THESE ARE THE BEST HIKES IN CATALONIA
Hiking is very popular in Catalonia: our first hiking club, the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya, was created in 1876 with the goal of organizing scientific and archaeological mountain hikes. And our land offers so many opportunities to hike and explore the countryside and its landscapes, for all levels of experience.
When I was young I belonged to a Boys and Girls Scouts club, and we hiked and trekked all over our region. I treasure wonderful memories from those excursions! And while in our company we can only offer easy countryside walks of very low difficulty and close to the top tourist destinations, there are companies that specialize in mountain hiking trails and have specially trained guides that offer the level of security, skills and expertise that I’d require for my own family if I was traveling abroad.
Let me share with you my favorite hikes in Catalonia!
These are our recommended hikes near Barcelona:
An iconic mountain of Catalonia, besides its famous monastery, Black Madonna and boys choir, it also offers wonderful hike opportunities. In our Montserrat tours, there is often time to take the St. Joan funicular and then hike down back to the Monastery enjoying the views, or maybe walk to the Cross of St. Miquel to enjoy the views. But if you are on your own and have enough time, you might want to climb the Sant Jeroni peak – 4000 feet that are easily reached through a path that starts in the Monastery and takes you there in about 3 hours (one way). It’s probably one of the best walks in Catalonia.
You must be wandering: what? volcanoes in Catalonia? Yes! But don’t worry: the ones in la Garrotxa volcanic zone natural park they aren’t active anymore and haven’t been for centuries. However, their cones can still be clearly identified, and they create some unique landscapes and offer easy hiking opportunities for families. You’ll need to get there by car, though, or take the bus to Olot and then taxi to the natural park (make sure to ask the driver to pick you up at a later time). In high season the bus to Santa Pau also stops there. I recommend the walk around the beech tree forest (great foliage in Autumn!), then connecting with the trails that go to the Croscat volcano (unique lunar landscape of what was once used as a mineral mine) and the Santa Margarida volcano, with a hermitage inside.
AND BONUS! Did you know that the St. James Path also has a Catalan branch?
Camí de Sant Jaume
In the Middle Ages, the Camino de Santiago started where ever you lived as soon as you made the decision to pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela. So while now the Northern paths of the Saint James trail are the most famous ones, they weren’t really the only ones. Pilgrims arriving from the Mediterranean and the North of Africa would arrive to Catalonia by ship, then start cross Spain stopping at any relevant cathedral or monastery on their way.
The paths they used have now been recovered and signposted, and while you won’t find as many hostels and services as you’ll find in the North of Spain, they are a wonderful way of going off the beaten path and explore the profound Catalonia – worth it even if you choose to just do a small section of it.
One path starts near the French border in Port de la Selva with its Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes, and takes you inland past Figueres, Girona, Vic, Manresa, Montserrat, and then on to the border with Aragon near Lleida. Another one starts in Tarragona and visits the Cistercian monasteries of Santes Creus, Poblet and Vallbona de les Monges before reaching the fruit tree fields of Lleida. BTW, the path that connects Barcelona with Montserrat was a third option for pilgrims!
Did you know there were so many hiking trails in Catalonia?
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