By Regina W. Bryan in Barcelona—
I live in Barcelona, and mostly I love the city. Sometimes, however, I want to see trees, blossoms, birds that aren’t pigeons… and that’s when the day trip comes in.
Although I do have access to a car, I often take day trips by train, and La Garriga, located about a 40-minutes ride north of Barcelona, is one of my “top five” when it comes to a weekend or day trip getaway from the Catalan Capital. Here’s why:
1. The Hot Springs
The main draw for city folk to La Garriga is its natural springs. There are two that offer soaking options and treatments in four- and five-star facilities.
I stayed at the Blancafort and very much recommend it. While I opted for a package deal and stayed two luxurious nights, one can also just pop in for the afternoon. A two-hour soak in their Terma Romana pools costs €32 and includes hot tea in the chill-out area, as well as access to several indoor pools with waterworks and to the outdoor heated and cold pools. The Blancafort also offers up a tempting massage menu, but the rates are steep at €47 for 25 minutes.
The other thermal spring spa in town is Termes La Garriga, which is smaller and more classical in style than Blancafort. Both spas are in the center of the village and an effortless walk from the train.
2. The “Modernista” homes
Along La Garriga’s main drag, El Passieg, there are numerous “Modenista” (think Art Noveau) homes that were built as summer residences for the wealthy in the late 19th and early 20th century. Some of these are well-kept and extravagant, while others look like they might be haunted (or at least inhabited by mice and bats).
All of them are interesting, and most have little plaques explaining their histories. Follow “Villa Termal y de Veraneo,” a self-guided tour through town that is marked by said plaques and outlined in detail here.
There are also formal guided tours offered each month, but these may be in Catalan or Spanish, so it’s best to ask ahead of time. Visit La Garriga’s Web site for more tour information.
The mountains surrounding La Garriga are part of Montseny, a protected park. This means that wherever you look in the village you see green and forest in the distance. (Wherever I look in Barcelona I see concrete, so the views in La Garriga were extra refreshing.)
Many trails into Montseny leave from La Garriga, so those who stay the night or come early in the day could easily fit in some hiking (and then hit the springs!).
4. The Saturday market
You’ll find markets in lots of places around Catalonia, and certainly Barcelona has many of its own Saturday markets. Still, the produce tasted fresher from the market in La Garriga than my normal Barcelona mercado‘s offerings. Maybe it was the clean mountain air that made the difference?
Set in the center of the village, in several squares around the church, the market runs from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. every Saturday. This is the spot to pick up a jar of local honey, some cheese or sausage from Vic, or even inexpensive clothing items. (I snagged a couple of colorful spring scarves!)
For such a small town, La Garriga has a lot going for it. The village itself is pretty, with a cobblestoned strip filled with boutiques and cafés running through the middle of it. There seemed to be a lack of restaurants in the town, but we did find a couple that were reasonably priced. Of course, both of the hotel/spas also have eateries.
For more information about La Garriga, check out the city’s Web site.