There are eight gorgeous nature parks, four surprising botanical gardens and an endless amount of kilometres of circular hiking trails, masses of mountains with beautiful corners, lakes, rivers and bogs full of animal life, beaches, bays and dizzying cliff coasts are offered by the Costa Brava and the nearby Pyrenees to all lovers of nature. A third of the area of the Girona region is under nature conservancy – respect and enjoy it.
The botanical parks and gardens of the Costa Brava are a natural oasis for walks with impressive views of the Mediterranean Sea. Both native species and plants from all over the world create an explosive mix of colours and aromas.
- The “Santa Clotilde” gardens in Lloret de Mar will amaze you with a large variety of plants and unexpectedly, an absence of flowers.
It is also worthwhile visiting the manor house within the garden with its collection of paintings, carpets, miniature boats and Catalan ceramics
- Between Blanes and Lloret is the botanical garden of “Pinya de Rosa” with tropical plant species that have adapted to the Mediterranean climate.
- In Blanes, “Marimurta” is an impressive biological station with native plants and trees, as well as species of plants from all over the world.
- The “Cap Roig” gardens in Calella de Palafrugell are a delight to behold with their species of plants and trees from all over the world which alsoserve as the backdrop for the famous “Jardins de Cap Roig” festival.
The Costa Brava is home to four natural parks, each one with different protected landscapes. Cap de Creus includes both land and sea. Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, a wetland at the mouth of the Fluvià and Muga rivers, is a natural park and a particular attraction for bird watchers. The Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Natural Park include the Montgrí mountains, the geological massif of Montgrí belonging to the Medes Islands and the alluvial landscapes of Baix Ter. The mountainous Natural Park of Montseny, on the border of the provinces of Girona and Barcelona, is perfect for hiking and is famous for the enormous biodiversity of its flora and fauna.
Camping Aquarius is located directly within the Natural Park of Els Aiguamolls, where only sustainable tourism and agriculture is permitted.
Five kilometres to the north of the camp site is the “El Cortalet” visitors centre. Here you can obtain information on the park and it is the departure point for interesting hikes along natural routes that cross the impressive landscape.
At the numerous sighting points you can observe flocks of water birds, since the area is one of the stops for thousands of migratory birds that travel from north to south. Here you can even see a large colony of storks throughout the year who, as they like the place so much, have stopped migrating and settled in the region.
In the extreme north east of the Iberian Peninsula, the Cap de Creus (Cape of Crosses), is located some 25 kilometres to the north of Camping Aquarius and the picturesque natural park can be explored on a number of designated hikes. The Cape owes its name to the pilgrim church of “Santa Cruz” (Holy Cross) in the monastery of “Sant Pere de Rodes”. Strange mountainous formations, small hidden bays and imposing cliffs create an impressive landscape and were the main inspiration for the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, who spent most of his life around the Cape in Port Lligat.
On a trip to the Albera mountain range, which extends over the French-Spanish border and joins the plains of Empordà in the north, you can discover the wild uniqueness at the foot of the Pyrenees. Here you don’t feel the hustle and bustle of the tourism of the coast. The captivating hikes allow you to explore the romantic and sleepy Catalan villages, churches and castles. Nowhere else in Catalonia will you find so many megalithic structures (menhirs and dolmens) as there are here: proof that the smooth mountain landscape was populated between 3500 and 1800 B.C.
At just one kilometre from the coast, close to the coastal town of L’Estartit, there is the impressive protected archipelago of the seven Medes Islands with their abundant underwater flora and fauna, considered to be unlike anywhere else in the Mediterranean.
In 1983 fishing was prohibited and the natural marine park became a Mecca for lovers of snorkelling, diving and underwater pursuits.
Today the islands are uninhabited, but remains suggest that they were explored by sailors millennia ago. In the Middle Ages they were the preferred refuge of pirates who launched raids from them onto the adjacent continent.
As well as the Eifel, the French Massif Central and the Campo de Calatrava volcanic area in central Spain, this region is also one of the most important volcanic areas in Europe. The volcanic landscape was formed around 11,000 years ago, when the last eruption took place. More than 40 volcanoes and over 20 lava flows create a magnificent landscape with lush vegetation that can be explored on a number of hiking and mountain routes.
One recommended visit is the “Croscat” volcano, where an incision in the volcanic cone caused by previous extractions of layers of rock offers impressive views of the different layers of its interior. The “Montsacopa” volcano in the centre of the Olot area is also interesting, and is crowned by the chapel of the pilgrimage of Sant Francesc. And in the crater of the “Santa Margarida” volcano there is a small chapel, a true combination of natural and cultural treasures that should definitely be visited.
The “Camí de Ronda” are coastal routes along the Costa Brava which connect the Catalan towns of Portbou, just south of the French Border, with Blanes, with a length of almost 200 km. These routes were formerly patrolled by the Guardia Civil to prevent contraband and also used by fishermen to access coves and remote towns.
Today the Camino de Ronda is more commonly known for its varying routes and fabulous views along the Girona coastline.