The Catalan hinterland offers a great alternative to lazing on the beaches and the hectic life of Barcelona.
Between countryside and mountain, it makes it possible to reconcile sporting activities and gastronomy, holidays in the countryside and cultural visits, protected natural parks and medieval city.
No risk of getting bored while visiting the regions ofOsona, around Vic, of Berguedà, around Berga, and the Pyrenees.
Less touristy than the coast and the Catalan capital, it is an authentic territory, witness to the fascinating history of the province and its very rich natural and cultural heritage.
A must for those who really want to discover Catalonia in depth, taking their time.
Also read our article on the lands of Lleida and La Noguera
Vic, capital of interior Catalonia
No desire to compete with its big sister 70 km away. With 40 inhabitants, Vic do not play in the same category as Barcelona. But it does not lack charm, with its historic center with a medieval layout, its small cobbled streets and its pretty squares.
La Placa Major, the largest in the city, is its beating heart, giving rhythm to the rest of the city. Particularly on market days, Tuesday and Saturday mornings: caged chickens tickled by children, fruit and vegetables overflowing on the stalls, mouth-watering cheeses and breads, bright flowers, famous cold cuts ...
Fuet (dry sausage) and llonganissa (sausage) are some of Vic's excellent specialties. Just like the pa de pessic, or “pinch bread”, a cake between the madeleine and the brioche which is pecked with the fingertips.
The town is also recognized for its fascinating Museu Episcopal which highlights the medieval, Romanesque and Gothic religious art of the region very well. Upon entering, one is struck by a set of five 12th century statues representing the descent from the cross: the characters, whose arms are articulated, could be animated to better strike the spirits of the faithful. Other remarkable works, the painted wood panels or the murals that adorned the churches.
The museum, rebuilt in 2002, blends in well with its surroundings, with a huge bay window forming a link with the Romanesque bell tower of the imposing neighboring cathedral. This has been altered and restored several times, like the Roman temple in the city center, which has become a cultural space.
The Pedraforca, mythical peak
It is not the highest point of the Catalan Pyrenees, since the Pique d'Estats flirts with the 3 m, but it is a mountain to which the Catalans are very attached, as for the Montserrat.
It is true that Pedraforca, this "Pierre Fourche" which is part of the Cadi-Moixeró Natural Park, has an intriguing silhouette, which inspires respect and admiration, with its two twin pitons ...
Fraternal twins, because the Pollegó superior and its 2 m high tops its brother to the pole. To climb all the way up, it takes about three hours, then two hours of very steep descent between the two rock formations.
The hike begins in the forest, punctuated by streams and waterfalls, until Col del Verdet : it offers a panorama on the two valleys which surround the Pedraforca, and the lucky ones can also observe chamois. There the final ascent begins, on the bare white rock, with the help of the arms. Moreover, rock climbing fans choose the north face to climb to the top.
Another possibility is to go around the mountain in seven hours, to admire all its facets.
Montseny, biosphere reserve
Le Montseny natural park is home to valuable biodiversity. This is why it belongs to the world network of biosphere reserves set up by Unesco.
Its landscapes are varied, from steep reliefs to plains crossed by rivers, passing through the highlands. Forests cover a large part of this massif which rises to 1 m.
Among the tree species, the chestnut tree, revered in the region, in particular during the chestnut festival, a week before All Saints' Day. On this occasion, the organizing village, Viladrau, multiplies its population by ten!
Le Castanya handling center offers guided tours, by reservation, to discover centuries-old chestnut trees, following one of the five paths, on foot or in 4x4.
Of the 2 chestnut trees on the estate, 500 are currently used to harvest chestnuts. They are the subject of a special treatment to revitalize them: radical size, respect of a distance of ten meters between them, clearing all around.
Even those whose trunk seems dead set off again to give fruit that is then transformed into flour (gluten-free), pancakes, mousse, jam, beer, liquor, etc. Workshops organized by the center teach visitors to work this very resistant wood or to make bread.
The Artigas Gardens, the work of Gaudí
Gaudí only created three gardens in his life. One is in a Cantabrian villa, the other is Barcelona's famous Parc Güell and the last is hidden in a small deep valley in the Berguedà region, in the village The Pobla de Lillet.
This achievement is also linked to the Catalan Güell, industrial friend of the whimsical architect. Güell had coal mines in the area and had ordered residences from Gaudí to bring his employees closer to their workplace. The artist, hosted during this mission by the Artigas family, then wished to thank her by imagining the Artigas gardens for their home, adjoining their textile factory.
In a small and convoluted space, crossed by the nascent Llobregat river, he designed, on several levels, a cave, fountains, a bridge with a single arch, a tavern, a gazebo-belvedere, etc. We find its original style, inspired by nature, but without the colors. He wanted to focus on surrounding materials: gray stone, pebbles, slate and cement produced not far from there.
Moreover, to reach the gardens, visitors can take the Tren del Ciment, a small tourist train running on the old track used to transport this material. It is one of the traces of the industrial past of the area, which can also be found in the Cercs Mining Museum, devoted to the history and techniques of coal mining, or in the Riutort Oil Mine which is also open to the public.
Prepare for your trip with our Catalonia online guide
Catalonia Tourist Office
Vic Tourist Office
Osona region tourist office
Berguedà region tourist office
How to get there ?
- By car :
A little over 1 hour between Barcelona and Vic, by the C-17. About 1 hour 30 minutes between Barcelona and Berga, by the C-16.
- By train :
About 1 hour 30 minutes from Barcelona to Vic. www.renfe.com
Where to sleep ?
- El Molí del Casó: Barri Terradelles, 10 in Bagà. Phone. : 93 824 4076. 50 € per person with breakfast and board. Conxita and Ramon, very attentive, receive their hosts like royalty. The emeritus cook, and French-speaking, concocts truly delicious breakfasts and dinners, in particular thanks to her organic vegetable garden. Passionate about gastronomy, she devotes the entire library and decor of this old mill to it, diverting utensils: coat rack in a rolling pin, staircase inlaid with cutlery, etc.
- La Torre del Vilar: in Santa Eulàlia de Riuprimer. Phone. : 93 813 7024. 82 to 106 € for a double room, with breakfast. Dinner at 17 €. Lost in nature, but very close to Vic, the bourgeois villa was built in 1898 as a summer residence by wealthy Barcelonans. The seven rooms, distributed around a patio, are spacious and decorated in a classic but sober style. The swimming pool and the pine trees in the garden allow you to cool off and savor the peaceful countryside.
Where to eat ?
- Major3: Plaça Major, 3 in Vic. Phone. : 938 853 600. Hidden under the arcades of the market square, near the town hall, this new restaurant with a refined contemporary setting specializes in cuisine from the south of Catalonia. We feast on its fish paella, with rice from the Ebro Delta, and its Catalan cream.
- Hostal Pedraforca: Barri Maçaners in Saldes. Phone. : 938 258 021. It is the ideal place to share an invigorating meal after the ascent of the famous Mount Pedraforca, which one contemplates from the picture windows of the vast dining room with the light wood frame. The mushroom specialties on offer are typical of the region, as Catalans love to go foraging in the woods.