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Discover Catalonia 2015: nature getaways

Lakes, rivers, volcanoes, forests, mountains and the sea. In Catalonia there's a bit of everything. Discover it all with these excursions

Whether on the shores of the sea or high in the mountains; whether on foot, by bicycle or by balloon, it’s always a joy to discover the variety of landscapes in Catalonia. With areas of singular beauty like the Garrotxa volcanoes and the Ebro Delta, and its 2,000-metre peaks looming over luxurious coves and beaches of fine sand, join us on this journey across the geography of Catalonia, and you'll discover fantastic activities where you can escape into nature.

Volcanoes and rivers of lava

Volcanoes and rivers of lava

This three-day getaway to the Garrotxa Volcano Natural Park is self-guided with a route map and itinerary provided, and features many places of interest in the fascinating region, including the village of Santa Pau, the volcanoes of El Croscat, Santa Margarita, Montolivet and Montsacopa, the magical beech forest of Jordà, and the capital city of Olot. Your trip also takes in delicious breakfasts and restorative lunches, and a comfortable night’s rest at the Hotel Borrell. 

Price from 66, including accommodation, route map and meals.

Balloon flight along the Costa Brava

Balloon flight along the Costa Brava

Take off by balloon from El Baix Empordà, and revel in the beautiful aerial views including the Costa Brava, the Montgrí massif with its castle, the Medes islands, the foot of the Pyrenees, and the streets of picturesque medieval villages. This activity includes so much – not just the incredible experience of flying by balloon, but also the vast area of landscape and distance you cover, and is one of the most highly recommended trips in the bunch.

Price from 80.

Villages in Naut Aran and the Mirador de Corilha

Villages in Naut Aran and the Mirador de Corilha

Take a walk along the Camin Reiau, which links the villages of Val d'Aran de Unha and Gessa. It takes about two hours to complete, and passes through spots filled with oak, ash, cherry and hazelnut trees. Enjoy the sunny slopes of Pui de Unha, before descending the Corilha ravine under the expert eye of a qualified ravine guide. This excursion involves no risk, and is suitable for children ages six and older.

Price from 10.

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The natural world in the essence of the Delta

The natural world in the essence of the Delta

If you're spending a few days in the Ebro Delta – a highly recommended trip in its own right – don’t miss the chance to explore MónNatura, on the Tancada Lagoon, famous for three things: its salt, its birdlife and its traditional fishing. MónNatura is built on the site of old salt works, and includes a comprehensive range of leisure and educational activities that fully exploits the value of its location.

Price from 4.

A waterfront view from air and land

A waterfront view from air and land

Ever wanted to pilot a plane? Make that dream come true in the skies around Lake Ivars, in Pla d'Urgell (Lleida). You can choose the one-hour Baptism of Flight, for which you’ll be able to take the controls and feel the true thrill of flight. Or you can choose the 20-minute version, which will cost less, and is suited to more nervous flyers, so you won’t get to take the controls. The two-day getaway also includes guided visits to Lake Ivars and the Canals of Urgell Cultural Centre.   

Price from 148, including  all activities, and accommodation with breakfast and dinner.

The Pui d'Unha Via Ferrata

The Pui d'Unha Via Ferrata

For those who don’t know, a 'via ferrata' is a sport that involves following a route along vertical and horizontal paths, using hand-holds, rungs, grips, railings and even zip lines. While it's not suitable for anyone with a fear of heights, if you’ve never tried it this is the perfect opportunity, as your experience of the Pui d'Unha Via Ferrata in the Aran Valley is accompanied by a qualified guide, and the price includes all the necessary equipment. The whole route takes between three and four hours to complete. 

Price from 40.

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Find hidden treasures along Costa Brava coastal paths

Find hidden treasures along Costa Brava coastal paths

This six-day trip along the Camino de Ronda on the Costa Brava leaves from Sant Feliu de Guíxols and finishes in Begur. The Camino de Ronda is a maritime route used for centuries by smugglers, and currently by tourists who want to enjoy the splendid clifftop views of the coves, the villages and out to sea. Each day’s walk covers about 10 kilometres (just over 6 miles), and there’s no need to worry about your luggage, as it will be transported for you from one hotel to the next.

Price from 1,720, including five nights’ accommodation with breakfast in three star hotels.

Maçanet de Cabrenys, a weekend in touch with nature

Maçanet de Cabrenys, a weekend in touch with nature

Maçanet de Cabrenys is a northern town of Catalonia, in the Alt Empordà, surrounded by the area’s tallest mountains and with beautiful views over French Catalonia and the bay of Roses. Here you can spend two days exploring the area and enjoying activities such as a visit to the Vinyeta bodega or a game of the original golf-football sport.

Price from 91, including  accommodation and half-board, a visit to the bodega and access to the golf-football.

Discover the 15 lakes of Aigüestortes National Park and the San Mauricio Lake

Discover the 15 lakes of Aigüestortes National Park and the San Mauricio Lake

This trip is aimed at those who enjoy trekking in the mountains, and are able to complete between five and seven hours each day over four days’ walking, at a height of between 600 and 1000 metres. The purpose of the route is to explore most of the Aigüestortes National Park, its lakes, valleys and forest, and to see the San Mauricio Lake. The area is breath-taking and the trip is a must for anybody who loves trekking.   

Price from 648, including  five nights’ accommodation with evening meals, transport, a qualified guide and a thermal spa experience.

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The Camino Picasso in the Pyrenees

The Camino Picasso in the Pyrenees

Pablo Picasso stayed for a little over two months in the village of Gósol, in Berguedà, and it is said that its landscapes inspired the artist to try new things. This trip involves nearly a week’s stay in the peaceful location, with daily excursions of between 10 and 20km to discover spots and villages including Saldes, Prat d'Aguiló and Bellver. Each night you will stay in a different hotel, where your luggage will be waiting for you. 

Price from 860, including  accommodation and half board, luggage transportation and entry to the Picasso museum.

Walking through history in the sierra of the monasteries

Walking through history in the sierra of the monasteries

Over a six-day trip, walkers get to know some of the most significant and historic villages of Ripollès, from its capital Ripoll to Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Llanars and Camprodon. The walk is a circular route of 65km, sleeping each night in a different and comfortable guest house, where your luggage will be waiting. The trip includes workshops and visits to fully experience the past and the present of the area, considered the core of Catalonia.

Price from 610, including  accommodation and full board, visits, workshops and luggage transportation.

Hiking in the heart of Catalonia

Hiking in the heart of Catalonia

This is a fascinating mountain trek, in which the route unites three popular natural parks: Montseny, Sant Llorenç del Munt and Montserrat. The route requires six days to complete its 106km, divided into 12 to 22km portions each day, and including  many spots of natural or historic interest and photographic opportunities. 

Price from 670, including seven nights’ half-board accommodation, GPS tracking, maps, luggage transportation and transport from Montserrat to Barcelona.

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Discover the Costa Brava on horseback

Discover the Costa Brava on horseback

Your day is spent trekking the paths of El Empordà and the Costa Brava; this excursion is a dream for horse lovers and anyone who enjoys trekking. What better way can you think of to discover beautiful lands and villages with your faithful companion? The trip can last between two and six days, depending on your requirements, and takes in the villages of Sant Martí d'Empúries, Viladamat, La Pera, Sant Mori, Colomers and Les Olives. Although perhaps the most memorable part of the trek will be your refreshing swim in the lake with the horses.    

Price from 410, including  accommodation and full board, and two days’ trekking.

The Toran Valley, home of the bears

The Toran Valley, home of the bears

Even though this visit is called where the bears live, there’s no need to fear meeting any, as they avoid humans like the plague, and to catch even a glimpse of one from a distance would be a miracle.  But they are there! What you will see, though, are fabulous views of the Aran Valley countryside throughout the two-hour walk, including the Toran River and the Tuc d'Ermèr mountain presiding over your steps.  

Price from 10, including a qualified mountain guide.

From the Pyrenees to the sea

From the Pyrenees to the sea

The province of Girona has mountains and it has sea, and if you want to test the beauty all the way from the Costa Brava to the Pyrenees – and you’re a fan of cycling – then this is the trip for you. For one week, and starting from the highest point, at 2,000 metres in Vallter, each day covers between 30 and 50km, passing through Ripoll, the Garrotxa volcanoes, Girona, Sant Feliu de Guíxols and Calella de Palafrugell. The route is a fantastic cycling experience through the mountains and also includes cultural visits along the way.

Price from 725, including half-board accommodation, GPS with tracking each day, maps, luggage transportation to each hotel, and cultural visits.

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Cycling route along the Llobregat River from Castellar de n'Hug to Manresa

Cycling route along the Llobregat River from Castellar de n'Hug to Manresa

The Llobregat River is known as the working river, due to the amount of industrial plants along its banks that exploit the strong current. The route includes visits to some of these along the way, taking two days from the pretty town of Castellar de n'Hug, where the Llobregat surges from the ground, to arrive in Manresa, one of central Catalonia’s most important cities. As well as the factories, many of which are modernist architecture, the route takes in delightful villages and beautiful landscapes, and includes a stop at  the Món Sant Benet cultural heritage centre.   

Price from 275, including two nights’ accommodation with full board, and a local cyclist guide for the whole route.

Music, culture and the open sky in Montsec

Music, culture and the open sky in Montsec

The Montsec Astronomy Park organises its Music Under the Stars event every year, featuring concerts that relate in one way or another to the stars. The telescope park is also open for people to observe the skies. What better excuse to spend a cultural weekend inland, with visits to Os de Balaguer and its castle or to the Catalonia bell museum, all included in the package.

Price from 99, including accommodation and half board, tickets for the concert, star gazing, and different visits.

Portalcaching: hunting for treasure in Montseny

Portalcaching: hunting for treasure in Montseny

This family activity opens the doors to the geology, fauna and flora, and the legends of Montseny, declared a biosphere reserve and containing much natural diversity.  Armed with GPS, you must find the hidden treasures, following a route suitable for all ages. The treasures will lead to fun scientific experiments, which will teach you how to recognise different trees from their leaves, and how to find minerals in the Montseny park.

Price 20.

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La Bassa d'Oles

La Bassa d'Oles

Not far from Vielha, the capital town of the Aran Valley, is La Bassa d'Oles, a beautiful wooded spot around a lake, with a two-hour route to explore around the red pines and fir trees, and hopefully track and spot some wildlife as the animals approach the lake to drink and play. This excursion is ideal as a family activity.

Price from 10, including a qualified mountain guide.

Culture, wine and beaches on the Cistercian route

Culture, wine and beaches on the Cistercian route

You might already have visited the monasteries on the Cistercian Route, but have you ever thought of travelling the route on foot? This excursion takes eight days, divided into unhurried walks from one Cistercian monastery to the next, where you can enjoy the full experience of these lands that stretch across the region. All you need to worry about is following your path; everything else is taken care of, including your tickets to the monasteries, guided visits to the bodegas, accommodation, meals, and the transportation of your luggage.

Price from 725, including accommodation, meals, visits, tickets, your luggage, and 4x4 transport

Moonlight Cadaqués

Moonlight Cadaqués

Do you want to see something magical? Just spend one night aboard a historic boat in the bay of Cadaqués, contemplating the waves and the view of the beautiful village. This trip makes the perfect romantic weekend, with a bottle of cava served as you board, and a sail around the Costa Brava. Once back in the bay, there’s a seafood dinner to enjoy under the stars, and the captain leaves guests alone overnight until the sunrise brings the morning and the end of a beautiful and exclusive experience. (Communication is always open between the boat and land).

Price from 398.

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