfortable and pleasant recently refurbished rooms. All in all it’s a good choice for beach-loving visitors.

Hotels, Hostels

Hostal Portofino

Located in the main avenue of Arenys de Mar, very near the beach, this simple but comfortable establishment offers well-lit rooms with fully equipped bathrooms, central heating and air conditioning, and free WiFi. Its restaurant serves home-style seafood cuisine, including rice and noodle dishes, as well as fresh fish from the town’s port.

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Hotels, Chain hotels

Ibis Mataró

Like all of the establishments in the Ibis chain, this is a functional hotel that's ideal for businesspeople. It has all the basic services and is very well priced. It's also very new and its location near the sea and the bus service that links Mataró and Barcelona makes it a good choice for spending a few days in the Maresme region.

Museums, Cultural centre

Fundació Palau Centre d'Art

Essayist, poet and writer Josep Palau i Fabre had a close friendship with Pablo Picasso. His Foundation in Caldes d’Estrac contains work by Picasso from Palau i Fabre's private collection as well as works by other artists like Miró and Gargallo. Aside from the permanent exhibitions, the centre has rooms for temporary shows and hosts many other activities throughout the year, such as the Festival Poesia i +, roundtables, conferences and workshops.

Museums, History

Museu de Mataró

Set in a Renaissance-style building in Plaça de l'Ajuntament, the first floor of the museum is reserved for temporary exhibitions. The first and second floors take you on a chronological trip through the history of Mataró from the Roman era to the present, with special attention given to the industrial development of the city as a textile-manufacturing centre. The museum has other sections in a number of buildings around the town, such as Ca l'Arenas (C/ Argentona 64), which houses an art collection.

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Museums, Fashion and costume

Museu Marès de la Punta

In Arenys de Mar lace-making has a long history. So a Lace Museum makes perfect sense here. The Marès Museum has several valuable collections, starting with that of Frederic Marès himself, who acquired pieces from the Marquis de Valverde, among others. Other highlights include the collection that once belonged to the dancer Carmen Tórtola Valencia, who designed her own costumes, and the Castells collection, with laces, patterns and frames from one of the lace manufacturers in Arenys.

Museums, History

Museu del Càntir d'Argentona

Set in the centrally located Plaça de l'Església, this museum has an excellent collection of pitchers, some of which are very original and amusing. The collection is the result of the donations and acquisitions made since 1975. The explanations on the history and manufacturing process of these objects make for an educational experience that’s suitable for all ages. The museum also stages major temporary exhibitions.

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Casa Museu Domènech i Montaner
© Josep de C.Vinolas
Museums, Art and design

Casa Museu Domènech i Montaner

Lluís Domènech i Montaner is one of the most important names in the history of Catalan modernism, and he left behind a rich legacy, both in architectural and personal terms, in his home town of Canet de Mar. The museum that bears his name is made up of two buildings: Masia Rocosa and Casa Domènech. The first building was his workshop and offers insights into his professional life; while the second is a building he designed for his family, so it offers a more personal vision of the man. The museum also has spaces for a permanent exhibition on the history of the town and for temporary exhibitions.

Museums, Art and design

Museu-Arxiu Municipal de Calella Josep M. Codina i Bagué i Pinacoteca Gallart

The building that houses the town's museum-archive has a number of different sections, but the Gallart Gallery on the first floor is a real standout. It contains more than 200 works, mostly figurative oil paintings and drawings by local artist Lluís Gallart i Garcia, which are exhibited on a rotating basis. While you’re here, head up to the second floor and visit the modernista-style Barri pharmacy. The other exhibition spaces in this multidisciplinary museum are given over to dresses and embroidery.

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