10 nature getaways in Catalonia in 2017

These experiences will bring you closer to the varied natural world in Catalonia
El Parque Natural del Montseny, Reserva de la Biosfera
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Beautiful coves and beaches, tall mountains and uniquely sculptured mountain ranges, wide rivers that turn into deltas when they reach the sea, freshwater streams, endless natural parks, lakes, dormant volcanoes and loads of fun. Nature is ever-present in Catalonia in its multiple forms, and if you want to immerse yourself in it and explore it, you've got a thousand and one options to choose from. Here we recommend a selection of experiences to get you closer to the natural world, and always with the due respect it commands.

Cremallera de Núria
© FGC

Multi-activities in the Núria Valley

Get ready for a perfect outdoor weekend, especially when travelling with small children. Located in the Ripollès region and in the heart of the Pyrenees, the Núria Valley is a truly magical place. Getting there is in adventure in itself, as you can only do so either via a long trek, or a spectacularly steep rack railway. Once in the valley, as well as the mandatory visit to the sanctuary, there are plenty of activities to do, such as going to a play park, playing mini-golf, sailing and canoeing on a lake, doing an orienteering circuit and more. You can purchase a pack, which includes accommodation, and that way fully enjoy the mountain and all of the activities on offer.

PN de la Serra de Montsant
© Maurici Montané

Four cycle routes around natural parks

Perfect for those who love natural parks and getting around on two wheels. This experience combines both, and offers four routes, with varying difficulty levels through the Serra de Monstant, Cadí-Moixeró, the High Pyrenees and the Delta de l'Ebre. You'll see breathtaking landscapes, and feel the wind in your hair and fresh air in your lungs – always surrounded by nature, which is remarkable and constantly changing.

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Mont-rebei
© Alejandra Ribas

Hiking in Pallars

Do you love walking in the mountains or through forests, but tend to worry a bit about getting lost or taking the wrong path? In the Pallars Jussà region, an area of magnificent landscapes, you can go on a guided hiking tour, where you're in the hands of great connoisseurs of the land who take you to some fairy-tale locations and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about geology, biodiversity and the history of the local area. The medieval castle of Mur, the Mont-rebei gorge, and the Manyanet Valley are just a few of the features of this region that they guide you to and around.

Via Verda dels Ports
© Mariano Cebolla

Vía Verdes between Els Ports and the Delta

A few of the old abandoned train lines around Catalonia have been converted into Vías Verdes (literally 'Green Tracks'), and these are the perfect stretches of path to cycle or walk along. The Vía Verde in the Zafán Valley connects two very different National Parks that are near each other: Els Ports and the Delta de l'Ebre, in southern Catalonia. If you choose this experience, you can take part in a guided itinerary during which there'll be plenty of activities to do along the way.

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Coves de Salnitre Collbató

A day in Montserrat

Enjoy a tour of six hours in a small group to admire the magical mountain of Montserrat known inside and outside: first Saltpeter caves, underground tunnels that cross the incredible mountain full of beauty, legends and geological formations and secondly, the monumental Abbey of Montserrat, the millenary sanctuary, located atop rocky fingers.

The route starts at the meeting point in the center of Barcelona. Guests can relax comfortably in a mini bus with air conditioning for an hour while we went to the mountains. Arriving a scale built into the rock takes you to the entrance Paleolithic Cave Saltpeter, heart underground Montserrat.

In the tour you will feel like cavers learning all about stalactites and stalagmites.

After a lesson on why the mountain is geologically unique and after a brief snack (not included), we are ready for the journey to the spiritual millenary sanctuary. With all the attention required by a small group, expert guides will share the secrets of history, art, architecture, religion and myth related to the complex of Montserrat while you are ready to visit the throne of Virgin Mary and receive her Mona Lisa smile.

Observatori del Montsec
© Cablepress

An astronomical experience in Montsec

The universe that surrounds us has been observed by humans since the dawn of time. Today we use magnifying lenses that allow us to get closer to the planets, stars and constellations that are millions of miles away. If you're fascinated by astronomy, in Montsec you'll find the perfect conditions to gaze into infinity. At the Montsec Astronomical Park they have all the instruments needed to discover the universe, day or night, as well as many other recommended activities, such the 3D digital multimedia planetarium.

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Delta de l'Ebre
© Mariano Cebolla

MónNatura, the essence of the Delta

If you spend a few days in the Ebre Delta – something we recommend you do at least once in your life – don't miss out on experiencing MónNatura, an exhibition space located in the La Tancada lagoon, and which bases its collection on three main themes: salt, birds and traditional fishing methods. MónNatura is located where the old salt mines once stood and includes a plethora of fun and educational activities that will help you to discover the importance of this area.

Múria, centre d'interpretació apícola
© Mel Muria

A study centre on the world of bees

Do you like honey? What do you know about bees? In El Perelló, a region in the Baix Ebre, you can visit Muria, Agricultural Interpretation Centre, a modern space that offers a journey through the world of honey and bees, and which boasts some of the most advanced technologies making the explanations clear, educational and fun. Watching some impressive videos or seeing how honey-making machines work, are just a couple of the attractive features of the visit.

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Muntanyes de Prades
© Rafael López-Monné / Patronat Comarcal de Turisme de les Muntanyes de la Costa Daurada-Baix Camp

In the Prades mountains

The impressive natural area formed by the Prades mountains opens up possibilities for all types of recreational, sporting, cultural and gastronomic activities. But if you're only going for the day, here are a few recommendations that might help.

A visit to the 'villa roja', or red village, in Prades is a must. It gets its name from the colour of its houses built using the typical coloured stone that you'll spot everywhere you go. Shady and quiet streets and lanes reveal the history of the medieval county of Prades. The village's arcaded square, with the Renaissance fountain and its majestic church, is a great place to stop for a rest and children can run around and play in peace.

Before lunch, you can go for a walk to the hermitage of the Aberella, a beautiful hermitage lodged in a cliff face with stunning views over the Brugent valley.

For lunch, you can dine at Capafonts, where you can enjoy the typical Prades potatoes, honey, chestnuts or mushrooms that grow in the surrounding area and which will teach you about our traditional cuisine.

In the afternoon, you can visit Capafonts medieval bread oven and then go down to Farena, a village built on the rocks with some beautiful paths routes for visiting landmarks such as the Toll de l'Olla waterfall, with its pool where you can take a dip on a hot day.

Later, you can go down to Alcover and visit the museum, which includes impressive fossils and explanations of the history of the Prades mountains dating back millions of years.  In the museum workshop, you can do a chalk recreation of the stonefish, a fish that lived millions of years ago and has a fascinating history.

La Fageda d'en Jordà

Do you like nature photography?

If you like photography and nature and you're tired of taking pictures in auto mode, in this course you will learn to use semi-automatic and manual modes on your camera, how to use the aperture and depth of field, ISO, focus modes, and measurement of light in privileged surroundings at La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. We'll work from landscape photography to close-up photography, night photography and working too on little details offered by the natural environment.

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