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Catalonia – La Garrotxa

  • 6 Night Route

    Price From: £910
  • 5 Night Route

    Price From: £820
  • 4 Night Route

    Price From: £695

Quiet byways of the Garrotxa

Back to Routes
The cliffs near Rupit

The cliffs near Rupit

Near the top on the first walk

Near the top on the first walk

Beach Vic Sau

Beach Vic Sau

Looking down on the Santa Pau valley

Looking down on the Santa Pau valley

On the way to Rupit

On the way to Rupit

Rupit

Rupit

The nice wide track keeps you well away from the edge....

The nice wide track keeps you well away from the edge....

Besalu Bridge

Besalu Bridge

An hour out of Santa Pau

An hour out of Santa Pau

Santa Pau

Santa Pau

Price: £910
Nights: 6
Grade:
Walk: 3¾-6 hr/day
Max. party size: 10

Travellers Reviews

We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and personal attention of the hosts in the smaller hotels.

The food in Rupit stood out for quality and choice, and although modest in facilities the host at Fonda Finet worked hard to give us a great local experience. The walk of course was excellent and we enjoyed the variety it offered each day. The scenery was stunning.

Anita Groos, Queensland, September 2016

The walking and scenery were spectacular.

The physical level required was about right for the kids. They powered home. The On Foot service was faultless by the way. All questions answered quickly and accurately. Information proffered such as bus timetables to get from Vic to Besalu were used and much appreciated. When I changed my mind about something it was sorted without a problem.

James Docker, Paris, April 2016

I think we all felt that this was one of our favourite On Foot holidays.

Thank you for everything. We intend to book again for October 2018 so we’ll be in touch soon."

William Fisher, Edinburgh, October 2016

More independent feedback
About the Route

At a glance

6-night route (5 walking days). The full route. Maybe an extra night at the end at Vic and nights In Barcelona too.

How much walking?

Full days: 12-16 kms per day, 3¾-6 hrs.
Using shortening options: 8-16 kms per day, 2¾-6 hrs using shortening options on two days.

Max. Grade:

Beautiful Besalú, extinct volcanoes, the Parador and the lake

People have been walking the hills of northern Spain for millennia and you will be following in the footsteps – literally – of the traginers (carters), carboners (charcoal burners), priests, bandits, peasants and smugglers who walked these paths day and night, rain or shine. Nowadays, you are only likely to meet other walkers – although the odd shepherd might wish you the time of day – since the ancient tracks of La Garrotxa are quiet and still for most of the year, and no longer bustle with life as they once did. These motorways of the past, along which life – both material goods and information – flowed incessantly, before electrical and mechanical forms of communication were invented, are today sadly being lost, although we can console ourselves with the thought that by treading these ancient, smooth-worn cobbles we are helping to keep alive a memory of our not too distant past.

This walk through unspoilt Catalonia begins in the beautifully preserved medieval town of Besalú, where you stay in the comfort of a stylish hotel next to the old bridge. From here you walk through the heart of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park with its numerous (now extinct) volcanoes. Winding up through the beech woods and rolling pastures of El Cabrerès, the cliff-girt plateau, the views are over the Catalonian hills, the towering heights of Mt. Puigsacalm and the (hopefully) snow-capped Pyrenees. Move on for two nights in pretty Rupit, before an astonishing day along the cliffs of the Collsacabra, across the lake of Sau by small boat and a night in a Parador overlooking the lake.

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon, Debbie and Mary

Please note that the minimum party size on this route is two people.

REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews submitted to the Association of Indendent Tour Operators visit Aito.com.

Route Highlights

  • Breathtaking walking in unspoilt countryside
  • Extinct volcanoes and tranquil meadows
  • Walking the cliff edge of the Cabrerès and Collsacabra plateaux
  • Catalan cooking and fabled hospitality
  • Medieval Besalu, Rupit and Santa Pau
  • A boat trip across the Lake of Sau
  • A night in a fabulously sited Parador

We Recommend

An additional day at the end for a short walk up to St Pere de Casseres, an 11th century Romanesque-style Benedictine monastery overlooking the Vic-Sau lake, returning to laze by the Parador's pool (in season) - or take a taxi to explore Vic's treasures. Nights in Barcelona.

How much Walking?

Full days: 12-16 kms per day, 3¾-6 hrs.
Using shortening options: 8-16 kms per day, 2¾-6 hrs using shortening options on two days.

Hills and valleys rather than mountains, and on tracks or footpaths. Some steepish and hilly sections.  Highest point on route: 1,100m.

Medium: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 588m per day (200m – 830m)

Easy-medium: CUSs 406m per day (230m-680m) using shortening options on Days 2 and 4.

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

Other possible months: July, August, October

The hilly terrain of Catalonia and its proximity to the Pyrenees makes for a longer walking season than you would expect so close to the sweltering costas.  While spring and autumn have their natural attractions, the summer months are also ‘possible’, though hotel availability is less certain and early booking therefore advisable.  A heatwave can also make these months over-hot to walk.  Although some hotels may be quiet outside of the high season, your welcome will be warm from our charming hosts along the way.

Use the calendar below to see in more detail the best times to walk.

Start Dates

Recommended
Possible
Unavailable

Weather Chart

 

Temperature and rainfall chart for Rupit

Itinerary

About the Route

Day 1 - Arrive in Besalú

Arrive in Besalú, an engaging medieval town with a busy weekly market, famously beautiful stone bridge and cobbled streets.

Day 2 - Begudà to Santa Pau

Meet our man in Besalú and transfer to Begudà and its delightful Romanesque church of Santa Eulàlia and then through the forests up to the plateau of Batet and Puig Sacreu (wonderful views north to the Pyrenees) before dropping down to the medieval village of Santa Pau.  (Easy-medium: 4¼ hrs, 9 km, CUSs 400m, or Medium-hard: 6 hrs, 14 km, 710m with detour.)

Day 3 - Santa Pau to Sant Feliu de Pallerols

Volcanic scenery as you wind up and over La Serra del Corb (with short possible detours to the Santa Margarida volcano and Castell del Corb) and down through the volcanoes of Fontpobre and Can Tià to Sant Feliu.  (Medium-hard: 6 hrs – add 1 hr, 2 km for detours, 16 km, CUSs 680m.

Day 4 - Sant Feliu de Pallerols to Rupit

The morning sees you climb the ridge overlooking the village of Sant Feliu and up to the forests and pastures of the Cabrerès plateau. Our route includes a splendid viewpoint, a walk along the spectacular Collsacabra ridge and a waterfall plunging down 200m.  (Medium-hard: 3¾ hrs, 14 km, CUSs 200m). Alternative – travel with luggage part way (Easy: walk 2¾ hrs, 9km, CUSs 300m) or whole way)

Day 5 - Rupit Circuit

A gentle day spent exploring the area north of Rupit with excellent views of the surrounding countryside.  (Easy-medium: 3¾ hrs, 14 km, CUSs 200m). Alternative: Explore the village and surrounding countryside and relax in your comfortable hotel.

Day 6 - Rupit to Parador de Vic-Sau

Another remarkable cliff-edge day with dramatic views. A stiff climb at the beginning of the day to the hamlet of Rojals, through pleasant open woodland, precedes a morning of Collsacabra cliff-top walking to the sleepy but beautifully restored village of Tavertet, where a good lunch can be found at one or other of the many restaurants. The afternoon begins with a stroll to a viewpoint at the Turo de Castell, overlooking the lake of Sau – probably the best views of the route can be had from here. The steep descent through woodland is fun, before your arrival at La Riba, a short transfer and then a boat across the lake. Your final 3 km walk on the far side takes you to one of the best positioned Paradors in Spain.  (Medium: 6 hrs, 16km (14km walking), CUSs 520m).

Departure day

Depart hotel via local taxi to Vic station (or choose to stay further nights at the Parador and do a circular walk, or in Barcelona).

Travel Information

ARRIVING BY AIR

The best airport generally is Barcelona, though the nearest airport to the start is Girona.

Land by: Girona 18:30; Barcelona 15:00 for public bus connections to Besalu (1½ / 3 hrs)

Return flight earliest:  Barcelona 12:00 (Girona impracticable though possible).

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:

Start:  Girona

End: Vic

Typical rail journey from UK via Paris and Figueres:

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 Girona at 19:59, then transfer to Besalu (1 hr).  Look at www.seat61.com/Spain.htm, and follow the London to Girona link for details and tips, and www.reiseauskunft.bahn.de for full timetables.

 

Getting to the start of the walk

The first hotel is in Besalu and the last at the Parador de Vic-Sau, near Vic. Transfer times and methods are suggested for Girona (Gerona) and Barcelona airports below – it is actually best (if possible) to arrive via Girona and leave by Barcelona!  For train arrival transfers see below.

GIRONA AIRPORT:

Outward: 2 buses, 1½ hrs OR Pre-booked taxi transfer from Girona airport to Besalu c. 1hr.

Return: Not practicable (though possible with train via Barcelona) – best to use Barcelona

BARCELONA AIRPORT:

Outward: 2 buses 3 hrs to Besalu OR Pre-booked taxi transfer from airport to Besalu (1¾ hrs)

Return: Taxi to Vic (book locally), then train to airport, 2½ hrs OR Pre-booked taxi transfer from last hotel to airport (1½ hrs)

Outward transfer from Girona Train Station:

Several daily buses from outside train station to Besalu OR Pre-booked taxi transfer direct to hotel (Besalu)

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

Accommodation on this route ranges from the simple but friendly through antique stylish to Parador… along the way you will be offered a fabulous range of home-made food centred on the cuisine of this area of Catalonia.

Besalú – Els Jardins de la Martana (B&B)

Night 1

Besalú – Els Jardins de la Martana (B&B)

Stylishly converted merchant’s house.

Santa Pau – Cal Sastre (Dinner, B&B)

Night 2

Santa Pau – Cal Sastre (Dinner, B&B)

Comfortable hotel in excellent position on edge of historic centre.

Sant Feliu – Fonda Finet (Dinner, B&B)

Night 3

Sant Feliu – Fonda Finet (Dinner, B&B)

Functional but friendly fonda in quiet market town.

Rupit – Hostal Estrella (Dinner, B&B)

Night 4 & 5

Rupit – Hostal Estrella (Dinner, B&B)

Historic hostal in centre of medieval Rupit.

Tavernoles – Parador de Vic-Sau: (B&B)

Night 6

Tavernoles – Parador de Vic-Sau: (B&B)

Fabulously sited modern parador, somewhat lacking in welcome and atmosphere - instead enjoy the rooms looking out over the lake and, from June to September only, the pool.

Barcelona accommodation:

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

Prices

Price: £910 for 6 nights

Total 6 nights in double/twin room, all breakfasts, luggage transfers, 5 picnics and 4 evening meals. Lift to start of walk on Day 2.

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated (e.g. for taxis), and may vary with exchange rate fluctuations – check with On Foot for your guaranteed price.

Savings and supplements

Please note that the minimum party size on this route is two people

Single Room Supplement: From £200

Larger party saving (on identical itinerary) – £85 off per person (except first two)

 

Add Ons

Further B&B nights in Parador at end of holiday: Call On Foot Holdiays (seasonal pricing.)

Taxi from Girona airport to Besalu: From £65 (1-3 people), £73 (4-6.)

Taxi Girona Railway station – Besalu: From £48 (1-3 people), £55 (4-6.)

Taxi Barcelona airport or city to Besalu: From £192 (airport), £172 (city) (1-3 people.)

Taxi Parador to Barcelona airport or city: From £144 (airport), £133 (city) (1-4 people.)

Travellers Reviews

We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and personal attention of the hosts in the smaller hotels.

The food in Rupit stood out for quality and choice, and although modest in facilities the host at Fonda Finet worked hard to give us a great local experience. The walk of course was excellent and we enjoyed the variety it offered each day. The scenery was stunning.

Anita Groos, Queensland, September 2016

The walking and scenery were spectacular.

The physical level required was about right for the kids. They powered home. The On Foot service was faultless by the way. All questions answered quickly and accurately. Information proffered such as bus timetables to get from Vic to Besalu were used and much appreciated. When I changed my mind about something it was sorted without a problem.

James Docker, Paris, April 2016

I think we all felt that this was one of our favourite On Foot holidays.

Thank you for everything. We intend to book again for October 2018 so we’ll be in touch soon."

William Fisher, Edinburgh, October 2016

More independent feedback
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Annie Antonatou

Route designed by:

Annie Antonatou

Annie was born in Athens and started her career in the world of marketing and publishing; but soon her love for the outdoors brought her together with a team of sailors, divers, environmentalists and hikers.

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