For this getaway to the valleys just outside Barcelona, you're going to follow two routes that form part of the Choose Your Own Tourist Adventure programme, a series of ideas in which you are the protagonist, and a great way to discover a region full of charming places. The itineraries we've chosen are easy ones, so they're ideal for the whole family and can be done by bike if you prefer.
IN COLLABORATION WITH BARCELONA ÉS MOLT MÉS AND THE DIPUTACIÓ DE BARCELONA
Day 1: Route along the Ronda Verda in Palau-solità i Plegamans
The first day takes you to Palau-solità i Plegamans, which used to be two separate parishes and not so long ago was called Palau de Plegamans, a name that became widely known thanks to a television programme called 'Filiprim'. (The village now has a street named after the show!) But enough about TV because you're here to enjoy the natural surroundings, specifically the area around the Riera del Caldes.
The recommended starting point for this excursion is the Espai Jove l’Escorxador (Passeig de la Carrerada, 57). From here, you can follow an easy, paved path and admire the riverside fauna and flora. As mentioned, you can either go on foot or by bike: the choice is yours. If the heat gets to you or your legs are weary (or both), you can rest on benches along the path and read information panels to help you learn about your surroundings. If you're lucky, you might be able to spot a grey heron, an egret, a kingfisher or a mallard, among other birds.
Your destination is the park belonging to the Hostal del Fum. This large green space spans 35,000km2, and features autochthonous vegetation and several paths to explore. If you want to see the park in a fun way without tiring yourself out too much, the Tren de Palau is a small train that runs around a 3km track, providing the perfect end to this route. Come lunchtime, the park is a wonderful setting for a picnic, with wooden tables and benches as well as toilet facilities.
Day 2: The 'masies' to the east of Matadepera
The second adventure explores the area surrounding Matadepera. This is a circular itinerary and, while it's not particularly difficult, it is slightly more complicated than the first route, as it covers 12 kilometres and leads you into the mountains, with all the ups and downs that involves. So, it’s time to don some comfortable shoes, put on your sun cream, fill your flasks with cool water, protect your head from the sun, and you're off!
On this route you'll discover several typical Catalan country houses ('masies') and some of the other surprises found east of the town. You'll start from the Plaça de Sant Jordi in Matadepera and head in the direction of the Font de la Tartana. Soon you pass by the Mas de Can Gorina and then continue toward a Roman site and the Can Solà de Racó masia. Once you reach the Font de la Tartana, take the path to Can Torres, where you go down the trail toward the Collet de Cabrafiga and then to the Collet dels Forns. Next the path climbs up to the Rossos and Mont-rodon hills before heading back down to Matadepera, passing the Font del Corraló and Can Vinyers. This trail is ideal for fans of mountain biking.
Once back in the town, if you still have time and energy to spare, take a stroll around the streets or enjoy some of the other attractions, such as the Municipal Golf Course at the foot of the Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac Natural Park. They offer various beginner classes for those new to the sport, and one Sunday each month there's an open day which includes a free group class.
Despite their rather tight opening hours – only Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, with exceptions sometimes made on other days for groups – they're generous with the size of their dishes here, and with the views on offer of the Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac Natural Park. Set in what was once the cottage of a shepherdess (hence the name), at this restaurant, hearty cooked breakfasts and mountain cuisine lunches are the main attractions.
This restaurant in Terrassa has been operating for a quarter of a century now, but time doesn’t seem to have taken its toll on the attractive decor, nor on its dishes, which, while based on market cuisine, have creative, signature cuisine touches. The tasting menu changes every month, and at the time of writing features plankton risotto with squid and roasted veal with shitake mushrooms. The menu is varied and extensive.
This restaurant in Hotel Sant Cugat, with its casual ambience (guess the dominant colour – 'vermell' means red), serves well-presented dishes with a certain minimalist and daring character. We recommend the cod and vegetable cannelloni with cream of 'botifarra' sausage, the risottos and the pork ribs. If you opt for the gastronomic tasting menu, you have the chance to taste a variety of Chef Germán Espinosa’s creations.
Cosy, tastefully decorated, ideal for a quiet dinner and with excellent service. The food is excellent here too, and if you like steak tartare, we can’t think of any other place that prepares it in so many different ways. They also offer private dining rooms and a carefully selected wine list.
As one of its slogans says, this hotel is far from the noise but close to everything else. It's surrounded by the Natural Park of Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac and therefore by rich and luxuriant nature, but it's also close to the town of Terrassa and the main roads of the region. The hote is avant-garde, modern and designed for business professionals with its 26 multipurpose meeting rooms, though you’ll also feel welcome if you stay here as a tourist in one of its 186 rooms. This four-star establishment also has a complete spa complex.
If you prefer to stay in an apartment during your visit to Vallès Occidental, you may opt for the Aparthotel del Golf, which is located in a quiet spot and has fully equipped apartments with one, two or three bedrooms. It also offers a swimming pool, a garden and parking. There's free WiFi, and you can add a breakfast option, and they have bicycle hires available as well.
L’Arrahona is a three-star establishment located in a quiet part of Sabadell. It boasts 49 rooms and 39 apartments, a bar, a restaurant, a terrace-garden, covered parking and even a shopping centre. All of the rooms face outside and have all the necessary commodities, while the apartments have everything you need to ensure a pleasant stay.
Having just celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2016, this hotel set in an old country house is ideal if you’re thinking of spending a few days in Sant Cugat del Vallès, since it's located in a quiet area of the town. Its gardens, terraces and lounges are elegant and perfectly complement its thirty-odd spacious rooms. You should also try its restaurant, whose extensive menu features dishes with fresh, top-quality ingredients.
Located on the outskirts of Sant Cugat del Vallès, this three-star establishment stands in a green valley and has a leafy garden that's ideal for resting and relaxing. Highlights among its services include an outdoor swimming pool, free parking, a restaurant, WiFi, a gym and a games room. It has around a hundred rooms, some of which are elegant, and spacious suites with terraces.
Opened in 2012, in the middle of the economic crisis, and in a square called, appropriately, Plaça del Gas, the headquarters of the Fundació Gas Natural Fenosa is set in an old power station with gas engines called La Energía. On display you’ll find the history of the company and the industry, the historical records of the company, and temporary exhibitions and activities for everyone. The first year it attracted 22,000 visitors. Climb up to the lookout for the views.
The Catalan modernist–style Aymerich, Amat i Jover factory has been home to the Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia for the last two decades. It features around a dozen permanent and various temporary exhibitions that reflect the scientific advances that have changed our lives and document Catalonia’s industrial heritage. The museum collection is also spread out across 25 territorial museums, and the Generalitat government is planning to integrate all of them in the new National History Museum.
With an intense, diverse and top-quality programme, this theatre in Sant Cugat has become a benchmark among Barcelona’s satellite towns over its two decades of existence. Designed by two Ramons – architects Artigues and Sanabria – the theatre-auditorium is a multipurpose space with capacity for 800 spectators. Every year some 100,000 enjoy theatre, music, opera, dance, family shows, magic and operetta here, as well as films, lectures, workshops and much more.
The building is hardly recent – it’s a Benedictine monastery dating from the 9th century – but the contents are new: the Monastery Museum is the emblematic central exhibiting space of the Museum of Sant Cugat, which was created in 2003, the other being the Contemporary Tapestry Museum in Casa Aymat. Apart from the cloister and the church, the museum harbours an installation on the abbey itself, on Romanesque monasteries and medieval monks, as well as temporary exhibitions on art and local issues, and workshops. Guided and dramatised tours are also offered.