Seven must-do ecotourism activities in Catalonia

Discovering, enjoying, observing, learning, conserving… these are ecotourism values and activities which you can put into practice in Catalonia’s many and varied natural areas. 

We have great natural treasures; more than 30% of our land is protected and on the coast more than 10% of it is in protected reserves. Plus all our landscapes and ecosystems are close to each other: dunes and cliffs, high mountains and plains, wetlands, lakes, rivers, continental and Mediterranean forests and marine habitats.

From the Catalan Pyrenees to the coast, the best way to explore these protected areas and help conserve them is with a specialist nature guide. Their knowledge will enable you to see and experience nature from a fresh perspective and learn the secrets of every nook and cranny.

Discover our natural heritage and its values sustainably while you also help to preserve the environment and local communities. Here are seven ecotourism experiences you just can’t miss in Catalonia.

1. Ecokayak

Go kayaking through protected marine areas to admire the splendour of the Mediterranean and its marine inhabitants. On the Costa Brava and in the Terres de l’Ebre you’ll find kayaking tours combined with birdwatching or snorkelling, the ideal blend of outdoor activities and nature.

2. Birdwatching

Birdwatching is a must for the expert ecotourist. In the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park, sea and land come together to create a perfect environment for seabirds. This combination has made it a favourite spot for ornithologists, and also for nature lovers in general who come to stroll or cycle and take in the scenery along with some outstanding Catalan cuisine.

In Catalonia there are many other natural areas which are ideal for birdwatching such as the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà wetlands, the valleys in the Pyrenees, the Boumort mountain range and Mount Alinyà.

3. Forest bathing

If you are looking for an ecotourism experience to get away from the city and your mobile phone, forest bathing is just what you need to reconnect with nature and silence. Enjoy this purifying experience in Els Ports Natural Park, the Poblet Landscape of National Interest, the old growth forests of Rupit and La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.

4. Wildlife watching

Catalonia’s diversity of landscapes and environments means that it is home to abundant and varied wildlife. Deer, vultures, otters, lynxes, bears, dolphins and corals have made this territory their habitat. In summer, the wildlife of the Catalan Pyrenees awaits you along with snorkelling and scuba diving trips for the more adventurous, while autumn is the ideal time to go and see deer rutting on guided excursions in the Pyrenees and the Boumort National Game Reserve.

5. Themed hiking routes

Each trail reveals a different history in Catalonia. On a walking route you can follow, for example, the footprint and history of the Cistercian Route, the Camí dels Bons Homes and the Camí Oliba. There is a wide and varied range of routes and you’re sure to find the one that best suits you in terms of difficulty and itinerary.

Apart from history, hiking also lets you admire the colours and smell the aromas of the landscape: the trails between volcanoes in La Garrotxa, the wine-flavoured pathways in el Priorat and el Penedès, the tracks between lakes in La Pobla de Segur, the sea breeze of the Camí de Ronda and the routes between valleys and dolmens in el Solsonès. Every season of the year and every outing is a unique experience.

6. Starry skies

The nights also offer a magical setting for ecotourism and nature activities. Catalonia has several places renowned for outstanding night skies which are just right for stargazing. Visit one of the many astronomical observatories in natural settings blessed by their dark skies, such as the Montsec mountain range, the Val d’Aran, the Prades Mountains and l’Alt Empordà.

7. Geoparks

Catalonia’s geological heritage also features stunning landscapes and experiences such as the rocky coastline of Cap de Creus, the iconic mountains of Montserrat and Montsant and the paleontological sites of the Conca Dellà basin. There are also two natural areas recognised by UNESCO for their geological importance: the Orígens Geopark and the Central Catalonia Geopark. In both places you will find caves, caverns, mines, gorges and spectacular rock walls which make for a unique outing in nature.