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CATALONIA Explore long sandy beaches rugged peaks national parks and world-class ski resorts FIND YOUR PERFECT ADVENTURE DISCOVER IBERIAS NATURAL PLAYGROUND HIKEEuropes most beautiful diverse and scenic walking RIDE Epic roads and mountain trails FAMILY Discover exciting active holidays for all Europes best-kept active holiday destination secret is yours to explore O ccupying the spectacular northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula where it hugs the border with France Catalonia is a unique Mediterranean destination shaped by more than 1000 years of history. Proud of its own distinct culture and Catalan language its also blessed with a benign climate and sharply contrasting landscapes that make it a magnet for lovers of active adventurous holidays. To the north the Pyrenees provide the perfect playground for hiking mountain biking skiing and adventure sports while less than two hours away the long sandy beaches of its southern shores and the hid- den coves in the north attract water-sports enthusiasts. With 19 natural parks and many more marine and natural reserves sites of special interest and protected areas Catalonia is a nature lovers paradise from the highest Pyrenean peak across the mountain ranges of El Priorat or the volcanic lands of La Garrotxa to the costas and the southernmost Ebre Delta wetlands. Catalonia is home to 9000km of hiking trails and 6400km of mountain bike trails as well as thousands of kilometres of quiet cycle routes. All are immersed in exceptional scenery and fascinating history. But this is no rural backwater. Catalonia the 2016 European Region of Gastronomy is also the home of Barcelona one of Europes most thrilling cosmopolitan and stylish cities and a byword for art culture and exciting cuisine. Welcome to your new home of adventure 2 catalunya.com DISCOVERING CATALONIA catalunyaexperience.uk.ie visitcataloniacatalunya.com 3catalunya.com ImageClaveraOriol DISCOVER UNIQUE PROTECTED LANDSCAPES Nearly a third of Catalan territory is protected from its jewel in the crown Aigestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves of Montseny and Terres de lEbre with an incredible diversity of unique landscapes. There are nine awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sites in Catalonia including the archaeological sites of Tarragona and the architectural wonders of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona. In fact so complete authentic and sustainable is Catalonias offering as a place to visit that it holds the first Biosphere Destination certification as an integral tourist destination. EXPLORE A FOODIE PARADISE Catalonias rich diversity is reflected in the regions cuisine. It has 53 Michelin-starred restaurants including the Worlds best - El Celler de Can Roca in Girona and is the European Region of Gastronomy 2016. The secret is in the quality of its regional ingredients Prades potatoes wine from the Penedes the ganxet bean Siurana olive oil pa amb tomaquet bread with tomato rice from the Ebro delta sausage from Vic and the cheeses of Alt Urgell. Whether on a walking or biking trip city break or a vineyard tour youll enjoy a uniquely-flavoured experience. With an amazingly diverse landscape from sun-kissed coastal coves to snow-covered peaks and its own distinctive culture Catalonia has it all for the active traveller. Here are five of the best ways to explore it 4 catalunya.com FIVE REASONS TO EXPLORE ENJOY SUPERB SKIING WORLD-CLASS WALKING AND BIKING Catalonia has more than 9000km of hiking trails. Cross the high peaks of the Pyrenees trek through exotic volcanic terrain or walk between the sheltered coves and long golden sandy beaches. And Catalonia is the perfect destination for a biking holiday too. From a family ride along the coast a cultural circuit full of history a tour of vineyards or a mountain challenge there are a host of networks to help you explore. Take to the traffic free Greenways or choose from more than 6400km of marked mountain bike trails. Enjoy winter like never before at one of Catalonias 10 downhill ski resorts. After a day carving the slopes relax in the spas and historic thermal springs before exploring the culture of authentic Catalonian villages in the midst of abundant nature. Discover the powder slopes of Baqueira Beret in the Val dAran where they even have their own Aranese language and the quiet Romanesque chapels in the Boi Valley. Or enjoy the magnificent views at Alp 2500 one of the largest ski areas in the Pyrenees linking the two resorts of La Molina and Masella. At less than two hours from the city delights of Barcelona and Girona this is a fantastic day trip with a difference HEAVEN ABOVE AND BELOW THE SURFACE Each year Catalonia attracts thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the regions varied watersports from kayaking to white-water rafting from surfing to sailing from snorkelling to scuba diving. The Costa Brava alone has more than 30 dive centres Visit superb water resorts such as Roses-Cap de Creus the underwater world at L-Estartit- Illes Medes on the Costa Brava go underwater cave snorkelling at lAmetlla de Mar on the Ebre coast. Or try one of the freshwater alternatives inland lakes and reservoirs where you can canoe sail windsurf and row. And dont miss the chance to brave the rapids with some adrenline filled white-water-rafting on the Noguera Pallaresa River in the Pyrenees or even try a spot of canyoning. 5catalunya.com Step out into the unspoilt Catalan countryside and youll discover some of Europes most beautiful diverse and scenic walking. Thanks to its contrasting landscapes and sunny climate Catalonia is perfect for walking holidays from the alpine terrain of the high Pyrenees across the abundant coastal plains dotted with olive groves fruit orchards and fields of crops down to the sunny coasts of the Mediterranean. Catalonia has more than 9000km of long- and short- distance paths with a proud tradition of hiking. The wide variety of trails long distance Gran Recorregut GR short distance Petit Recorregut PR and local Senders Locals SL and range of difficulty ratings from tough down to easy make it possible for anyone to pull on their boots and step out and explore the landscape. In the natural parks of the Pyrenees you can walk through mountainous scenery such as the wonders of the Parc Nacional dAiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici Catalonias national park which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2016. The park is watered by almost 200 mountain lakes and is a wildlife refuge for species such as chamois capercaillie marmot and the mythical lammergeier or bearded vulture. HIKINGLEGENDS Topping the list of Catalonias most legendary walks are the Gran Recorreguts its share of Europes Grand Randonnes which are long-distance walks that take in some of the most breathtaking scenery and cultural attractions. These include the Catalan section of the famous Camino de Santiago which is a perfect way to discover monasteries and explore the traditions architecture and cuisine of cities such as Igualada Tortosa Tarragona and Cervera. 6 catalunya.com HEAVEN FOR HIKERS Another highlight literally is the Sender del Pirineu that spans the entire Pyrenean range GR-11 while the Sender del Mediterrani GR-92 hugs the sun-blessed coast from north to south. Inland one of the most emblematic of routes is the Cistercian Triangle linking three medieval monasteries whereas the Ruta dels 3 Monts joins three natural parks in a 106km route starting at the holy mountain Montserrat. MOUNTAINREFUGES If youre taking on one of Catalonias best-loved walks as a multi-stage route over several days or just a section with an overnight stop a particularly special way to pass the night is in one of mountain refuges dotted throughout the region. This immersive experience enables walkers to sleep on the mountain and experience stunning mountain dawns and sunsets. Refuges are a great resource when trekking and range from basic bivouacs through simple unstaffed cabins to catered hostels with communal dormitories or sleeping platforms. Washing facilities are usually unsophisticated but theres often a beautiful mountain lake nearby where the brave or hardy can take a refreshing dip Most of the Catalan guarded huts are operated by the FEEC Catalonia Excursionist Association Federation which offers discounts to its members. WHEN TO GO The main walking season in the Catalan Pyrenees is from late May to early October. But this is not a hard and fast rule and there are always windows of glorious weather and walking conditions in the autumn and spring. Of course these cooler transition seasons are perfect for walks on the sun-bathed plains and coast. ImageRibasAlejandra 7catalunya.com CARROS DE FOC CHARIOTS OF FIRE Distance 62.7km Difficulty moderate Type alpine This is a classic high Pyrenees circular route around the Aigestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. The route dips into the Val dAran which for centuries was virtually cut off from the rest of Catalonia. Consequently this high mountain valley on the Atlantic side of the Pyrenees has its own Aranese language and proud identity. The landscape boasts spectacular views with an abundance of flora and fauna and over 200 glacial lakes. Dont miss The UNESCO World Heritage listed Romanesque churches of the Vall de Bo. XARXA DEL BAIX EMPORD Distance 370km Difficulty easy Type coastal This network of signed and mapped trails and paths is a fantastic way to explore the Baix Empord coastal region of the Costa Brava. Encompassing a huge variety of landscapes from secluded bays to wooded hillsides coastal plains and low mountain terrain the trails are designed with walkers of any level and experience in mind. These paths are ideal for any length of walk from day trips with the kids to longer backpacking adventures. Local companies offer guided trips. Dont miss Visit the rocky coves beaches and coastal paths of the village of Begur. SANT PAU DE SEGRIES TO LLAD Distance 75km Difficulty moderate Type wetland and forest In the north east of Catalonia this route takes in the mid-mountain wetland areas of Ripolls Garrotxa and Alt Empord as well as the Mediterranean regions close to the coast. These include the Natural Park of the Volcanic Zone of la Garrotxa reputed to be the best example of volcanic landscapes in the Iberian Peninsula. All this is complemented by a rich cultural heritage and traditional cuisine. To walk the whole route set aside a good four days. Dont miss The famous fesols beans of Santa Pau or the volcanic cuisine of la Garrotxa. WALK THIS WAY SIX GREAT WALKS ImageAzumediGonzalo 8 catalunya.com LA PORTA DEL CEL HEAVENS GATE Distance 59km Difficulty tough Type alpine The strenuous but rewarding circular Porta del Cel route explores the Alt Pirineu Natural Park the biggest natural park in Catalonia taking in centuries-old trade routes used by the Catalan and Occitan peoples. From the top of Pica dEstats mountain at 3143m the highest peak in Catalonia on a good day the magnificent mountain- top views stretch all the way from the peaks of la Cerdanya in the east to the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada in the west. Dont miss Eat at one of the Associaci Gastronmica de la Xicoia restaurants in Pallars Sobir. GR-92 SENDER MEDITERRANI Distance 822km Difficulty easy Type coastal You dont have to hike the full 822 km of the GR-92 down as far as Andalucia. But almost any part of the Catalan section of the Gran Recorregut which itself is some 600km long is perfect for a pleasant and scenic coastal walk. Stages of the hiking route alternate between coast roads flat sections that head a little deeper inland and more elevated mountain stretches that reward the extra work it takes to climb them with simply superb views over the Mediterranean. Dont miss Wander around Barcelona the cosmopolitan and cultured jewel in the Catalan crown. ESTELS DEL SUD SOUTHERN STARS Distance 99.2km Difficulty moderate Type wetland and forest The Estels del Sud trail in the south of Catalonia runs through the Els Ports Natural Park an enormous mass of Mesozoic rock formations broken by a spectacular system of karst formations. In this wild landscape youll find a multitude of caves gorges cliffs and sinkholes. Youll need about a week to walk the whole route but if you do youll increase your chances of seeing some of the many species of animals that make it their home including the elusive Iberian Ibex. Dont miss Visit the River Ebro where you might see some of the enormous catfish it is famous for. ImageTurFrancesc ImageClaveraOriol ImageCastelletMarc 9catalunya.com Whether you enjoy riding roads or prefer more rugged mountain biking thrills Catalonias diverse landscapes guarantee year-round two-wheeled cycling fun From the Pyrenees in the north to the Ebro Delta in the south Catalonia offers cycling lovers the ideal conditions to explore this fascinating region. Countless road and mountain bike trails weave in and around the diverse landscape from long-distance routes to a network of 6400 mountain bike trails. Families especially will appreciate Catalonias superb network of Greenway routes along paved over disused railway lines. But a cycling holiday here is about more than just pedal power. You can choose to follow the coast down the Costa Brava tackle the peaks of the Pyrenees climb the wooded volcanoes of the Garrotxa ride through the flat wetlands of the Ebro Delta or tour vineyards. But a Catalan cycling holiday will invariably include the chance to sample a delicious Catalan meal and a stay in a friendly family-run hotel. ImageTurFrancesc 10 catalunya.com CATALONIA CYCLING SANTA SUSANNA - VOLTA AL MONTSENY Distance 139.5km Difficulty tough This is a long circular itinerary traversing the coastal mountain ranges the northern plain of Valls through the valley of the river Tordera and crossing the Montseny Natural Park. Take a moment to stop and rest in the gardens of Jalp Castle a 19th century walled fortress surrounded by its lake. CAMBRILS MAR I MUNTANYA Distance 98.4km Difficulty moderate This very entertaining route from the coastal town of Cambrils lives up to its name of Sea and Mountain by taking you through the wine lands of Priorat and Baix Camp. After the third and final climb of the route Coll Teixeta you descend to Duesaiges a village surrounded by ravines and the castle dEscornalbou. BLANES-SILS-SANTA COLOMA-BLANES Distance 153.7km Difficulty tough This long distance route is a veritable challenge for those who want to test their cycling strength and stamina. Its irregular circuit begins and ends on the coast near the coastal holiday resort town of Lloret del Mar on the Costa Brava taking on some seriously steep climbs through the volcanic cones and lava flows of the Garrotxa region inland. ROAD RIDES TRY THESE PIRINEXUS TRANSBORDER ROUTE Distance 353km Difficulty easy Pirinexus is a dip-in dip-out circular trans-border touring cyclist route which links the regions on both sides of the Pyrenees in the east between Spain and France. The main section of the route is 353 km long on top of which there are 175 km of additional itineraries. Almost half of the entire route runs along greenways with the rest on rural tracks and quiet roads. LA RUTA DEL CARRILET GARROTXA TO EMPORD Distance 120km Difficulty easy This easy ride along old converted railways which have been paved is perfect for a first family bike tour as its flat and traffic free. Ride from Olot in the heart of the volcanic Garrotxa region to the coastal village of Sant Feliu de Guxols and most of the riding will even be slightly downhill as you pedal through the fascinating medieval city of Girona to the sea. For road cyclists the joy of Catalonia is cruising uncrowded roads or taking on challenging climbs in the Pyrenees or coastal mountain ranges. What all rides have in common from epic mountain rides to shorter flatter easier rides for all levels is that they let you experience the Catalan scenery culture and history up close and personal. ImageCodinaDani catalunya.com 11 MTB RIDES TRY THESE Catalonia is a dream for mountain bikers with more than 6400km of marked itineraries including some amazing long-distance rides that link its network of 18 Mountain Bike Centres. You can discover the beauty of the landscape in the Val dAran go around Cad-Moixer through the impressive crags of the Cad Serra do a section of the Cam dels Bons Homes in the region of Bergued or delve through Paisatges Barcelona into the Vall de Sau- Collsacabra where the Cabrers-MTB is held every May. In Terres de Lleida in the Montsec you can try a variety of routes between the reservoirs of the Noguera. GO GREEN Catalonia has two fascinating family-friendly networks of Greenways vias verdes. These are disused railway lines converted into spectacular yet easily accessible routes reserved for cyclists walkers and horse riders with hardly any steep inclines perfect for children. TERRA ALTA ZAFRAN VALLEY AND BAIX EBRE Distance 49km With 40 tunnels and numerous viaducts to take you literally through the mountains and over steep ravines this disused paved railway line runs from Arnes past streams you can swim in and medievel mountain- top villages to Tortosa. viasverdes.com GIRONA Distance 125km The four Vias Verdes sections in northern Catalonia are the Iron and Coal Route from Ripoll to Ogassa the two Carrilet routes from Olot to Girona and Girona to Sant Feliu de Guxols on the coast and the Little Train Route from Palams to Palafrugell. viesverdes.cat On the Costa de Barcelona you can go on a route through the hermitages along the paths of the Montnegre and on the Costa Daurada there is a multitude of MTB tracks that take you through the mountains and along the beaches. All the BTT Catalunya Mountain Bike Centres also provide tourist information and biking services as well as departure points for MTB itineraries in the area. The centres themselves cover over 100km of routes with differing levels of difficulty and they are all signed with information on local nature landscape and culture. btt.catalunya.com 12 catalunya.com CENTRE BTT VAL DARAN LLEIDA PYRENEES Marked trails 444km The Aran Valley is bristling with mountain bike trails. In total 444 km are divided up into 27 trails throughout the area with rides for all abilities from novice to expert. All of the paths are fully marked up and signposted. The Aran Valleys new Mountain Bike Centre is in Betren and you can access everything you need repairs bike hire bike wash cycling guides and organised trips. bikingvaldaran.com CENTRE BTT PALLARS JUSS PRE-PYRENEES Marked trails 263km The Pallars Juss region is nestled in the Pre-Pyrenees Montsec Comiols and Boumort. The Mountain Bike Centre spreads out around La Pobla de Segur the regions geographical centre and the routes criss-cross around the Sant Antoni reservoir and through the basin formed by the Noguera Pallaresa and Flamisell Rivers which flow down from the surrounding mountain ranges. pallarsjussa.net CENTRE BTT SANTA SUSANNA MONTNEGRE Marked trails 318km This historic region between Barcelona and the coast is ideal for exploring by mountain bike. From the Santa Susanna MTB Centre there are a total of eight mountain bike itineraries ranging from challenging all-day rides such as the 25km Santa Susanna to Tordera route to the 7km Ruta de les Ermites which will have you visiting historical hermitages and spectacular beaches. stasusanna.org LA RUTA TRANSCATALUNYA Marked trails 1220km This challenging long-distance mountain bike ride circuit takes in the whole of Catalonia linking up the 18 different BTT Catalunya Mountain Bike Centres and enabling riders to fully experience the incredibly diverse landscape of Catalonia. Of course you dont have to ride it all in one go At the moment there are three defined itineraries of the TransCatalunya route Catalunya Central-Pyrenees 8 stages 450km. Mediterranean 7 stages 420km. Western 8 stages 350km. transcatalunya.catalunya.com ACCOMMODATION Bednbike Catalonia has built up a network of cycle-friendly hotels catering to the needs of cyclists. The BedBike label provides an assurance that the establishments holding it especially accommodation and restaurants offer suitable services which have been thought out with cyclists in mind from single night stays to laundry facilities. Other features include Flexible meal times. Cycle-friendly menus. In-house guides to recommend routes and provide technical advice. Workshop area to allow you to carry out basic repairs to your bike. Secure area within the premises to store your bikes overnight. ImageCablepress 13catalunya.com When winter comes Catalonias Pyrenean peaks deliver a piste and powder punch well above their weight without the crowds or high costs of other European destinations The first button lift in Spain started spinning on 28 February 1943 at the Catalonian resort of La Molina. Since then skiing has been steadily growing with new resorts bigger faster lifts and ever-more sophisticated services and facilities. Today Catalonia boasts 16 resorts 10 downhill and six for cross-country. But the skiing here is different youll find exquisite Catalan cuisine charming authentic villages and a welcoming culture. Youll also discover relaxing spas and thermal springs perfect for soothing aching limbs after a day on powder-laden slopes. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Romanesque chapels of the Vall de Boi discover the resort of Baqueira Beret tucked away in the fascinating Val dAran with its own Aranese language and unique gastronomy. Lap up the scenic splendours at Alp 2500 linking the two resorts of La Molina and Masella. And all this within two hours of Barcelona Image Clavera Oriol 14 catalunya.com SPECTACULAR SKIING BAQUEIRA BERET Resort height 1500m Summit 2510m Vertical 1000m Ski area 153km The largest ski resort in Spain Baqueira Beret celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. Situated in Val dAran in the north-western corner of Catalonia it is surrounded by peaks reaching 3000m and is unique in having an Atlantic climate that ensures snowfalls all winter long. The Val dAran stands out for its architectural unity houses built of stone slate and wood and beautiful Romanesque churches. HIT THE SLOPES TRY THESE Easy 48 Intermediate 37 Expert 15 ALP 2500 Resort height 1600m Summit 2535m Vertical 935m Ski area 133km A joint Alp 2500 ski-in pass allows users to move effortlessly between the two linked resorts of La Molina Catalonias oldest and La Masella which together form one of the regions largest ski domains less than a two- hour drive from Barcelona. La Masella located in the sunny Cerdanya Valley is renowned for its magnificent forests while La Molinas Pista Llarga beginner slopes have been the playpen of many experienced skiers. Easy 53 Intermediate 34 Expert 13 BO TALL Resort height 2020m Summit 2751m Vertical 731m Ski area 45.3km An unexpected gem in an extraordinarily spacious valley. Bo Tall is the highest-located ski resort in the Catalan Pyrenees sitting at the gateway to the Aigestortes National Park and offering amazing views. It stands out also for the group of eight beautiful Romanesque churches that the hermitage declared part of UNESCOs World Heritage in 2000. Its high altitude and steep slopes ensure superb snow and glorious skiing on and off-piste. Easy 32 Intermediate 50 Expert 18 VALL DE NURIA Resort height 1964m Summit 2252m Vertical 288m Ski area 7.6km Surrounded by mountains reaching nearly 3000m this small but welcoming family ski resort located in the Ripolls County is based in the imposing Vall de Nria Sanctuary. This is an especially quiet resort with just 11 pistes and is accessible only by railway from Ribes de Freser a quirk that has made it one of the most special tourist destinations in Catalonia with a philosophy based on a respect for nature and a commitment to sustainable tourism. Easy 54 Intermediate 27 Expert 19 15catalunya.com ImageClaveraOriol Families will feel right at home in Catalonia whether soaking up the sun on an active summer holiday or enjoying the ski resorts in the winter SEAL OF APPROVAL Parents looking for an assurance of a great family experience should look out for one of the 22 places that carry the Family Holiday Destination FHD seal of approval. 16 catalunya.com FUN FOR FAMILIES MOUNTAIN ADVENTURES MUNTANYES DE PRADES This area of natural beauty known as El Baix Camp is the perfect setting to combine nature and adventure with numerous hiking mountain bike or horseback trails for all ages and abilities. There are wild cats squirrels foxes falcons geckos and salamanders to spot and more active families can take on long- distance trails such as the GR 7 the GR 65 and paths that link towns to the coast and inland Catalonia. muntanyescostadaurada.cat FIVE GREAT FAMILY TRIPS THE GREAT OUTDOORS BERGA PYRENEES At the foot of the Serra de Queralt mountains Berga is a gateway to the Pyrenees linking the peaks with the plains. This area is ideal for families to explore together and is also close to Barcelona with its many cultural attractions. You can enjoy walks and hikes go mountain biking and even paragliding. Try water sports on the La Baells Reservoir and ride a real mine cart at the family-friendly Cercs Mining Museum. turismeberga.cat NATURE AT ITS FINEST VALL DE BOI For nature lovers a stay in Vall de Bo in Catalonias north west is an absolute must. Star attraction here is the Aigestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park a spectacular beauty spot with almost 200 lakes and streams. Its ideal summer walking country with over 60km of trails and country paths. Search for the lair of the marmot see butterflies of a thousand colours and help shepherds feed their sheep. valldeboi.cat EXPLORE THE VALLEYS LAKES AND RIVERS LES VALLS DNEU Les Valls dneu was the first destination in inland Catalonia to be awarded the Family Holiday Destination seal of approval thanks to its superb natural setting. Go birdwatching at Mollera dEscalarre in the Alt Pirineu Natural Park search for brown bear in the Bonab forest go canoeing and on La Torrassa reservoir or white-water rafting on the Noguera Pallaresa. vallsdaneu.org WATERSPORTS HEAVEN TORROELLA DE MONTGR- LESTARTIT This idyllic Costa Brava resort is home to the Parc Natural de les Illes Medes the Medes Islands a marine paradise perfect for scuba diving and kayaking or for taking boat rides on glass-bottomed boats. You can go snorkelling to discover the islands undersea life an aquatic myraid of dazzling flora and fauna or fly over the waves in a sailboat or on a windsurfer visitestartit.com ImageClaveraOriolImageClaveraOriol ImageClaveraOriol ImageCebollaMariano ImagePouJordi Catalonia offers a world of experiences for families from active pursuits such as hiking mountain biking horse-riding kayaking and even paragliding to the fabulous cuisine and centuries of culture and history. With the nearest ski slopes within two hours of Barcelona and Girona you can even ski in the morning and walk along the beach in the afternoon 17catalunya.com There are many choices when it comes to finding a UK tour operator to help you find a Catalonia holiday thats right for you... INNTRAVEL inntravel.co.uk Inntravel offers walking and cycling trips to many parts of Catalonia such as Gastronomic Garrotxa a self-guided walking holiday amid ancient volcanoes and beech woods visiting timeless medieval villages and beautiful Girona with delicious Catalan cuisine. Cost 3 nights from 378pp. HEADWATER headwater.com Headwater Holidays are all about travelling through the countryside under your own steam. Its packages to Catalonia include a cycling holiday in the Ebro Delta. New for 2016 this features a range of cycle routes such as a day at the coast or birdwatching in the nature reserve. Cost 7 nights from 799pp. RAMBLERS WORLDWIDE HOLIDAYS ramblersholidays.co.uk From the towering beauty of the Pyrenees to the warmth of the Mediterranean a Ramblers holiday is the perfect way to enjoy the culture hospitality and beauty of this fascinating region. For example try a walking holiday in the historic Vall de Nuria in the Pyrenees one of the most beautiful in the region. Cost 12 nights from 1125pp. SKI MIQUEL HOLIDAYS skimiquelholidays.co.uk Ski Miquel run week long catered ski or board trips to resorts including Baqueira Beret the jewel in Catalonias Pyrennean crown. Cost 7 nights from 507pp. EXPLORE explore.co.uk Explore specialise in small group adventure holidays with more than 500 trips on offer in 120 countries. Try the Highlights of Hidden Catalonia package and discover unspoilt parts of the region. Cost 7 nights including flights from 759pp. 18 catalunya.com GETTING THERE BY BUS There are regular long-distance bus services between London and Barcelona. megabus.com nationalexpress.com stagecoach.com Buses and coaches connect the principal cities to many national and international locations and its the only public transport to get to many local places in Catalonia. The Barcelona bus station for international routes is Estaci de Sants next to the train station. BY RAIL The Spanish train company is called RENFE. There are regular train services between London and Barcelona via Figueres and Girona. VOYAGE-SNFC uk.voyages-sncf.com Option 1 Eurostar TGV via Paris the fastest most frequent option. Option 2 Eurostar TGV via Lyon avoids crossing Paris runs 1-5 times a week Option 3 Overnight sleeper to Perpignan TGV Option 4 Overnight sleeper to Latour de Carol local train scenic option Option 5 Overnight sleeper to Portbou local train. RAIL EUROPE raileurope.co.uk has return fares from London to Barcelona from 185. For booking see also renfe.com and eurostar.com BY AIR Catalonia has five international airports including Barcelona El Prat Girona Lleida and Reus. Barcelonas airport is about 15km from the city centre with good links by rail and bus. There is a good taxi service from the airport the only way to reach the centre directly if you arrive at night. Vueling has flights to Barcelona from several UK airports Belfast Birmingham Manchester and London Gatwick. And new for 2016 are two flights a week from Leeds to Barcelona and three flights a week from Liverpool and Newcastle to Barcelona vueling.com Other airlines that fly to Catalonia include British Airways EasyJet Ryanair Flybe Jet2 Monarch Norwegian Thomas Cook Airlines NEED TO KNOW A Barcelona to La Molina return rail ticket and 1 day ski pass at Alp 2500 costs 41. For more details see lamolina.cat Val dAran was the first mountain destination in the world recognised for its sustainability policy and responsible tourism management. Find more information about it here biospheretourism.com GETTING THERE EXODUS exodus.co.uk Exodus has been running global adventure holidays since 1974 and offers more than 500 trips to over 90 countries. New for 2016 is its Coastal Trails of Catalunya a walking holiday to discover the regions cragged cliffs deserted coves mediaeval cobbled streets and coastal trails plus a visit to Salvador Dalis eccentric summer house. Cost 7 nights from 1049 pp including flights. MACS ADVENTURE macsadventure.com Macs Adventure offer self- guided walking and cycling holidays in the UK Europe and worldwide. Their new trip for 2016 is Cycle Catalonia pedal from the Pyrenees to the iconic Montserrat Monastery then on to the vibrant city of Barcelona. Cost Six nights from 585pp ZENITH HOLIDAYS zenithholidays.co.uk Zenith operate year- round value-for-money activity and adventure holidays including skiing packages in La Molina in the Pyrenees which is only two hours transfer from Barcelona. Cost Six nights from 355pp 19catalunya.com CATALUNYA.COM