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We recently went on a half-day hike through Barcelona’s green lung, the Collserola Natural Park, and followed it with a truly authentic Catalan lunch which is any nature lover’s dream. The Secret Forest is a lush, hidden oasis in the outskirts of Barcelona boasting flora and fauna authentic to the region as well as beautiful views from the heights of the Tibidabo mountaintop. It was a great day trip in Barcelona to escape the city-life (while still staying in the city!).

Getting started

We started our day at the top of Mount Tibidabo. It is a breathtaking site from which you can admire 360-views and the entire city of Barcelona straight out to the sea. Tibidabo is approximately 520-meters high and it is the highest mountain in the Collserola mountain range so we had plenty to see. We were told that on a clear day, you can even have visibility of Montserrat.

Barcelona from Tibidabo

As to how the mount got its name, the most popular legend is that upon a precipice like Tibidabo, the devil tried to tempt Jesus into worshipping him. The Holy Bible recounts that Satan took Jesus to a “very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (Matt. 4:8). It is at the top of that peak that the devil said “Haec Omnia Tibi Dabo si cadens adoraberis me”, English for “All this I will give you if you kneel down and adore me”. In likeness to the story, the mountain overlooks the city of Barcelona and produces awestruck wonder at the beauty of a city that is easily temptation worthy, hence the name.

The temple

Not only is the mount a great place for views but on top of its peak sits the magnificent Templo del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (the Temple of the Sacred Heart), which was built between 1902 and 1961 by Catalan architect Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia who began the work and his son Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal who completed it.

The Secret Forest

After taking in the amazing city views, we left behind the bustling metropolis and entered the tranquil natural park of the Collserola. Taking a moment to breathe in the fresh air, feel the earth beneath our feet, and listen to the birds as they chirped in the trees, we hardly believed we were still so close to the city. The Secret Forest is the perfect getaway if you need a breather from.

Hiking tour in the nature of Barcelona

We started our journey through the forest from the bottom of the park to the top so we got in a light workout, saw some impressive views, ate a few delicious wild plums, and we also passed under the Torre de Collserola (or the Collserola Communications Tower). It was built for the 1992 Olympics and is the highest “building” in Barcelona, at 288 meters (945 ft.) high. It is an interesting sight to see.

Last but not least… Lunch!

The hike itself lasted for about 1.5 hours and by the time we made it to the restaurant, we were all famished. The restaurant itself was its own experience. We were greeted with a traditional Catalan lunch in a classic 16th-century masia (which is a renovated farmhouse) and ate and drank until we couldn’t anymore.

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