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Catalonia Pyrenees Trip Plan

Catalonia Pyrenees Trip Plan

Most people visiting Catalonia limit their visit to Barcelona. They do not even realize it is the capital of the region. That's a shame as the region has amazing attractions to offer and the Pyrenees are just as beautiful as the Alps. Here is a trip plan you can easily use as a starting point for your next adventure. It mixes both active and cultural attractions.

Checklister

Channel: ChecklisterPublished on Sep 20, 2016

Catalonia Pyrenees Trip Plan - Map

Mont-rebei canyon (or as it is known in Spanish Congost de Mont-rebei) is an impressive large canyon in Catalonia and which is largely virgin-territory. With 500m vertical drop walls, some of which are only passable via boat or along man-excavated semi-tunnels. Although the area is rich with fauna and vegetation, you will find the rugged landscape to be the real gem. A new suspension bridge makes for an interesting selfie stop. Make sure you bring plenty of water as the new visitor's center is not always open.

The road from Mont-rebei Canyon is unbelievably beautiful. Make sure you take as many stops along and keep your eyes open. The colors of both the water and the mountains contrast with each other. Watch out for those crazy drivers! Val d'Aran is a high mountain region which is the only Atlantic climate area in the Catalan Pyrenees. Vielha, its capital, can easily serve as your base for the whole stay in the region. Rich in activities such as mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, water adventure, culture and winter sport, an active couple or family can easily stay entertained for a couple of weeks.

Hotel Albares

Hotel Albares is located smack in the middle of this picturesque Alp-like village. During the winter it is a ski resort but its real beauty comes out in the fall and lasts until it gets covered again by the snow. You can stay here for the duration of your visit as many attractions can be found nearby and it can serve as your starting point for each day.

Era Lucana

This is a great restaurant to rest your feet after a long day and get aqcuainted with the local food. Don't forget to order the ice-melting hot-brownie for desert. Delicious!

If you have never been mountain biking before, this is a great place to start. There are numerous tracks to choose from but for beginners, I would recommend choosing a rather short one around the village. I took an e-bike for a spin and it was pretty amazing. Going up-hill (or mountain I should say) is a breeze! My other group members had normal bikes and I just felt like I was flying by them.

This was my first real encounter with these magnificent yet intimidating beasts on a mountenous terrain. Riding a horse in the mountains is quite different. The horse tackles the climbs with grace and all you have to do is ensure you "move" with them rather than fight it. Keep your grip tight! The guide was very friendly and took care of the whole group going backwards to help with horses which chose eating vegetation over walking. I recommend taking a short ride on the first day and another full day a couple of days later as sitting on your "xss" requires some getting used to. And don't forget to bring your GoPro head mount as your hands will be busy with the reins.

This was the highlight of my trip! Hands down! The Piranees easily compete with the Alps and this unique park has a much more accommodating terrain in my opinion. The sheer number of lakes and rivers connecting them can leave you overwhelmed. Not much chance of seeing them all but our half day visit to the park was well worth it. I strongly recommend booking a hotel nearby (or just camp if you are more adventurous) and spending a couple of day exploring it. If you are low on fitness, you can easily go up with a taxi and then walk down taking the magnificent views in. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

A visit to this Romanesque church allows you to enjoy a re-enactment of the original frescoes in a video mapping. This is a unique experience where the old frescoes are projected over the current remains. The visit is completed with a climb to the upper tower where a view of the surroundings is revealed.

After saying goodbye to the Pyranees, head towards the little know city of Solsona. Make sure you avoid the highway and enjoy the views of the less travelled road as you decend from the mountains. After a long drive, this hotel offers a great relaxing atmoshphere and offers a tasty restaurant for dinner. Enjoy the spacious yet oddly designed rooms and wake up all fresh.

The city of Solsona is a hidden gem on the road between Barcelona and the Pyranees. Its main Cathedral, the Catedral de Solsona, has many interesting stories to tell (try to book the only American guide in the city who is a gifted storyteller) and a walk through old-town brings your to many small shops. You can easily get lost here for a half a day. My highlight for Solsona were the "giants". These are Catalan traditional folklore "huge" dolls who are carried surprisingly by one person alone. They are brought out of their storage for specific occassions so if you arrive on the wrong date, try to see them in their museum.

This newly built Marriott hotel is a great staying place if you are looking for spacious comfortable rooms. As it is not in the centre, you will probably end up leaving for the day to come back only at night. There is a shopping mall across the street, so don't miss the opportunity for some shopping.

If all you can afford time-wise is one attraction, this crown jewel of Barcelona is a must! Start by absorbing its magnificent architecture by watching it from the little garden across the street (great photo moment). I found the thousands of different elements to be quite confusing. Tip: although the cathedral is beautiful from the outside, a visit to the inside will reveal the real treasures Gaudi has left us. With a constantly deffered completion date (currently 2018), you can actually see this amazing construction come to life. Although in most places you visit, construction signs are detering, here it was actually an experience.

Barcelona City Tour Bus

There is no doubt that Barcelona deserves a trip of its own. Nevertheless, if you have some time before your flight back home, why not take the Barcelona City tour? Enjoy a double-decker bus with an open top (after all Barcelona is sunny most days of the year) where a guide walks you through the city giving you a taste for more ...

Trip Notes

I was visiting Catalonia in mid June 2016. Dreaming of sunny warm weather I packed light expecting a t-shirt to keep me warm. I was surprised by the cool weather in the high altitude of the Pyranees, so don't forget to bring warm clothes for the cold nights. Be cautious when discussing local politics as some tensions exist between Catalonia and the Spanish goverment. The locals see themselves mostly as Catalans first and Spanish second. People are very warm yet passionate. Be prepared to adjust your schedule to the changing weather. This trip plan allows for changes as the area covered is not that big. adéu!
Checklister

Channel: ChecklisterPublished on Sep 20, 2016

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