The Girona Pyrenees, the section of the Pyrenees mountain range located on the north-eastern extremity of the Iberian Peninsula, is comprised of the comarcas, or counties, of La Cerdanya, Ripollès, La Garrotxa and Alt Empordà.
Home to wide, open spaces and a mild climate influenced by the nearby sea, the region – well-connected to metropolitan and coastal areas and easy to get around by land or air– is a premium destination for tourists, providing a rich natural, cultural and culinary heritage paired with a broad network of visitor-oriented tourist services.
Girona’s high-mountain region has three distinct seasons that mark the pace of its tourism: winter finds its five ski resorts and a range of après-ski activities in full swing; autumn and spring is a time when landscapes are in constant change, inviting visitors and locals alike to get back to nature and enjoy seasonal delicacies; and summer is the season that offers the possibility of a full range of outdoor activities in contact with nature in its purest form.
The destination offers accommodations (593 establishments and 32,075 beds) with options more densely located near the mountain resorts and in cities and villages and ranging from small hotels and tourist apartments to campsites and rural houses that provide charming, familyrun service.
The Girona Pyrenees is known for its numerous natural areas and parks that visitors can discover and explore year-round. It is home to five natural parks —Cadí-Moixeró, Garrotxa Volcanic Zone, the Headwaters of the Ter and Freser Rivers (since September 2015), Cap de Creus and Aiguamolls del Empordà— as well as the Albera Natural Area. Visitors can also explore La Cerdanya valley, the alpine valley in Europe with the most hours of sunshine a year, as well as spectacular spots like the Vall de Camprodon and Vall de Ribes.
Visitors will find these the perfect destinations for delving into new experiences focused on getting back to nature, the search for inner peace, serenity and wellbeing (with the signature Gerunda Fuga massage, for example), and a full range of leisure activities and outdoor sports that includes: hot air balloon rides, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding along marked trails, golf courses in the heart of nature and paragliding, climbing and canyoning.
Other successful initiatives deserve special mention, like the Girona Pyrenees Greenways (the 15-km Iron and Coal routes and the 54-km Narrow-Guage Railway route from Olot to Girona), the 351-km Pirinexus cross-border cycling route and the Itinerànnia network of trails that stretches over 2,500 km through the Ripollès, Garrotxa and Alt Empordà regions. These one-of-akind options are guaranteed to thrill any visitor who has a passion for sports as well as an interest in other cultural, natural and culinary attractions.
The cultural wealth of the municipalities in the Girona Pyrenees has a special draw, the result of the region’s rich history and heritage. The Romanesque period left its mark on every corner of this mountainous land, peppering the region with castles, monasteries, abbeys, bridges, roads and even medieval legends that can be traced backed to a prolific Middle Ages. From west to east, the region safeguards a treasure trove of historical gems: the 15th-century Llívia pharmacy in La Cerdanya, the oldest in Europe; the rich Romanesque heritage in Ripollès centred mainly
on the Romanesque doorway at the monetary of Santa Maria de Ripoll (designed an UNESCO World Heritage Site), as well as Beget church and the monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses; Garrotxa features the medieval towns of Santa Pau and Besalú; and the Alt Empordà is home to the Empúries archaeological site in L’Escala, the monasteries of Sant Quirze de Colera and Sant Pere de Rodes and the Basilica of Sant Martí d’Empúries. Numerous thematic museums, traditional and local festivals that celebrate patron saints, historic reenactments, legends and a
host of other one-of-a-kind events also draw in thousands of tourists each year.
The cuisine of the Girona Pyrenees’ high mountain and inland region makes sitting down at the table and tasting both traditional and signature dishes prepared with an extensive range of premium, locally sourced and seasonal ingredients a true pleasure; many of these products are protected by a geographical indication certified with quality labels (Catalan Pyrenees’ veal, La Cerdanya cheese and butter, Empordà ratafia, trinxat and oil and DO Empordà wine). Food and wine is thus another crucial aspect of the region’s ethnological heritage, a sector that has experienced a comeback in recent years through the efforts of chefs and culinary associations and collectives to collect, share and update the region’s traditional dishes in order to satisfy the palates of even the most demanding diners. Pride in local products can be seen at food festivals and themed culinary events that are guaranteed to delight any foodie.
The prestigious Michelin Guide awarded its coveted stars to three restaurants in the Girona Pyrenees’ inland region: Fina Puigdevall from Les Cols restaurant in Olot picked up two stars; Isabel Juncà and her Ca l’Enric in La Vall de Bianya received one; and Francesc Rovira from Fonda Xesc in Gombrèn also earned a star. Two coastal restaurants in the Cap de Creus National Park, where the Catalan Pyrenees meet the sea, also boast Michelin stars: Miramar in Llançà and Els Brancs in Roses.
Visitors are drawn to the tourist-friendly Girona Pyrenees as a destination that makes it possible
to get back to nature, to discover the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of an ancient
land, to enjoy exciting outdoor activities, to search for peace and well-being, and to get a taste of
the region’s world-renowned cuisine.
The Girona Pyrenees, a theme park for skiers
Winter activities revolve around the region’s five ski resorts (four for downhill skiing and another for cross-country skiing): Vallter 2000 and Vall de Núria in Ripollès, and La Molina, Masella and Guils Fontanera in La Cerdanya. Together, the five resorts offer an extensive skiable area with over 200 kilometres of slopes and first-class facilities.
The resorts have implemented a number of improvements to their facilities for the 2016-2017 season
(access, lifts, equipment rental, expanded runs and additional artificial snow machines) and tourist
services (lift tickets and packages).
La Molina, Spain’s oldest ski resort, expanded its “Discover the fauna” cross-country skiing route. Vall de Núria, the Pyrenees’ most family-friendly mountain and ski resort, accessible only by rail, improved its recreational park with more activities, a new cross-country skiing route called “The Creus overlook” and an overall upgrade of its slopes.
Vallter 2000 promotes a new concept in mountain resorts by offering “up and down” attractions: downhill skiing paired with other mountain activities. The Guils cross-country ski resort in Cerdanya improved its runs, its Fontanera shelter and updated its rental equipment.
In 2014 Masella became the Pyrenees’ capital of night skiing after opening 13 runs (10 km) for more
adventurous skiers. This year, the resort will operate 558 artificial snow machines to cover 49 km of
skiable runs, that is, over half of Masella’s slopes.
New Girona Pyrenees’ tourism proposals 2016-2017 season
- 9 tourism packages for RIPOLLÈS that include natural, cultural and culinary attractions in the Vall de Ribes, Vall de Camprodon and Baix Ripollès: http://www.elripolles.com/admin/uploads/docs/20160729151052.pdf
- New brochure with 24 cultural activities and guided tours in Ripollès.
- New Ripollès hiking map that includes the Itinerànnia network of trails, as well as 21 loop itineraries on the same network of trails through the region’s 19 villages; high-mountain hiking and climbing and easy walking trails perfect for families in Vall de Ribes, Vall de Camprodon and Baix Ripollès.
- Paths of Exile (Camprodon-Prats de Molló) – Trekking Canigó. This is an unforgettable tourism activity in the Eastern Pyrenees, created and designed to take hikers over the same trails
and border crossings that exiled Jews followed during World War II, fleeing to Spain to escape the Nazi Holocaust (1940-1945), and that Republicans followed at the end of the Spanish CivilWar, fleeing to France to escape Franco’s troops (1939). A tribute to history and the perfect way to discover the region’s wealth of cultural heritage: http://hikingandhistory.com/en/
- Itinerànnia, is a network of hiking trails that stretches over 2,500 kilometres and joins the regions of Ripollès, Garrotxa and Alt Empordà (tourism package).
- Garrotxa Cultour: Fifteen proposals for discovering the region’s cultural heritage. http://en.turismegarrotxa.com/
More information: www.pirineugirona.org