Multi activity holidays in Catalonia

There’s a new Spanish road trip in town: the Grand Tour of Catalonia. This circular route is split into five parts with dramatic but intriguing monikers like “vineyards with a taste of the sea”, “close to the heavens”, “ode to nature” and “from Surrealism to Modernism”.

It’s all courtesy of the tourist board, designed to tempt visitors into the 32,000km² of Catalonia that lies beyond the capital of Barcelona and the Costa Brava beach resorts.

Delving into Catalonia’s quiet side isn’t a new idea, though. Our multi activity holidays in Catalonia were encouraging visitors to broaden their explorations long ago.

After all, there’s plenty to explore. Catalonia is a triangular region in north-eastern Spain framed by the Pyrenees, Ebro River and the sandy, cliff-edged Costa Brava. Around 200 mountain lakes shimmer in Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. There are 17 more natural parks to see, ranging from the Garrotxa (dormant, fortunately) Volcanic Zone to the Ebro Delta, one of the largest wetlands in the Mediterranean and the feeding ground of over 2,000 statuesque flamingos.
There’s so much to do – it’s an adventure playground. Our trips are about getting back to nature.
“There’s so much to do – it’s an adventure playground,” says Fiona Smart, from our activity holiday specialists Mas Pelegri (“Pilgrim’s House” in Catalan). She co-runs our most popular activity holidays in Catalonia. “Our trips are about getting back to nature. They allow your body to adapt to the natural environment and be free from the stress of the modern world.”

There’s a real independent, communal spirit in Catalonia, and you’ll get to be part of that for a week or two. The best multi activity holidays in Catalonia draw you into a circle of local people – horse riding instructors, hotel staff, winemakers, white water rafting guides – who are all passionate about getting out and about in their region.

“It feels good to know who’s looking after our guests,” says Fiona. “The same guys have been kayaking on the lake and instructing at the high ropes course for around 12 years. The same with horse riding. Rafa has been running the local equestrian centre for as long as I can remember. The canyoning company, too, has been run by the same guys for absolutely ages. They’re very small local companies. We’re basically keeping them going!”

Accessible activity holidays for a range of abilities

The terrain might sound wild, but don’t let that put you off. Our accessible activity holidays in Catalonia make sure the invitation to get to know the region is extended to as many people as possible.

“We took horse riding lessons,” says our traveller Tony Mangan. “I am a wheelchair user, but the instructor/owner got me on the horse and was very encouraging and helpful teaching me beginners’ dressage. He really cares for his horses. We also went rowing in a nearby lake. It’s a great outdoors/activity area… We ate out most evenings, and the fact that there are few tourists gives an authentic feel of that part of the country.”

The team at Mas Pelegri are practical, can-do people who are happy to customise any part of the holiday to cater for anything from mobility needs to nutritional requirements.

It’s all doable because of the close connections they’ve forged, allowing them to partner up with horse riding instructors who are qualified to guide riders with disabilities or introduce you to the Lake of Banyoles, where the rowing and kayaking clubs often host Paralympic athletes.

Fiona and husband Gareth transformed an old pilgrim’s masia into our most popular activity hotel in Catalonia. The country house has – among other things – quiet areas, level paths, an accessible pool and rooms that can be adapted to each person.

It also has excellent eco credentials. The stone building is largely fuelled by solar energy and meals are made with ingredients bought from local orchards, markets and vineyards.

What are multi activity holidays in Catalonia like?

Activities for a range of abilities

Activities in Catalonia include:
    Hiking – guided and self guided Cycling and mountain biking Canyoning and rock climbing Kayaking Horse riding Zip lines and rope courses Swimming (in pools and in the wild) Yoga classes Food tours Triathlon training
There is a right to roam through the countryside, so you can go anywhere.
Fiona especially recommends horse riding in Catalonia: “Horses are very much part of the culture in Catalonia, as well as a great way to view the beautiful countryside. In spring there are religious horse festivals where each village or town’s horse riders trot around and visit the church for a blessing…

“All the old horse trails are still open and in use here in Catalonia. There is a right to roam through the countryside, so you can go anywhere. The trails are typical country routes of varying terrain with magnificent views of the Pyrenees and the national park.”

Expert instructors will size up your riding ability and pair you with a horse that suits you. These horses are beloved travelling companions, treated as part of the family. You’ll get to know their characters while hacking across riverbeds, up mountains and through forests of pine, oak and beech.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Spain multi activity or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
We want kids to climb trees, swim in lakes and get active outdoors without any concrete.

Family-friendly activity holidays, the Catalan way

“Catalonia is brilliant for families,” says Fiona. “There’s lots to do for children of different ages, from toddlers up to 18-year-olds. The weather is such that you can be outdoors and enjoying the countryside… We want kids to climb trees, swim in lakes and get active outdoors without any concrete… We’ve had 87-year-olds who are into everything and parents with babies who are keen to get involved.”

Almost all accommodation has family rooms. Children are welcome at any restaurant in Catalonia, even in the evenings. You don’t have to go out searching for the nearest kids’ menu.

Small group multi activity trips are more sociable, matching you up with other active families, sharing activities and meals. Tailor made trips can be fitted to your own needs – particularly useful if you have multiple generations travelling.

Supportive & professional guides

Guides are usually drawn from the local community. They know the lay of the land the best because they live in Catalonia. They’re experts in the activities they lead – whether that’s mountain biking or wine tasting. They’re from all walks of life too, so you’ll get real insight into what it’s like to live in this region.

“Some guests arrive and seem to be stuck in an inactive rut,” says Fiona. “We encourage them to get going again by joining a few yoga classes or tackling easy walking or cycling routes… We just want guests to get out there and have fun.”

Cycling is Fiona’s speciality. She’s a qualified sports massage and sports injury specialist, has studied neurophysiology, and opts for a scientific approach to cycling and triathlon training. If that all sounds a bit heavy, don’t worry – the only thing taken seriously on these holidays is your happiness and comfort.

Characterful Catalan accommodation

Accommodation in our multi activity holidays include locally run B&Bs, guest houses and small hotels – many of which wouldn’t exist without visitors venturing out to these lesser-visited parts of Catalonia.

And hosts are as nuanced as the region they live in. They might be passionate about much-debated Catalan independence… or completely against the notion. You might meet people who have lived here for generations – or moved out to Catalonia a decade ago, starting their business on a wing and a prayer.

Our Catalan hosts have several things in common, though – they’re free spirits with a fierce love of their region and a bottomless list of recommendations on things to do. They’re also often active members of the community, hiring local guides and putting guests in the safe hands of activity centres that know how to get you caving and rafting without bruising the environment (or you!).

Best time to go on a multi activity holiday to Catalonia

Catalonia has a Mediterranean climate, so expect dry hot summers and mild, sunny winters. That means that multi activity holidays in Catalonia are good to go all year round.

Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-October) are great for avoiding the midsummer heat and crowds in Barcelona. However, even in the 25°C-plus sunshine of July-August itineraries can be tweaked to your preferences. Our partners will time activities for the early morning and evenings, and make sure to factor in a siesta and sangria break.

Multi activity holidays are popular with families, so places book up quickly in the summer holidays (late July-early September). Consider booking in advance during these times.
Photo credits: [Page banner: Vincent van Zeijst]  [Intro: iam_os] [Activities for a range of abilities: Angela Llop] [Best time to go: Vincent van Zeijst]