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Highlights of Hidden Catalonia
7 days
Spain - Trip code HOC

Highlights of Hidden Catalonia

This fast-paced trip will show you the other side of one of the world's great cities and an intriguing insight into the beautiful Catalan countryside. After time in atmospheric Girona, we head into the Catalan hills to a real gem - the old village of Rupit set amongst the most spectacular scenery. Our return to Barcelona is unorthodox - a walk along the Path of Waters gives the most stunning views down on the city, then steeply descending by funicular. There's also time to cycle down old railway lines or admire surrealist masterpieces.

Trip highlights

  • Off - beat Barcelona - Walk up to Montjuic Castle and cable car down to the beach
  • Girona - Stroll along the ramparts and explore the backstreets and squares, cycle down a 'Via Verde'
  • Medieval Rupit - A gorgeous village perched in the foothills of the Pyrenees
  • Unknown Collsacabra - Incredible limestone cliffs, waterfalls, beaches and oak forest
  • Hidden Catalonia - Balcony walk above Barcelona and funicular down to the city
Accommodation grade:
Standard
Our standard, mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service, often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en suite facilities.
Trip pace:
Moderate
Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a holiday which combines exciting activities and experiences with plenty of time to relax and unwind. Typically you’ll be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries.
Group Size:
10 - 16
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join trip in Barcelona; evening walk along the Ramblas

Our trip begins in the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona. After checking into our hotel and meeting the group, this evening we explore the city by metro and on foot. Making our way from Passeig de Gracia, with its modernist buildings built by the likes of Gaudi into old town. Founded over 2000 years ago, Barcelona truly has something for everybody. From the winding streets and alleys of the Calla, Medieval Jewish quarter tucked into the Barrio Gotico, or the remains of the Roman temple hidden in a backyard to the contemporary architecture of the MACBA, old sailors district, Raval, now the most multi-ethnic neighbourhood in town, a visit to Barcelona will allow you to discover the contrasts that make it one of the most exciting cities in the world. This orientation walk is meant to give you a first taste of the fine cafe, restaurant and nightlife culture - and have the chance to sample local food and drink on a tapas crawl.

Accommodation: Hotel Sant Pau(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 2 - Walk to Montjuic Castle; cable car to the coast at Barceloneta

Rising early to make the most of our time here, we take the metro into the heart of old town and walk through the historic Poble Sec neighbourhood - an area away from the tourist frenzy which still maintains its local feel of multicultural communities, shops and small artisan businesses. From here it's not far to Plaza Espana and the Palau Nacional, the Museum of Catalonia Art. It sits right on Montjuic - the 'Hill of the Jews' where some of the major events in 1992 Olympic Games took place. We continue walking up the hill and through lush, green areas, which give way to splendid views down to the old town and port. Passing by the 400 year old ramparts of Montjuic Castle we take the cable car down - a 10 minute journey with panoramic views over the city and the Mediterranean. The cable car takes us to Barceloneta, the old fishermen's quarter and now an ideal spot for a glass of wine and a meal overlooking the sea. The afternoon is left free. There are plenty of options to choose from - you could hire a bike (Barcelona is very cyclist friendly), rent a sailing boat, go for swim or explore the old narrow winding streets of old Barcelona.

Accommodation: Hotel Sant Pau(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 3 - Travel by train to Girona and walk the ancient city walls

There is free time this morning for you to choose to visit the famous Sagrada Familia Cathedral, which unbelievably still remains under construction over 130 years after building first began. Marvel at the unique architecture of one of Gaudi's most famous masterpieces, combining Gothic and Art Nouveau styles. At the time of his death, the cathedral was only a quarter complete. Funding to continue is heavily reliant on private donations, but is expected to be finished by 2026. Alternatively, you can relax with a coffee in one of the many squares close to our hotel or take a short 5 minute stroll to the former Hospital Sant Pau, now a cultural centre built into one of the most stunning modernist building complexes in the city.

Later this morning we head by train northeast and inland passing through the Montseny and Montnegre hills towards North Catalonia's largest city, Girona. Girona was one of the first Palaeolithic communities in the region and was a major town on the Via Augusta between Rome and Cadiz under Roman rule, creating a number of rich local families. It reached its zenith, however, during the Middle Ages when Catalonian seafaring expansion reached as far as Athens.

This evening we ascend the ramparts of the ancient city walls, for fine views over the surrounding countryside, and then explore the backstreets on foot. You may decide to visit Girona's 11th century cathedral which has a spectacular Gothic Nave and where examples of the wealth from Catalonian seafaring days can be seen.

Accommodation: Hotel Peninsular(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 4 - Chance to visit the Dali Museum; public bus to Rupit

The morning is free to further explore this fine city on foot, or to hire a bike to cycle down one of the Via Verdes, abandoned train tracks which have been converted into perfect cycling routes. If you want to stay in town there is plenty to see, including the Banys Arabs (Arab Baths), Girona's second cathedral - the Esglesia de Sant Feliu, the 11th century Romanesque monastery - Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants or the Call, the old Jewish quarter. You can return to the Passeig de la Muralla walkway above and along the city walls which affords some splendid views across the city and beyond to La Garrotxa and the foothills of the Pyrenees. Alternatively, you might just like to relax on the terrace of one of Girona's street-side cafes under the arches with a 'tallat' (espresso coffee with a dash of milk) and watch the locals go about their daily business. For those interested in the surreal we recommend the short rail journey to Figueres to experience one of the most unusual and extraordinary museums in Europe, home to many of Salvador Dali's works of art (and once home to the artist himself). More correctly known as a theatre museum, the setting and exhibits assault the senses and are a remarkable legacy to one of the Western world's most unusual minds.

Midday finds us heading north out of Girona by bus, passing Banyoles, with its impressively tranquil fresh water lake, resting inside an old volcanic crater. Further inland we come to the picturesque village of Besalu, with a scenic view across the crooked, fortified 11th century bridge. Here we can take a short walk through the winding streets to the Romanesque Church of Monestir de Sant Pere or sit in a cafe and enjoy the view. Further inland we come to the impressive Castellfollit de la Roca, a village that stands above the River Fluvia atop a high crag composed of several layers of basalt columns. We wind our way into the Pyrenean Foothills to reach our destination Rupit in the late afternoon. This is an area relatively unknown to outsiders - quite unjustly, as the dramatic rock formations allow spectacular views across the Pyrenean Foothills and from certain vantage points even to the Mediterranean.

The charming Medieval village, dramatically squeezed onto the edge of a huge rock, is almost entirely comprised of 14th - 17th century buildings and cobblestone streets and is the perfect centre for exploring the so-called Collsacabra region, with its lush forests, stunning gorges and ancient farmhouses that dot the surrounding hillsides.

Accommodation: Fonda Marsal(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 5 - Free day in Medieval Rupit; option to walk to a nearby waterfall

The day is free to either relax or to explore the surrounding area with your Explore Leader. For those who wish, a walk takes us from the village through the forest to a splendid viewpoint to give us a first glimpse of the region's stunning natural beauty. We continue along a forgotten trail to visit the Romanesque Chapel of Sant Joan de Fabregues (11th century). From here a wider track brings us to the Sallent Waterfall, one of the most spectacular in the Pyrenees with 120 metres of freefalling water. With a little luck we'll be able to spot wild goats that take shelter in the caves nearby. Later we get back to Rupit following a charming trail along the river, its banks full of fragrant wild flowers. Finally, there is time this afternoon to go food shopping for our picnic lunch tomorrow.

(Approximately 2-3 hours walking. 7 kilometres with a 250 metre ascent).

Accommodation: Fonda Marsal(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 6 - Drive in the hills above Barcelona; funicular and metro to our hotel

We drive by charter bus to Vic, a lovely Medieval town, unjustly overlooked by most visitors. The well restored historic centre is a treat and there is time for a stroll before boarding our bus and driving up to the Tibidabo Peak in the Collserola Mountain Range, separating Barcelona from the sea. From the very top, 512 metres above sea level, next to the landmark church, Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazon, we can enjoy stunning views across Barcelona and the sea. Nearby is the start of a rewarding but easy one hour walk which takes us along the Carretera de les Aigues (385 metre altitude). Formerly a canal distributing water for the city from the hills and now converted into a flat wide track for walkers and cyclists, it affords great views across the city beneath us. At the end we board a funicular which descends down into Barcelona - an unorthodox approach to an unorthodox city.

Accommodation: Hotel Sant Pau(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: Breakfast
Day 7 - Chance to visit Sagrada Familia; trip ends in Barcelona

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Barcelona. Depending on the time of your flight, you may want to revisit the Gothic quarter, browse around the shops of the fancy Born district around Santa Maria del Mar, arguably the cities finest Medieval church, or nip into the Boqueria, the wonderful covered market where the seasonal ingredients that make Catalan cuisine some of the best in the country are to be found. Alternatively visit the roof-top of La Pedrera and Casa Battlo, both situated on Passeig de Gracia, and the dreamlike Park Guell. You can also visit the Museo Picasso to see one of Spain's finest collections of the artist's work. If extending your stay by a night we recommend taking an excursion by train and cable car to Montserrat, a mountain rising 1200 metres from the surrounding plains - famous for its monastery founded a thousand years ago.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

What's included?

Included meals
  • Breakfast: 6
Transport
  • Bus
  • Cable Car
  • Funicular
  • Taxi
  • Train
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader
  • Driver(s)
Accommodation
  • 6 nights standard hotel

Trip information

Country information

Spain

Climate

Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a Spanish trip - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The high central plains suffer from fierce extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. Spain's Islands the Canaries and Balaerics experience very mild winters and warm summers making them ideal year round destinations.

Time difference to GMT

+1

Plugs

2 Pin Round

Religion

Roman Catholic

Language

Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.


Barcelona: Bike tour Barcelona €22.00; sailing boat hire Barcelona €35.00; Sacrada Familia entrance €15.00; Casa Mila Museum €20.50; Picasso Museum entrance €15.00
Girona: Bike rental approximately €18.00; Banys Arabes €2.00; cathedral entrance €7.00; half day trip to Figueres Dali Museum approximately €14.00 abd train ticket approximately €10.00

Clothing

Lightweight cotton clothing is best from June to September, light rainwear may be needed at any time of year, but especially after the start of September, and a warm fleece/light jacket is recommended for cooler evenings.

Footwear

Walking shoes or boots are strongly recommended for the walks in the countryside and in the towns, ideally waterproof just in case.

Luggage

20kg

Luggage: On tour

One main piece of luggage and a daypack. We recommend a bag you are happy to wheel and lift as we use a variety of public transport and taxis on this tour. A daypack is essential for the walks in the towns and countryside. Remember you are expected to carry your own baggage - so don't overload yourself.

Equipment

During the summer months we recommend you bring a sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen. A water bottle is also recommended.

Tipping

Explore leader
At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Explore Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. Accordingly please allow £15.00 for tipping.

In order to make things easier for you, the Explore Leader may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.
Country Information

Spain

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£8.00 - 12.00
Dinner price
£16.00 - 20.00
Beer price
£1.50 - 2.50 (depending on the region/area in Spain)
Water price
£1.4
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Euros
Recommended Currency For Exchange
We recommend you take the majority of your spending money in Euros cash.
Where To Exchange
We recommend that you change any currency into Euros prior to arrival. Bureau de Change are generally only found in major cities and large airports.
ATM Availability
In cities and most major towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Visa and Mastercard are generally accepted in larger restaurants and some shops.
Travellers Cheques
Not recommended.

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Cable Car, Funicular, Taxi, Train

Essential Information

FCO Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Spain: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens.

Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
 

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  


For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Non refundable permits

Spain

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Dates, prices and booking

Date
Price from

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