A great opportunity to experience the spectacular Pyrenees Mountains on a tailor-made day excursion from Barcelona.
Our first stop is Vic, a beautifully maintained historical town. We afterwards head on to the stunning stone-built village of Queralbs. From here you can catch the rack railway high into the Pyrenees*, where you will have the chance to spend the rest of the day exploring this mountain sanctuary of much natural grandeur. You have the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of activities ranging from horse riding and walking to archery and boating. An unforgettable Pyrenean experience.
Leaving Barcelona at 08:30, the tour heads north and quickly leaves behind the hustle and bustle of a busy Mediterranean city. We drive past Montseny, a 30,000-hectare natural park that was designated a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1978 and is still a haven for wild boars, badgers, hares, foxes, red squirrels, eagles, and red partridges living in beech, pine and oak forests.
Just an hour from Barcelona and half way to the Pyrenees, we stop for a short break in the ancient settlement of Vic. Here you will have a chance to stroll around the town center with its cathedrals (a mixture of styles ranging from Romanesque to neo-classical) and its magnificent renaissance and baroque buildings. You could also relax while having breakfast in the heart of the town, a beautiful arched square (one of the biggest in the country) where the market and other major events are held.
From Vic, we will continue up to the Pyrenees driving past the Montesquiu Castle surrounded by dense oak and red pine forests. Montesquiu Castle is a fortified building dating from the 10th century. Serving the military until 15th century, it later became a stately home.
The tour continues to Ripoll, the founding of which has strong links to the evocatively-named Gifre el Pilós (Wilfred the Hairy), the first Count of Barcelona, who began a dynasty in the late 870s that lasted into the 1400s. From Ripoll - gateway to the Vall de Ribes - the tour proceeds to Queralbs, which, at an altitude of 1,236m above sea level, is the last vehicle-accessible village on the way up to our mountain valley destination.
Queralbs has a population of only 200 permanent residents, but numbers rise in the summer when the age-old tradition of transhumance brings shepherds and their flocks up into the higher ground. This has been documented tradition since 1273, when the infant Jaume, son of Jaume 1 of Catalonia and Aragon bestowed the right to the grazing land on the people of the village. Here you will be able to see the Church of Sant Sadurní de Fustanyá, built from stones so perfectly hewn that legend has it that it was built by the fairies and witches said to inhabit the surrounding caves.
From Queralbs, you take the last 6km of the impressive rack railway*
(construction of which began in 1931) up to an altitude of 1964m above sea level and into the stunning mountain valley. This mountain valley is the glacial action of the ice from all 7 surrounding peaks pushing downwards. In this valley, too, is a sanctuary that is originally built to house pilgrims and which takes its name from the Virgen de Nuria. The Virgen de Nuria's image, buried in the earth, was reputedly unearthed by a very persistent ox. In the valley, you can enjoy the unspoiled scenery, sharing it with unusual birds and animals ranging from Gryphon Vultures to chamois, and golden eagles to marmots. You could also take one of the many different walks (of varying levels of difficulty) or you can try horse riding, open air bowling, archery lessons, crazy golf, or boating on the lake. If these seem to take up more energy than you're willing to shed, another option is to enjoy some of the traditional Catalan dishes available in the valley's restaurants.
*The rack railway will be closed from now through December 2011 for routine maintenance. There may be days when it is open, but it is not possible to know exactly when beforehand. On days when it is closed, there will be a suitable alternative to Vall de Nuria.You will still be taken up to the mountains, through a combination of walking and driving, and the views are just as stunning!
From Queralbs, the return to Barcelona begins, arriving there at 19:30.
- Transport in a small luxury mini-coach
- Rack railway ride from Queralbs to Vall de Nuria and return
- Services of professional English-speaking guide
- Meals and drinks (unless specified)
- Tips and gratuities
- Personal expenses
- To ensure that you will receive our guide's undivided attention, this tour is limited to 15 participants only.
- Lunches are not included. We stop, however, in places where you have a range of lunch options suited for different budget levels, and there are picnic options available.
- Because we believe in giving you opportunities to get off the bus and get out and about, please bring suitable clothing, footwear, and sun protection.