Put on warm clothes and sturdy walking shoes, and meet your guide and the rest of your small group in central Barcelona. Hop inside your air-conditioned minivan and journey into the countryside on route to the Pyrenees.
As you travel, hear tales of the region’s history from your guide and pass Montseny Natural Park, a protected region of mountains, forests and high moors.
After roughly an hour, make your first stop in the quaint market town of Vic. Enjoy free time for breakfast (own expense) or to explore the medieval center, with its picturesque market square, cathedral and Romanesque and neoclassical buildings.
Back aboard your minivan, continue to the stone-built mountain village of Queralbs; the last point on your route accessible by road. Leave the minivan, and accompanied by your guide, ride the rack railway up to the Nuria Valley. Home to a lake and bright green pastures ringed by high peaks, this picturebook valley is one of the most beautiful in the Pyrenees.
Admire the scenery from the train, and on arrival, enjoy several hours to explore as you wish. Perhaps follow your choice of the hiking trails suitable for different fitness levels, such as the paths up to the Valley Coma de Vaca. Although a good physical fitness is not a prerequisite of this tour, a reasonable level is required if you wish to take the Coma de Vaca trails.
Alternatively, take your pick from the local activities (own expense) such as horseriding or boating, or enjoy a meal (own expense) at one of the traditional Catalan restaurants. See the Itinerary for details of the activities available.
When the time comes, return to Barcelona where your trip ends at the start point.
Please note: Annual track maintenance on the rack railway from Queralbs means that the line is closed between Mondays and Fridays from November 1 to November 30. On these days, the tour will run to an alternative itinerary that involves accessing the mountain valleys by road or hiking at a lower height. These changes will in no way take away from your Pyrenees experience.
Head north quickly leaving the hustle and bustle of a busy Mediterranean city behind, driving past Montseny. The Montseny is 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 among others, living in beech, pine and oak forests.
Just an hour from Barcelona, you will 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 cathedral (a mixture of styles ranging from Romanesque to neo-classical), and its magnificent renaissance and baroque buildings; or to relax while having breakfast in the heart of the town: a beautiful arched square where the market and other major events are held.
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. Originally serving the military until 15th century, it later became a stately home.
Next stop is Queralbs, which, at an altitude of 1,236 meters 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 are swollen in the summer when the age-old tradition of transhumance brings shepherds and their flocks up to 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 see the Church of Sant Sadurni de Fustanya, built from stones so perfectly-hewn that legend has it that it was built by the fairies.
From Queralbs, you take the last 6 kilometers of the impressive rack railway, construction of which began in 1931, up to an altitude of 1964m above sea level, into the stunning mountain valley, formed by the glacial action of the ice from all 7 surrounding peaks pushing downwards. In the valley is a sanctuary, originally built to house pilgrims to the valley, which takes its name from the Virgen de Nuria. Her image, 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, and 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 that seems too energetic, another option is to enjoy some of the traditional Catalan dishes available in the valley's restaurants.