Hiking From Garraf to Sitges Via the Buddhist Monastery (Sakya Tashi Ling)

Thirty kilometres south of Barcelona, the picturesque seaside town of Garraf is famous for its sandy beach and colourful beach huts. The town also serves as the gateway to hiking in Garraf Natural Park, where there are plenty of easy trails to explore.

One of the most popular routes in the area is a twenty-kilometre hike from Garraf to Sitges via the Buddhist monastery at Plana Novella, near the abandoned village of Jafre.

The route is easy to follow, along a series of marked footpaths, and takes between four and five hours to complete. However, I recommend that you plan on taking about six hours, allowing time to stop and visit the monastery, which is at the midway point on the trail.

The Sakya Tashi Ling Buddhist Monastery near Garraf, Barcelona
The Sakya Tashi Ling Buddhist Monastery

Garraf to Sitges hike via the Buddhist monastery

The hike starts at Garraf railway station, which is on the R2sud line that runs from Barcelona to St Vicenç de Calders via Sitges and Vilanova i la Geltru. The journey takes approximately thirty minutes from Barcelona Sants train station. Check timetables here.

Upon leaving the train station, you cross the car park and follow the road uphill for about fifty metres before coming to an underpass that takes you under the main road. Here, you will see white and red trail markers indicating that you are following the GR 92 long-distance hiking trail.

After crossing under the road, the path takes us up through the outskirts of the village and under a flyover. Here, we leave the tarmac behind us and begin following a narrow footpath that skirts around an old disused quarry.

For the first hour of the hike, the path heads fairly steeply uphill, and we soon reach the maximum altitude of approximately three hundred metres above sea level. From here, the path levels off and the terrain is more or less flat as we follow a series of footpaths and unsurfaced forest roads or tracks.

The hike takes us through a mixture of open hillsides, woodlands, and farmland, including a few small vineyards. For most of the route, you get excellent panoramic views of the surrounding hills and out to sea. If hiking in the summer, you should wear sunscreen and a hat and carry water.

Panoramic views of the Garraf Natural Park near Barcelona
Views of the abandoned quarry near the start of the hike

After approximately two hours, we come to the Sakya Tashi Ling Buddhist monastery, which was founded in 1996 in a colonial-style mansion. The mansion was originally part of a large vineyard that was founded in 1890 but went bust three years later when the vines were destroyed by the Phylloxera plague of 1893.

The ostentatious mansion was abandoned and stood empty for almost a century before it was purchased by Jamyang Tashi Dorje Rinponché to establish the Buddhist community of Sakya Tashi Ling.

The monastery is open to the public and can be visited by taking a guided tour, which lasts about forty-five minutes. There is also a small restaurant on the grounds, which is open from 10 a.m. and serves drinks, cakes, sandwiches, and a lunchtime set menu. The first time I visited, I assumed that the restaurant would serve Tibetan-style food, such as momos, and be vegetarian. I was surprised to find that they serve mostly Catalan-style food, although there are a few vegetarian and vegan options available.

Panoramic views on the hike from Garraf to Sitges via the budhist monastery
The hike follows a mixture of footpaths and unsurfaced roads

If hiking in the summer, I recommend starting early and planning to get to the monastery by around eleven o’clock. At other times of the year, the monastery is an ideal place to stop for lunch since it divides the hike into equal halves.

After leaving the monastery behind us, the path continues gently downhill past the abandoned village of Jafre, which dates back to the twelfth century and was abandoned sometime in the nineteen fifties.

From here, we continue along an unsurfaced forest road southwards towards Sitges. Approximately one hour after leaving the monastery, we join another long-distance footpath, the GR 5, which heads steadily downhill towards Sitges, where we catch the train back to Barcelona.

An abandoned building on the Garraf to Sitges hike near Barcelona
A ruined building beside the trail

Garraf to Sitges via the Buddhist monastery hike:

Starts from: Garraf train station (R2 sud from Barcelona Sants)
Ends at: Sitges train station (R2 sud to Barcelona Sants)
Wikiloc trail: here
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: 4.5 hours
Suitable footwear: Walking shoes/trainers

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