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Spain

The Sea to Dalí: Hiking Catalonia & Spain’s Magical ‘Wild Coast’

Program No. 22550RJ
A gastronomic hotbed. Salvador Dalí, surrealist. Centuries-old archaeology. Inhale crisp Mediterranean air on an epic adventure hiking the Catalonian seascape of Spain’s Costa Brava.

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At a Glance

The larger-than-life roots of the modernist movement. Enchanting villages and welcoming villagers. There is much to love and learn on an extraordinary adventure walking coastal paths and inhaling Mediterranean air amid the Catalonian seascape of Spain’s Costa Brava. From cosmopolitan Barcelona north along the “Wild Coast” nearly to France, the Romance language of Catalan is every bit as unique to locals as their fresh seafood, rocky headlands, hidden beaches and fertile vineyards. Make memories on foot in a land you won’t forget.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Hiking 5-8 miles daily, occasional steep ascents and descents, some rugged, wet, sandy and rocky terrain, flights of stairs. Sturdy, ankle-high boots are recommended.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Walk a Mediterranean forest to vineyards swept by the Tramuntana winds and learn about this area’s key role during both Spain’s Civil War and WWII.
  • Enjoy wine tasting at a local family run "bodgea"
  • Learn about renowned Surrealist Salvador Dalí on a walking field trip to his home in Portlligat and the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
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Tony Muldoon
After graduating with a master’s in Hispanic Studies in 1993 from the University of Glasgow, in his native Scotland, Tony Muldoon came to live and work in the mountains of Andalusia — first in the Sierra Nevada and now the Serrania de Ronda. He leads trekking and cultural programs all over Spain, Portugal and Morocco as well as cultivating olives and almonds on his smallholding. His passion for the history, culture and landscapes of his adopted home is heartfelt.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Tony Muldoon
Tony Muldoon View biography
After graduating with a master’s in Hispanic Studies in 1993 from the University of Glasgow, in his native Scotland, Tony Muldoon came to live and work in the mountains of Andalusia — first in the Sierra Nevada and now the Serrania de Ronda. He leads trekking and cultural programs all over Spain, Portugal and Morocco as well as cultivating olives and almonds on his smallholding. His passion for the history, culture and landscapes of his adopted home is heartfelt.
Profile Image of Elena Lomban
Elena Lomban View biography
Elena Lombán was born on the Atlantic coast of Galicia, Spain. After living in the U.S. for several years, she began leading educational programs in 2006. She is an English teacher and licensed Galicia expert, passionate about education and travel while sharing her knowledge of linguistics, literature, history, and art. Fluent in Spanish, Galician, English, Italian, and French, Elena has traveled throughout Europe and North America. She loves the thrill of meeting Road Scholars for each new learning adventure and living life to the fullest.
Profile Image of Clarisa Gonzalez Ortiz
Clarisa Gonzalez Ortiz View biography
Clarisa Gonzalez Ortiz believes educational travel as therapy and change is a fundamental part of life. She works for personal wellbeing through travel via the study of languages, Gestalt therapy, and animal assisted therapy. Clarisa is a tourism and travel expert, official guide of the Balearic islands, therapist, and pet therapist. Her hobbies include reading, sailing, and music.
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While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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14 days
13 nights
23 meals
12 B 3 L 8 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Barcelona, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Barcelona
D
Abba Sants Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m

Afternoon: Orientation. Approx. 6:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Note that dinners in Spain are generally much later than in North America, meaning little or no free time in the evenings Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: We will enjoy a group dinner with complimentary mineral water and a glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Gothic Barcelona & Transfer to Girona
Girona
B,D
Hotel Carlemany

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles around Barcelona on many cobblestone streets and in pedestrian-only areas. Use of public transportation (metro), which does not have escalators or elevators at most stations and will require climbing up and down flights of stairs. Getting on/off motorcoach; driving to Girona is approximately 65 miles or about 2 hours.

Breakfast: We will have a buffet at the hotel, which traditionally includes a selection of cold cuts, cereal, bread, pastries, fruit, yogurt, jam, coffee, tea, juice, milk, and water.

Morning: We will begin by taking public transportation to the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) for an introductory walking exploration. With your local expert, we will discover Barcelona’s magnificent Gothic cathedral and the former Jewish quarter. We will also visit some hidden treasures such as the Plaza Felipe Neri, which still shows evidence of bombing during the Spanish Civil War, the columns that remain of a Roman temple, and Plaza del Pi, home to the 15th-century Gothic church Santa Maria del Pi. We will also visit Las Ramblas, the city’s most famous boulevard, observing the lively cafes and restaurants.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will depart by motorcoach to the historic city of Girona. Upon arrival at the program hotel, we will check in and take some time to relax and freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: We will enjoy a group Welcome Dinner this evening as we officially start our hiking program. Water and a complimentary glass of wine included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At Leisure

DAY
4
Introduction to Girona, Jewish Quarter, Cathedral Square
Girona
B
Hotel Carlemany

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles around Girona up steps without railings, narrow cobblestone streets, and some steep slopes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Led by our local expert, we will embark on a walking field trip of the Old Town of Girona. Located within the city’s medieval walls, we will see ancient arcaded houses, grand Romanesque and Gothic buildings, cobblestone streets, and Catalonia’s most extensive and best-preserved medieval Jewish quarter. An impressive highlight, we will also explore the city's Baroque cathedral, with its striking pillar-less nave and Romanesque cloister, which towers over the main cathedral square.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: We will continue to discover Girona and enjoy an afternoon "merienda" of ice cream at the shop of the multi award-winning, Michelin-starred Roca Brothers chefs.

Dinner: At leisure to enjoy local cuisine in Girona

Evening: At leisure

DAY
5
Hiking the Coastal Path, Modernist architecture
Palamos
B,D
Hotel Trias

Activity note: Getting on/off van. Driving 35 miles total, about 1.5 hours. Hiking up to 5.5 miles today along a mixed terrain, for about 4 hours. Walking along a rugged coastal path with some steep descents, including steps, to continue on a gentle granite path along the seafront promenade. Elevation gain: +561 ft./ -583 ft.

Breakfast: Hotel Buffet

Morning: We will check out and transfer to the picturesque seaside town of Sant Feliu de Guixols, where we will begin our expert-led walk along the coastal path from the top of Puig de les Forques to the Platja de Sant Pol, passing through pine trees and astonishing views. Upon arrival at Platja de Sant Pol, we will follow the seafront promenade where we will learn about the Modernist residential houses of the 19th century. Our walk will end at Platja d’Aro.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: After some time to relax on the coast, we will transfer by van to Palamós, where we will we will check in at the hotel, with some time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant. Mineral water and glass of wine included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
6
Castell Cap Roig Park, An Archealogical Site, Havaneres
Palamos
B,D
Hotel Trias

Activity note: Minimal driving, under 1/2 hour. Hiking approximately 8 miles today for about 5 hours. Be prepared for both sandy coastal trails and dirt trails with some rocks, and some uphill climbing with many steps. Elevation gain: +1305 ft./ -1279 ft.

Breakfast: At hotel

Morning: Today's hike begins at our hotel - from where we will follow the recently restored, historical, coastal trail along a succession of flights of steps to Cala S’Alguer. This is a picture-perfect scene, with fishermen’s huts dating from the 16th century. We will continue the walk to Platja del Castell, where we will find an Iberian archaeological site dating from the 4th century BCE. Afterward, we will continue to the National Park of Castell-Cap Roig, with its hidden coves and sandy beaches, until we reach Calella de Palafrugell, one of the most picturesque villages of the Costa Brava. Here we will learn why the town is known as the Catalan capital of "havaneres" - popular songs related to the Catalan settlers who emigrated to Cuba. We will have time to rest and enjoy lunch on our own in Calella de Palafrugell.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine.

Afternoon: We will return to the hotel in Palamos by van. We will later rejoin our Group Leader and head out again by van for a wine tasting workshop at a local vineyard in the countryside, led by a local expert.

Dinner: We will enjoy a dinner of local Catalan produce at the winery. Mineral water and glass of wine included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Cala Pedrosa, Tamariu, Begur "Indianos" & Mojitos
Begur
B,L
Hotel Alta House Begur

Activity note: Minimal driving, under 1/2 hour. Hiking up to 5 hours of hiking for about 7.5 miles. Steep ascents and descents and mixed terrain including steps, rugged narrow paths with dirt and rocks, and paved roads. Elevation gain: +1587 ft./ -1414 ft.

Breakfast: At hotel

Morning: We will check out of our hotel and transfer to the Sant Sebastià lighthouse, a remarkable watchtower with stunning views over the Mediterranean, dating from 1445. From here, we will begin our hike on a trail that descends across a lush forest to Cala Pedrosa, continuing on rocky pavement to the Cami de Ronda and Tamariu, a typical fishing neighborhood and important enclave for navigators in ancient times. We will continue on to the bay of Aiguablava and Fornells, a crystal-clear landscape, before heading to the medieval town of Begur.

Lunch: We will enjoy a picnic lunch along the trail.

Afternoon: We will check in at the hotel and then set off on an expert led visit of Begur to discover the colonial stories of the "indianos", the Spanish emigrants who returned from Cuba and South America, bringing the traditions and folklore with them. We will wrap up our visit with a mojito-making workshop, representing one of the traditions brought back from Cuba.

Dinner: On your own to explore the local fare in Begur. Your Group Leader will be happy to provide suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Electric Bike Ride, Medieval Villages, Cadaqués
Cadaques
B,D
Hotel Sol Ixent

Activity note: Getting on/off van, driving around 50 miles, under 2 hours. Riding about 15 miles, about 2.5 hours, by electric bike on mostly flat terrain and dirt roads with breaks in villages. Participants who do not wish to e-bike may follow by private van, still taking part in all activities.

Breakfast: At hotel

Morning: Following check-out, we will drive north for 30 minutes to Gualta, from where we will begin our journey on electric bikes to discover the mosaic of rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of the Baix Empordà. Settlements in the region date from prehistoric times and have withstood a succession of invaders, from Greeks and Iberians to Romans and Franks, who have all left their mark. The 15-mile ride will take us through some of the most representative medieval villages of the region—Llavià, Ullastret, Peratallada, Palau Sator —over country trails and across traditional rural farmland.

Lunch: On your own in one of the medieval villages en route. Your Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions

Afternoon: We will transfer by motorcoach to Cadaqués, an enchanting village whose history can be traced back to Greco-Roman times and whose unique light has been the inspiration for many renowned artists and painters over the years, including both Dalí and Picasso. Upon arrival, we will check in to our hotel.

Dinner: We will enjoy a group dinner. Mineral water and glass of wine included. Other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
9
Spain's easternmost point, Dalí's Residence, Free Time
Cadaques
B,L
Hotel Sol Ixent

Activity note: Minimal driving, under 1/2 hour. Hiking approximately 5.5 miles today up to 3- 4 hours, along an undulating rocky trail, with loose gravel on a gradual ascent to Cap de Creus. Elevation gain: +652ft./ -606ft.

Breakfast: At hotel

Morning: Starting at our hotel, we will walk to the Cap de Creus Natural Park, the easternmost point in Spain and probably one of the most rugged and breathtaking spots on the aptly named Costa Brava. A narrow rocky trail, between stone walls, will lead us to the lighthouse dating from 1853, where we will stop for a well-deserved lunch.

Lunch: We will enjoy a lunch of regional products. Mineral water included.

Afternoon: In the afternoon, we will transfer by van to Dalí's house, located in the bay of Portlligat. Here, a local expert will lead us through this labyrinthine structure that was created by the artist himself as his residence and place of work from 1930 until the death of Gala, his wife and muse, in 1982. Later, we will walk one mile back to Cadaqués, and have free time for the rest of the afternoon to relax or explore independently.

Dinner: On your own to explore local cuisine in Cadaques.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
10
In the footsteps of Dali, Port de la Selva, GR11 route
Port de la Selva
B,D
Porto Cristo Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off van, driving about 10 miles, under 1 hour. Hiking about 7 miles, around 5 hours. Very little or no shade. Mostly on dirt roads but be prepared for some sections on loose gravel trails with some steep descents and ascents and occasionally strong Tramuntana wind. Elevation gain: +990ft./ -1112ft.

Breakfast: At hotel

Morning: We will check out of our hotel in Cadaqués and head by van to the strikingly dramatic and rocky landscape that accompanied Dalí throughout his life. Surrounded by the surreal and powerful images that thoroughly influenced his art, we will walk all the way to Port de la Selva. A portion of the hike follows the GR-11 footpath route, one of the longest trails in Europe, which links the Cantabrian and Mediterranean seas through the Pyrenees Mountains.

Lunch: On your own to explore local cuisine

Afternoon: At the end of our walk, we will check in to our hotel in Port del la Selva and enjoy a siesta or time at leisure before dinner.

Dinner: At a local fish restaurant, we’ll enjoy the fresh catch of the day, water, and a complimentary glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
11
Historic Llançà, Romanesque Architecture
Port de la Selva
B,L
Porto Cristo Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off van, driving about 15 miles, around 1 hour. Hiking up to 4 hours, about 6 miles over rugged and uneven terrain. Mostly flat with some occasional ups and downs and one section of steep flights of steps. Elevation gain + 820ft./ -600ft.

Breakfast: At hotel buffet

Morning: From Port de la Selva, we will hike to the harbor of Llançà, a small coastal village located ten miles from the French-Spanish border. Until the end of the Civil War, the fishermen of Llançà lived in the original 10th-century settlement, which was built inland as a defense against pirates, and used the port only for their work. The old village has a number of historical buildings surrounding the Plaza Mayor, including the Chapel of Sant Silvestre de Velleta, the 11th-century Chapel of Terrer, and the defensive Bell Tower.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, enjoy a light lunch with mineral water and a complimentary glass of wine. Other beverages will be available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will transfer by motorcoach from Llanca to the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes for an expert-led field trip. Considered the best example of Romanesque architecture in Catalonia, its origin dates back to 878 CE, although the final stage of construction took place between the 11th and 13th centuries during the Crusades. After centuries of abandonment, it has been recently restored and features fine examples of Carolingian and Caliphal designs with two imposing Romanesque towers. The monastery is believed by some to have been the original starting point of the “Camino de Santiago” – the pilgrimage of the “Way of St James” After the visit, we will transfer by motorcoach back to Port de la Selva.

Dinner: On your own to explore the local cuisine.

DAY
12
Port Bou and Freedom trails
Figueres
B,D
Hotel Duran

Activity note: Getting on/off van, driving about 40 miles total, under 2 hours. Walking up to 5 hours today for about 7 miles, on dirt trails with some rocks and loose gravel. Steep climb of 700 feet by the end of the stage on a rocky trail. Elevation gain: +1479 ft./ -1433 ft.

Breakfast: At hotel

Morning: We will check out of our hotel and cover the final miles of our walking trail from wild Mediterranean coastal forest to vineyards swept by the infamous Tramuntana northern winds. We will discover hidden coves, bunkers, and mountain passes with views of the Costa Brava and the Pyrenees Mountains. During our trek, we will learn about the key strategic role of this area during both Spain’s Civil War and World War II. At the end of the Civil War, the frontier town of Portbou was one of the main lines of retreat of the Republican army and thousands of civilian refugees seeking exile in France to escape from the Franco regime. Later, during WWII, it was a place of passage for those fleeing south from the Nazis. These combined experiences make the area an exceptional place to learn about Europe’s struggle against fascism in the 20th century.

Lunch: On your own in Port Bou.

Dinner: We will enjoy a Farewell Dinner, with mineral water & a complimentary glass of wine. Toast to new Road Scholar friends and share your favorite experiences from the program.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow afternoon.

DAY
13
Dalí's Theater-Museum & Prepare for departure
Barcelona
B,D
Abba Sants Hotel

Activity note: Walking and standing in the Dalí Museum for about 1.5 hours. Driving about 100 miles, approximately 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: At hotel

Morning: We will start the day with an expert-led field trip to the Dalí Theatre-Museum. Inaugurated in 1974, the museum rises on the remains of the former Municipal Theater in Figueres (the artist’s birthplace) and is considered the last great work of Salvador Dalí. Every piece of the bizarre and eclectic collection was conceived and designed by Dalí himself with the aim of drawing the visitor into his unique and captivating world. The museum takes us on a journey through Dalí's artistic life, from surrealism and his artistic philosophy of “nuclear mysticism,” to his passion for science, culminating in the works he created towards the end of his life.

Lunch: At leisure

Afternoon: Late afternoon, we will transfer to Barcelona and check into our final hotel.

Dinner: We will have a light dinner at a local restaurant in Barcelona. Beverages included.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
14
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. Airport transfers beginning at approximately 4:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet, flight times permitting. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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