The Girona Pyrenees (Pirineu de Girona) are located in northeastern Catalonia. They are a lovely area to visit for their landscapes, culture, history and all the culinary qualities and sensations. For example, the Garrotxa region is spread across a volcanic landscape, blessed by a large number of volcanoes, which makes the produce grown on its land different and unique from other places. In addition, a great importance is given to the use of local ingredients and traditional recipes from the Pyrenees.
Among the products that are grown here you can find sweet flavoured onions, potatoes, beans and a great variety of cheeses. One of the cheeses unique to Catalonia is Mató. Its flavour is mild and it is typically used in desserts (preferably with honey). A variety of different mushrooms also grow in the Pyrenees, and every season many mushroom pickers and local people gather them up on the hillsides, especially in Cerdanya, near the border with France. Two types of mushrooms, one called Calocybe Gambosa and the other Saint George’s mushrooms, grow here, mainly in the fields or on the sides of the roads. They are highly valued and are considered a real delicacy. Last but not least, don’t leave the Pyrenees without trying the traditional liquor, Ratafia Russet. It has a sharp taste and is traditionally drunk at the end of the meal to help digestion. Come and join in the celebration of flavors in the Girona Pyrenees, and remember, a good meal is always bases on fresh and quality ingredients.
Quinta Justa Restaurant
Quinta Justa restaurant is situated in Olot, the capitol of the Garrotxa region, a famous and beautiful volcanic area in the Pyrenees. As mentioned above, the produce grown in this area takes a flavor inspired by the volcanic soil in which it grows. Not surprisingly, the Quinta Justa restaurant offers a Volcanic Cuisine with a variety of delicious and exquisite gourmet dishes created from produce grown in the Garrotxa area. Among the most popular local dishes there are potatoes stewed in meat (Olot Potato), duck liver in apple sauce, veal with mashed potatoes in sweet sauce that melt in your mouth, and for dessert, you can savour a chocolate souffle with a yogurt ice cream.
Address: Passeig de Barcelona, 7, 17800 Olot
Can Jepet Restaurant
Can Jepet restaurant is located in the village of Setcases in the peaceful and beautiful Camprodon Valley (Vall de Camprodon), which is in the eastern part of the Pyrenees. This is a long-established family restaurant that has been around for over fifty years and serves a wide variety of dishes. The restaurant offers traditional dishes of the Girona Pyrenees along with dishes adapted to the seasons of the year all made from products grown in the Camprodon region. The dishes at the restaurant are elaborated, are unique and served in a special aesthetic way. Among the dishes served at Can Jepet there are edamame salad with goat cheese and spring flowers (yes, flowers you can eat), duck liver on a bed of apricot jam, salmon with caramelized onions and more.
Address: C. Molló, 11 – 17869 Setcases
Can Jordi Restaurant
Can Jordi Restaurant is in the small village of Espinavell in the Camprodon Valley, home to only twenty inhabitants. The restaurant was founded eleven years ago and belongs to a woman named Eva, a former journalist who lived most of her life in Barcelona, and to her husband Angel, a farmer that raises horses and sheep. Eva fell in love with this village and the Pyrenees and decided to move to Espinavell. The first recommendation for this restaurant comes with the introduction of this special couple because they are a significant part of the experience, pleasant and generous people and the restaurant itself is warm and modest, as if the diners were invited to dinner in their own private home. The dishes served at this small restaurant are made from local and fresh produce with lots of love and passion for cooking. The signature dish is horse steak, a popular dish in the area which has over fifty stables located around the region. The restaurant has only six tables (we said it was homely), so it is best to reserve a table in advance. The place also provides accommodation for the night.
Address: Calle Avall, 2, 17868 Espinavell
“Els Caçadors” restaurant
“Els Caçadors” restaurant belongs to the Hotel Els Caçadors, located in the village of Ribes de Freser, in the Ripollès county of northeast Catalonia. The village is known mainly due to its train station from where run the trains to the Nuria Valley (Vall de Núria), a beautiful area for hikes and natural attractions during the summer and winter seasons. This popular restaurant has been around since 1920 and traditional dishes from the Catalonian cuisine are served here. Among these dishes are white asparagus in a vinaigrette and tomato sauce, lamb chops, fried eggs with artichoke, giant eclairs filled with whipped cream and hot chocolate sorbet with a variety of fruits and more. After the meal, we highly recommend that all you gin and tonic lovers go to the hotel bar and try the huge collection of gins available!
Address: Carrer Balandrau, 24 i 26 Ribes de Freser
Cal Cofa Restaurant
Cal Cofa restaurant is located in the village of Llivia, a Catalonian enclave, yes, an island of land that is not France but which is surrounded by France, and where the locals speak French and Catalan. Llivia is an interesting and charming village, visited by many travelers as part of their visit to the Cerdanya region, also in the Girona Pyrenees. This is an excellent restaurant with a fusion of French and Catalonian cuisine. Among the dishes at the restaurant are snails, beef in divine Dijon mustard sauce served on a hotplate that keeps it sizzling, fine steak fillet and more. At the end of the meal you should try the popular dessert of the area – a giant meringue pie with vanilla ice cream, served flaming! Another delicious dessert is the homemade cheesecake, which is made only from cheese from the region.
Address: C / Frederic Bernades, 1 17527 Llivia
Fabian Martin’s Pizzeria is located in Puigcerdà, the capital of Cerdanya. After wandering around the beautiful and interesting village, pop into Fabian’s pizzeria and prepare for a special and different kind of pizza than what you would probably imagine. Fabian Martin won the World Championship for Pizzas held in Naples in 2009 for his one of a kind pizza drink. He made a drink by taking out one by one all the ingredients of the pizza (mozzarella, tomato sauce and a tiny circle of dough). You start with putting a circle of dough in your mouth, without chewing, and then you drink a shot of tomato sauce with mozzarella. It tastes like you just ate an amazing slice of pizza.
The very concept of this restaurant is taking common pizza ingredients and turning them into unique kinds of pizzas with Fabian’s special touch and out-of-the-box thinking. Among the dishes served here are pizza sushi eaten with chopsticks, pizza with truffles and herbs along with other unconventional pizzas. The desserts here are also very innovative, including an airy and sweet chocolate pizza, ice cream with marshmallows and cotton candy, and a Tiramisu that looks like a fried egg, which is made from white cream and mango. Fabian is also known for his acrobatic skills and his impressive ways of flipping the pizza dough.
Address: Rambla Josep Maria Marti, 6, 17520 Puigcerda
Can Guix Restaurant
Can Guix Restaurant is located in the centre of the village Olot in the Garrotxa County. It offers a variety of traditional and homely dishes. This family restaurant has been around for over fifty years and is bestowed with an authentic charm thanks to its small size and modesty. The dishes served are relatively simple, and yet extremely tasty and the prices are very reasonable (some would even say cheap). The dished offered vary from fish salad with anchovies, the traditional Olot potatoes, various meat dishes, pastas and more.
Address: Mulleras, 3, 17800 Olot
The Girona Pyrenees is a beautiful area which offers a variety of places to see and things to do, from hiking and cycling in nature to visiting authentic and traditional villages. All this, of course, while savoring the unique dishes in the restaurants mentioned above. Spring and autumn are quite a site in this area, covering the landscape with beautiful flowers or hues of autumn. Winter is perfect for skiing and in summer you can visit the enchanting beaches of the Costa Brava.
How to get there
Bus: Daily bus services from Barcelona and Girona take you to the different villages in the Pyrenees. The bus company is Teisa. The fare from Barcelona to Olot is € 16.40 and the journey takes around 2 hours. The fare from Girona to Olot is € 7.45 and the journey takes an hour. Consult the website for the timetables.
Train: There are trains between Barcelona and several villages of the Pyrenees. There is a regular service between Barcelona and Ribes de Freser. Seven trains leave daily from Barcelona-Sants train station. The trip takes between two and two and a half hours and the fare is €9.10. Check the timetable at Renfe.
There are no trains to the Garrotxa region. It is possible to take a train to Ripoll or Girona and then a bus to Olot.
Car: It is highly recommended to visit this area by car. This lets you organize your own schedule and offers the possibility of seeing a lot more villages and nature sites (and there is plenty to see!).
To Olot: From Barcelona to Olot: Leave Barcelona via the C-31 following the signs to Girona on the B-10 and C-33. Take off at the C-17 to Vic. The C-17 will take you around Vic to the north and then you get off on the C-37 to Olot. The drive takes around two hours. The highway toll is €1.65.
From Girona to Olot: The fastest way is to take the C-66 leaving Girona and then the A-26. It is about an hours drive.
Where to sleep
A few recommended hotels in the area:
- The Can Jordi restaurant in Espinavell offers great accomodations.
- Hotel Resguard dels Vents in Ribes de Freser . This luxurious four star spa hotel has spacious rooms, some even with a private hot tub looking over the lovely views from the balcony.
- Cal Calsot for a quiet, rural experience and Cerdanya Resort & Wellness Spa for a relaxing spa experience in the Cerdanya region.
Where to eat
All the great restaurants mentioned above!