A via ferrata (which means “iron path” in Italian) is a protected vertical and horizontal climbing route. While its origins date from the nineteenth century, many of these routes were built during World War I, in the Dolomite mountain range, in northeastern Italy, to help troops move across the area. As these have become very popular among climbing enthusiasts, new routes have been developed lately in and outside Europe.
Via ferrata routes generally feature grips, metal steps, steel cable rails, and hanging bridges. This allows climbers to reach otherwise inaccessible areas, with minimum equipment, ensuring a safe and exciting adventure.
There are more than 50 via ferratas in Spain, and the autonomous community of Catalonia is one of the regions with the highest number of them. Laying on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and about 120 kilometers south of the Pyrenees, the city of Barcelona —Catalonia’s capital and the second most visited city in Spain— offers numerous via ferrata itineraries, at only 2 hours drive away. As a bonus track, many of these trails offer stunning views to the Mediterranean Sea and the Pre-Pyrenees!
"Most via ferrata routes close to Barcelona have a moderate length and are suitable for all levels, offering different variations to attract all types of adventurers", explains Carlos Vidal Arque, an AEGM-certified mountain guide, born in Palmas de Mallorca and currently based in Barcelona. A passionate rock climber himself, Carlos enjoys taking clients on exciting rock climbing, via ferrata and canyoning tours all around Spain.
Thanks to his invaluable knowledge of the Spanish outdoors we prepared this guide of via ferratas around Barcelona.
Looking forward to your next getaway? Below you will find all you need to know to start planning your trip!
1. WHO CAN CLIMB THESE VIA FERRATAS
Barcelona offers ferrata itineraries for all levels, from beginners to advanced climbers. Almost everyone in good shape, including kids over age 10 (accompanied by an adult) can venture these routes.
However, as Carlos Vidal points out, "many via ferrata routes in Spain have low maintenance and may not be in the best conditions". Because of that, it's highly advisable to go there with a professional mountain guide.
A local guide will not only watch for your safety and move comfortably on the terrain, but also teach you or help you improve your ferrata skills, and even share with you some interesting facts about the area.
For your reference, guides usually take groups of a maximum of 6 or 8 people on these tours.
2. WHERE TO GO FOR A VIA FERRATA TRIP CLOSE TO BARCELONA?
You’ll find many via ferrata itineraries close to Barcelona, spread across Catalonia’s four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lérida, and Tarragona. Most of them are located from 1 to 3 hours away from the city, and involve climbs of 1 and a half to 9 hours. “It all depends on your wish to make kilometers on the road!”, says guide Carlos Vidal.
Most via ferratas around Barcelona can be climbed every day of the week and all-year-round. When asked about his favorite locations, Carlos suggests the area of Padres Mountains, in the province of Tarragona: "it offers enchanting landscapes and it's a great option from Spring to Autumn". For the Summer months, he recommends moving to the highest area of the Pyrenees, to the Ager Valley and the surroundings of Camarasa.
For those traveling on a tight schedule, the best pick is to visit the area of Montserrat, a beautiful destination at only one hour from Barcelona.
Be mindful that the most popular vía ferrata routes tend to be more crowded during high seasons (summer months and holidays) and weekends.
3. A ROAD MAP OF THE BEST VIA FERRATAS AROUND BARCELONA
Together with certified guide Carlos Vidal, we came up with a list of the best and most popular via ferrata routes around Barcelona.
Les Dames Via Ferrata, Montserrat
Province of Barcelona | Level: Intermediate
Also known as The Artiga Baixa torrent, this is one of the most popular climbing routes in the Montserrat Massif (1,236m), located an hour drive from Barcelona. It runs along a gorge, between well-equipped steep rock walls, offering amazing views. It begins with a demanding vertical wall and then features a few challenging overhanging sections, ending with the possibility of rappelling down from the top. You can find Les Dames via ferrata in this program, among other interesting options.
How to get there: From Barcelona, take the A-2 highway to the municipality of Collbato. After passing a gas station, stop at the Vinya Nova restaurant and hike in direction to the town, up to a gate where the ferrata begins.
Duration: 2-3 hours
Length: 400 meters
Accumulated drop: 400 meters
Maximum elevation: 745 meters
Cala Moli Via Ferrata
Province of Girona | Level: Intermediate
This brand new route is sited in the municipality of Sant Feliu de Guixols, 30 kilometers away from the city of Girona and 60 from Barcelona, on the Costa Brava, one of the most picturesque areas in Catalonia. Given the great weather conditions in the area and the trail’s stunning natural beauty, Cala Moli is one of the most popular ferratas in the region and one of the few ones in the world that traverses along the sea. It is a loop trail laying on the cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea, although not very exposed. It comprises an initiation section followed by a more demanding one, and includes 3 Tibetan bridges, a Nepalese bridge, and a log.
How to get there: From Barcelona, take the highway that goes from Sant Feliu de Guixols to Sant Pol, up to the corner of Hotel Hipocrates. From there, the Sicilia road will drive you to the Les Triadores gazer, where you can park your car.
Duration: 3-4 hours
Length: 580 meters
Accumulated drop: 25 meters
Maximum elevation: 29 meters
Les Baumes Corcades Via Ferrata
Province of Barcelona | Level: Intermediate
Sited just an hour away from Barcelona, in the Osona region, this is probably the most popular via ferrata in Catalonia. Also known as Centelles, the route features several arêtes, crashes, long side steps, and a 69-meter Nepalese bridge (the longest in the whole Iberian Peninsula) as an optional additional challenge. The route climbs up to the Puigsagordi peak (972m), offering stunning views over the Plain of Vic and the Montseny Massif (1,706m), as well as to the Sub-Pyrenees and the Guilleries Massif (1,202m) to the north, and the Berti’s Cliffs to the south. Interested in this adventure? Pick Les Baumes Corcades for a great day-trip from Barcelona.
How to get there: Take the C-17 highway to the municipality of Centelles, and then transfer to the town of Sant Feliu de Codines. Take the detour to the left to the Mas de Banyeres, until you find a sign indicating the beginning of the ferrata.
Duration: 4-5 hours
Accumulated drop: 330 meters
Length: 800 meters
Maximum elevation: 972 meters
Tosal de Miravent via ferrata
Province of Lérida | Level: Intermediate
Close to the town of Pont de Suert, straddling the border between the Catalonian province of Lérida and the Aragonese province of Huesca, this vía ferrata route makes a great starting for those who never practiced this activity before. At the same time, it also presents challenges for climbers with more experience. It’s divided in three different sections, increasing its difficulty gradually and providing exit points along the way. The main attractions are its two Nepalise bridges and a 25 meter zip line. Expect beautiful views of the valley as well! Here’s a program where you’ll find Tosal de Miravent via ferrata among other routes in the Pyrenees. Pont de Suert is 3 hours drive from Barcelona. You can also get there by train or bus.
How to get there: Take the N-230 road from Lérida towards Pont de Suert. Before crossing the bridge to enter the town, take Aragon street and drive until the mountain school. You can park there and hike for 20 minutes to the beginning of the route.
Duration: 2-3 hours
Accumulated drop: 240 meters
Length: 470 meters
Maximum elevation: 1138 meters
Gorges de Salenis via ferrata
Province of Girona | Level: Easy
The ferrata takes place in the scenic Riera de Salenys gorges, located within the Gavarres Mountains (532m), close to the village of Romanya de la Selva, in the province of Girona. The trail begins along the Romanya river, passing some oak and pine forests. It crosses several Tibetan and Himalayan bridges, finally rappelling down the beautiful Salt del Llop leap. The route offers a few optional rappels, of a maximum of 15 meters.
How to get there: From the C-65 towards the municipality of Llagostera, take the detour to Romanya de la Selva. The beginning of the trail is signposted with a small GR mark on a tree. There’s a 20 minute approach to the beginning of the route.
Duration: 3-4 hours
Length: 600 meters
Accumulated drop: 123 meters
Maximum elevation: 182 meters
Ferrata dels Patacons
Province of Tarragona | Level: Hard
Ferrata dels Patacons is one of the most comprehensive and scenic routes in Terragona. Built in 2016 and sited in the Prades Mountains (1,203m), close to the village of Mussara and 2 hours away from Barcelona, the 480-meter trail features vertical walls, 4 bridges, 2 rappels, and a climb to a needle, offering beautiful views to the Baix Camp area. You can skip the rappels in case you find them too demanding. It can be very crowded during the weekends.
How to get there: From Reus, take the N-420 road towards Gandesa and then the road junction to Prades vía 7-704 road. Pass the towns of Maspujols, L’Aleixar and Vilaplana. From Vilaplana roundabout it’s 3.4 kilometers to the parking spot on the right, in La Mussara climbing area. A sign indicates the name of the trail: “camí dels Cingles”. It’s a 15 minute hike to the beginning of the vía ferrata.
Duration: 2 hours
Length: 480 meters
Accumulated drop: 196 meters
Maximum elevation: 182 meters
Cagate Lorito vía ferrata
Province of Lérida | Level: Very hard
Located in Sant Llorenç de Montgai, in the district of Noguera, in the province of Lleida, 2 hours away from Barcelona, Cagate Lorito is one of the most difficult and varied ferratas in Catalonia. It is a fully equipped loop trail along stunning earthen orange steep walls, including some bridges, ladders, overhangs, and quite separate climbing holds.
How to get there: From Sant Llorenç de Montgai, head to the municipality of Camarasa and, before arriving, take the LV-9047 to the left. The via ferrata’s parking lot lays in the north entrance of Sant Llorenç de Montgai. You will find some red marks showing the trail and a sign indicating the beginning of the ferrata.
Duration: 2-3 hours
Length: 300 meters
Accumulated drop: 185 meters
Maximum elevation: 416 meters
Les Agulles Rodones
Province of Girona | Level: Very hard
Also known as Dels Carcaixells, this is one of the most demanding ferratas in Catalonia and is considered the longest one in Spain. It lays in Santa Maria de Solius, in the province of Girona. The route is a sequence of ascents and descents across the rugged needles of Dels Carcaixells del Dalmau, within the L'Ardenya or Cadiretes Massif (519m), offering spectacular views. It features varied equipment, including 8 Tibetan and Nepalese bridges of a maximum length of 25 meters, 11 rappels, a 17-meter optional canopy, and several overhangs.
How to get there: Take the AP-7 highway towards Girona, then the C-65 to Llagostera, and exit number 5 to Solius. Right across the Hostal Mas Pla restaurant, take the detour to the left. Keep the right on the triple detour and finally park close to the Can Llaurador library. Follow the trail signposted with blue marks.
Duration: 6-9 hours
Length: 1,900 meters
Accumulated drop: 298 meters
Maximum elevation: 310 meters
4. WHICH EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED?
Below you will find a brief list of the personal gear you should carry for any of the above via ferratas. You shouldn’t worry about the group equipment given guides usually provide it. However, remember to check this with your guide before the tour.
Comfortable clothes according to the weather
Tough gloves (recommended)
Water bottle and snacks
For your reference, technical group equipment usually includes:
Climbing harness (full-body harness for children or a normal one with a chest strap)
Helmet (UIAA-approved), since there is often rock fall risk or the possibility of falling
Lanyard and carabiners (connected to the harness)
Climbing rope and belay device, for additional security
5. ESTIMATED COST
Guides offer 1-day or half-day trips to the above mentioned ferratas. The cost of these programs usually starts at 30 € per person for groups of 6 people and can rise to 160 € for those climbing alone.
Prices often include the guiding fee, the group equipment, and insurance. Be mindful that you should consider transportation to the beginning of the ferrata and meals as additional expenses.
Interested in trying an exciting climbing experience outside Barcelona? Check out the numerous via ferrata programs around the city you can book through Explore-Share.com!
We thank AEGM-certified mountain guide Carlos Vidal Arque for his valuable inputs based on his +15 years of experience in the Spanish outdoors.