Berguedà is a large region situated in the Pyrenees foothills. With so many interesting historical sites and places of natural beauty to discover in only two and a half days, we've narrowed down the various choices and opted to concentrate on the northeast of Berguedà, where towns such as Castellar de n’Hug, La Pobla de Lillet and Sant Jaume de Frontanyà boast a world of treasures and family-friendly activities.
IN COLLABORATION WITH BARCELONA ÉS MOLT MÉS AND THE DIPUTACIÓ DE BARCELONA
Afternoon day 1: A small village with a great heritage
Fewer people live in this municipality than in any other in Catalonia, yet it's home to a historic building that makes the trip here worthwhile. Sant Jaume de Frontanyà is dominated by its splendid Lombardy Romanesque church, which, along with the cemetery, is all that remains of what was once a magnificent Augustine monastery. The church is very finely constructed, with a picture-perfect apse and apse chapels, while the dome is unique in Catalonia for its 12 sides. For an insight into its details, you can go to the Cal Marxandó inn or the new rectory to request the audio guide. Also of interest in Sant Jaume de Frontanyà are the pre-Romanesque Sant Esteve de Tubau Hermitage and the Santa Maria dels Oms Sanctuary, built in the 18th century.
Day 2: The Vall de Lillet
For your first full day in Berguedà, you're going to explore the Vall de Lillet (Lillet Valley), where you'll find a range of attractions and a highly diverse natural environment, which are sometimes closely linked.
We recommend starting at La Pobla de Lillet railway station, where there's a train exhibition, before climbing aboard the Cement Train to take a journey into the industrial past. First stop: the Asland Cement Museum. This spectacular cement factory was founded by industrialist Eusebi Güell more than a century ago but has not been operational for around 40 years. Nowadays, its doors are open to visitors so you can discover this unusual construction with modernista touches, which was staggered to follow the slope of the mountain and take advantage of the force of gravity in the cement-making process. The visits include an outdoor itinerary around the industrial ruins and an indoor route to help you better understand how the factory worked.
Catch the train again to the Artigas Gardens, an early-20th-century token of gratitude from Antoni Gaudí for the Artigas family’s hospitality when Gaudí was staying in the village while he designed the Catllaràs chalet. It seems there was no limit to the Catalan architect’s imagination, as demonstrated by this enchanting space. Stones, water and vegetation play with one another in an elegant whole to create different ambiences and features ranging from bridges to sculptures and even artificial caves.
When your stomach starts to rumble, we suggest you enjoy the local artisan dishes prepared from recipes handed down over the generations. There are a few restaurants in La Pobla, so if you get off the train at La Pobla Centre station, you can head to the old quarter. Walking around the streets, you can relive the magic of the period in which the Mataplana family inhabited the castle (found on the road to Gombrèn, in the county of Ripollès). The parish church has another example of the Romanesque: a large colourful wooden image of Christ in Majesty, dating back to the 12th century.
After lunch, head to Guardiola de Berguedà and take the side road to the sanctuary known as Mare de Déu de Falgars, named after the patron saint of the village who is also featured in a 15th-century alabaster sculpture.
From the Joan Casanova lookout point, you can enjoy impressive views of the valley, with the Pedraforca mountain at the far end. An excellent way to end the day.
Day 3: The spectacular source of the Llobregat River
The picturesque village of Castellar de n’Hug borders the counties of Ripollès and La Cerdanya. We strongly encourage you to spend a good while strolling around its streets (pop into a bakery to taste the bread baked in a wood-burning oven or see if you can manage an entire giant croissant). Discover its historical buildings, including the Santa Maria church, the Romanesque Sant Vicenç de Rus church, or visit the Museu del Pastor (Shepherd’s Museum); shepherding is important in the region, and, at the end of August, the well-known and busy International Sheepdog Contest takes place in the village.
This is also where the Llobregat River begins, a source of incredible beauty and power with the water pouring dramatically from the heart of the mountain. It doesn’t take long to walk there, then just a few steps leading down and there it is: a breathtaking sight. A village and river source which are sure to fill the memory on your camera's SD card and the pages of your Instagram account.
This mountain-style inn has a restaurant that serves dishes like stewed veal with wild mushrooms, potatoes mashed with black sausage, prawns with oyster mushrooms and stewed black peas. This is seasonal home-style fare that relies heavily on locally sourced products. Plus there's a garden that comes in very handy in good weather.
This small and cosy inn has four rooms and a restaurant that specialises in game dishes. A popular choice here is the wild boar stew, along with stewed roe deer and duck with pears. In autumn, locally picked wild mushrooms are another well-cooked house speciality. For breakfast they serve big, hearty breakfasts you can really dig into: an excellent way to start the day.
With a long history in the town of Bagà, this hotel once did its name justice ('amagat' means hidden) with its location outside the town. But Bagà has grown so much that the restaurant is less hidden nowadays though it’s still a quiet place. They serve classic Catalan cuisine, but with incursions into more modern styles.
At restaurant El Forn, in the pretty village of Gósol, they like to claim that they pamper their dishes until the last possible moment. They certainly are good at taking care of the details, with dishes that please both the eye and the palate. The restaurant was founded over a decade ago by a couple from Molins de Rei and has since become a major benchmark of quality cuisine in the region. The tasting menu, which is satisfying and varies with the seasons, is a very worthwhile option here.
The name of this restaurant ('Nau' means warehouse) comes from its location near the old Guixaró textile colony, which was founded in 1885. Its culinary style could perhaps best be described as signature cuisine based on locally sourced produce. We recommend any of the meat dishes, including the veal fillet, pigs’ trotters and duck breast, as well as the fish dishes, especially the cod. The desserts are also particularly delicious.
This country house is located in natural surroundings in the Vall de Lillet and sleeps around a dozen people. You can book it as a unit, and it boasts a garden, a barbecue area, a swimming pool, internet access, music, television, a fireplace, kids’ games and a fully equipped kitchen, offering a thousand square metres to be enjoyed by groups of family and friends. Your pet is also welcome.
Though located outside the village itself, this is a village house, and it sleeps up to 25 people. It was refurbished in 2008 and offers all the commodities you need for a relaxing stay. Its name arose from the profession of its first owner, Josep Picas, who was a cake and chocolate maker. It has a garden, a barbecue area and laundry facilities. Pets are welcome. It is rented out to groups of between 9 and 25 people.
Located in Avià, just three kilometres from the capital of the Berguedà region, this small mountain hotel sleeps 16 people and has a living room with a television set, games, a garden, a swimming pool, a café/bar and a restaurant that serves good home-made dishes typical of the region, where you can start the day with an excellent full breakfast. Its location makes it ideal if you want to explore the Berguedà region, and the boarding options here run from bed and breakfast to full board.
This is a campsite with all the facilities and services guests need to enjoy a pleasant and fun stay. Though designed with families in mind, adults staying here alone or with a partner will also find loads of things to do, starting with a wellness centre with a spa circuit, swimming pools, and tennis and paddle tennis courts. And if you don’t like the idea of sharing a bathroom, we should point out that Berga Resort has recently introduced luxury plots with private bathroom facilities.
This 300-year-old farmhouse stands in a privileged natural setting in the foothills of the Catllaràs range, near the Baells reservoir, where there are plenty of water sports on offer. It has been awarded a distinction by the Sicted project for quality in tourism and is fully equipped both inside and out to ensure a comfortable stay.
The spectacular cement factory built on the orders of Eusebi Güell on the outskirts of Castellar de n'Hug started production some 100 years ago, before closing down 40 years ago. Fortunately, today you can still visit this unique modernista-style building that's built in a staggered layout down the slope of the hillside in order to take advantage of gravity in the cement-manufacturing process. The visits include a tour outside among the industrial remains; while, on the inside, the study centre will help you get a better understand of how the factory was run.
One of the most unique and attractive tourist sites in the region, and one that's fun for adults and kids alike, since you’ll enter into a real coal mine aboard a mine train to go on a 450-metre trip through the Sant Romà gallery, gaining an understanding of what it was like to work in these mines. But first you can learn a little about the uses of coal and the lives of the miners in the permanent exhibition rooms located inside a building that was originally a convent. This is definitely a must-do in Berguedá.
The spirit of La Patum, the local summer festival, is always present in the town of Berga, even though the fiesta itself takes place only once a year, on the feast of Corpus Christi. If you’re unable to go to the town for the main fiesta, you can always call in at the Casa de la Patum and get a taste of what it’s like to experience the real deal. On display are the costumes and figures that take part in the processions, while the study centre gives you all the information you need on what the fiesta is all about.
The Cathars played an important role in the history of the Berguedà region, where many Cathars fled to escape persecution. That's why the Palau de Pinós in Bagà hosts a permanent exhibition in which different historical characters, such as William of Berguedà and the Mataplana family, tell you all about the Cathars and their links to the Alt Berguedà, and especially with the village of Bagà. You can also find out what life was like here in the seventh and eighth centuries.