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Costa Brava Living - blog area

Walks and other things

Walks on the Costa Brava - click for a larger version One of the joys of the Costa Brava is the variety of landscapes and we like to visit places and walk (a lot), particularly into and around the Gavarres. Sometimes we travel around on bike. In the summer, we swim and canoe.

These then are write ups of walks, hikes and activities that we've done since November 2012, with photos straight from the original walk or activity.

We like to make circular walks and our walks range in length from about 4km (an hour) to around 16km (four hours) - but probably about 2 1/2 hours on average - though if you want to reduce the length, there are usually shortcuts.

To find walks by location, click on the map, which goes to a full sized map with links to individual walks and visits. To our surprise, we were listed in the Sunday Times' Essential Costa Brava (Feb 2017).

The most visited walks are:

09 Dec 2014

Port de Llanca Llança is in the northern part of the Costa Brava between Cap de Creus and France. It is on the train line from Figueres to Cerbere and so easily accessible by public transport. Until recently this was the only trainline out from Spain to  France on the Mediterranean side but from Llança north it is a slow and steady journey along the coast. There is also a road that follows the coast, weaving and bending with the rugged coastline by hills of low scrub and olive groves - again not a journey if you want to travel quickly.

Llanca view to the north Llança, like it's neighbour Port de La Selva, has the feeling of a harsher landscape than the gentler fields and welcoming calas further south - there is an air of untamed wildness in the scrub-covered hills and the rough rocks that jut at angles leaving sharp edges. The sand is dark grey, soft in places, but pebbly in others. This wildness which was increased for us by the strong wind and white horses on the sea and the fill of driftwood from the recent storms that scattered across the beaches.

Llanca bays to Les Tonyines We're a little behind on our walks over the last month. The early part of November was unseasonably hot, with people sunbathing and swimming in the sea in the first week of November. And then rain and fog came (including floods in Figueres) which, combined with being a taxi service for some very active children, meant that we've been walking closer to home and revisiting walks we've already added.

Llanca view to Port de la Selva This weekend though, blue sky is back and the autumn temperatures have returned to something normal for the time of year (more 14-17C) and for the first time this autumn we have our mountains back - the crystal clear views to the Pyrenees that we get once the dusty haze of the summer blows away. There's snow too. Canigou's white top can be seen from the Palafrugell to La Bisbal road again.

So we're up to visit Llança. The town is slightly separate from the port, so we park near the Port in a strong Traumuntana wind which is whipping up the sea. From the car park we walk to the sea itself for some bracing sea air, then follow the promenade past the modern houses which faces the nest of buildings of Port de Llança and the small marina in front of us. Behind us, the hills climb to the back of the housing estate and along the coast we get views of the windswept headlands towards France. And out at sea there are some hardy souls on jetskis using the rough conditions for jumping.

Llanca tower in the town A bridge crosses a small river into the bay of the port, which has a crescent shaped sandy beach in the dark sand typical of this area. Ahead of us is a small hill (the Castellar) with a number of people out for a breezy sunday afternoon stroll. We walk up the hill and get views up the coast to Port de la Selva. The village of the Port is separate from the main town of Llança and consists of a small nucleas of houses, bars, restaurants and shops that climb up on the headland.

There is a marked coastal path (green-red), however from the port side closest to the sea, the route has been blocked, so we have to navigate through the streets up the hill of the headland. At the top we find the path continues above the cliffs with pre-prepared steps, but the wind is sufficiently strong that we actually stick to the estate roads among the houses and villas until we reach a lower point (it's not particularly high, but the wind was quite fierce).

After curling through the streets we navigate back towards the sea and reconnect with the coastal path, following it around the rocky headlands. The stones and rocks in this area are quite dark and jagged with sharp corners so we stick to the path. It follows around a number of small bays with beaches of grey sand in places, pebbles in others.

The storms have brought driftwood in to the bays and they are littered with trees and branches washed clean by the sea, lying among seaweed that lends a nautical smell like an English beach. The path is undergoing some recontruction, but we walk round with no problem coming to Platja les Tonyines before turning back to the town above Cala de la Loup.

We walk the straightest route to town along a relatively plain street, heading directly for the church. The inner part of Llança has a core of small streets, in amongst shops and a commercial district. The church is quite grand and stands next to an old Romanic tower in a placa in the centre of the town.

We're suffering from wind noise and so don't explore too much, but instead head back to the port.

Neighbouring walks: Port de la Selva - Espolla to Rabos - Cadaques and Port Lligat - Sant Pere de Rodes - Figueres and Castell de Sant Ferran - Cadaques to Roses - Peralada - La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France) - Collioure (France) - Portbou to Cerbère (France) and back

Walking route for Llanca and Port de Llanca

Andorra La Vella
28 Oct 2014

Andorra la Vella autumn view to the mountains Andorra is one of Europe's smallest countries, located in the high Pyrenees between Spain and France and known for cheap skiing and duty free shopping. From Barcelona, Andorra can be reached in about 2-3 hours, but it's a little further from the Costa Brava as the most direct route along the foothills of the Pyrenees is relatively slow and windy.

Andorra has a certain novelty value because of its size and there is a steady stream of traffic that passes through just to see what it is like - from both France and from Spain. We've driven through about three or four times, but not really stopped - so it can seem like just one road with few shopping centres at one end and a few ski resorts at the other. However, the last weekend my son had a handball match against an Andorran team with a bus to take us, so we took the chance to explore a little more.

Andorra main shopping street The journey up to Andorra from the Costa Brava is relatively long as the best route goes via Vic, then connects with the main road from Barcelona to Berga, the Tunnel of Cadi to La Seu d'Urgell. Our journey by bus took four and a half hours including a brief stop at a service station outside Vic. The landscape on the journey is quite varied. The plain of Vic up to Berga is quite a harsh dry type of terrain, then from Berga north it becomes more vertical and mountainous past the spectacular lake at Cercs before going through the Tunel de Cadi (this has a relatively expensive toll). On the other side of the Sierra de Cadi the landscape is transformed to soft fields and pasture to La Seu d'Urgell before  climbing up to the frontier.

As we arrived, it was a great surprise to run into traffic jams on the road up to the border. Partly this were some spot checks by the local police, but there was also quite a lot of traffic. Andorra, being a duty free zone, attracts many visitors and shoppers who travel up from Barcelona. The bus dropped us in the centre of Andorra la Vella so that we had a couple of hours to explore before the match.

Andora la Vella river to the mountains Andorra la Vella is the capital city of Andorra and has become wealthy as a tax haven for Spain and as a location for tax-free shopping. Most of the city is therefore modern and commercial with many private banks, jewelry and electronics stores, fashions and of course, tobacco and spirits outlets. The city sits in quite a vertical narrow valley with mountains all around and though there were some lovely autumnal colours on the mountain-sides, the setting is not particularly picturesque.

There is a river and older parts of the city that can seem a little lost among all the new buildings and villas clinging to the sides of the hills. The northern part of the city is Les Escaldes with an ancient bridge and a handful of older buildings by the river. Then following the river downstream you pass a large glass and steel centre before coming back into the main commercial axis.

The commercial areas of the city are mostly pedestrianised with a number of large malls and shopping centres. If you are shopping, it's important to realise that this is a genuine old-school duty-free area. That is there are restrictions on how much you can take back out into Spain (or France) and customs and police regularly do spot-checks as you cross the border.

Andorra la Vella historic quarter The heart of the old part of the city is further towards the frontier above the river area with a small church, a small castle and a handful of older buildings. Almost like a Catalan village surrounded by modern apartment blocks and buildings. This is also the only country (currently) where Catalan is the national language and you do see signs in Catalan around the town. There is also a strong French influence and because of the skiing, a number of English bars around town which gives Andorra more of an international feel.

Our overall impression is that there's a novelty in visiting once but that, unless you're into skiing, with the long journey it's not a place we're drawn back to.

Also in France close to the Costa Brava

White water rafting in Quillan (France) - Collioure (France) - Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis (France)  - Perpignan - Elne (France) - Ceret (France)

For the mountains

Ribes de Freser and skiing at Vall de Nuria - Mollo (Camprodon) - Pyrenees to France - Visit to Setcases - Puigcerda and Bourg-Madame

See also: Figueres and Castell de Sant Ferran - Girona - Festa Major of Sant Narcis - Perpignan

Santa Coloma de Farners
20 Oct 2014

Santa Coloma de Farners placa Santa Coloma de Farners statue Autumn's beckoning and as has become an annual habit we head to Montseny - this year to Santa Coloma de Farners just to the South West of Girona. It's a town we've visited several times mainly for the walk in the hills to the Ermitage that looks over the town and the wonderful autumnal park of Sant Salvador - a glorious crunchy leaves and dappled sunlight type of park that runs along the river.

This year October is proving to be surprisingly warm - 26C or 27C. At the coast people are still swimming, let alone sunbathing. Inland at Santa Coloma the temperatures are also warm so rather than walk to the Ermitage we take a shorter route around the unusual rock formations of Roques Alls.

Santa Coloma de Farners river in the park Santa Coloma de Farners Park of Sant Salvador We park in the centre of the town and for the first twenty minutes or take a short walk through the town streets which, being Sunday, are pretty much empty of people. The main placa for Santa Coloma is just the other side of the church and has been decked out with Catalan flags. We're between the Diada (11th September) and its massive demonstration for Catalan independence and the impending date of the Vote for the Consulta which will ask Catalan people whether they want to be independent or to have more autonomy within Spain.

From the Placa we walk up to the Carrer Dalt (upper street) just above the town with views across to the hills and Montseny in the direction we'll be walking. The street isn't too long and we soon come back into town and then find a path past allotments to the main park of Sant Salvador, crossing the river by a small footbridge.

Santa Coloma de Farners Roques d The park is a highlight of Santa Coloma, tall trees planted in formation rise above a flat grass area next to a wide, but shallow river. The autumn light piercing the leaves leaving pools of illumination in among the shaded paths. The paths are patterned with leaves that crunch under foot, while it's still warm enough for children to be splashing in the river shallows.

The park is quite large, running along the river for about 1000m and includes a playground and a natural water spring that people visit to fill up water bottles making it a great place for a picnic or to bring younger children.

Santa Coloma de Farners rocks part 1 We head up though, taking a path on the far side of the park from the weir/waterfall. There are a number of routes into the hills and our path quickly narrows, following what would be a torrent (a steep dry stream bed that channels water when it rains). It's not too far and we emerge at the base on large bare rocks and boulders. There are views from here across Santa Coloma and out towards the plain of Girona.

We continue to head into the hills and then follow the signpost for Roques Alls - more rocks, some which look like they're balancing precariously above our heads. The path is a bit of a scramble between the boulders into a narrow gully, then up and out the other side emerging at another view point.

Our walking path then connects with a dusty gravel road track and we start to head down, but rather than keep to the road, we take a different path to the right and curl our way back down the hill to the park and back through the town to the car.

Nearby: Hostalric stroll - Lake at Sils - Castell de Montsoriu - Brunyola - Arbucies autumn walk - Visit to Roda de Ter and Espinelves - Caldes de Malavella - Volca de la Crosa - Sant Dalmai (Girona Airport)

Walking route Santa Coloma de Farners

Banyoles lakeside walk
14 Oct 2014

Banyols - lake view towards town The Lake of Banyoles is the largest inland freshwater lake in Catalonia and is situated about a hour from the Costa Brava. The lake and town are surrounded by wooded hills and make for a perfect Autumn stroll in amongst the golden leaves as the trees turn colour.

We park by the main sports centre where a festival or function is taking place, then walk across the paths through the sunken meadows to the side of the lake. The lake is about 5-6km around the outside so an easy flat stroll, but a large enough lake to really enjoy the water and views.

Banyoles autumn trees The lake itself has a number of boathouses that jut out into the water in fanciful shapes like castles above the water. We walk away from the town to start with towards the more natural end of the lake. This takes us past the reconstruction of a neolithic village that has been created to show how Banyoles' history goes back in time with exhibits of wattle and daub houses raised on stilts to protect them from flooding.

Banyoles Neolithic Village Our path continues around the lakeside into the woods which gleam in green with the light coming through the trees. We have our dog and given we're in natural woods its disappointing that she can't come off the lead, but that's also a challenge with a popular walk for families. The woods are full of ferns and water channels feeding into and out of the lake. And then we emerge at the other side by a sea of reeds and a modern wood design observation tower that's open for visitors. The extra height doesn't change the view too much but we can see the tourist boat on the lake taking tourists for short trips on the lake (€7 per person).

Banyoles - observation point over lake Banyoles Poqueres chapel Our path continues past the top of the lake and past the first of two bathing areas we would pass. This one is natural and open, but swimming is only allowed on the lake in July, August and the first parts of Septmber. We cross over a number of small streams that either feed or take water from the lake. The meadows are full of a white daisy-like flower that grows almost on vines.

We turn down the other side walking back in woods but with the sun in front of us. The occasional side path runs to a jetty or the waters edge. After a brief while the path emerges by the side of a a road and continues along the roadside (separated and a proper path) until we pass the chapel at Porqueres. For this part of the walk we can see the water through the trees, while on the other side of the road are freshly ploughed fields with a rich deep brown soil that seems to extend up to the hills in the distance.

Banyoles boat houses on the lake At Porqueres we get to the small church of Santa Maria and back into a more developed part of the lake with a campsite (still operating in October) and meadows that run to the side of the lake under a boulevard of plain trees. Along the edge of the lake we can see more of the boat houses and as we walk the area slowly becomes more commerical with sports stadium and bars and restaurants, and also more people walking and enjoying the sun. This is also where visitors can take a rowing boat or catch the boat trip on the lake.

Banyoles bar-restaurants over the lake If you want to stop and take a drink or something to eat there is a small bar or restaurant built out over the water. The path continues along past the boat houses until we reach the large installations of the Club Natacion de Banyoles - a swimming and sports club and also the location of the second lido on the beach, but this time more private. The sports club is large with boats, an indoor pool and tennis courts and has to be negotiated around the back.

Then it's back along by the sunken meadows - presumably sunked to act as flood controls, and back to the main sports pavillion. We never did know what the event was.

Nearby:  Sadernes and river pools of St Aniol d'Aguja - Sant Esteve d'En Bas (Olot) - Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Olot - capital of Garrotxa - Palol de Revardit to La Mota - Bascara - horses, fords and lost - Esponella and River Fluvia - Bescano, River Ter and free-style kayaking - Visit to Besalu and Banyoles

Swimming at the lake: Swimming at Lake Banyoles

Walking route Lake of Banyoles

Cami de Ronda Calella de Palafrugell
14 Oct 2014

Calella de Palafrugell beach at Golfet Calella de Palafrugell's Cami de Ronda on the Costa Brava is a short classic holidaymaker's walk with views over Mediterranean and hidden rocky coves, but enough interest to still be delightful as a regular walk for locals in and out of season.

The walk is part of one of the earlier walks we did starting at Mont-ras, but this time we want to include just the Cami de Ronda part. Our starting point is at the beach of Golfet, the fourth (or so) of Calella de Palafrugell's beaches and the one most distant from the centre. Access to the beach and path is down steps from the upper road towards Cap Roig botanical gardens and is clearly sign-posted.

Calalla de Palafrugell Cala from Cami de Ronda The steps down actually get to the path about 100m along from Golfet, so to make a full route we first go to the beach of Golfet itself, empty now in October. The beach is grittier and pebblier than the other village beaches, but sits in a natural cove with cliffs behind. In summer it's the quiet beach to get away from the crowds. In October there are signs of work to stablise the cliffside as it's situation also means erosiion and natural forces at work.

Calella de Palafrugell Port Bo Houses and beach From Golfet the path passes past two large imposing isolated rocks before running into the first of a number of tunnels. The path is extremely well maintained and not a wild walk by any means, but as the path runs along the coast it still feels like an unspoilt walk.

Each bend brings a new rocky bay, or you can take in the views of the red stone cliffs that give Cap Roig its name. The path is popular as a walk and even in October there are sunbathers and people who look as if they have just come out of the sea taking a stroll.

Calella de Palafrugell rocks at Port Bo We pass a few more tunnels and out to see we get to see the small islands of Les Formigues (The Ants) marked by a low light house. The Formigues claim to fame was as the location of a naval battle between Catalans and the French in the 13th Century as part of the Aragonese Crusade when the King of Aragon was in dispute with the Pope. Now, in summer Calella de Palafrugell has a long distance swimming race to the Formigues and back - it's a long way 5-6km in total, so not to be tried without support and assistance.

Calella de Palafrugell beach at Canadell From the last long tunnel we get our first real view of Calella de Palafrugell in the autumn sunshine. The town is much much quieter than in summer and some places do close up, but the main restaurants by Port Bo tend to stay open year round. In October the bay is empty of the boats that normally moor here in the summer and the fine light makes it easy to take picture postcard type photographs.

The path curves up briefly to the road at the top, before cutting down more stairs into and then up and out of a small bay. We've now reached Hotel Sant Roc and the terrace restaurant that looks over the town where dinners are just finishing lunch.

Calella de Palafrugell townscape The path now turns into a promenade along the tops of the main beaches of Port Pelegri by Hotel Mediterrani. The warm day, even for October means there are still people on the beach even in the afternoon, though no-one actually swimming.

The promenade walk runs down to sea-level at the heart of the village by Port Bo and its beach. People are sitting on the boardwalk by the restaurants and enjoying the views out to sea and out across to the path we've just walked. We follow the boardwalk past the old fishing boats on the beach and the old mini-harbour in the rocks. The path then cuts through the houses and we emerge with a view of the beach of Canadell. with the modernista buildings above the beach and the views to the headland that connects to Llafranc.

Calella de Palafrugell view over town

For longer walk that includes this path see: Mont-ras to Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc

For neighbouring walks see: Calella de Palafrugell/Cap Roig to Castell - classic wild Costa Brava - Far de Sant Sebastia (Llafranc) to Tamariu - Eulogy to the Ruta del Tren Petit (Palafrugell, Palamos, Mont-ras and Vall-llobrega) - Gardens of Cap Roig - Palafrugell

Walking route for Cami de Ronda in Calella de Palafrugell Costa Brava

Canapost to the medieval fair at Peratallada
09 Oct 2014

Peratallada view over the town In the first weekend in October, Peratallada - one of the prettiest villages on the Costa Brava - holds a medieval fair with stalls and troubadours and festivities. It is very popular, so rather than try to park at Peratallada, we decided to start from Canapost and take a walk through the woods.

We park in the centre of Canapost just opposite the old church. The village positively glows in the autumn sun with radiant golden stone houses. It's not far to Peratallada - about 2km on a straight path - but we're looking for a walk before the fair. We head out of the village on one of the apparently main roads and follow it until it merges with a river bed and then rough rocks that we need to climb out of to reach the track at the top.

Peratallada centre with castle The path takes us along the edge of woods with views towards the Gavarres to our left and not far from the Clots de Sant Julia - the very ancient coloured quarries. Our road though steadily leads away in the wrong direction for Peratallada and it's only when we past the discreet Deixalleria (village rubbish dump) with hundreds of seagulls roosting on its roof, that we find a left hand turn into the sandy woods and back in the direction of Peratallada.

Peratallade medieval fair The woods are quite open and the track curves and loops up among the trees with routes marked by yellow and red arrows - probably more for mountain bikers than walkers. We traverse the woods and find ourselves at the top of a small hill with Peratallade down below us. Even from the hill outside the village we can hear the troubadours playing the classic medieval sounding Catalan instruments.

We come down out of the woods and into the village. The car parks are pretty full so it's good we parked away and the village itself is full of stalls and people, at times causing quite a crush through the village streets. Peratallada is one of my favourite Costa Brava villages as it seems to be a place unchanged for hundreds of years like a medieval village in perfect preservation. With the fair and the stalls and decoration on the buildings and the sound of the musicians it's like walking on to a film set for Robin Hood. We also discover there are several groups of musicians - usually with one group playing, and the others taking a break in the bars.

Peratallada scented stall The stalls are mostly stalls of craft produce - so both handmade products like scented cushions, candles and wooden toys, but also traditional foods including cheeses, sausages (embotits) an of course wines from local vineyards.

The people not walking around the village and looking at the stalls are mostly installed in the many small restaurants and bars sitting out on the stone courtyards, or under archways or on the terraces.

We leave and continue back to Canapost, but taking the shorter more direct route out along the path that curves around by fields returning to an empty Canapost which looks as if it hasn't changed for centuries.

Neighbouring walks: Clots de Sant Julia (Vulpellac) - La Bisbal, Vulpellac, Castell d'Emporda, FontetaCanapost, Poblet Iberic and Ullastret - Palau-sator and Peratallada - Santa Susanna de Peralta and Sant Climent de Peralta

Walking route Canapost to Peratallada for the fair

Elne (France)
09 Oct 2014

Elne town with restaurant on the town walls Elne is a small cathedral town on the French side of the Catalan border close to Argeles sur Mer that used to be the capital of Roussillon part of Catalonia until this changed to Perpignan in about 1276. It's an old town with Roman foundations, apparently a stop-off for Hannibal on his way to attack Rome.

If you take the autoroute into France, there are the French tourist signs on the motorway advertising the cloisters at Elne as a place to visit. We didn't go in to see the cloisters, but we did visit the town on one of our periodic forays into France for shopping to pick up squash/cordials and other bits and bobs we struggle to find on the Spanish side of the border.

From the autoroute we take the first turn off at Le Boulou - our normal first line option for shopping - and follow the road along the plain at the bottom of the Abreres range of the Pyrenees in the direction of Argeles sur Mer.

Argeles is a seaside town built on the flat with campsites and low modern houses and apartment blocks in French pastel colours along the beach stretch.  It's very popular for camping and main UK camp operators rent tents. In the middle of summer it's also phenomenally popular with the French - seeming to be busier than parts of the Costa Brava with lots of family-type attractions and souvenir outlets, but with a very strong French vibe. The beach is long, flat and wide and very different to the bays and calas of the Costa Brava, and perhaps a little unattractive. But the French really sell their region with plenty of vineyards and wines, calls to eat the local oysters and mussels and celebrating and connecting inland attractions with the coast much better than the more low-key Costa-Brava-style.

Elne cathedral But for this visit we're going to Elne rather than Argeles - just 2-3km away. The cathedral stands on a hill above the plain and can be seen from far away. We park at the outskirts of Elne by an Intermarche and walk into the centre past the Casa de la Vila. In this area elements of Catalan mix with the French in signs and names and some road names have both a French and Catalan version on the signpost.

The current main town sits at the bottom of the hill and feels very French with houses with shutters and parades of taller houses (even down to the amount of dog-pooh in the middle of the pavement - a traditional French hazard). We've arrived at lunch-time - about 1.30 - but in contrast to Catalan villages that shut down in the afternoon, there are still people about in the town or taking a beer in the cafes, though the shops are closed.

There is a formal tourist itinerary marked on the signposts, but to be pefectly honest, the town is small enough that it's as easy just to explore a little.

The first place we go to is to walk up by the town walls - built with large pebble stones arranges in lines and in through what would have been one of the old town gates. We then continue up looping around to an open space at the back of the Cathedral at the top of the walls. The views are excellent, though there is haze in the day we can see the sea in the distance and the new apartment blocks by the coast, or look north and the city scape of Perpignan, or walking further round we can see the Pyrenees and the watchtowers on the peaks of the Abreres to the south.

The Cathedral is huge and there is access from the back into the cloister (which we didn't visit), but we walk around the wall top before ambling back through the old part of the town past what would have been the castle and on to the front of the Cathedral where a party of children are being told the history in Catalan (it's unusual to have school on a Saturday).

The town has several gates and a network of smaller streets with painted houses with a strong French feel - it's always a little surprising how strong the cultural differences are one side of a border to the other, even though the distances are quite close. But given Elne is quite small we feel we've seen as much as we want.

On the way back we stick to the N-road rather than take the motorway and drive through Le Perthus - an odd town that for parts of it has Spain on one side of the road and France on the other. We then call in on La Jonquera and visit one of the supermarkets. La Jonquera for the French is like Calais is to the English - a place to stock up on booze and cigarettes at the lower Spanish prices. The supermarket has masses of alcohol, but also sells other items in bulk. We've not been in before (since we're on the Spanish side), but because of the volumes, even for Spanish shoppers there are a few bargains.

See also: La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France)

Also in France close to the Costa Brava

White water rafting in Quillan (France) - Collioure (France) - Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis (France)  - Perpignan - Ceret (France) - Andorra La Vella - La Jonquera to Fort de Bellegarde (France)

Parlava, Rupia and La Sala
09 Oct 2014

Parlava church Parlava is a small village on the main route between La Bisbal d'Emporda and Figueres prior to crossing the river Ter at Verges. As such it's a village that many people will pass through on their way to somewhere else. This is really a walk of three churches and the September day had a strong autumn mist, so it was not a good day for photographs.

It would be fair to say that Parlava is not a particularly noteworthy village. It has a church and a handful of old streets but nothing that really catches the eye. The walk though is relatively flat and links with Rupia and La Sala - an area we've walked before (Rupia and Foixa) coming at Rupia, which is more interesting, from a different direction.

Rupia church After visiting the village centre we follow the bike route out in the direction of Casavells which leads out into the fields. At this time of year, fields are being ploughed and the landscape is a mixture of earthy browns and khaki greens. As we're walking there are views to Castell d'Emporda but otherwise it is a simple flat walk.

At the first proper turning right we follow the track towards a pig farm - there are no signposts but it is obvious that it is going towards Rupia in the distance where we can see the church. The track turns into a lane by the farm and we simply follow it to the stream at the entrance to Rupia. There are children playing with sticks in the water and a small playground.

La Sala (Ultramort) church A quick visit of Rupia and we head out across the main road (which links Flaca to Torroella de Montgri). This is part of our early walk so we know we will find the strangely isolated church at La Sala along the road.

At the crossroads, we turn up past the La Sala church and can see that it seems to be linked or connected to a farm. There are a number of old and new farmhouses in the area some of which look quite luxurious. After the church we need to walk on the road, turning right up the hill to link back to Parlava. For a quiet back road there are more cars than we would expect, but this could just be the time of day.

And so back to Parlava along the main road - a walk of three churches, but not too much else.

See also: Verges, Tallada d'Emporda and Maranya - Colomers and Jafre - Vilopriu and Valldavia - Serra de Daro, Fonolleres, Sant Iscle d'Emporda - La Pera, Pubol and around - Parlava, Rupia and La Sala

Walking route Parlava, Rupia and La Sala

Bascara - horses, fords and lost
29 Sep 2014

Bacara Church Costa Brava If you take the old N II (pronounced as N-two) road between Figueres and Girona instead of the AP7, then you will pass through the village of Bascara just after crossing the Fluvia river. Strategically this would have been an important crossing point for the river particularly as the village stands above the river. However, if you pass through now it's easy to miss the older part of the town which is off to the side from the main road.

Older crossing points of major rivers are usually good for walking as there is normally a history to the town including a castle or tower, and a mix of geographic features, so following our visit to Sant Miquel de Flluvia, Bascara seemed to be the next interesting place along. Unfortunately we managed to get a little lost on private roads, so I've avoided putting the path we walked.

Remains of Bascara Castle To start with we park just off the main road in amongst the village itself by a playground. Bascara isn't that big and the older part consists of about 4-5 older streets leading off from a central square and street that can be reached from the main road via an old gateway. We explore a little - the area is pedestrianised and the older streets have houses with lots of plant pots outside.

At the far end away from the square we reach the church which stands in its own large placa unusually a little off the centre of the town. However opposite the church are the remains of the old castle - barely a tower standing and with no access to see more. The location of Bascara means that it has been under attack many times in its history. The last time when it was occupied by the French in 1808-9.

Bascara River Fluvia and AVE railway bridge The castle and church then have an open space to the town walls. The town stands about 20-30m above the river Fluvia below and, unlike the castle, the walls have been renovated.

We take a path through the walls down to the river bank below. To start with we head up river. The Fluvia is quite broad at this point with a weiring system controlling the water flow. The river passes underneath a new bridge for the AVE high speed train line to Figueres. And as we follow the very pleasant river path we see that the AVE line also passes over a horse race track and equestrian centre.

Horse riding is popular in the Costa Brava with a number of Gymkhanas and active riding schools and competitions all over (directly around us are 4-5 riding stables). However, until Bascara, we'd never seen a race track which was always something of a suprise given the number of holiday makers and its popularity in the UK and France (may be it's an opportunity for someone).

Bascara horse track and riding centre The track itself now runs under a high (50m or so bridge for the AVE train), and is sand-based rather than grass, and though there is a riding centre there are none of the stands or paddocks you'd see in the English courses. While we were there a showjumping gymkhana was taking place with children doing dressage.

Having seen the race course, we decided to turn back and go a little more downstream. We walked under the main bridge that carries the N-II and on a gravel track that headed into countryside before turning down towards the river. This was our crossing. However, the map hadn't shown that the crossing was actually a ford (quite a long broad one). The water wasn't deep (5-10cm) but we had to take our shoes and socks off to cross to the other side.

Bascara ford across the Fluvia On the opposite side we followed the river back upstream to the opposite side of the river to the horse riding. The walk wasn't special, but there was a dappled light through trees and an open gravel track. The map showed a path that curled round and then climbed back up to meet the N-II bridge which should take us back to town.  However, at the point we turned away from the river the track split and there was a Cami Particular sign. Unfortunately it wasn't very clear which of the two tracks it applied to. We assumed the path that went on along the river since there were further signs marking it as private.

Not sure, but wanting to make a loop, we followed the track past rough fields as the track curved under a small rise. At the end of the track where we thought we could continue, the track came to an end and we found ourselves following a path that took us into the farm lands and barns that sat on top of the rise, slowly feeling more like we were in the wrong place. We could have turned back, but it would have meant a walk all the way back to the ford and knowing the buildings would have an exit at some point we pressed on. Luckily we didn't run into anyone but it was a rare occasion when we've felt we were walking somewhere we shouldn't be.  Unfortunately the maps don't distinguish between public and private roads but generally the walking in Catalonia is open and relaxed and all tracks can be walked - even if you end up on a bit of a wrong track it tends to be a short connection between two paths usually because we've approached the path from the back rather than from the road.

We did eventually find our way out (and it was private) and found the N-II bridge over the Fluvia back into Bascara, though the N-II is a busy road so walking the bridge wasn't too pleasant (the ford on the other hand was a lot of fun).

Nearby: Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Banyoles lakeside walk - Sant Miquel de Fluvia - Cervia de Ter - Waterfall at Les Escaules (Boadella) - Canet d'Adri - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret

Lloret's Platja de Boadella, Platja de Santa Cristina and The Fence
19 Sep 2014

Platja de Boadella Lloret de Mar Lloret de Mar is the Costa Brava party town, but even for walkers it has it's attractions.

Aside from the main beach and neighbouring Platja de Fenals, there is also the quieter discrete (and naturist) beach of Platja de Boadella, and next door again the grander beach of Platja de Santa Cristina.

However, last year we walked the GR92 coastal route from Blanes, past Lloret de Mar and on to Tossa de Mar we noted how the G92 seemed to miss out these beaches.

So we return, to find out what options there are to link these areas. And as we discover though Boadella is reached easily and there are signs for the GR92 close to the beach, Santa Cristina has been entirely fenced in and there are no options other than to follow the road for the GR92.

It is still possible to go in to the Santa Cristina area for the hermitage and the beach, but access is only through the access road (or via the hotel).

All the way along the Boadella side is a long fence that reaches down to the cliffs above Santa Cristina beach.

So while the two beaches (Santa Cristina includes one larger and one smaller beach Treumal) in the fenced in area are beautiful, the lack of a coast route access is very disappointing, made more so by the fact that the Santa Cristina area is run by the Lloret council.

It is an area used for festivals and is very well maintained and the beaches themselves feel quite private and privileged, so maybe it's not all bad.

Santa Cristina beach Lloret de Mar To reach the beaches we start just in among the new flats and apartment blocks of the Fenals area of Lloret de Mar.

Most holidaymakers will go to Fenals beach - the quieter of the two main Lloret beaches.

We're heading for Boadella and to get there you pass around the Jardins of Santa Clotilde and into the woods at the side.

There are a number of tracks that then take you down to Boadella beach. This is definitively a nudist beach with plenty of naturists particularly among the rocky coves to the right and to the left of the main sand beach.

Boadella has a chiringuito on the sand, but facilities are relatively simple compared to the more dynamic Lloret beaches.

From Platja de Boadella we follow the marked tracks that point to Santa Cristina - these are marked as GR92 but on our walk from Blanes we didn't quite get as close to the beach.

The tracks climb into the woods above the beach and we really want to try to keep to the coast, but in front of us we run into The Fence. This is a large and long fence covered with a matting that runs all the way from the cliff edge closest to the sea, up to the road.

There is no way past or through the fence for walkers, and just the occasional tantalising glimpse of the beach and hermitage on the other side.

Santa Cristina Platja de Treumal Lloret de Mar So our GR92 route was right and there is no linking path other than by road. We follow the road around - there are a couple of access points into the Santa Cristina area but these are private. The first is just access to apartments, the second access for hotel guests only to take them down to the hotel on Santa Cristina beach.

So we are stuck following the road around the outside to the main entrance where we can walk down through the car park (entry is free for walkers, or €6.50 a day for car parking).

The gardens and hermitage, with its tiled dome, are beautiful and very well taken care of, with the restricted access making the whole area feel quite exclusive.

The hermitage itself is a large decorated church built in the 18th Century built from money collected among the people of Lloret. Santa Cristina hermitage and gardens therefore hold a special place in the hearts of the local population and is the location for festivals and traditions.

The Fence separating Santa Cristina area from GR92 At the bottom of the gardens, we reach the beaches - there are two separated by a small rocky outcrop and along the paths there are copies of famous paintings made of the beaches and area.

The smaller of the two beaches (Treumal) is separated from the larger main beach by a rocky headland with a sheltered corner tucked under the rocks.

We walk along the beach which is quiet and reserved.

The grounds of the hotel extend down to the edge of the sand and there is a largish bar and restaurant area.

On the far side of the beach, there are rocks at the bottom of the cliffs and it is possible to scramble around.

For the sake of discovery we tried to see if we could get all the way to Boadella over the rocks, but the way is blocked by a couple of impassable bays.

It would probably be possible to swim across the final bays, but it's not a practical option for walkers. So the only option was to head out the way we came, effectively retracing our steps.

The beaches and area of Santa Cristina is beautiful, but it remains a pity that it remains a diversion from the GR92.

Walking route Lloret de Mar Fenals to Boadella and Santa Cristina

See also: Cala de Sant Francesc (Blanes) - Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar by GR92 - Tossa de Mar to Cala Llorell - Swimming and beach at Fenals, Lloret de Mar

Sant Miquel de Fluvia
19 Sep 2014

Sant Miquel de Fluvia church The village of Sant Miquel de Fluvia is tucked away between Figueres and Girona, not directly on a main road to anywhere in particular, but on the river Fluvia and also on the train line. It's an area of low rolling hills that rise gently above the plain of Alt Emporda, and an area we don't know very well.

The aim of this walk visit was simply to see what the area was like and to see a village we've not visited before. Our walking route is therefore unlikely to be the best or most picturesque, but gave us a feel for the area.

We park just off the main road through the village on the Carrer de Forn Roma, not far from the Embotits (sausage) factory. We decide to head for the distinctive 11th Century Romanic church that we could see as we drove in with it's square tower set with open window spaces.

The street though has a hidden secret. Just off the footpath in what at first seems to be a font (or even a bus shelter) is a Roman Kiln or Oven. The entrance is actually below street level and it's very dark to see very much at all.

River Fluvia at Sant Miquel de Fluvia We continue along the street and arrive at the church and main old village centre. There is a collection of old farm-house type buildings, the traditional terraced streets and the church standing grandly above them all. Around the side of the church are excavations though we can't tell what for.

Before visiting the village though we cut out through an archway towards a spring font in the hill nearby, close to the old safreig (communal area for washing clothes), and seeing a walk through the woods we head down and out towards where we think the Fluvia river is.

Eventually though we reach a road and turn back towards the village, before spotting a sign pointing to the river. This takes us right down to the waters edge. We're in early September and the river is clear and fast flowing and it would be very tempting to take a dip. It certainly looks like the area is used by swimmers or paddlers.

We try to follow the river along a marked footpath through the grass that has been cut recently, but it ends in a dead end and rather than retreat the way we came we force through to a path at the bottom of a fenced field and then up past a farm to the road where we re-enter the old village from the other direction.

The village has the classic ring of houses for protection and a main street that is never straight. Apparently the curving of the streets was defensive - if you were being pursued the curves mean that the pursuers can't see all the way along the street making it easier for someone to slip out of view and escape.

We leave the old village and arrive back at the road through, heading to the right. We could go towards the neighbouring hamlet of Sant Tomas de Fluvia, but instead continue up along the new estate of houses on the hill. Though the countryside is rolling with some views to the distance it's not so pretty and the landscape feels a little unkempt.

Leaving the new houses we attempt to follow a marked footpath, only to lose the trail when we meet a ploughed field with no obvious direction to go in. So we cut across the rough fields with extremely sticky grasses clinging to our heels.

We find where the path would be for the return trip and walk past the fields and the edge of the woods. Where the path meets the road again, we make a short diversion to see a small tumble-down chapel next to what looks like an old gun emplacement. The chapel looks abandoned but just outside the door is a small bottle with a virgin.

We head down back to town. Around us is a another modern estate that falls away to the train line to our right. We had expected more given the presence of the station and the river and though the older part is pretty, and the Fluvia left us itching to go for a dip, the remaining parts of the village were not particular noteworthy.

Nearby: Banyoles lakeside walk - Bascara - horses, fords and lost - Waterfall at Les Escaules (Boadella) - Palol de Revardit to La Mota - Serinya and Illa del Fluvia - Cervia de Ter - Canet d'Adri - Celra, Juia and the Castle of Palagret - Sant Pere Pescador river Fluvia

Walking route around Sant Miquel de Fluvia

Swimming and beach at L'Estartit
12 Sep 2014

lEstartit view to the beach from the port wall L'Estartit is popular holiday town just beyond Torroella de Montgri under the hills of Montgri and the main access point to the Isles Medes, reputatedly one of the best diving and sub-aqua areas on the Mediterranean.

L'Estartit itself has a large port and older fishing area linked to the old town with shops and restuarants, and next to the port a long and very broad beach backed by modern hotels and apartments.

The area is popular with the British both for camping and package holidays particularly for families, and has a handful of British bars - something that is now quite rare in the mid and north parts of the Costa Brava.

The beach itself stretches from the port wall all the way along to Gola de Ter (about 4-5km) and then down to Platja de Pals with sunbathers spread along to the limits of the town - but with enough space that it doesn't feel crowded.

At the main L'Estartit end the beach is very broad - 60-70 metres wide with enough space for parking at the back of the beach.

lEstartit beach Costa Brava The sand is fine and soft, perfect for sand castles or beach sports, and the bay shelves gently out to sea making this an excellent beach for small children.

The shallow water also means that the water is warmer at the earlier and later parts of the season - there is no problem swimming in September.

The bay itself is all sand with a sand bank about 30m out shallow enough for standing when we were there (sand banks move so this may change), however the sandy bottom means there are relatively few fish visible.

Swimmers who like to explore will find the swimming a little dull, though it is easily possible to swim long distances.

Facilities at the beach

As would be expected the beach is monitored by lifeguards. Pedalos, canoes and other water craft can be hired as can loungers and umbrellas. Showers can be found at the back of the beach by the car park.

There are three or four chiringuitos or beach bars on the beach itself, but not so much on the street directly behind which is mainly hotels and apartments.

The main town centre is a little way away from the beach behind the port and in among the streets of the hotel/apartment blocks.

Sand quality

The sand is excellent - fine and slightly powdery sand all along the main beach with no stones or grit.


This is really a family orientated beach. The bay shelves gently into the water (it's at its gentlest closest to the port wall) deepens and then has a sand bar some 20-30 metres out from the shore which is shallow enough to stand on.

The bay has a sandy bottom and though there are fish (and the occasional reedy weed) it is not particularly interesting for snorkelling. However, for snorkelling and seeing fish there are boat trips to the Isles Medes.


Parking is easy at the back of the beach, or in the back streets of the town all of which are free parking.

Closer to the old heart of L'Estartit there are fewer spaces so parking closer to or on the beach is generally the easiest option.

Walks and exploring

The beach stretch can be walked down to the Gola de Ter where natural Aiguamolls (sea marshes) can be found behind the beach.

In winter, without sunbathers around, this is a good beach area for walking dogs. In addition, the Ter can be followed back to Torroella - see Torroella de Montgri to Gola de Ter

To the north, the paths run into the Montgri hills which can be quite wild and deserted and lead to a couple of very isolated bays: see L'Estartit to Cala Pedrosa and Cala Ferriol

Next beaches

South to Gola de Ter where the beach meets the mouth of the river Ter - North to Cala Montgo (L'Escala)

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17 Feb 2014 19:46
What a great blog. I am planning a walking holiday in the region and wonder if you can recommend the best walking maps, like UK ordnance survey ones.

I shall be reading more of your walks over the coming days as we plan.

Many thanks
24 Feb 2014 17:25
Glad you're enjoying it. We have recommendations for maps in our 'Advice and FAQ' section
13 Jul 2017 12:46
Sorry I missed the comment, so I hope it's not too late - use the contact box if you'd like to send a message. For the coast, the GR92 is best and if you have driver you can just take it piece by piece. For hikers, around Cap de Creus is great, though it can be dry and hard walking in summer. For us, the stretch between Palamos and Palafrugell and on to Begur is the prettiest part of the whole Costa Brava and really good for walking. I'd probably also take the walk up and over Montgri, possibly starting at Pals, or L'Estartit to L'Escala. And though you said you prefer the coast, don't overlook inland routes as there are some wonderful villages and countryside out towards Girona, La Bisbal, or Olot.
Sven-Gunnar Furmark
24 May 2017 11:43

My name is Sven Furmark. I am from Sweden. I plan to go to Costa Brava with some friends (totally about 10 people) for hiking for one week (5 walking days). We are experienced hikers and we usually walk 4-6 hours per day. We prefer to walk along the coast as much as possible. We plan to rent a house and travel to each days hiking with a bus & driver which we plan to book for the whole week. Which five hikes would you recommend for us.

Warm Regards
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