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Things to do in Catalonia
Cycle from mountains to the Med
Fiona Smart, from Mas Pelegri, explains why cycling is one of the best things to do in Catalonia: “Catalonia is the mountain biking destination of Spain. This is where the pro cyclists live and train as they have the best year-round weather and totally different terrain from the high mountains to the volcanic national park to the flatter lands towards the coast.”
Catalans have taken advantage of this perfect terrain by paving over hundreds of kilometres of disused railway lines, now known as “Vías Verdes” – or Greenways. Open exclusively to those on bike, foot or horseback, these excellently maintained paths give you access to treasures hidden from motorists: goat-filled ravines, crystal-clear rivers, waterfalls, ancient churches. Cycle from old town to old town, pause at the old restored stations or choose a downhill route and freewheel your way across some of Spain’s most inspiring scenery. Excellent local tour operators will help you plan your route, will drop you of at the top, and are on hand 24/7 if you need any assistance along the way.
If cycling makes you feel like you're whizzing past Catalonia's spectacular countryside, take it one notch slower and go for a walk.
Strap on your walking boots
Amble past fields of wildflowers, look out for rare Iberian goats skipping up the mountainsides, and look out for over 230 species of birds, from raptors to flamingos. Trails are well-marked, but local naturist guides are also on hand. Take picnics, photo breaks and a bathing suit in summer – you’re sure to want to cool off with a dip in the sea or a river.
Accessible tourismCatalonia has a strong streak of pushing for what they believe in, cultivating a sense of identity and community, and so it is not really a big surprise that they are one of the top places in the world for putting accessible tourism on the map. And we mean all over the map, not just a business here and a business there, but all over their beautiful region. There is no need for travelers with accessibility issues to compromise – they can take adaptive skiing lessons, scuba dive with experts qualified in accessible diving, try their hand at kayaking, sailing or cycling – or even traverse the Camino de Santiago. Without ensuring that these activities were inclusive, Catalonia’s ‘Tourism for All’ would really just have been tourism for some. And we think that ‘All’ is awesome.
Attend a festaFiona Smart, from our supplier Mas Pelegri, shares her favourite things to do in Catalonia: “From spring to autumn there are plenty of festivals. There’s a horse festival, a pumpkin festival, a honey festival... all sorts! We’ve even got a fairy festival where everyone dresses as a fairy! Our nearest town has just 1,000 people, but they have three festivals plus a big mountain bike race and other things as well. That happens in every small town, every village... they put on two or three events per year. There’s always a festival going on! The first week of September is the Besalu Medieval Festival – it’s amazing. People come from all over the world to this tiny town of 8,000 people. The town dates back to the 10th century, and they’ve got lot loads of artisan stalls teaching kids how to do metalwork, woodwork, how to make bread... There’s a falconer with different birds of prey, people on horseback doing jousting, there are demonstrations, dancing... The whole weekend has different activities for everybody.”
If you'd like to chat about Catalonia or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
We don't know whether it's the golden sunlight or the inspiring scenery, but something about Catalonia seems to provide the perfect conditions for artists.
Salvador Dalí was born and died in Figueres; you can visit his surreal Museum Theatre here as well as his house near Cadaqués – the nearby rock formations inspired some of his more unusual works. Antonio Gaudí was from Reus, and the crazy style of his mosaic houses, Parc Güell and astonishing, half-built Sagrada Familia is synonymous with Barcelona. Joan Miró and Antoni Tàpies were Catalonia natives too.
Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National ParkCatalonia’s only national park is Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park – which translates rather poetically into “The winding streams and lakes of St. Maurice”. Winding streams and lakes – some 200 of them – are just one of the scenic treats in Aigüestortes, whose Pyrenean peaks soar over 3,000m, before spilling down past waterfalls, glacial valleys and Alpine meadows of blueberries, junipers and heather. Elusive roe deer and chamois skip through the forests, while griffon vultures and golden eagles soar above.
Waymarked walking trails criss-cross the park – passing scenic viewpoints, shelters and the many lakes. Walking routes can be planned for several hours or several days during the warmer months – staying in the refuges to reach the higher regions of the park. Some trails are wheelchair accessible, with limited paved routes for mountain bikers.
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