A trip through the universe of Dalí
Salvador Dalí was a universal genius who was highly influenced by his birthplace. He was born in Figueres, and the strong northerly wind, the tramuntana, that buffets the Costa Brava shaped his character and his work. To learn more, why not follow Section 4 of the Grand Tour of Catalonia, from La Seu d’Urgell to the universe of Dalí in Figueres and the surrounding area. This route, of over 2,000 km (1,200 miles) in length, travels around Catalonia in five sections that you can adapt to your taste. Are you ready to get into the car? Look forward to premium service and a high-class premium fleet of electric and hybrid cars at our SIXT branches in Girona.
- Stage 1: Views of Pedraforca
- Stage 2: High-altitude villages
- Stage 3: Active tourism in Núria
- Stage 4: Soaring over volcanoes
- Stage 5: Towards the birthplace of Dalí
Stage 1: Views of Pedraforca
Take off directly at the airport from the SIXT branch Girona Aeropuerto, for example, in a comfortable BMW X1 hybrid or a Tesla Model 3 electric.
Start the day driving along the scenic road from La Seu d’Urgell to Pedraforca mountain. This route offers fantastic views of beautiful villages such as El Ges, Adraén and Fórnols. Stop off in Gósol, where the artist Pablo Picasso lived for three months. The Gósol Picasso Centre, where visitors can find out more about his career and the landscapes that inspired him, was constructed in his honour.
And very nearby you will see one of Catalonia’s most emblematic mountains, Pedraforca. It is a great favourite among Catalan hikers. We recommend a circular route around its perimeter so you can get to know it better.
And to round off the day, enjoy some of the local cuisine of the Berguedà region: pèsols negres (black peas) with bacon, patates emmascarades (potatoes cooked with Catalan black pudding) and trumfos amb col, a traditional dish of mashed potato and cabbage.
Stage 2: High-altitude villages
This stage will take you to the villages of La Cerdanya. Bellver de Cerdanya is one of them. It used to be a hillside fortress, and some of the remains of its mediaeval past are still visible. The Church of Santa María de Talló is very nearby, and can be reached on foot. It is one of the important waypoints on the Way of St James as its goes through Catalonia.
The next stop on the route is Puigcerdà, famous for its charcuterie, such as white and black bull, a sausage made from minced pork, fat and blood, and pa de fetge, a kind of liver sausage. You can visit other mountain villages near Puigcerdà, such as Urtx, Alp, Das and Meranges, all of which provide spectacular views.
This stage ends at Castellar de N’Hug, known for its beautiful natural setting, its Romanesque heritage, and for being the source of the River Llobregat, which flows from the Catalan Pyrenees as far as Barcelona, where it reaches the sea. Castellar de N’Hug is also known for its giant croissants, so don’t leave before trying one. You can also hire electric and hybrid vehicles, which are suitable for comfortable journeys in mountainous terrain, from the SIXT branch Girona Estación directly at the train station.
Stage 3: Active tourism in Núria
The day begins in Ripoll with a breakfast of Catalan sausage served with seques (haricot beans). When you have eaten your fill, it’s time to visit Santa Maria de Ripoll monastery, a symbol of mediaeval Catalonia. Its imposing entrance has been described as the “bible in stone”, with images from different bible stories along with a range of geometric motifs, plants, and human figures carved in stone.
From there, drive to Ribes de Freser, where you will take the rack railway, the only way to reach the Vall de Núria valley. This mountain landscape is ideal for hiking, and also for activities such as horse riding in summer and skiing in winter. The valley also houses the Shrine of Our Lady of Núria.
When your visit to Núria is complete, return to Ribes de Freser to pick up the car and drive to the village of Camprodon. Stop off there to try the local charcuterie and the village’s popular biscuits. The last stop of the day is the municipality of Olot. The road between the two places passes a number of beautiful villages: Beget, Sant Joan de les Fonts and Castellfollit de la Roca, perched above a cliff. The ride is particularly joyfull, for example, in a pleasant Jeep Compass hybrid, which you can get at the SIXT stations Girona Aeropuerto and Girona Estación.
Stage 4: Soaring over volcanoes
La Garrotxa Natural Park is well known as a volcanic zone. To discover the park, you can choose between walking among the volcanoes or flying over them in a hot air balloon. The latter option is the more interesting of the two, since it provides spectacular views of Santa Margarida and Croscat volcanoes, the best known in the region. Your adventure begins as dawn is breaking.
Afterwards, head for Olot and have a wander through its traditional market. You will see all of the delicacies the area is known for: pulses, charcuterie, chocolate, and ratafia, one of the most highly prized Catalan liqueurs. If you are looking for the opportunity to get back to nature, then the Fageda d’en Jordà is not to be missed. This is a beech forest growing on the lava field of Croscat volcano.
Stage 5: Towards the birthplace of Dalí
Today, the day begins at Banyoles Lake. You can take a trip in a kayak to the shacks scattered around the shores of the lake. These constructions, which look like lakeside dwellings, were used for fishing. And if you feel like a quick dip, the lake has some designated bathing areas.
Then it is time to say goodbye to Banyoles and head for Figueres, with a stop along the way at Besalú. The town is known for its Romanesque bridge, its old town and its call, or Jewish quarter.
Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí, is the last stop on Section 4 of the route. In one of the cafés on La Rambla, the café Emporium, the surrealist painter and his friend Luís Buñuel wrote the screenplay for their film Un Chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog). At the end of the tour, you can drop off your vehicle either at the SIXT branch Girona Aeropuerto at the airport or directly at the main train station in Girona at the SIXT branch Girona Estación.
To find out more about the Grand Tour of Catalonia, take a look at Section 1, from Barcelona to Tarragona, Section 2, which takes you from Tarragona to Lleida, and Section 3, which goes from Lleida to La Seu d’Urgell. Remember, the Grand Tour of Catalonia website has a planner that will help you organise your journey and control your budget. You can also download the track for Section 4 to your browser and listen to the playlist we have put together to liven up your journey.
Ready to start driving?
- SIXT stations in Girona