Exploring the Pyrenees around Queralbs

The first time I encountered Pyrenees mountains was in 2015. The first stage of my camino de Santiago took me right over them (see here). This time was a little more relaxed and just a day trip to Queralbs and a 800m hike up to Nuria. Views were stunning and fresh air & exercise made for a really nice day out. On the way home also a quick stop in the town of Vic.

The journey to Queralbs, close to the french border, took about 2h including a mandatory breakfast break. The village is the last place you can reach by car in that parts of the Pyrenees at some 1200m altitude. From here you either hike up to c2000m altitude to reach the village Nuria or you hop on the train like many tourists do (what a waste that would be in my eyes).

The hike is some 8km in distance and about 800m climb. A real pleasure and even at a relaxed pace doable in 2,5h. Once you get to the top there are further hiking options to the surrounding peaks, boat trips on the reservoir, pony riding for kids or a visit to the sanctuary of the virgin of Nuria. More here.

After a good break with bread, cheese and jamon iberico and a little rest in the sunshine we made our way back down and drove an hour to the town of Vic for a bit more food. Seems like nice town with a large square in the historic center, but nothing to spend more than a few hours.

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An afternoon in Monserrat

The Montserrat mountain range and its Abbey are a popular destination and home of legends. It’s about an hour outside of Barcelona. There are plenty of organised trips and even a direct train connection from BCN. I preferred renting a car to get there. Views on the way are stunning and driving through the countryside is a welcome change from the bustling city life in Barcelona.

There is plenty of history about this place. The Benedict Abbey of Santa Maria hosts the virgin of Montserrat Sanctuary and has even been considered a holy grail location in German legends and the nazi’s even looked for it under Himmler in 1940.

Montserrat literally means ‘saw mountain’, which pretty much matches the shape of the mountain range.

The mountains itself are an interesting piece of geology and look a little pink-ish. The sedimentary layering is clearly visible. It’s a popular spot for rock climbers offering altitudes of up to 1,200m. I kept it to a bit of hiking this time (and that only after taking the funicular) just to get to the spots that offer great panorama’s of the surrounding countryside. There are several hiking options at the top ranging from 45min to 2h taking you along former eremit housing and to the best viewpoints. Take a jacket – can get windy!