The Catalan Culture and Beach Trail is the perfect way to discover the Catalan coast's beautiful scenery, rich medieval history and a great artistic heritage. This region was deservedly voted one of the "Best of the World Destinations 2012" by National Geographic Traveller Magazine. Gallop through surf on unspoilt sandy beaches and ride through old villages while passing Romanesque churches on this fast exhilarating point to point riding trail.
As well as the long sandy beaches, riders will also discover the Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de l'Empordanature reserve. This Park has been designated as both a RAMSAR site and an Important Bird Area. and is built on marshy land, sheltering predominantly aquatic birds, with more than 300 different species having been sighted. Riding through the magnificent rivermouth "La Gola", (a protected natural area), will give riders a view of the coastal plant life and the fauna of maritime-land areas of Costa Brava.
This ride has it all: fit and forward going Andalusian horses, beaches, sand, natural dunes, precious villages, castles and churches. Discover small medieval sites such Peretallada and Torroella de Montgrí. Experience the most exciting gallop on the fringe of the sea and overnight in small friendly hotels and guesthouses sampling the fine cuisine of the region. A bottle of local wine or cava is never far away of course!
Read a personal ride review of this ride.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from MM of Okehampton on 04/11/2022
DAY 1: WELCOME TO MASIA CAN GRAU
Arrival at Can Grau (or similar). This country house with 30-years experience in equestrian tourism is located a few kilometres from the Medes Islands Nature Reserve and offers guests an 'off-the-beaten-track' experience, away from passers-by and in the heart of the countryside . From here riders will discover the Empordá region, with its varied terrain offering guests numerous horseback riding possibilities. Spend time close to nature, the beach, and exploring cities like Figueres and Girona. The area is an ideal place for a horseback riding holiday, and an original way to discover the region.
After check-in and enjoying a first-night welcome dinner (and local wines), the guides will discuss the program for the week and explain the characteristics of the Andalusian and Arabian crossbred horses, a combination of the best of each breed. Each rider will have the opportunity for a one-to-one conversation aimed at matching each rider the perfect horse.
DAY 2: MID-MOUNTAIN MEADOWS - ESPINAVESSA
The destination for today is the Hotel la Masía La Palma (or similar), where Tona and Andrés are the perfect hosts. The house dates back to the 17th century and has been meticulously restored with a relaxing guest lounge and swimming pool.. Guests can also book a treatment in the on-site spa before eheading to the dining room to enjoy a meal featuring Catalonia's fine produce.
DAY 3: BACK TO CAN GRAU
After a good breakfast the ride sets out for Vilert, crossing the Fluvià river via the channel, and then through fields and forests. Enjoy a delicious picnic and a rest in the shade of a beech forest in the hermitage of Ollers. The trail leads through the town of Vilamarí and its dense forests until reaching Can Grau (or similar) to groom the horses and relax before dinner.
DAY 4: ALONG THE TER RIVER - THE FIRST BEACH
Today’s ride crosses a landscape that combines cultivated fields extending into the Poplar forests that line the banks of the river Ter. Small villages and settlements are dotted amongst this ideal setting and there will be plenty of chance to canter or gallop through this charming mosaic. The group takes lunch next to the river in a shady grove near the village of Verges. After lunch, the trail continues along the path to Torroella de Montgrí before reaching the ocean. The scenery along the natural areas of La Gola del Ter, La Platera or El Ter Vell is breathtaking. The mouth of the Ter River forms a lagoon on the Fonollera beach before entering the sea
DAY 5: EL MONTGRI
Todays journey starts by following the Ter River, crossing it via Torroella, and continuing over the dunes and entering the Montgrí massif. Admire the spectacular views over a picnic lunch. The group will spend the night in Sant Martí d'Empúries, in the old countryside hotel El Molí (or similar), 800 metres from the beach.
Sant Martí d'Empúries, with its ancient Greek pier, was the first Greek city on the Iberian Peninsula and exemplifies the perfect harmony between sea and land, the green and yellow of its meadows and orchards, and the blue and gold of the extensive beaches dotted with villages steeped in history.
DAY 6: THE SECOND BEACH
Today is filled with exhillerating riding as the group reaches the long curve of the Bay of Roses and its kilometers of golden sands offering riders the ideal chance to canter of gallop to their heart's content. Turning inland, the trail follows the Fluvia river and past a bird sanctury, the stopping place of numerous flocks and passes through fruit orchards and fields of rice.
The lunchtime venue is Valveralla Lake where the group enjoys a picnic lunch after cooling off and washing the sea water from the horses. The afternoon is spent riding a series of paths and forest tracks through beautiful towns, castles, churchs, arches, tunnels, and old, intriguing wooden doors with wrought iron knockers. Arrive at Can Sort in the afternoom. Can Sort was one of the pioneers of equestrian tourism in the area and isthe home for the horses for tonight while riders are transferred back to Can Grau (or similar) to spend the night.
DAY 7: OVER MEADOWS TO THE HIPPODROME
Today heads out from Can Grau in a northerly direction and passes the small village of Bàscara, famous for its racecourse, where riders can enjot and exhillerating gallop.. From here, the trail picks its wayalong trails and paths amidst forests and meadows, until reaching the hermitage of Sant Baldiri, the site of today's picnic. After a short break the ride descends to Vilamarí and arrives back at Can Grau (or similar) at dusk.
DAY 8: ADIÓS AMIGOS
Breakfast and departure. Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard. Depending on the season this trail can be run in reverse.
Group Transfers 2023
Payable locally - €100 return from Barcelona (18:00 pick-up, 11:30 drop-off, 2hrs), €60 pp return from Girona (19:30 pick-up, 10:00 drop-off, 45min).
Private taxi transfers can be arranged and paid on site if you are not catching the group transfer. For non-group transfers, the private taxi transfers are €60-€70 one-way from Girona and €200-€250 one-way from Barcelona. These prices are subject to change depending on the taxi company and time of transfer.
We think our hosts in Catalonia are some of the best in the business! They offer a range of rides and in the unusual event of a ride not confirming ie. there are 3 or less riders, an alternative rail or based ride will be offered and the difference in price refunded so you can book your flights with confidence.
On this horse riding holiday, you will need to dismount and walk next to your horse over short distances so good walking boots are required.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses used for rides are mixed breed. Some have Spanish blood and are very strong, others have some Arabian blood resulting in fast horses with good long distance endurance. They have all been carefully chosen and most are between 14.2hh (150cm) and 16hh (165cm) and are of a medium build. They are sure-footed, fit, forward going, responsive to ride and well adapted to the requirements of the sometimes rough terrain.
The horses are all trained using natural horsemanship techniques which helps to create an enthusiastic, good natured horse that is keen to collaborate with its rider and really enjoys its work. The tack is English and Trekking style and most horses are ridden in snaffles. English saddles and Trekking saddles are utilised.
Saddle bags are provided to carry items required during the day and for picnic lunches. Riders will be paired with a suitable horse based on experience and preferences, but if for any reason after the first day you feel that you are not well matched then just let your guide know and you will be given another horse.
To participate in this trip you must be a competent rider (English style). You should be well balanced, comfortable and secure in the saddle and able to control a well-schooled horse outside at all paces. Riders are expected to be able to cope with a variety of different going and different types of terrain. It would be beneficial to be a fit and regular rider.
Participants are expected to ride regularly in the months before they go, to ensure they can cope with the hours in the saddle. There are also places on the rides where you will need to dismount and lead your horse - if the ground gets rough or steep, and for a short time to warm the horses up and cool them down each day. Riders are expected to groom and tack up their own horse each day in preparation for rides.
Your guide will go over the week's programme when you first arrive (usually at dinner on the first night), explaining the special characteristics of the Andalusian trail horse and of the tack used, then discussing each rider's ability, experience and their preference as to the kind of horse they would like to ride. The minimum age for this ride is 14 years.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Can Grau is a large farmhouse and the 'logistical' home to the Catalonia Trails team and their horses. It is situated on the slopes of a hill overlooking the extensive plains of the Ampurdán and the Bahia de Rosas. The snowy peaks of the Pyrenees can be seen in the distance. The atmosphere at Can Grau is tranquil and relaxing; enjoy the large swimming pool, the extensive gardens, the friendly staff and of course the traditional Catalan cuisine! Bedrooms are spacious with en-suite bathrooms and some have terraces or open out directly onto the garden. The horses are turned-out in the large green meadows surrounding the farmhouse and the stables are on your doorstep.
Accommodation list: (subject to change)
Sunday night: Can Grau (or similar) - Vilaür
Monday night: Hotel Riomar or Can Grau (or similar) - St. Marti d'empuries/Vilaür
Tuesday night: Hotel Canet (or similar) - Castelló d'Empuries
Wednesday night: Can Grau (or similar) - Vilaür
Thursday night: Hotel La Gola (or similar) - Torroella de Montgrí
Friday night: Can Casadella (or similar) - Serra d’Aró
Saturday night: Can Grau (or similar)- Vilaür.
The meals are plentiful and contains typically Catalan fare as well as regular European dishes. Breakfast is substantial and lunches are saddle-bag picnics (extensive with quiche/salted cakes/chorizo/Catalan cured meat/fruit/cheese/ham/wine/biscuits/chocolate). Dinners are 3-4 course and accompanied by good local wines. A bottle of local cava is never far away and the atmosphere is very welcoming.
The team always tries to showcase their regional and Catalan products resulting in beautifully prepared meals for all to enjoy!
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.
NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures
Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.
Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain
In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Spain.html
In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/spain
Due to the interaction of Mediterranean and mountain climate in this region, you will find ideal conditions for horse back riding the whole year round. In spring the climate is mild, summer is not too hot, the autumn pleasantly warm and winter with its clear air, not too cold.
Especially recommended are February, March and April as well as November!
COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.
You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.
Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Spain and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.
In Spain the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.
Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium). There is electricity available each night to recharge cameras and batteries. There is good mobile reception in some parts of most days. At the base, the mobile reception is variable but there is free wifi.
We recommend wearing jodhpurs, as these protect your legs from soreness, and you will find a light-weight, cotton pair, more comfortable during the summer months. You may need two pairs if you are on one of the longer rides.
Your riding boots should have a sole with tread and be comfortable for walking, as you are certain to lead your horse on some occasions. Jodhpur boots and half-chaps are a more flexible combination for comfort and leg protection than long riding boots.
A long-sleeved shirt is recommended for protection against the sun and against scratches when riding through undergrowth.
Lightweight riding gloves are useful, as is a "bum bag" to contain your camera and any other items you may need during your ride.
We strongly recommend taking a water-bottle, especially on trail rides, which can be refilled en-route; these can be carried in the saddle-bags provided.
A light cotton scarf can help to avoid breathing in too much dust in dry areas.
Bring sunglasses, also to protect your eyes from dust.
Suncream and lip balm are also recommended.
It is essential that you bring good wet weather gear. Although it rains very little, when it does it is normally a heavy downpour, consequently a jacket or cape and waterproof trousers are a good idea.
Please bring a photocopy of your travel insurance certificate with you.
Last, but not least: do not forget your bathing suit!
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding on set dates which can be confirmed online. Please let us know if you wish to book another date, we can confirm new dates on request for 4 or more riders between February and November.
2023: 12 Feb; 5, 19 Mar; 16 Apr; 7 May; 17 Sept; 15, 29 Oct.
Special rate for February, March and November departures, please see Dates & Pricing
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2023 February/March Special Offer||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,289|
|2023 February/March Special Offer||8d/7n||6||single supplement||199|
|2023||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||949|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2023 February/March Special Offer||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,435|
|2023 February/March Special Offer||8d/7n||6||single supplement||219|
|2023||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,055|
|Riding days||Product item description||US $|
|2023 February/March Special Offer||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,619|
|2023 February/March Special Offer||8d/7n||6||single supplement||249|
|2023||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,189|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2023 February/March Special Offer||8d/7n||6||double pp||16,435|
|2023 February/March Special Offer||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,515|
|2023||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||12,099|
‘The New Spaniards’ –John Hooper, ‘Driving over Lemons’- Chris Stewart, ‘The Story of Spain’- Mark Williams, ‘South of Granada’ – Gerald Brenan, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ – Ernest Hemmingway, ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’- Laurie Lee and ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha’ – Miguel de Cervantes. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com. Another fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
The flora and fauna in this region is plentiful and varied. On the plains you'll come across plenty of livestock.
Spain is a beautiful and diverse country, the second largest in Europe. The official language is Castilian Spanish but Catalan, Galician and Basque are also spoken. Territory includes two island archipelagos – the Balearics and the Canaries – and two enclaves on the North African coast, bordering Morocco – Ceuta and Melilla. The African influence can be found throughout Spain but especially in the south, for example the guitar was invented by the Spanish when they added a sixth string to the Arab lute. Music and art permeates Spanish culture, most obviously displayed in the fire and passion of the Flamenco and the stunning modern architecture found in the cities.
The famous siesta is still enjoyed by the majority of Spaniards, most shops close at lunchtime for two or three hours so everyone can escape the often scorching afternoon sun. Evening meals are served late into the evening with plenty of wine or sangria. Often meals can last two or three hours, especially if your host is serving Tapas, small and varied dishes of meats, bread, vegetables. Paella is also a delight and very popular across the country.
Spain is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. The international dialling code for Spain is +34.