Thinking of Catalonia, many often associate the region with the sights of Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, the Dali museum, the rocky beaches of the Costa Brava and world-class resorts. Rarely do we get in our mind associations with mountain ranges, alpine national parks, rock climbing and mountaineering. Except for a small amount of exceptions to the “normal” rule.
Nevertheless, the mountains and mountain sports are an important part of Catalonia. Some of the most popular sports in Catalonia are trekking, climbing and mountain skiing. Many Catalans also practice climbing, via ferrata and barronquismo.
In the winter months, a significant number of Catalans go to the mountains, at least for one weekend to go skiing or raquetas.
In the summer many Catalans - from the very young to elderly people go hiking and trekking. At any time of the year in the mountainous areas you will encounter backpackers, and those who prefer to explore mountains on a mountain bike and mountain runners.
Lovers of mountain sports can practice not only their favourite sport in Catalonia, but also get aesthetic pleasure from the unique scenery of this region.
In order to get the two pleasures in one, you can go either to the south of Catalonia or to the north of the region. Here are some great options for adventure and nature tourism in the mountains of Catalonia.
1. The Valley of Priorat
In the south of Catalonia, you can practice hiking, trekking, mountain biking and rock climbing in the valley of the Priorat. This harsh, rocky region is situated to the west of Tarragona. It bears no resemblance to the coastal part of Catalonia.
The Priorat houses are built of stone and strong red Priorat wines have earned their fame not only in Spain but throughout the world. Over Priorat you can find rocky mountains of Montsant, they are popular for hikers and climbers.
Near the city which is frozen in time – Siurana, there are more than 200 climbing routes of different difficulty levels, from 5a to 9a +. In addition to climbing in the Priorat there are also a large number of hiking and trekking routes, including routes for beginner mountain tourists.
2. Parc Natural del Cap de Creus
In the northern part of Catalonia, you will find even more space for research. In the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula there is Parc natural del cap de Creus - one of the most beautiful places of the Costa Brava, with unique views of the coast and incredibly beautiful routes for hiking.
The highest point of the park is the peak of Sant Salvador, 670 metres high. Most of the routes are easy, non-technical and suitable even for beginner hikers. The Catalan Pyrenees offer a large number of routes that are suitable for many types of mountain sports.
3. Garrotxa Natural Park
One of the essential places to visit for all lovers of nature is the natural park of Garrotxa. Here you can admire the beautiful hills, dense forests and mountain rivers. Garrotxa Natural Park is perfect for hiking and mountain biking. Many routes are available for hikers with little experience.
Another interesting place for hiking, trekking and climbing is Montserrat. There are both easy and challenging routes for hikers and climbers. The unique rocky landscapes will definitely impress and you would like to come back time and again.
Particularly interesting are the hiking trails in the interior part of Montserrat. As these routes are more complex, there are few tourists and you can fully enjoy the visit to this unique place.
5. The Montseny Mountain Range
Mountain range Montseny - here is the oldest national park of Catalonia located, which has got exceptionally rich biosphere. In the park you can see the 3 types of vegetation: Mediterranean, Euro-Siberian and Boreoalpin vegetation.
6. The Pyrenees
Pyrenees will delight lovers of mountain sports in both summer and winter. Nuria Valley - Vall de Nuria, one of the stunning places in the Pyrenees, would definitely appeal to fans of hiking, trekking, skiing and mountaineering. Despite the abundance of tourists, the valley has not become a purely tourist attraction.
Ski resorts in the Vall de Nuria existed since the 30s of the 20th century and in the winter they are quite crowded. The mountain slopes are not only picturesque, but also simple enough for skiing.
The National Park in the Pyrenees will amaze you with its beauty and play muse to your imagination - don't miss the stunning Aiguestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici. There is a huge number of water sources: mountain lakes, rivers and springs.
The park is recognised as the most beautiful natural heritage of Catalonia. The park’s numerous trails and routes are very varied - from simple to complex. In the park there are several mountain lodges, so you can spend in this wonderful place several days, making tracking.
7. Valle de'Aran
In the northern part of the Pyrenees the Aran Valley (Valle de'Aran) is located, which is a paradise for lovers of mountain sports. Opportunities for hiking in the valley are truly unlimited. There are short and easy routes, as well as multi-day and difficult routes.
Among the most famous trails of the reserve is the Carros de Foc (translated from Catalan chariots of fire). It is a difficult route with a total length of 60 kilometres, with a height difference of 9 km. Vall d'Aran also offers excellent trails for mountain climbers and skiers.
Catalonia ...So Rich In Nature & Possibilities
Catalonia is very rich in its nature and possibilities to practice your favorite mountain sports. From the amazing rocks of Montserrat, the natural beauty of Montseny, to the fabulous scenery Aiguestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici and the snow-capped Pyrenees peaks ….they are all waiting for their explorers and lovers of nature and adventure.
About Lily Akhmetzyanova
Travel Blogger, Author & YouTuber
Lily was born in Yoshkar Ola, Russia. She got a Law Degree in the Academy of Justice in Russia.
In 2011 Lily moved to Spain to study her Masters in International Business and she decided to remain in Spain. Since 2011 she has been writing her own travel blog “Lily and Spain” with the main focus on adventure, cultural and rural tourism.
During her time in Spain, she has lived in Cordoba, Málaga, Marbella, Madrid and is now a resident of Barcelona.
Lily has recently written a travel book where she shares information about travelling to destinations in Spain: in Andalucia, Madrid, Valencia, the Basque country, Galicia and Catalonia.