Catalonia – El Priorat
Along monastery trails to the holy mountainBack to Routes
The cliff path at Siurana
That cliff path again (alternative path available too!)
Monastery at Poblet
Standing on the cliff edge is optional!
"On Foot are just brilliant! We love your personal touch and local knowledge. It's like chatting with friends." March 2019more testimonials
The walks were spectacular. Scenery stunning. Challenging physically.
We liked the fact that we saw practically no other people on route. Lovely little scenic villages to stay in. Very cheap bars in the squares.
Claire Hopkinson, Sydney, Australia - June 2019
Our first On Foot Holiday (and the first of this type). We really enjoyed it.
The routes were amazing and just the right level for us. I thought the accommodations were more than adequate, and every host was friendly and welcoming.
Tom and Vicky Worosz, USA - October 2018
We liked the fact that the route used more trails/tracks and less roads; the terrain was challenging but not too difficult.
We particularly like hikes in which one can walk village to village without any taxi; even better are hikes that pass through another village early afternoon so that one can stop for lunch in a restaurant or cafe (eg Siurana - we had a great lunch there).
David Packard, Lauris, France - October 2018
We loved the area - spectacular scenery, every day was different, quaint villages and the right challenge in the walking.
It was all interesting and helped by outstanding notes. I loved the Blue Book! A mini 'Lonely Planet' in our hand.
Alan Huse, Hampton, Australia - July 2018
The walking was fantastic, great mountains, fields, rivers, gorges, some of the best we have ever experienced.
It's a gem of an area for food and drink too.
Stuart Gibson, Edinburgh, UK - June 2018
While I found the walking more challenging than I expected, it was a great experience. The landscape was so varied, the spring wildflowers were in full bloom and the constant sound of songbirds accompanied us each day.
We were alone on the trails most days, only very rarely meeting others. It was wonderful to explore this quite wild part of Spain, so close to Barcelona. The wine country was also lovely and the wine tasting at Cal Pla was certainly worth an extra day. A great finish!
Ishbel Galloway, Canada - May 2018
At a glance
8 nights (7 walking days) - the full route, including a walk from Montblanc to Poblet at the start (rather than taxi) and a stay in Poblet near the monastery. We recommend a day in Barcelona, and wine-tasting at the end of the walk.
How much walking?
Full days: 8¾-22 km per day, 3-6½ hrs walking.
Using shortening options: None
Two monasteries and fine wine
This walk, only an hour from Barcelona, is a must for the cultured hedonist. Despite the relatively rain-free climate the streams flow all year, and coming across a remote bathing pool on a warm spring day, perhaps diverting to some obscure neolithic rock art, are delights truly to be savoured. The route crosses the hills between two fine abbeys – Poblet and Escaladei – the former thriving and active, the latter now being restored as an archaeological site of major significance. This is the abbey that put the “prior” in “Priorat” – as the abbey owned most of the land you walk through, including the fine-wine-growing land of the same name.
The footpaths through these glorious hills are well signed, and take you from Poblet abbey, via the medieval town of Prades, to the “Holy Mountain” – Montsant – from which you descend to Escaladei in its valley fastness, and are thus able to appreciate from above its extent and former majesty. The walk is not yet over though – the final day is really one for wine-buffs, through the major vineyards of the Priorat (Robert Parker made one vintage his wine of the century with 100/100 on his famous scale), to a final night in the beautifully positioned village of Porrera with its wine-tasting opportunities.
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon, Debbie
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.
TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Spain, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.
- Medieval Montblanc
- The spectacle of ‘light and stone’ that is Poblet Monastery
- Two nights in a stylish “Mas”
- Ancient mills and secluded bathing pools
- The walk to the citadel of Siurana
- Climbing the holy mountain – Montsant
- A birdseye view of the Monastery of Escaladei
- Priorat wineland and wine-tasting
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Pilgrimage, Archaeology, History, Wine
A stay in Barcelona at the end (or start!) at one of our hand-picked hotels or B&Bs. Wine tasting at the end of the walk in Porrera.
Eating and Drinking
Dani at Mas de l’Arlequi recommends stuffed aubergine with a Castell de la Comanda (Reserva 2006) D.O. Conca de Barberà. Wine tasting is possible in Porrera at Celler Cal Pla (usually requires an extra night), so do ask us if you are interested.
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: None
Hills and valleys rather than real mountains, and on tracks or footpaths. Some steepish and hilly sections. Highest point on route: 1,200m.
Medium: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 575m per day (300m-800m).
GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.
Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.
When to go?
The best months to walk: April, May, June, September, October
Other possible months: July, August
Best walked in spring and autumn, summer walking is also possible in view of the cover, at least for the first part of the walk, and because the natural pools should be full of cooling water for a dip en route. The final two days’ walking are very exposed, and only those who are completely happy in the heat should try the final day in July or August – though a lift is always possible on the day.
Use the calendar below to see in more detail the best times to walk.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Prades
Day 1 - Arrive in Montblanc
Arrive at Carles and Carme's pretty pension in the historic centre of Montblanc, freshen up, wander around the little town, consider your dinner options (you may like to eat at your pension, and enjoy a demonstration of how to assemble tosta catalana which will stand you in good stead for the rest of your holiday) and relax while you plan your first walking day.
Day 2 - Montblanc to Poblet
A short but lung-expanding start, with a couple of hills and two “Ermitas” to explore along the way. The stay that night would be at Poblet’s best known hotel, Masia del Cadet. You can finish your day with a visit to the world famous monastery. (Medium 2½ hrs, 9 km, CUSs 600m).
Day 3 - Poblet to Rojals
If you didn’t manage it last night you have a second chance to visit Poblet Monastery, a working and thriving Cistercian community founded in 1151. A visit to the lovely church and old refectory is a must, and you can even have an early lunch here before your exertions. The afternoon’s walk is a good leg stretcher, up into the hills of the Muntanyes de Prades, inspecting an ice house and winding your way past the pretty village of Rojals to a stylish and beautifully situated ‘Mas’ (with occasional views to the Balearics), where you will stay for two nights. (Medium-hard: 5 hrs, 12 km, CUSs 780m)
Day 4 - The Farena Circuit
A descent down to explore the rock pools (yes – take your swimmers) and then along past the old mills (paper and grain) of the Brugent river, to a stop for a simple lunch (if your picnic is insufficient) at El Brugent in Farena. Perhaps take a moment to interpret some rock art on your return. A tough day – but worth it. (Medium-hard: 6 hrs, 14 km, CUSs 800m)
Day 5 - Rojals to Prades
A longish but easier walk along the ridge top – the highest point of your route at 1203m – with spectacular views east to the Mediterranean and north to the Pyrenées, passing more ice houses and with the opportunity for small detours to the Coves del Pere and the Roca del Gringol. Arrive in the little town of Prades, the villa vermella and centre for the region. (Medium: 5 hrs, 14km, CUSs 500m)
Day 6 - Prades to Cornudella de Montsant
This is a lovely day along the valley of the Siurana river, complete with swimmable rock pools, followed by a climb up to the winding streets of the hilltop citadel of Siurana. Descend after a glass of beer or two to the wine town of Cornudella – you have arrived in Priorat wine country. We will have booked you into El Bassot restaurant for a Catalan food-and-wine experience. (Medium: 5½ hrs, 16km, CUSs 350m, or save one hour with taxi start (pay locally))
If our Cornudella accommodation is fully booked, we will try our alternative in Siurana – it will make this day’s route a little shorter (but you have the chance to stay in the hilltop citadel) and the next a little longer, but not unmanageably so!
Day 7 - Cornudella to La Morera
A morning could be well spent in Cornudella, as the walk today is not long. An ancient monastery path takes you up the holy mountain of Montsant, with views for miles. After the wild and desolate top, descend to the pretty village of Morera for your next overnight stay in the community-owned hotel (great views). (Medium: 4 hrs, 10 km, CUSs 550m) OR try our valley walk to avoid Montsant completely (a 500m ascent) – Easy: 3 hrs, 8km, CUSs 300m)
Day 8 - La Morera to Porrera
Set off early for a warm-up walk to the magnificent former Carthusian monastery of Escaladei, the real goal of your holiday, and spend a couple of hours in its lovely setting. Continue your final day’s walk through the heart of Priorat, through vineyards made known to the world by Robert Parker’s first 100/100 score. But first, over the col to the old wine town of Torroja and maybe a late lunch. Afterwards wind through vines to Porrera, a steeply-positioned, lively village with additional wine-tasting opportunities. (Medium hard: 6½ hrs, 24km, CUSs 700m)
If you arrive early in Porrera (by mid afternoon) or are spending two nights there, we can arrange a wine tasting at bodegas of the famed Priorat wine area. Contact On Foot Holidays for further details.
A night or two more to relax, wander, and read seems a must, but you might just have to return home – taxi to Reus airport or railway station included in the price. Or why not extend your stay with a few days in Barcelona?
ARRIVING BY AIR
The best airport is Reus though intercontinental flights use Barcelona.
Land by: Reus 17:00; Barcelona 17:00 for train connections to Montblanc (1½ / 3 hrs)
Return flight earliest: Reus no limit (taxi to Reus airport or train/bus station included in holiday price); Barcelona 14:00 for bus connection from Reus.
Land by/earliest return flight times not applicable if using pre-booked taxi directly from or back to either airport.
Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.
For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.
See “getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information.
ARRIVING BY TRAIN
Nearest railway station:
Finish: Reus (taxi to station included in holiday price)
Typical rail journey from UK via Paris:
London: London to Paris by Eurostar leaving London St Pancras at 09:17 on Monday-Fridays, 09:22 on Saturdays & Sundays, arriving Paris Nord at 12:47. Cross Paris by metro or taxi to the Gare de Lyon, just 2 stops on RER line D. Paris to Barcelona by double-deck high-speed TGV Duplex leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 14:07 daily and arriving Barcelona Sants at 20:40. Then (if not spending night in Barcelona) AVE to Camp de Tarragona (then 30 min taxi – not pre-bookable) arriving Montblanc around 23.30 (~13 hrs), Look at www.seat61.com/Spain.htm , and follow the London to Girona link for details, tips and other options and www.bahn.de for full timetables.
Reus: As above in reverse (though substitute Reus for Montblanc).
Getting to the start of the walk
Transfer times and methods are suggested for Reus and Barcelona airports below. For train arrival transfers also see below.
Outward: bus to Reus station hourly, ~25 mins, then 3 afternoon trains a day to Montblanc, ~35 mins OR pre-booked taxi from airport to hotel in Montblanc ~45 mins
Return: Taxi from final hotel to Reus airport included in holiday price ~45 mins
Outward: Train every half-hour to Barcelona Sants ~22 mins, then 4 afternoon regional trains direct to Montblanc ~2 hrs+ (~4-5 hrs total including waiting) OR pre-booked taxi from airport direct to Montblanc hotel ~1½ hrs Return: Taxi to Reus station ~40 mins included in holiday price, then train to airport via Sants ~hourly ~1½ hrs, then train every 30 mins to airport ~22 mins OR pre booked taxi direct from final hotel to Barcelona airport ~2 hrs.
Coming by train and transfers to/from stations:
Outward: Montblanc – hotel within walking distance of station. Camp Tarragona (AVE) – pre-booked taxi necessary ~45 mins.
Return: Taxi to Reus station ~45mins included in holiday price. Camp de Tarragona for AVE fast trains to Barcelona Madrid and the rest of Spain – supplement for extended taxi ride ~1 hr total.
For pre-bookable taxi costs, see “Prices”
Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.
Where You'll Stay
From Carles and Carmen’s beautifully run hotel in Montblanc, to the wine village of Porrera, each accommodation on this route offers a personal and individual experience with an opportunity to try out your Catalan (or Spanish) – although some English is spoken along the way – and to get closer to Catalan culture.
Montblanc – Fonda Cal Blasi (Dinner, B&B)
Excellent B&B with good restaurant and enthusiastic owner.Website
Poblet – Masia del Cadet
Historic and comfortable family-run hotel ten minutes walk from Poblet MonasteryWebsite
Prades – Cal Crispi (B&B)
Village house dating from around 1900, but beautifully restored ten years ago.Website
Cornudella – Fonda El Reco (B&B)
Well-run accommodation either overlooking the square or in modern apartment at edge of village.Website
Siurana – La Siuranella (B&B)
Beautifully sited rural hotel with pool (in warmer months!) and excellent restaurantWebsite
La Morera – Balco de Priorat (dinner, B&B)
Community-owned modern hotel on the edge of the village, with great views from the terrace.Website
Porrera – Icona del Pont Vell (B&B)
Beautifully situated accommodation with original and quirky features.Website
In Barcelona the choice of hotel is endless and you can always book your own, but we have found a nice little B&B near the Placa Catalunya which we can book for you – the 5 Rooms
All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.
Total 8 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, 3 picnics and 6 evening meals. Lift at the end from the square in Porrera to Reus train station or airport, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.
Locally levied tourist taxes are not included. All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated (e.g. for taxis).
NB: occasional two-night stay stipulation (Fri/Sat or Sat/Sun) in Porrera
Single Room Supplement: From £190 *
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement: From £200
Large party saving: Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £40 per person
Maximum party size: 10
*additional Friday/Saturday supplement (in double rooms for single use) at Mas de l’Arlequi of from £30 per person per night
Taxi to Montblanc from Barcelona airport, Reus airport or Reus train station: Call us for details.
Extra night in Montblanc: From £45 per person (£35 single supplement.)
Taxi to Barcelona/Barcelona airport direct: From supplement of £160 (1-8 pers.)
Guiding by Joanna Thomas: Price on application
Wine tasting and vineyard/winery tours in Porrera: Contact On Foot Holidays
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK and Ireland: £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)
Route designed by:
Joanna Thomas has lived and worked in Catalonia for many years, as architect, guide, multilinguist and mother of two. A keen walker, she lives in a converted tower in the village of La Febro.