Catalonia – Cycling, Culture and Cuisine
We have carefully curated and designed what we think is the perfect bike adventure in northeastern Spain.
Catalonia is a place of extraordinary beauty: the Pyrenees Mountains plunge into the Mediterranean, rivers carve out wide, lush valleys and medieval villages dot the countryside. For millennia this region has been prized for its landscapes and amazing food and wine.
Our bike tour in Catalonia combines moderate activity with art, culture and fabulous regional cuisine. We start with a full day of cycling in Barcelona, visiting all the important cultural sites including museums, Gaudi’s cathedral and his palaces. In the evening we hit Barcelona’s best (and most obscure) tapas bars. Then it’s off to the Pyrenees, cycling mostly downhill and reaching the Mediterranean Coast several days later, exploring ancient villages and castles along the way. We wheel into Figueres, Salvador Dali’s birthplace and home to his amazing museum. Finally we hike through the surreal landscape of Cap de Creus, which was one of Dali’s haunts and a life-long inspiration for his art.
Day 1 – Welcome
Arrive at Barcelona airport and transfer to one of Barcelona’s best hotels right in the heart of the old town. We start the evening with a walk to our favourite tapas bar and then on to a restaurant for a welcome dinner of fantastic traditional Catalan dishes.
Day 2 – Barcelona By Bike – Distance: 30km
Barcelona is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and cultural hotspots: lots to do if you want to add a day at the beginning or end of the trip.
After an orientation and bike fitting by our local guide, we ride to the most important sights of Barcelona: the Gothic Quarter with the cathedral, the Old Harbour with the statue of Columbus, the Ciutadella Park, the Sagrada Familia, the Olimpic Port and Gaudi´s fabulous monuments.
Day 3 – Down the Pyrenees – Distance: 45km
In the morning, we travel up the Pyrenees close to the French border in the Pyrenees. Here we start our ride in a long descent and then an energetic climb before a final descent through forests and past volcanic formations to Olot. We explore the town on foot before a delightful meal. Our accommodation is a charming rural hotel.
Day 4 – “El Carrilet” (The narrow-gauge railway) – Distance: 60km
From Olot we head along a bike path on the former narrow-gauge railway, traversing the beautiful valley known as the “Catalan Switzerland” with its medieval villages. Eventually we follow the Burgent River to La Cellera, and then continue on to Girona. Our accommodation is a historic lodge in the stunning ancient quarter of this beautiful city.
Day 5 – Girona: Temps de Flors
We spend a day celebrating the “Temps de Flors” (flower festival) which is held every year in Girona’s Barri Vell neighbourhood. At this time locals in the ancient quarter open their courtyards to the public to compete for the best flower gardens. This is a unique opportunity to see some truly hidden places in Girona!
Day 6 – Costa Brava and Mediterranean Sea – Distance: 47km
From Girona we head to the coast, following the old railway lines for 40 km. We reach Sant Feliu, with its wonderful seaport and a great cultural and historical centre. Accommodation – a hotel on the beach.
Day 7 – The Coastline – Distance: 33km
We ride along the coast of Palamós Bay to some beautiful fishing villages and then into the hinterland which is renowned for its vineyards. We stop at a bodega where the owner Marta will explain the secrets of making wine on her family estate. Our accommodation is in the charming old fishing village of Calella de Palafrugell.
Day 8 – Medieval villages – Distance: 45 km
Our route takes us to the northern Costa Brava and the area that inspired Dalí. We visit beautiful medieval villages such as Ullastret, and explore diverse landscapes including low lying delta regions where rice for the region’s famous ‘paella’ is grown.
Day 9 – Figureres – Distance: 44km
Once again our route takes us along the coast of the Costa Brava as we head towards Figueres. We stop off at Perelada with its castles and wine tradition. We savour some of wine the area is famous for and then carry on to Figueres, where Dali was born. In the afternoon we have time to visit the world famous and flamboyant Salvador Dali Museum.
Day 10 – Cap de Creus: Walking in the footsteps of Dali – Distance 10 km
Bidding farewell to our trusty bikes, we set out for a fantastic walking tour along the cliffs and coves of Cap de Creus National Park. These landscapes and seascapes were a favourite haunt of Dali’s and inspired a lot of his art. After lunch we visit Salvador Dali’s residence, which is now a small museum. The last part of the walk takes us through a gorgeous maze of ancient lanes in the lovely village of Cadaqués to our charming family run boutique hotel. Before dinner we have time to explore the village and we have dinner in a museum run by disciples of the world famous chef, Ferran Adrià of El Bulli.
Day 11 – Back to Barcelona
We transfer back to Barcelona and check into our familiar hotel in the heart of the city. The afternoon is free to explore, visit museums and galleries or shop. In the evening, we head out in search of hidden tapas bars and then to one of the city’s best restaurants to celebrate the successful completion of our first cycling adventure in Catalonia.
Day 12 – Farewell
Transfer from Barcelona to the airport for your flight home or onward journey.
Please note: this itinerary serves as an example of trip highlights and is subject to change.
We think of our itineraries as melodies: they have a beginning and an end, a certain arc, dramatic highlights and a few surprises. We like to improvise, to adapt to the mood of our guests or to circumstances that arise — an invitation to a traditional wedding, say, or a local ethnic festival…
Crafting beautiful, harmonious trips with delightful twists is our trade mark and passion.
What are the highlights of the trip?
Catalonia! There is no place like it: natural beauty, fantastic food and wine, incredible ancient and modern architecture, a world famous cuisine, and a huge art heritage. Want to experience it all? Join us!
Where does the trip start and end?
The trip starts and ends in Barcelona, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, set on the Mediterranean against a backdrop of mountains. Barcelona can easily be reached with flights from most other European cities and some direct flights from North America.
What are the physical activities on the trip and what level of fitness do I need?
A reasonable level of fitness is required. The cycling is relatively easy, with short distances (around 50 km per day) mainly downhill with a few climbs while in the Pyrenees Mountains and then it’s mainly flat along the coast.
What are the bikes like?
We use high quality hybrid bikes as we will be both on smooth roads and unpaved country lanes. Electric-assist bikes are available for an extra fee. Feel free to bring your own bicycle seat or pedals if you feel this will add to your comfort.
What is Catalan food like?
The cuisine of the region is one of the main features of this trip! We will be savouring tapas that are each a miniature work of art, exquisite seafood in traditional restaurants and some very sophisticated ‘out there’ dishes: a true culinary adventure!
I'm a vegetarian, is that a problem?
Not at all, but please let us know in advance, and advise us on your dietary preferences.
Do I need a visa?
US and Canadian citizens do not require a visa for Spain.
Do I need any special insurance?
Medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all our trips. We also strongly advise you to purchase trip cancellation insurance.
Do I need vaccinations?
Your routine vaccinations (tetanus/diphtheria, polio, etc.) should be up to date.
What does the trip price cover?
Airport transfers on the first and last days of the trip, all cultural tour guiding and entrance fees, all accommodation and meals, water throughout the trip, equipment and guide fees.
What does the trip price not cover?
International and domestic flights, airport transfers not on the first or last days of the trip, beverages except for bottled water, alcoholic drinks, personal insurance and gratuities.
How can I access cash when I'm on the trip?
ATMs are readily available through out the trip.
What clothes and equipment will I need?
When you sign up for the trip, we will provide you with a comprehensive clothes and equipment list.
I’m travelling alone, is that a problem?
Absolutely not. We have many guests who travel with us on their own. They appreciate the camaraderie of our Hidden Places groups and usually go home with new-found friends. Prices are quoted on a shared room basis. If you require a single room, a Single Supplement will apply.
From US $4950 per person
Private: Apr through Oct
11 nights / 12 days
4 star hotels, historic boutique hotels and comfortable country inns.
15 guests maximum
Easy cycling (about 50 km per day) with e-bike option; historical and art tours; wine tasting and culinary adventures and a few surprises!
My first cycling trip! It was wonderful: the fresh air, the food, the fun and new friendships...
Food! Culture! Oh and the bikes! The bikes were great. 270 kms! We'll be back with Hidden Places!
Thanks for all you do Hidden Places and for getting me back in the saddle. E-bikes rock! Always fun to travel with you.
Catalunya...seeing it by bike is perfect! Wonderful food and people. Great tour: lots of hidden places!
Again an amazing adventure, pedalling through magical forests and along the glistening Mediterranean with superb guides. Gracias!