While the focus is on the food, this trip could also easily be described as the best of Catalonia. Travel from the vibrant city of Barcelona to the beauty of the Pyrenees and along the famous Costa Brava, absorbing the local food and wine traditions while taking in some of the best walks the area has to offer - complete with rich history, breathtaking scenery, art and architecture to boot. In Barcelona, you'll visit the famous Boqueria market on the Rambla and have a Catalan cooking class. You'll also be inspired by Gaudi's remarkable Sagrada Familia cathedral before tapas crawling with a local expert. Heading north west, experience a high altitude vineyard in the Pyrenees and taste its wine and cheese before dining in a Michelin starred restaurant renowned for its slow food and 'km zero' philosophy. You'll soon walk off the calories among the natural beauty of the Sant Maurici Lake, through the unspoiled Aneu valley and the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone, with its impressive volcanoes blanketed in greenery. You'll also visit the beautiful towns of Monells, Peratallada, Besalu and Girona to enjoy local wine and dining in chefs choice restaurants before following Salvador Dali's traces at coastal Cadaques and Figueres and visiting the famous Dali museum. This trip is truly a feast for all your senses.
INTRODUCTORY TO MODERATE – GRADE 2
This is a guided walk with average daily stages of 3-5 hours. The trip is graded introductory to moderate as it is mainly on well defined trails, with a few off path sections only. There are many ups and downs and walking poles are definitely a good idea. A good level of fitness is required to complete all the walks. As with all of our trips it is important that you are well prepared. We suggest that you undertake regular exercise – swimming, cycling, and jogging, two to three times a week for three months prior to your departure. As the trip is fully supported there is the option to skip some of the walks and ride with the support vehicle.
Arrive Barcelona - group transfer from the airport (included), or make your own way to the hotel. Barcelona is a great Mediterranean urban centre, cosmopolitan and full of contrasts. Founded by the Romans, elements of its past live side by side with the most beautiful examples of contemporary architecture inside the city. You are free to roam at your leisure. This is the chance you have been waiting for to see Gaudi's extraordinary buildings, people watch along La Barceloneta or just soak up the atmosphere of this exciting city. Our accommodation in Barcelona is a modern four star hotel, five minutes walk from the historic centre. You can check in any time after 3pm. Later this afternoon, at 5pm, you will meet with your guide and group for a briefing. The rest of the evening is at leisure.
This morning we'll visit the Sagrada Familia then the lively Boqueria market on the Rambla. Later we enjoy a cooking class where we'll learn about typical Catalan food. Being in Spain, there will be a few hours to take a siesta (or continue with your own exploration). This evening we'll take a tapas crawl with a local food expert through some of the nicest tapas bars in the Gothic quarter.
The valleys of the Catalonian Pyrenees have numerous interesting restaurants which work off the "km zero" philosophy of sourcing all their ingredients locally. The outstanding chefs bring to life creative dishes which are world renowned. This morning we drive to the Pyrenees (4 hours drive) and check into our well kept 3 star hotel with spa facilities in Sort, our home for the next three nights. Sort is a small village with strong traditions, in the heart of Pyrenees near Noguera Pallaresa river and Lago Sant Maurici National Park. Later we visit the highest altitude vineyards in northern Spain and taste their wine and local farmhouse cheeses. A special treat this evening when we dine in the Michelin star restaurant Fogony (www.fogony.com), which adheres to the slow food and "km zero" philosophy.
Following breakfast at the hotel we drive to Aigues Tortes National Park for a walk around Sant Maurici lake, a pristine lake overlooked by the twin peaks of Els Encantats (2900m/9514ft). Aigues Tortes means "winding waters" and little rivers, creeks and waterfalls are literally everywhere in this extraordinarily beautiful national park. (4 hrs walking time, +400m ,-400m/ +1312ft,- 1312ft). After some free time to relax in the afternoon, we'll have dinner in a local tapas bar with superb "km zero" tapas creations. Overnight in Sort.
Another exceptional walk today. We drive to Esterri d'Aneu (15 min) and walk through the unspoiled Aneu valley, passing through ancient mountain villages (2hrs walking, 5km/3.1mi, +100m ,-350m / +328ft, -1148ft). Overnight in Sort. The evening is free, with some great options available for dinner eg, El Pigal in Casa Kiko.
Driving east, we leave the Pyrenees behind. First we stop in the volcanic Garrotxa region near Besalu, where we'll walk (2.5hrs walking, 7km/4.3mi, +150m, -150m / +492ft,-492ft) through this interesting and scenic region. There will be time to visit the stunning medieval gem stone village of Besalu before we continue to the flatter lands of the Baix Empordà, arriving later this evening at our boutique hotel in Monells. Dinner at the hotel.
In the morning we explore Monells and visit the lovely stone village Peratallada, whose winding pedestrian-only streets will enchant you as much as the views gained from points higher in the village. Then we drive to Girona to explore this town with its incredible history. Take a walk on the ramparts of the old town, visit the cathedral or take a leisurely lunch at one of the town's superb restaurants - it's up to you. Later, before heading back to the hotel, we'll visit a local winemaker's premises for wine tasting. Dinner at your leisure.
This morning we drive north to the lovely coastal village of Cadaques, birthplace of Salvador Dali. At Cap de Creus we'll go for a walk along the rugged coast of this stunning area (approx. 3hrs walking, 8km/5mi, +400m, -400m/ +1312ft, -1312ft). A farewell dinner is planned for this evening at La Placa restaurant (tasting menu).
After breakfast, we leave the hotel and head to Figueres. Here we'll visit the famous Theatre Museum of Dali before continuing on to Barcelona for a 3-4pm arrival, where the trip concludes.
Diverse tour highlighting Catalan scenery and culture, including Barcelona, walking in Pyrenees, wonderful mountain landscapes, 4 star accommodation, visiting medieval villages, 2 winery tastings, and local food. Great guide ( Maxi) who was familiar with walks in Pyrenees, modified them to suit group, and was generally most helpful, and worked very hard to ensure smooth running of tour.
K. Krepelka., Clifton Hill, VIC, Australia
The Guide Maxi , contributed enormously to the success of the trip.The Food Lover's Catalonia is an excellent experience. It includes adventures in food, culture and outdoors in equal measure. For those who have never been to Spain, starting in Barcelona and exploring the Pyrenees could not be a better introduction.
A. Boyce., Glebe, NSW, Australia
This trip with a genial leader and friendly group was a delightful mix of environments, culture, history and gastronomy. The walks were diverse: through cities, ancient villages, alpine forests, beech forests and coastal heath. The food and wine tastings were delicious. We were given time to explore Sagrada Familia, Dali museum and Girona (Festival of Flowers) at our own pace. Our tour leader was cheerful, helpful and reliable; our driver was expert and the 20 seater Mercedes bus very comfortable. Our first accommodation was disappointing, and the third and last was superb.
L. Bond, Taree, NSW, 05 Jun 2017
Per Person, Twin Share