Nestled in the Girona Pyrenees of northeastern Catalonia, the Garrotxa region is still unknown to many tourists: it is genuine nature and will seduce you in its beauty. Here you will find a variety of options for a peaceful and genuine experience, ranging from beautiful parks and nature sites, numerous hiking and cycling trails, to a hot air balloon ride over the volcanoes of the region!
Garrotxa, one of the forty two provinces of Catalonia, is a volcanic region with over forty volcanoes. These have made their mark on the landscapes, vegetation and even the culinary traditions of the area. Garrotxa offers its visitors wonderful landscapes, magical and ancient villages, rich gastronomy and many options for activities and visits to the attractions. For many travelers it is just a short journey here after a visit to Barcelona or the Costa Brava, in fact about an hour and forty minute drive from Barcelona, or about an hour’s drive from the Costa Brava.
Fly like a bird in a hot-air balloon. We begin our trip to Garrotxa with a little sport that will give you a great idea of the stunning landscapes of the region and the possibilities that there await you. Imagine that you are flying high up in the sky, just like a bird, and see with your own eyes the amazing and unique views. In Garrotxa you don’t have to imagine this, you can actually experience it. Vol de Coloms is a company that organizes hot air balloon flights over the Girona Pyrenees. This is a once in a lifetime experience, enabling you to witness magnificent three hundred and sixty degree views of the area and its diverse landscapes. Without even being aware of it, you will find yourself hovering at an altitude of 2,000-3,000 meters at a speed of about 40 mph.
No matter how many pictures or videos you see of Garrotxa, a hot air balloon flight will enable you to fully appreciate the scenery spread out below you and see what awaits you here: dormant volcanoes, meadows, forests and green parks, towns seeped in history and even snowy peaks. You can choose a flight package made to measure to what you personally want to see. The offers range from family packages to romantic rides for couples that include sweet delicacies and even a glass of cava while you enjoy the peace and tranquility of the hot air balloon flight. The ride lasts about an hour and a half and rest assured the landing at the end is very gentle. After the flight you can browse through the small gift shop or stay for a meal in the restaurant next to it.
Address: Afores, s / n, 17811 Santa Pau, Girona / www.voldecoloms.cat/en
The volcanoes of Garrotxa – A natural phenomenon. Olot, the main village of the Garrotxa, has a very rich historical and cultural heritage. Around it there lie four dormant volcanoes. It is a kind of nature reserve in its own right. Many tourists who come to the village enjoy climbing up to the Montsacopa volcano, located right in the village centre. From the summit you can enjoy a view of the village of Olot itself, and then the surrounding area. You will also be able to see the church of St. Francis, dating from the nineteenth century. The climb up the volcano is not difficult. It is mostly on a paved trail. It takes about twenty minutes and there are benches along the way for resting while enjoying the views. Montsacopa volcano for the people of Olot is like Central Park for the people of New York. Here is where they go for a run, a walk with the dog or if they just want to escape the rhythm of everyday life for a while and enjoy a quiet and peaceful afternoon in nature.
Exploring nature – hiking and cycling trails. There are over two thousand and five hundred miles of trails and paths for cyclists and hikers in the Garrotxa region. One of the ideal cycling routes that is suitable for almost any age is the Fageda trail or “La Fageda d’en Jordà” trail, by its full name. The twenty kilometer trail passes through Corb’s Valley. Its gravel paths will take you through beautiful views, hidden churches and the rich greenery and trees of the park. This is a circular route that starts at the old train station in the village of Les Preses. You can also go hiking in the forested national park, La Fageda d’en Jordà. On all sides you will be surrounded by a variety of beech trees that have grown up on the lava soil of the Croscat volcano.
Volcanic Gastronomy. Garrotxa is called “the volcanic area” due to its many volcanos and lava streams that over years have penetrated into the earth creating its unique landscape and vegetation. The gastronomy of Garrotxa has also been enriched by the products of this volcanic soil which has a great impact on the ingredients and food of this region. In fact, here there are restaurants, especially in Olot, known for their Volcano Cuisine, serving dishes based on produce that grows on the volcanoes.
During your stay in Garrotxa, you are sure to taste the traditional sweet pastry, usually served as a dessert in Catalonia and especially in this region, the Coca. This is a sweet bread sprinkled with sugar, pine nuts and anise on top. You will probably also have a chance to taste a liquor called Ratafia Russet, usually served as a shot at the end of lunch or dinner. Bon Appetit!
So, how do you get to at all these wonderful delights? The best way is to rent a car from Barcelona and drive to the Girona Pyrenees. You can also start your trip on the Costa Brava. Take a stroll along its beaches and then continue on driving toward the Pyrenees to the Garrotxa region. The drive from Barcelona to Garrotxa takes about an hour and forty minutes.
For those of you who love nature and its tranquility and are looking for quiet and secluded rural accommodation, the Mas Garganta Lodge in Vall d’en Bas is the place for you. The views are enchanting, especially at sunset…
The best seasons to visit this area are spring, summer and fall. It can rain here during the whole year, and winter is the driest season. The summers are cool, while the influence of the mountains means winters are cold. To be able to see the most of Garrotxa, we highly recommend to travel around by car. You can rent a car from the Barcelona or Girona airports. If you are starting your trip in Barcelona or Girona it is also possible to rent a car from these cities.
How to get there
Bus: Daily bus services from Barcelona and Girona take you to the different villages. 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 is € 7.45 and the journey takes an hour. Consult the website for the timetables.
Train: 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. For information and timetables of trains.
Car: From Barcelona to Olot: Leave Barcelona via the Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes and continue to the C-31 following the signs to Girona. 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
Garrotxa offers a variety of accommodations ranging from hotels in the natural parks to country houses, apartments, camping sites and hostels.
Recommendation: Mas Garganta Lodge in Vall d’en Bas; a charming rural house situated on the Carretera de la Pinya – the road leaving Olot to the west.
Where to eat
As we mentioned above, you can’t leave the Garrotxa area with out trying it’s unique Volcano Cuisine.
We personally recommend these two authentic restaurants in the village of Olot:
- Quinta Justa restaurant offers a Volcanic Cuisine with a variety of delicious and exquisite gourmet dishes created from produce grown in the Garrotxa area.
- Can Guix Restaurant is located in the centre of the village. 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. Address: Mulleras, 3, 17800 Olot