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9 Mar 2016
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Around Galicia and Asturias with a Gespeta

Summary

The route we are showing you today encompasses two fairly large autonomous communities in the North-West of Spain, Galicia and Asturias, and the number of kilometers traveled is a bit high as a result. The itinerary we followed should be looked at as a guidance. We kept on adjusting it based on the number of days we had left and the weather, which was generally good however can be wet at times. We were keen to do a bit of rock climbing, some hiking, and obviously wanted to enjoy the beautiful beaches too!

In Galicia we focused on following its broken coast, while in Asturias we wandered mostly inland. Both regions, although different in some aspects, are wonderful, there are plenty of places to see and things to do, and could well be visited on their own if you only have a few days and/or prefer to travel at a slower pace.

It is important to note that although in Galicia we have not had any problem sleeping in the van anywhere, even close to the beach, in Asturias it is advised not to spend the night less than 500 metres from the coast, as you could be fined.

The table below gives you some facts about our little expedition and we hope they are useful for planning yours. As you can see, this area of Spain can be visited almost any time, and the trip can be inexpensive traveling in a camper van from Chilicampers.

Total distance 3400 km approximately
Accommodation Campsites and free parking spots
Activities Sightseeing, gastronomy, rock climbing, mountaineering, beaches
Best season Spring, summer, autumn
Days 21 days
People 2
Vehicle ChiliCamper VW T4 California
Budget From 315€/person
Includes diesel, food and accommodation. Does not include rental of camper (see rates)

Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers

The route

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersWe had always heard wonders about Galicia and Asturias. Their geography, with a rugged coastline but also sandy beaches, green landscapes and beautiful mountains, an interesting history and culture, friendly people, and excellent food and drink. This time we decided to check firsthand whether all these rumours were true, and do it preparing only a short list of things to see and do, and letting ourselves go during three weeks around the North-West of Spain in a rental camper Volkswagen T4 California from Chilicampers.

Our plan with this adventure was to cover a wider area than what we usually cover, and this way identify places that we would come back and explore further. I can already say that we will go back, both to Galicia and Asturias, because both regions have more interesting places than we were able to visit during this trip.

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersAlthough the camper van you see in the pictures seems to be the same that drove us around Castilla, it is not. However given that it was very similar and its green colour was exactly the same, we also called this one Gespeta.

Our Gespeta was a real pleasure to drive, and it took us through the itinerary that we have tried to plot in the maps below. Please select More options to see them in more detail.



Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersGiven that we did not know where to start, a couple of days before setting off we looked for traditional events or festivals in Galicia, and we quickly found what our first destination would be.

Every third of August takes place the Rapa das Bestas (shearing of the beasts) at Cuspedriños, in the municipality of Cotobade in Pontevedra. The event consists in trimming the manes and tails of wild horses which have previously lead to a circular stone enclosure called castro. Music from bagpipes and a popular lunch complete the show. Worth mentioning the excellent Ribeiro wine and the tasty Galician style octopus (polbo á feira). We couldn’t have started better our trip. The Rapa das Bestas, at least in Cuspedriños, is a fairly familiar and local event, where pretty much everyone we saw came from villages nearby. Also, we slept in our Chilicamper right in Cuspedriños, which is a very cute and small village.

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersThe next day we headed towards the coast and drove down up to Baiona. Here, at Baiona, is where we started to follow the coastline up North. Even though the maps above do not show the route very close to the sea because Google tends to give you the fastest route, you will be surprised to see that the roads seem to have been designed to go as close to the sea as possible, almost touching the water. These are the roads we followed, roads that invite you to drive.

Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersIn Galicia we visited so many places that will only mention some. While we explored what is called the Lower Rias (Rías Baixas), we did a bit of rock climbing in the Donón area, with awesome views over the Cíes islands; we visited the lively Pontevedra, O Grove and the island of Arousa. In Padrón we had some of its famous peppers, and in Castro de Baroña, as well as visiting an impressive and well preserved Iron Age settlement, we had fun rock climbing on some cliffs right next to the sea. Whenever we saw one of those charming fishing ports we also stopped, as we did in Muros. We also went to the beach a few times, including some from where you do not see a single building, and visited a few lighthouses, like the one in Finisterre. We went around so much that at some point we bumped into a building complex called Troba, where we saw what in our opinion is the nicest hórreo out of all the hórreos we so in Galicia. Last, from this area it is worth mentioning Santiago de Compostela, aim of thousands of pilgrims who every year walk or cycle el Camino de Santiago, and UNESCO World heritage site since 1985.

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersContinuing up North, where the coast changes name and is called Upper Rías (Rías Altas), we visited even more delightful villages, cities and beaches. Some that are well worth a longer visit are Betanzos, Cedeira and Ortigueira, where every July takes place the International Festival of the Celtic world. We also loved the cape Prior area, with nice sandy beaches and being able to sleep in the van next to the sea, and near Ribadeo, I am sure that the Playa de las Catedrales will impress you, in particular if you wait for the low tide and walk among the fabulous rock cliffs formations and give name to this beach.

Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersGiven that we were going to visit this area of Galicia, some friends asked us for a favour. It appears that they could not find some pieces of ceramics, internationally known, crafted in the factory of a little village called Sargadelos. With this excuse we managed a pintoresc trip to Sargadelos and visited the famous factory, where beautiful collections of ceramics have been made since the beginning of the XIX century, more than 200 years ago!

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersWhen we realised that we were in the middle of our holiday, time-wise, from Sargadelos we headed to the Fragas do Eume natural park, where there are many walks through their exuberant forests, and there’s good sports climbing and traditional climbing.

From Eume, passing by Meira and A Fonsagrada, we drove East through valleys with meandering roads which took us into Asturias through its back door. The first Asturian village we set foot on was Grandas de Salime, where we spent a night and started enjoying this autonomous community.

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersLike Galicia, Asturias is a wet region, and this means that its countryside has an intense green colour. Also, it is mostly a mountainous and rocky region, which is why in Galicia we spent most of our time by the coast, and in Asturias we spent most days inland.

 

 

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersLeaving Grandas de Salime behind, our Chilicamper drove us to Teverga. This is one of the areas we had heard wonders about, and it did live up to expectations. A popular destination for rock climbers, not only national but also international, this area has hundreds of routes ranging from fourth to the ninth degree, rock of excellent quality and in a privileged setting. Also, a few kilometers away you can find the Quirós valley, where we spent a very active day climbing, this time multi-pitch routes. And to round off our stay in Teverga, one of the days we hired a couple of mountain bikes to ride the Senda del oso (Path of the bear), which is a path along the course of a former mine railway. The itinerary is flat for the most part, suitable for everyone including kids, and a pleasant way to get to know the Teverga, Quirós and Proaza valleys.

Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersWe ended up spending three days around Teverga, and would have spent more, however we were keen on seeing the Naranjo de Bulnes, the weather forecast gave a window of excellent weather, and we headed off East again!

The Naranjo de Bulnes, or Picu Urriellu in Asturian, is located within the national park of the Picos de Europa and is one of the most emblematic Spanish mountains. It is a tower with an impressive 500-metre West face, at the base of which there is a hut. We hiked up to the hut and from there continued surrounding the Picu up to the base of its South face, as we wanted to have a look at the most accessible routes to the top. Perhaps in a future trip we can attempt one of these!

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersStill impressed by the wonderful views of the Naranjo, we still had a spare day to go rock climbing to a small and quiet crag called Sames, definitely one of those little treasures one bumps into while wandering around Asturias. To mention just a few of these gems, we recommend a visit to the huts with thatched roofs in Braña de Tuiza, and if you are a cheese-lover you must visit Arenas de Cabrales. Gijón, Ribadesella and Cangas de Onís are also places where we had a fun time exploring them. The last night we slept near Playa de Cuevas del Mar, which we visited the following morning and it was there where our tour through Asturian land came to an end.

Around Galicia and Asturias with ChilicampersAs usual, we spent the trip back home with mixed feelings, on one hand finishing a trip and, on the other, realising we had had a great time. Without a doubt, both Galicia and Asturias well deserve more expedition. With this route we have covered a vast area, and this has allowed us to identify quite a few places that we would like to explore in more depth… yup, of course, in a camper van from Chilicampers!

If you want to know more about this or any other route, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Happy chili-routes!

Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers
Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers Around Galicia and Asturias with Chilicampers

Notes

Rapa das Bestas
Ortigueira’s International festival of the Celtic world
Naturist beaches in Galicia
Senda del oso (Path of the Bear)
Bicycle rental in Entrago (Teverga)
Cerámica de Sargadelos
Motorhome service areas
Furgoperfectos map
Furgoduchas map
Roca Verde: Sport Climbing in North-West Spain by Richie Patterson.

25 Oct 2014
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Around Castilla with a Gespeta

Summary

This is one of the many routes that can be enjoyed around Castilla, a region that will not leave indifferent people who love history, nature and gastronomy.

The itinerary is circular, visiting natural parks, villages and a few key cities, leaving Madrid aside. However, it would be easy to include the big city depending on your interests and the number of days available.

In the table below you will find some of the most relevant facts about the route we did, where the low mileage due to the short distance between the points of interest, and the low budget because it is easy to find good spots where to sleep with a camper van, stand out.

With your friends, your family or your partner, go and explore this beautiful area of Spain in a camper van from chilicampers!

Total distance 1800 km approximately
Accommodation Campsites and free parking spots
Activities Sightseeing, gastronomy, rock climbing, mountaineering
Best season Spring, autumn, winter
Days 10 days
People 2
Vehicle ChiliCamper VW T4 Multivan
Budget From 185€/person
Includes diesel, food and accommodation. Does not include rental of camper (see rates)

Around Castilla with Chilicampers

The route

Around Castilla with ChilicampersA land with cities and villages full of history, ancient castles and windmills, and where Don Quijote lived many adventures. Castilla is also a paradise for those who like to taste local food and also to explore beautiful natural parks.

Bearing all this in mind, and thinking about a few days off we were going to have for Easter, we designed the route you can see below including the places we wanted to visit. We got a couple of rock climbing guides of the area, and loaded our stuff on a Volkswagen T4 Multivan we hired from chilicampers.

Gespeta, grass in Catalan, is how we ended up calling this camper van due to its beautiful dark green colour.

Click on More options in the map below to see the route we followed.

Around Castilla with ChilicampersOur first destination was Cuenca, with its Casas Colgadas (hanging houses) challenging gravity. Almost touching the city, we visited a rock climbing area called La Hoz del Júcar, in particular the Alfar sector, and the next day, near a village called Valeria, we spent a very enjoyable time at La Hoz del Río Gritos, another fine climbing area very close to an extremely quiet road and with routes for all levels.

Around Castilla with ChilicampersOn our way to Toledo the road offers beautiful views, with a few groups of nicely restored ancient windmills that well deserve a visit. We spent a night together with a few motorhomes next to the impressive windmills of Mota del Cuervo.

From the monumental Toledo, the visit of which we rounded up having a cheap menu at a restaurant where the cook invests her time in rescuing delicious recipes from her ancestors, our Gespeta took us to Ávila, a city surrounded by magnificent walls since medieval times. The historic centres of both cities, Toledo and Ávila, were declared Human Heritage by UNESCO back in the 80s. We were lucky to coincide, while wandering around the streets of Ávila, with one of the processions that take place during the Easter week.

Around Castilla with ChilicampersRegardless of your religious views, or lack of, witnessing how local people fill up the streets to worship their patron saints in such a wonderful scenery, is breathtaking.

After spending the night at a parking area for campers and motorhomes right next to Ávila’s walls, we headed off to the Sierra de Gredos.

Gredos is a mountain range that belongs to the Sistema Central and where one can practise all sorts of outdoor sports, including hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, rock climbing, ice climbing and cross-country skiing.

Around Castilla with ChilicampersWe were very keen to experiement smearing, a rock climbing technique that consists in climbing on slabs, basically because in some areas of Gredos the rock is similar to what we would find in La Pedriza, a world reference for smearing climbing we were planning to visit towards the end of our trip. With this idea in mind, we went to a small village called Villaviciosa, from where we reached the Lancha de Garganta Honda. Here we climbed a five-pitch route. The sensations were very good and the place was simply awesome. After the climb we went to the bar Los Jimenez in Villaviciosa, as we saw it recommended in some climbing forums and even mentioned in the guide. Don’t miss it!

Still in the Gredos mountain range, our original plan was to attempt Almanzor, which is the highest peak of central Spain with 2592m, however when we got to Hoyos del Espino we found out that the snow and ice conditions of the last section, a bit technical, were not the best ones, so we changed plans, put our snowshoes on and climbed Morezón.

Around Castilla with Chilicampers

The Morezón peak, with its 2393m and a privileged location right in front of Almanzor at the opposite side of the valley, offers spectacular views of the Circo de Gredos.

Around Castilla with ChilicampersBut Gredos is not only rocks and peaks. The mountain goat is the symbol of the Sierra de Gredos, and it is easy to understand why. Even after a short walk from the car park, you rise your head, and there they are, awesome mountain goats in their element.

Leaving Gredos behind, our route took us through beautiful countryside with little villages up to Manzanares el Real, to the North of Madrid. Manzanares, with a fine ancient castle, supermarkets, campsite and a large offer of bars and restaurants, is at the door of La Pedriza, one of the largest granitic ranges in Europe.

Around Castilla with ChilicampersBeing so close to Madrid means that access to some of its car parks is controlled during busy days, so options are either to get there very early or spend the night in one of the car parks.

We spent three fantastic days in this labirynth full of whimsical rock formations. The Indian, the Turtle, the Bread, the Bird, the Camel, the Bone…

The first day was invested in getting a bit more familiar with smearing on the granitic slabs. This technique requires your full attention, balance, always positioning your feet in an optimal position to maximise friction with the rock and making use of even the smallest bulge with your hands. Hence, in the sports climbing sector called El Cancho de los Brezos we attempted a few routes rising the level of difficulty progressively, to finish the day on a fine 6a called Editorial aguado.

Around Castilla with ChilicampersGiven that we were getting the hang of smearing, the next day we woke up very early to avoid the hours of high insolation, which makes climbing on slabs even more difficult, and we climbed a beautiful four-pitch route called Ignatius on Yelmo. Although the maximum degree of difficulty is V+, climbing on this route’s awesome slabs makes you feel like you are Spiderman!

Yelmo stands out from the rest of peaks because, with 1717m, it is the highest of La Pedriza Anterior. We combined this climb with a circular circuit and thus were able to see and enjoy other rock formations and valleys.

Around Castilla with ChilicampersThe third day we took it easy. After climbing some sport climbing lines at the Colina Hueca sector, we had a picnic at the meadows next to the Canto Cochino river, and rounded up the day strolling along the streets of Manzanares el Real, having a drink in one of its numerous terraces.

A bit sad because our trip was getting to an end, but well happy to have explored a wonderful area, the following day we headed back home.

As usual, the trip back included a debate about what would be our next expedition, obviously on a camper van from chilicampers. These guys, with more than fifteen years of experience renting and looking after their campers, have their fleet always ready so you can make your dreams come true.

Around Castilla with Chilicampers Around Castilla with Chilicampers Around Castilla with Chilicampers

If you wish to know more about this route, do not hesitate to get in touch.

Around Castilla with Chilicampers

Happy chili-routes!

Notes

Don Quijote on Wikipedia
Mesón-Restaurante Luis. Bajada de Castilla-La Mancha 9, 45003 Toledo. +34 925 227878.
El Refugio, in Manzanares el Real, is the only shop along the entire route where we saw rock climbing guides for sale.
Gredos Tormes. Rental of sports equipment in the Sierra de Gredos.
Escaladas en el Sistema Central by Ediciones Desnivel.
Guía de escalada La Pedriza by Barrabés editorial.
La Pedriza. Escalada deportiva by Ediciones Desnivel.
Motorhome service areas
Furgoperfectos map

28 Jul 2014
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Around Andalucía with a Beluga

Summary

The route we present below runs through the beautiful Andalucía region, with a focus on visiting the best areas for sports rock climbing and mountaineering, without neglecting its beautiful cities, towns and people.

Andalucía is ideal for a camper van. Good and numerous places to stay overnight will make this a very economical trip.

Below you can see the most relevant features of this route, including a period of two weeks and a mileage of about 2800 km, however it can be easily customised according to holidays available and your interests.

Turn this route into your own route, either adjusting it to better suit you, or simply improvising thanks to the freedom that a rental camper van from chilicampers gives you!

Total distance 2800 km approximately
Accommodation Campsites and free parking spots
Activities Rock climbing, mountaineering, sightseeing, gastronomy
Best season Spring, autumn, winter
Days 2 weeks
People 4
Vehicle ChiliCamper VW T4 California hard top
Budget From 300€/person
Includes diesel, food and accommodation. Does not include rental of camper (see rates)

Around Andalucía with Chilicampers

The route

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersIf your passion is rock climbing and mountaineering, read on and let your imagination fly. Together with your colleagues of adventures, your equipment, rock and mountain climbing areas of top quality and a camper van, you will enjoy your holidays to the fullest. In chilicampers we have that ingredient, last but not least, that will allow you to enjoy Andalucía, one of the most traditional and beautiful regions of Spain, with total freedom.

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersIn our case, for the last two weeks in December, four friends have embarked on a T4 Volkswagen California hardtop, affectionately known as the Beluga for its resemblance to the white whale, with three clear goals. First, visit all the provinces where you can go rock climbing, which are seven out of the eight which make up the region. The second goal, making an attempt to climb Mulhacen, which at 3478m is the highest mountain in the Iberian peninsula. Finally, to visit and enjoy some of the most iconic cities and villages.

The maps you see below show the route that we followed based on the days we had available and information gathered through climbing guides, the internet, and talking to local climbers. Click on More options to see the detail.

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersAs for the various aspects of the logistics of the trip, we went food shopping before setting off and then bought a few things and refilled the fridge when needed. During the whole journey, even in the smallest villages, there are shops and supermarkets. Getting water is easy because there are many public fountains.

With regards to staying overnight, we usually stopped at the climbing areas, and also made use of the mobile app FurgoVW Furgoperfectos, developed by members of the FurgoVW forum.

Personal hygiene was also straightforward. We used the showers of campsites and swimming pools. To give two examples, at Camping El Chorro a good shower costs 2€, and in the swimming pool of Córdoba, where you can stretch by swimming a few lengths, a ticket costs 3.60€.

Finding places where to empty the waste water tank was not a problem either. The organisation La Plataforma Autocaravanas Autónoma maintains a list of service areas.

Without a care in the world, we left Barcelona in the morning, avoiding tolls, and arrived at Jaén at dinnertime. In Jaén we spent a couple of days climbing in the nearby Reguchillo area and in the evening enjoyed the good atmosphere in the centre of the city, packed with bars where the typical cañas and tapas are delicious. Salmorejo may have been the yummiest out of all the tapas we had during the trip!

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersWe were honoured to share a day rock climbing in the Vía Láctea sector with one of the promoters of rock climbing in Jaén, Gonzalo, who keeps climbers informed through his blog.

From Jaén we headed to Córdoba, whose historic centre was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1994. Its streets and monuments invite you to stroll and wander around.

In the province of Córdoba, we were recommended the Espiel area, which also has a good and free indoor climbing wall. Here we had the great fortune to meet the soul of rock climbing in Espiel, Vicente Granado, who has put up most of the routes in the area and made us feel at home.

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersIn a couple of hours from Espiel we reached Sevilla, where we enjoyed urban climbing under the psychedelic Alamillo bridge before heading downtown to spend Christmas Eve. The Giralda, the Torre del Oro, the flamenco quarter that is Triana, Plaza de España, etc. make Sevilla a charming town.

Leaving Sevilla behind, our route took us South, where we visited Cádiz and Tarifa. We continued up along the coast of Málaga and then went deep inland to El Chorro, not without stopping at the picturesque town of Ronda on the way.

We spent five days at El Chorro. The place well deserves a long stay. We climbed in several crags: Los Albercones, Escalera Árabe, Poema de roca, El invento and Makinódromo. The latter is well worth a visit even if you are not a very strong climber, because in its spectacular dome you will see some of the best climbers in the world. While we were there, Sasha DiGiulian made a visit to this sector.

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersThe place is simply awesome. The Gaitanes gorge, with the Caminito del Rey and 300 metre high walls, is spectacular, and there is a friendly atmosphere with climbers from all over the world. As it happened, we spent New Year there, and at the party organized by local climbers, outdoors, with sound system and bar included, we were dancing and chatting with a bunch of climbers who master the eighth grade!

Around Andalucía with Chilicampers

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersFrom El Chorro, we went to El Torcal de Antequera, with short routes but in a fantastic karstic labyrinth, and Loja, where we spent a day. Then we returned to civilisation in Granada, with the famous Alhambra at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and the winding and full of character Albaicín quarter, it’s a must.

At this point two of us escaped to make an attempt to Mulhacen (3478m). Being our first time in Sierra Nevada, and in the middle of the winter, we opted for one of the itineraries without technical difficulty. Our starting point was the Central Eléctrica de la Cebadilla, just above the pretty village of Capileira and 1500m above sea level. From here we walked up to the Poqueira hut, located at 2500m of altitude, where we spent night. The next day, and with our crampons on, we climbed up 1000 more meters of altitude to the summit of Mulhacen, from where the views are splendid and one can see clearly the African coast. The descent, being on snow up to the hut, is very fast, so the 2000 meters of altitude from the top until we reached our ChiliCamper, are perfectly doable.

We celebrated reaching the summit of Mulhacen with cañas, tapas and an excellent cocido alpujarreño in Capileira.

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersIt is worth mentioning that Sierra Nevada is a large mountain range, where sometimes strong winds can blow very hard. The website of the Poqueira hut regularly offers reports including weather forecast and snow conditions.

However, La Alpujarra is not only whitewashed villages and mountains, no. Near Capileira, and on our way as we toured the beautiful road around Sierra Nevada, we found Trevélez. Trevélez is one of the highest villages in the peninsula and is famous for its ham. We did not hesitate and bought a whole ham, which an expert guy cut removing the bones and vacuum packaged it in a few minutes. It is delicious!

Around Andalucía with Chilicampers Around Andalucía with Chilicampers Around Andalucía with Chilicampers

After touring La Alpujarra we made our last stop near Fondón, in the Almería province, where there is a rock climbing area called Cacín. And since our time was running out, the next day we headed back home, happy with the amount of routes we had climbed, having set foot on the summit of Mulhacen, and because the ChiliCamper had worked like a charm, both from the mechanical and the comfort points of view, as we were four people with equipment for rock climbing and winter mountaineering, and clothes for two weeks. The Volkswagen T4 California hardtop is just great!

Around Andalucía with ChilicampersWe encourage you to start planning your own route at home, taking into account that in the winter you need to look for South-facing crags and bring good boots, crampons and ice axe for Sierra Nevada. On the contrary, temperatures during the summer can be high, and to enjoy rock climbing you will need to choose carefully the orientation of the crags and the time of day.

If you want to know more details about this route, do not hesitate to contact us.

Around Andalucía with Chilicampers Around Andalucía with Chilicampers Around Andalucía with Chilicampers

Happy chili-climbs!

Notes

Motorhome service areas
Furgoperfectos map
Andalucía a rock climbing guide by David Munilla
Espiel on Facebook
Rock climbing in Jaén
Mulhacén
Poqueira hut
La Solera ham drying room in Trevélez
Camping Hostel El Chorro

 

26 Nov 2013
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Exploring the Mountains Around Barcelona on a Campervan

Did you just rent your campervan in Barcelona and are willing to explore the surroundings of the city? This route will provide you with ideas for a 3/4-days trip around the mountain ranges which are closest to the city. It is an ideal itinerary to discover the Catalan backcountry, with plenty of free camping spots to park your caravan, gorgeous winding mountain roads and lots of hiking opportunities. Although it lacks the majesty of the Pyrenees, it does offer a genuine Mediterranean charm.

From Barcelona airport to the hills and far away

Say you’ll pick up your hired campervan at the airport, you’ll want to head northeast to take the B-10 coastal belt (called Ronda Litoral), and will drive through the southern part of Barcelona, to take the old N-II road towards the coastal town of Arenys de Munt. If you feel like giving the beach a miss, then take the faster C-31 and C-32 highways instead.

You’ll be driving next to some of the finest beaches near Barcelona, which definitely beat those in the city, usually overcrowded. Some nice beach spots to check out are Platja d’Ocata (el Masnou) and the more urban Platja de Sant Simó (Mataró). But you’ve got a campervan: go explore!

Campervan, Montseny, Barcelona

Once you’ve had enough of sun and sand, it’s time to hit the road again and set forth to the mountains! You’ll drive through Arenys de Munt and Vallgorguina, gradually immersing yourself into the pine and oak covered forests which make up the Natural Park of Montnegre i el Corredor. There’s as many hiking opportunities as you can wish for, refer to this interactive map to learn more or look up the resource-rich website Wikiloc. If you fancy some local gastronomy (and you should), there’s plenty of traditional restaurants in the area as well.

Highlighted on our map are the restaurant Santuari del Corredor, which offers a decent sample of the Catalan cuisine, with superb views over the surrounding valleys, and a free parking spot nearby -Àrea d’Esplai del Corredor-. This area is ideal for the campervan aficionado: it features ample parking slots, public WC, water supply, public grills, picnic area and even a football pitch. All gratis.

Vanlife in Montseny

Making sense of the mount of Sense (Montseny)

Catalans like to define themselves as a people that balances “seny” with “rauxa”, that is, “good sense” and “impulse”, a sort of local ying-yang thing. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they named a mountain after the former: Montseny. There isn’t any known hill named after its more daring counterpart, although there is actually a Hell’s Peak (Pic de l’Infern) in the Pyrenees, but that’s perhaps a different story.

Volkswagen California Club in Barcelona

Anyway, it’s time to close your Westfalia’s pop top and go (north)west! Next destination is the Montseny Natural Park. At it’s more than 1,700m over the sea level, it’s one of the highest mountain ranges south of the Pyrenees, and it’s a paradise for camper motorists, hikers and foodies alike. Check out the official website for all the information or visit any of the tourism offices.

Our recommendation is a somewhat aimless ride along these mountain roads, which should include the ascent to Turó de l’Home (1,706 m), Les Agudes (1,703 m), or El Matagalls (1,697 m), some of the most emblematic -and highly accessible- summits of El Montseny. The forests are stunning, especially at fall, and there are plenty of traditional Catalan restaurants around.

If you’re planning to camp in the wild, make sure to stock your camper’s fridge in any of the bigger towns you’ll drive through, such as Sant Celoni or Arbúcies. Alternatively, there are a few campsites available within the massif, see them highlighted on our map.

La Mola and Montserrat

Montserrat, Barcelona on a campervanTime to leave Montseny behind and head southwest. A visit to Montserrat, the famed jagged mountain at the very heart of Catalonia, is a must in any tour by the surroundings of Barcelona. To get there, we suggest a somewhat sinuous route that crosses another natural park, Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac. which should include a stopover up La Mola for magnificient views over Barcelona, the Mediterranean sea, and mountains of the interior, all the way up to the Pyrenees on a good day.

Next stop on the programme is the Montserrat National Park. As soon as you see its ragged silhouette, you’ll realise how it inspired the famous architect Antoni Gaudí in his works la Sagrada Família, Park Güell or la Pedrera. Montserrat, a sacred site for Catalans, offers two main attractions: the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat and a wealth of hiking and rock climbing opportunities. The review of these is definitely beyond the scope of this post, but do make sure to prepare your visit to Montserrat thoroughfully on Wikiloc or any guidebook, since this is definitely one of the region’s highlights to explore.

You can leave your camper at the pay-on-exit car park, closer to the abbey, or at the Santa Cecília free car plot and picnic area, which is the start of many trekking routes. A likely place to spend the night if needed be as well.

Drive back to the city through Sitges and the Garraf cliffs

Now, hopefully you’ve made the most of these days out in the wild, but it’s probably a good idea to head back. Instead of the boring (but fast) AP-7 highway to Barcelona, we suggest a route through the beautiful coastal village of Sitges -must-see- and then across the Garraf coastal range, a breathtaking ride above the cliffs that reach the Mediterranean waters. A good moment perhaps to enjoy the peacefulness of small, inaccessible coves such as that of Garraf (see map), before getting back to the urban frenzy.

Have you done this route on a campervan? Got questions? Share your thoughts!

Campervan routes Barcelona Montseny