I told some friends I was writing a blog post about the Maresme. I asked them to give me just one thing that they loved about the area. One of the replies went like this (thanks Isabelle!):
“I think the quality of life is unbeatable here: great climate, close to the beach and close to Barcelona. Club Nautic Masnou is more serious, for children and adults who like to compete in regattas, while Club Nautico Montgat is more relaxed. At the club in Masnou, if they cannot sail due to weather, the children can paddle surf or canoe. There’s the golf in Vallromanes which is now quite reasonabley priced. Restaurants – there are many: Garrofers, Can Cabus, El Pati de la Morera and Minato are my favorites after drinks in Companyia. Shopping can be done every day, even Sunday morning, which is very convenient. Both Alella and Masnou have great football clubs.”
And that is the beauty of the Maresme – there are so many great places from family activites to family-friendly restaurants that it is very difficult to choose just one.
Other friends did keep to the brief and this is what they came up with, in no particular order……
Burriac Castle is located 401 meters above sea level, between the towns of Mataró, Argentona and Cabrera de Mar. It is easily visible from the coast and dominates the landscape as you look up into the Maresme hills. There are numerous trails and paths open to visit the castle. The most simple and suitable for families starts from just outside of Cabrera. The castle is signposted from the centre of the village. There are a few places to park along the dusty track as you head out of the village but if you continue upwards you will find a carpark. The walk from the carpark takes approximately 60 minutes depending on the age of your children and speaking from experience I would not recommend the walk for children under the age of 4. And beware it can become very crowded on weekends and public holidays.
The castle is simply an old Roman tower with a few surrounding walls but it is well worth the effort of climbing up to have a closer look. At the top you have glorious panoramic views of the Maresme Coast. Children love playing among the ruins and don’t forget to bring a snack for the top.
Parque Francesc Masià is an enormous park with plenty of different play areas to suit all ages. There are sandboxes distributed throughout the park where the little ones can play with buckets and spades, and there are circuits of swings, slides, ropes, nets, and bridges for older children. Also they have two long zip wires, some musical plates which make sounds when you jump on them, a skate area, swings made from tyres and a very long wavy slide. But the most novel aspect of the park is the sculptures that are scattered throughout of oversized flowers, cupcakes, toad stools, erasers and pencils to name a few.
And when you need to take a break from all this activity there are many different areas suitable for sittng down and having a rest. There are green areas with grass, benches, areas in the shade and picnic zones where you can sit and eat.
A medium sized village in the heart of the Maresme, Premià de Dalt is a couple of kilometres inland from Premià de Mar which is situated on the coast. The village has a charming feel and the historic part of the village centres around Sant Jaume, an old masia and courtyard which houses a bar/restaurant, a cultural centre and paddle courts. There is also a small play area for children in the courtyard. The facilities are run by a cooperative which promotes culture, sport and community spirit.
There are some nice walking/hiking trails just outside of the village. The Ermita de Sant Mateu in the Parque de la Serralada Litoral is easily accessible by foot. My friend Marian who lives in the village recommends breakfast from Pamsucre where you can get great breads and pastries, and dinner at el Celleret, a small and cozy restaurant offering a good choice of wines and excellent meats accompanied by traditional Catalan coca.
Hípica Cal Senyor is located 5km from Vilassar de Dalt, in the heart of the Parque de la Serralada, perfect for country rides away from the hustle and bustle of the city and coast. There are classes for all ages and levels starting from 6 years. Children are not only taught how to ride but also how to mount and dismount correctly and how to take care of the pony/horse. Classes can be indicvidual or in a group. They also offer dressage classes for more experienced riders.
Other activities include Easter and summer casals for children and night time rides for adults when there is a full moon. The restaurant San Salvador has been in the same family for 3 generations. Their specialty is grilled meat and calçots – typical Catalan cuisine at a reasonable price.
Set in beautiful surroundings Teià Tennis Club has something to offer all ages. There are 13 tennis courts, 6 padel tennis courts, a pitch and putt golf course, a gymnasium, swimming pool and a bar/restaurant. They hold numerous social events throughout the year and also offer beauty treatments, massages, a physio and a professional tennis school with alumni from all over the world being trained by ex-pros.
The summer casals are very popular with local and international families alike. Children are split into groups according to age – infants, primary and junior with ages ranging from 3 (P3) until 15 (3rd of ESO). Daily activities include tennis and padel lessons, arts & crafts, basic cooking lessons and some time in the swimming pool. There is a fun day trip each Friday.
Café Lucy, located right across from Ocata beach, is a great place to go with babies, toddlers and younger children. They have space for pushchairs inside. The interior is the perfect space for children to play. It is divided into different areas including a space for babies and crawlers. So parents can enjoy a slice of homemade cake and organic tea while their children play close by.
They also organise talks and workshops aimed at the whole family including kids yog a and dance and talks for pregnant women, sell second hand baby clothes from 0-3 years and you can rent the space for small birthday parties and gatherings.
Open all year round, Mas Salagros Ecroresort is a fabulous place to relax surrounded by nature. They have 2 restaurants which serve organic food; many of the ingredients have been produced on site. Restaurant 1497 offers a sophisticated menu while the Granja Salgamos bar-restaurant is more suited to young children.
Mas Salagros is very child friendly as you can visit their market garden and take a look at the hens, goats and cows. They also offer a babysitting service with plenty of games and dressing up clothes to keep the children entertained.
Binomis is an equestrian centre in Vallès Oriental with direct access to forest trails and mountain paths. This is a riding school with a difference where the primary concern is respect for the horse. Classes are not just about riding. Students also learn about the needs of the horse, how to communicate with the horses with understanding and respect and how to ride horses with care. Here you can learn to ride without a saddle.
They also offer summer, Christmas and Easter casals for children from 4 to 14 years old introducing children to the world of horses and the surrounding nature. The focus of these casals is learning to be disciplined while still having fun, care and handling of horses and respect for animals and nature.
The restaurant at Can Sala offers traditional Catalan cuisine but what’s great about this place is the adjoining petting zoo which is suitable for small children. They have quite an array of animals and birds. Children can hold bunnies, take short pony rides, look at ostrich and deer and play with the goats and pigs running around. There’s even zebra and a porcupine.
Best to reserve if you want to stay for lunch as this place is popular at weekends. Can Sala can be used as a birthday party location and they also have casals in the summer.
This is the perfect place to take a stroll out of season. At the beginning of the 20th century English tourists left the cold to spend their holidays in this small town also known as Caldetes. The wealthy foreigners built beautiful Modernista houses just in front of the sea. The promenade was named Paseo de los Ingleses. Some of the houses have been replaced by luxurious (and not so luxurious) apartments, but many others have been preserved and are really stunning.
The beach here is very wide with golden sand and calm waters. There are toilets and showers, umbrella rentals, several decent chiringuitos and also a Red Cross rescue team. All these things combined make it an ideal beach for families with children. For a few months in the summer there is a huge inflatable play area in the sea. The inflatables are not suitable for little ones. They need to be minimum 120cm tall and you have to swim out to them. Last summer we went with my nephews who are in their late teens and they had a great time. Some of the high slides and drops are not for the faint hearted. Sessions are 10€ an hour and everyone has to wear a life jacket.
In 1952 this was known as Maria’s Chiringuito – Maria is the mother of the current owner Josep Sabatés Campos – but 28 years ago it became the restaurant L’Ona (the name means wave and was chosen because of its location on the beach close to the marina).
You can choose from all kinds of fresh fish and seafood including squid, sardines, mussels, clams, razor clams and canaillas. The specialty of the house is calamar a la romana with paellas and fiduás. Weekend lunches on the terrace are great with children who can play in the sand while you relax post meal. They often have live music on summer evenings. The terrace is popular so be sure to book to save disappointment.
With thanks to Sabine, Susannah, Martine, Marian, Laura, Cliodhna, Djanira, Valerie, Isabelle and Jody
Main image: www.costabarcelona.net