Between golden-sand beaches, the rolling verdure of its interior and the towering peaks and ski slopes of its mountainous north, Spain’s northeastern corner certainly packs a lot in. You’ll explore it all on scenic driving routes that bring you to some of the country’s most evocative paradors. Stay in hidden mountain towns and medieval villages where the region’s perfectly rustic way of life lives on, not least in Romanesque cathedrals and the sumptuous dining; consider upgrading to a superb-value half-board offer to take full advantage.
Days 1-2: The Costa Brava
Begin your trip with complimentary airport lounge access before your flight to Girona. Picking up your hire car on arrival, you might want to pause and take in the city’s cobbled-lane medieval heritage before driving north, through the Spanish countryside, to the Costa Brava. Here, you’ll stay in a thousand-year-old converted farmhouse, returning from hilly walks and coastal seafood restaurants to spa treatments, poolside relaxation and Michelin star dining. You’ll also want to explore the region’s golden beaches that come backed by idyllic seaside towns and a rolling backcountry of forest-ringed stone villages.
Stay: Mas de Torrent (Deluxe)
Day 3: Figueres
Continue north to Figueres – the birthplace of one of Spain’s favourite sons. And, Dalí’s life and work is best taken in at the Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí, a flamboyant museum designed by the man himself. But, while the imposing fortress walls of the city’s 18th-century Sant Ferran Castle add further intrigue, Catalonia’s nearby Golf de Roses impresses with a stunning coastline and 16th-century citadels. You’ll overnight at the Michelin-recommended Hotel Pirineos to stay right in the city’s historic centre.
Stay: Hotel Pirineos (Standard)
Days 4-5: La Seu d’Urgell
Leave the coast behind to head inland into the foothills of the Pyrenees. You’ll find La Seu d’Urgell set at the confluence of the Valira and Segre rivers, its delightful Romanesque cathedral and 15th-century town hall looking out over historic streets to hiking trails that bring you into its rural ideal. It’s even a perfect springboard to hop over into Andorra’s natural beauty. Otherwise, perhaps make use of the region’s world-class skiing trails or relax in a mountain spa.
Stay: Parador La Seu d’Urgell (Standard)
Days 6-7: The Arán Valley
Head further into the mountains to the Arán Valley. Here, the cragged Pyrenees are the towering frame to your historic accommodation, the Parador de Artíes. It’s a fine example of 14th-century Argonese architecture, having once been the house of Don Gaspar de Portolá – the man who ‘discovered’ California. The charm of its sloping rooflines and wooden beams are matched only by the beauty of the next-door Romanesque church. And, just seven kilometres from an excellent ski resort, its cosy fireplaces are a perfect wintery antidote while its pool will help you relax after a summertime hike.
Stay: Parador de Artíes (Superior)
Days 8-9: Pantà de Sau
Your next parador stop is a traditional Catalan country house, set on the shores of the Sau Reservoir. Its rooms, swimming pool and manicured gardens offer stunning views over the shimmering waters and onto the Guillerías Mountains. It’s also a relaxing end to your holiday, with delightful country drives bringing you to next-door Vic – a historic town complete with neoclassical churches, iconic artwork and the famed Episcopal Palace. There’s even the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Nature Reserve within striking distance; its criss-crossing walking routes ply a near-Jurassic world of old-growth natural beauty.
Stay: Parador de Vic-Sau (Superior)
Day 10: Depart for UK
Dropping your car off at Girona, you’ll fly back to the UK. It’s worth noting that this itinerary is also available flying out of Barcelona – a chance to experience its unique collection of cultural charms. Or, consider extending your holiday with a stay in Girona, enjoying Michelin-standard dining as you explore the city’s Old Quarter where Gothic severity is paired with Romanesque detailing.
Valid for travel: 01 Apr-31 Oct to avoid snow in Pyrenees Mountains, but be aware temperatures will be high in July and August
Extension: This itinerary can be combined with a 4 day extension package staying at the Camiral Resort in Girona at the end of the itinerary
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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