Immerse yourself in Catalonia’s rich heritage and extraordinary natural beauty
Explore the lush landscape and cone-shaped volcanic hills of La Garrotxa Natural Park
Step back in time in the pretty medieval towns of Besalú and Santa Pau
Visit the Greco-Roman archaelogical site of Empuries
Exhilarating hiking along the cliffs and coves of the Costa Brava (‘Rugged Coast’)
Hiking in Catalonia – La Garrotxa Volcanic Park & Costa Brava
On this week-long walking holiday, you will discover two beautiful and contrasting areas of Catalonia – the Volcanic Natural Park of La Garrotxa and the rugged coastline of the Costa Brava.
You start in the foothills of the Pyrenees, in an ancient landscape of cone-shaped hills chiselled by volcanic activity up to 700,000 years ago, now protected as Catalonia’s Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa. The Natural Park has around 40 volcanic cones, up to 160m high and 1.5km wide. Together with the lush vegetation (resulting from fertile soils and a damp climate), these create a landscape of unique verdant beauty. Your first accommodation is in a lovingly restored traditional farmhouse within the Natural Park, the perfect base to explore this undiscovered and unspoilt corner of Catalonia.
On your second walking day you will hike through tranquil beech woods to the historic town of Besalú, making a grand entrance as you cross the spectacular medieval bridge over the river Fluviá. You will get better acquainted with this river on the following day, as you follow its course from Esponella back to Besalú. The charming medieval villages are a real highlight of this region, with their cobbled alleyways, Romanesque churches and authentic local character.
Finally, after having traversed the quintessential Catalonian countryside, with small plots and scattered historic farms, you reach the Mediterranean coast near the archaeological site of Empuries. On your last day you enjoy the Mediterranean coastline of the Costa Brava, following fishermen’s trails from Estartit back to l’Escala. Costa Brava means ‘rugged coast’, and you will understand why as you hike along the spectacular cliffs and coves that line the coast. You will also find numerous inviting beaches where you can stop for a refreshing dip along the way.
|7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS||From €580 per person sharing*
*Price based on a double room. Supplement of €35 pp. will apply for a twin room (2 beds)
||The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If any of these are unavailable, we will request a similar one and inform you about the alternative booked.
Extra nights can also be booked at any of the hotels along the way.
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between March 1st and October 31st.|
Day 1: Arrival in Olot
Olot is the regional capital of La Garrotxa. It is known as the “City of Volcanoes” due to its location in the middle of the La Garrotxa Volcanic Volcanic Park. There are some excellent restaurants within the town’s medieval centre. The surrounding volcanic soil is incredibly fertile, with the result that local produce is of very high quality.
You will stay in in a wonderfully renovated 19th Century Catalan farmhouse just outside the town of Olot. The farmhouse features a large terrace and garden area, as well as a private swimming pool. It is just minutes away from one of the best restaurants in La Garrotxa region.
Day 2: Walking in the Volcanic Natural Park
Distance: 16.5 km | Ascent: 475 m | Descent: 475 m | 5½ hrs approx.
Your walking holiday in Catalonia begins in La Garrotxa Natural Park. This is a lush landscape of meadows, oak forests and around 40 volcanic cones, some up to 1.5 km wide. At the visitors’ centre, in Fageda d’en Jorda, you can get lots of info about the Natural Park before beginning your walk through a protected beech forest. You will pass long-extinct volcanoes, such as the striking 160m-high El Croscat, the highest volcanic cone on the Iberian Peninsula.
Day 3: From Santa Pau to Besalú
Distance: 19.5 km | Ascent: 560 m | Descent: 900 m | 7 hrs approx.
Today’s route links perhaps the two most beautiful villages in La Garrotxa. You start in the picturesque medieval village of Santa Pau, perched on a rocky outcrop. The oldest part of the village is a maze of cobbled lanes built around the 15th Century Gothic church of Santa Maria. There is also a castle, first mentioned in documents dating back to the 10th Century. From Santa Pau you follow the GR-2 long–distance footpath through the Ser River valley. You then cross several hills before finally descending to beautifully Besalú, one of Catalonia’s best preserved medieval towns. You enter town via the spectacular 12th Century Romanesque bridge over the Fluvià River, which features a gateway at its midpoint.
Day 4: From Besalú to Esponellá
Distance: 11.5 km | Ascent: 175 m | Descent: 170 m | 3½ hrs approx.
Today you do a shorter, but quite varied, walk through colourful fields and then along the beautiful river Fluvià. There are numerous swimming spots and some good local restaurants where you can stop for a pleasant lunch along the way. In the afternoon, you will have plenty of time to properly explore Besalú. Once the capital of an independent state, the town has been awarded the status of Historic National Monument, due to its impressive mixture of Romanesque, Gothic and medieval architecture. In addition to its typical arcaded streets and squares, the town has a unique and valuable Jewish heritage. You will find a restored Jewish bathhouse (mikveh) dating back to the 11th – 12th Century, as well as the remains of a medieval synagogue, located in the town’s lower quarter near the river.
Day 5: From Camallera to L´Escala on the Costa Brava
Distance: 20 km | Ascent: 275 m | Descent: 365 m | 5½ hrs approx.
After a short transfer, today’s hike starts in the village of Camallera. You will follow a section of “The Historical way” (GR-1) that links Empuries with Finisterre in Galicia. Traversing typical Catalonian landscapes of farmland, pine woods and olive groves, the route leads gradually to the Mediterranean coast. You reach the sea at the ancient Greco-Roman colony of Empuries, an impressive archaeological site. Your final destination today is L’Escala, a small fishing village on the southern edge of the Bay of Roses which is famed for its anchovies.
Day 6: Walk the coastal trail from L´Estartit to L´Escala
Distance: 15.5 km | Ascent: 620 m | Descent: 680 m | 6 hrs approx.
For your final hiking day in Catalonia, a taxi will take you along the coast to the town of L’Estartit. From here, you will follow an adventurous route along the Mediterranean coast. You will pass many small coves hidden between rugged cliffs. As you enter the Montgrí Nature Reserve you will enjoy panoramic views over the Costa Brava coastline. We recommend stopping for a pleasant lunch and/or refreshing swim at Montgó beach (after 11.5 km) before continuing along the coast to L’Escala.
Day 7: Departure
Your Catalonian walking holiday comes to an end this morning, unless you have booked any additional services with us. We would be happy to arrange a transfer to Girona airport / Barcelona airport. Both can also be reached by public transport from L’Escala.
Arrival at Olot in La Garrotxa
Departure from L’Escala
|From L’Escala to Girona airport: you first take a bus to Girona (1 hr), then a shuttle bus or taxi to the airport. Check bus times at Flixbus.
From L’Escala to Barcelona airport: There is a direct bus that runs twice daily (3 h 45 mins). Check bus times at Moventis.
|A private taxi transfer can be booked from L´Escala to Girona airport / Barcelona airport. Prices upon request.|