Sports in Catalunya » Adrenaline from Pyrenees to Costa Brava

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sports in catalunya mountain-4

Photo credit: Scottie T from www.intrepidescape.com. Tks mate o/

Cycling downhill, overlooking the Mediterranean sea, feeling the wind on my face, the speed, the freedom. Sports in Catalunya, I could feel the adrenaline pumping in my veins while venturing myself from the Pyrenees to Costa Brava. An adventurous trip mixed with great wine, delicious food and a sparkle of history. An experience I won’t forget!

I’m a big fan of outdoors activities: being in contact with nature, the freedom… It’s an incredible feeling. After enjoying Barcelona like a local and explore its surroundings, you can spare some time to appreciate nature and practice some sports in Catalunya. What about a cycling route from the Pyrenees to Costa Brava? Fancy a hiking to a medieval castle? Or kayaking through a Natural Park? Catalunya is like a “Disneyland” for sports enthusiasts.

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Great view!

Let’s get our bikes and cycle in Catalunya!

On my last trip to Spain (5th time and I can’t get enough), I was introduced to a very cool idea. A group of hostels got together to launch several sports activities including an itinerary of 3 days cycling from the Pyrenees to Costa Brava. Oh boy, I was thrilled! Cycle through the Pyrenees mountains and reach the beautiful beaches of Costa Brava? With a support car driving along? Yes, I’m in! And that’s how I got hooked up on the idea of doing some extreme sports in Catalunya.

The 3 days itinerary started in San Joan de les Abadesses, the old town keeps its medieval buildings and a monastery that dates back to the IV century. An interesting fact, there are two bridges in the city a modern one and a gothic one. The Gothic Pont Vell (old bridge) from XII century, is actually the newer bridge. During the Spanish Civil War, both bridges were destroyed and the modern bridge was rebuilt first. So technically, the new bridge is the old bridge. [sorry I got lost too :-p]

sports in catalunya san joan de les abadesses pont vell

Pont Vell, Sant Joan de les Abadesses.

sports in catalunya san joan de les abadesses

Such a medieval feeling.

Insider’s tip: arrive one day before start cycling and head to a restaurant called La Teuleria, the food is absolutely gorgeous. Senñor Alejandro runs the family restaurant for over 30 years, he is one of the most incredible characters I have ever met. The opportunity to enjoy a 100 years old wine on his private cellar while he shared some memories involving Salvador Dali was priceless. His cellar is a treasury, among the bottles from the best Spanish harvests, he also has wines that were specially made for the Pope, with the Vatican seal on it!

sports in catalunya la teuleria

Old wine doesn’t taste old at all!

So, time to cycle, the first day was quite tough. There was a lot of climbing till reaching the highest point at Coll de Canes, 1120 meters above sea level. On the way we stopped in Ripoll to visit the Santa Maria Monastery, the gate is an impressive piece of gothic art. The good news is that after all the climbing comes the downhill part, about 10 km. Yeah, baby!  You can go really, I mean really really fast, just take care on the turns.

sports in catalunya cycle

Having a blast 😉

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Catalunya and its beautiful landscapes.

sports in catalunya landscape

So peaceful.

The first day ended in Vall D’en Bas, where during a glorious lunch I was taught how to drink  “Porró”, check this video to learn too. After lunch, with the batteries recharged, we went on a tour around the town and the Mallol medieval village. The old town looks like a set of Game of Thrones. Some alleys were quite spooky, I would not walk there alone during night time. If you fancy, there is a prison cell open for those who want to spend the night.

sports in catalunya vall d en bass

La Vall d’en Bas.

From Vall D’en Bas the journey headed to Banyoles. On the way, we passed by a lush green forest called “La Fageda d’en Jorda”. Incredible how the temperature dropped inside the forest, about 3-4 degrees! The forest is located in the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, but don’t worry, the last eruption happened 11.000 years ago.

sports in catalunya La Fageda D en Jorda

La Fageda d’en Jorda.

Banyoles is famous as a summer destination, tourists love the beautiful lake and the amount of different watersports available. If you are looking for sports in Catalunya, Banyoles is your place. I spot the Belgium Triathlon team training while we were sailing around the lake. After the boat ride we treated ourselves with a fancy lunch at La Carpa, a Michelin awarded restaurant. Delicious food and impeccable service. Try the arroz and for dessert the Crema Catalan, wash it down with Ratafia a local herb liquor.

sports in catalunya banyoles lake

Estany de Banyoles.

Day three, it means that our challenge was about to end, but not before a hiking to Sant Salvador de Verdera Castle, uphill of course. With some pauses for pictures, we got to the top in 1 hour. The trail is not that hard, you just need to take care with some loose rocks. The reward is the 360 view, mountains, sea, fields, beaches… Spare some time to visit the Benedictine Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. Look up when you get inside the main church, the light passing through the windows creates a wonderful effect. I would love to see this place on season 6 of Game of Thrones! [They will shoot season 6 in Girona, so close… And yes, I’m a GOT addict!]

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Mountains and castles make this guy very happy!

sports in catalunya monastery

Monasterio de Sant Pere de Rodes.

Back to the bikes for our final downhill, this time with a bonus: sea view. I found the road till Llançá a bit dangerous. Potholes, sharp curves plus the speed are not a good combination. You want to practice sports in Catalunya, but a visit to the hospitals is not in your plans, right? So slow down on the curves 😉

sports in catalunya cycling pic

Try not getting too distracted by the sea view, in here you have to watch out for the road.

Don’t forget to buy your Travel Insurance!

We use and recommend World Nomads and SafetyWing, click on the name of the company and book your insurance now. If you need more information read our Travel Insurance Guide here.

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Looks like a postcard, right?

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Flowery fields forever ♪

Llançá was our final stop, the city has a nice laidback atmosphere. You can enjoy a walk on the beach, check the day catch on the Fishmarket or enjoy other sports in Catalunya 🙂 Since we are on a beach town it makes sense that our next sport choice involves the sea.

sports in catalunya llanca

Llançá.

We were supposed to do a sea kayaking tour around the beaches of Llançá. We received the safety instruction, boarded on our kayaks, paddled a bit and then our instructor Pau, said: “You gonna get wet”. I thought that was another joke since he could not stop making us laugh. However that time was serious, he explained that “Tramontana” started blowing.

Tramontana is a very strong wind that comes from the north and the consequences are not that good. Suddenly the sea changed, waves shaking our kayaks, and we could see the boats returning to the port. It’s was nature showing its power! Pau took us to a safe place near the beach where we had great fun playing games of trying to stand on the kayak or even changing positions.

sports in catalunya kayaking

Time for kayaking!

What an adventure! Cycling, hiking, kayaking, not to mention the amazing and proud people we met in Catalunya. The 3 days itinerary is suitable for everybody, you can do it on your pace, no rush, you can be sure the support car will be ways there for you. Take time to enjoy the beautiful fields, landscapes, and ancient villages. Don’t forget to recharge the batteries with the delicious Catalan food and wine!

Now a summary to help you to organize your adventure trip full of sports in Catalunya:

 

How to get there to Catalunya

Flights: Girona or Barcelona airports operate flights to everywhere. Including low-cost options. To find the best deal check Skyscanner or Expedia.  From both cities you can take a bus to San Joan de les Abadesses.

Train: Girona and Barcelona are again the hub. Consider a Eurail Pass, we wrote a great guide about the pros & cons of using a Eurail Pass. After the train, you can take a bus ride to San Joan de les Abadesses.

Bus: Teisa operates a bus line San Joan de les Abadesses.

 

Where to stay in Catalunya

sports in catalunya hostels

Quite nice accommodations.

Barcelona: Guesthouse Barcelona Gotic

Girona: Equity Point Girona

San Joan de les Abadesses: Hostel Ruta de Ferro

Vall D’en Bas: Hostel Vall d’en Bas

Banyoles: Hostel Banyoles

Llançá: Hostel Costa Brava

Do you know you can rent a house, a boat, a castle or a room on Airbnb? Curious? Sign up here and get a discount on your first booking!

 

Where to eat in Catalunya

sports in catalunya food

Amazing flavors!

Barcelona: Focacceria Toscana

Girona: Can Roca

San Joan de les Abadesses: La Teuleria

Vall D’en Bas: Cal L’Esteve

Banyoles: La Carpa & Can Xabanet

Llançá: El Vaixell

 

 

Sports in Catalunya – Tours and info

Bikes rental & car support: Centre Logistic de Bicicletes

Kayaking: SK Kayak

Tour in San Joan de les Abadesses

Tour in Val D’en Bas

Albergs Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona

Costa Brava Tourism Board

Official video from the trip

 

My friend Scott Tisson from intrepidescape.com was with me on this trip and he wrote great tips on what to do in Catalunya. Check him out!

Now you have all the info to enjoy the outdoors and practice sports in Catalunya. Are you ready for this trip?

 

PS: A big thanks to Albergs Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona, Costa Brava Tourism Board & all the companies involved for putting this trip together. Doesn’t matter who paid the bill, you always get our sincere opinion.

34 Comments

  1. We went on a cycling holiday last year, which we absolutely loved. There’s something so fantastic about being outdoors and feeling the wind on you as you zip along! The scenery here looks amazing too – not to mention the food you ate when you stopped off!

  2. Amazing!! I’ve loved seeing all the content coming out of Costa Brava post-TBEX, I didn’t know much about the region but would definitely consider adding it into our European itinerary when we head over, thanks for sharing!

  3. This is a great itinerary! I was in Spain earlier this year and did some hiking, cycling and kayaking, but nothing on this level. Am very tempted now to go back…

  4. Genius! This is a really amazing way to discover a place. You have got everything wrapped in one package. Catalunya looks like a wonderful place, lots of history and wonderful views, activities and good food of course.

  5. Wow you got some amazing pictures. I haven’t done a cycling trip and now I’m thinking I should give it a try. Thanks for the great suggestions. Spain has many surprises and wonderful areas to explore for sure.

  6. This looks absolutely amazing!! We’re trying to get to Spain as soon as possible and this looks like the best way to discover that part of Spain! We’ll definitely be looking to do this route and even if we decide not to cycle it, we’ll definitely be stopping at those restaurants along the way!

  7. Wow this itinerary is detailed! You deserve another glass of wine for putting it together. Who would of thought Catalunya is so much more than Barcelona. Your photos sell it well. Padded shorts?

  8. Wow – this is a serious itinerary! Fab effort. I second Gemma, grab that extra glass of wine, put your feet up and give your bum a much needed rest from the saddle! What a great idea for hostels to arrange adventurous trips like this… i’ll definitely be suggesting it on my travels. Catalunya looks amazing and as always your photos are brilliant. 🙂

  9. Wow, what an adventure!!

    Having that support car would have me imagining I was in Le Tour!

    Then throw in the food, the scenery…

    Man, what a ride!

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