5 extraordinary things to do with kids in Catalonia
From swimming with tuna and exploring subterranean rivers to harvesting grapes and tracking brown bears, Catalonia is full of family adventures that will create memories for life.
1: Swim with tuna in l’Ametlla de Mar
Swimming with the fishes in Catalonia (tunatour.com)
Head to l’Ametlla de Mar, just south of Tarragona, for an experience your kids will never forget: swimming with hundreds of Bluefin tuna in the warm Mediterranean Sea.
Tuna have long been an integral part of Catalan history and cuisine. With fish stocks plummeting, the Tuna Tour in l’Ametlla de Mar is playing its part to re-engage the public and draw attention to the plight of this once bountiful fish.
As well as snorkelling with the fish, visitors learn first-hand about the history of fishing in the region and the steps being taken to ensure a sustainable future.
The highlight, however, is the swim. After donning a snorkel and flippers, you and the kids will dive into one of the wild fish farms that dot the coastline here, clinging to a buoyed rope until you summon the courage to dive below the surface and join the fish swimming in the sun-dappled water below.
Vilafranca, in the Penedès region of Catalonia, is known locally as the ‘town of wine.’ Locals have been harvesting grapes here since 1887 and little has changed today: Catalonian harvesters still don their straw hats, ride to the vineyards in a horse drawn cart and pick grapes in Mount Llopart.
During the harvest months, between September and November, visitors are encouraged to join in and experience the Penedès way of farming for themselves. Families can enjoy a horse cart ride before exploring the historic dry stone huts, crushing grapes by hand to make grape juice and enjoying a traditional farmer’s lunch.
This unforgettable harvesting adventure can be enjoyed at most of the wineries of the Penedès region. Ask at the local wine museum in Vilafranca for more details.
Cycling along converted railways lines in Catalonia (catalunya.com)
Why huff and puff your way up hills on your next family cycling holiday when Catalonia has the perfect solution for young, tired legs: Greenways, spectacular family-friendly cycle routes along converted railway lines.
These easily accessible and safe routes have minimal inclines and are perfect for children of all ages.
The Terra Alta, Zafran Valley and Baix Ebre Greenway travels along 49 kilometres across 40 tunnels and viaducts, winding through the mountains, past streams and medieval mountain-top villages to Tortosa. The Girona Greenway covers 125 kilometres across four routes in Northern Catalonia, offering an excellent (and flat) way to explore the volcanic area of La Garrotxa and Costa Brava.
Both routes offer an fun, active way to explore Catalonia’s diverse countryside, from the mountains to the Mediterranean coast.
Did you know that northern Spain is home to the largest population of wild, native brown bears in Europe? At Casa de l’Ós Bru dels Pirineus (House of the Brown Bears of the Pyrenees) in Les Valls d’Àneu, families can learn about the region’s famous brown bears, discovering what they eat and how to spot their tracks through audiovisual displays, photographs and interactive games.
Expert guides demonstrate tricks for recognising the signs of bears, which children can put to the test on one of the recommended hikes.
Families can take advantage of the tranquil setting by picnicking in the nature reserve, embarking on family hikes and kayaking or canoeing on glacial lakes.
The l’Espluga caves are amongst the longest in the world, an underground wonderland formed from conglomerate rocks. It is both a natural wonder and a living museum, with audiovisual projections, replicas of objects and real life figures explaining the history of these caves, which date back to Palaeolithic times.
It’s the adventure tour your kids will really love. Available to children aged eight years old and over, the tour follows a route along a subterranean river. Decked out in neoprene suits and headlamps, young adventurers wade through various water-filled galleries until they reach the Biela well chamber. Accompanied by specialised guides, they will learn basic speleology techniques, as well as the geological characteristics of this particular cave system.