Hotel Camiral is a perfect spot for nature lovers. Set in 300 hectares of tranquil countryside, the hotel gets its name from the Camí Ral, or Royal Way, an ancient Roman route connecting the Iberian Peninsula to Rome. The route passes through the hotel grounds and beyond, and can still be followed today by bike or on foot. And from there, head in any direction from the resort to discover the region’s many natural treasures.
The greenways, or Vies Verdes, were built in the 19th century to improve the transport of goods between towns in the province of Girona. Former railways or footpaths, today they serve as pedestrian and cycle paths and are a great way of discovering the nature and history of the region. You can explore them on foot or by bicycle directly from Hotel Camiral. With inclines never more than 3%, the greenways are suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
The Costa Brava boasts several botanical gardens, each with its own charm – and beautiful sea views. The Santa Clotilde gardens in Lloret de Mar are set on a hillside with breath-taking views of the Mediterranean. The Italian-influenced gardens feature a variety of plants – although no flowers – and you can also see the collections of paintings, tapestries and local pottery displayed in the villa there. On the way to Blanes are the Pinya de Rosa botanical gardens with their impressive display of tropical plants, while Mar I Murtra in Blanes specialises in flora from around the world. Venture a little further north, to Cap Roig Gardens in Calella de Palafrugell, for a rich variety of trees and plants from across the continents. The gardens also host the famous Cap Roig music festival.
The Costa Brava at its most primitive: a wild landscape formed of 450 million year old rocks, eroded into a multitude of shapes by the famous Tramuntana wind. This is the most easterly point of mainland Spain and one of the natural wonders of Catalunya. A little inland, hike or cycle through the park to explore its natural fauna – a biological gem. And while you’re here, build in a visit to the picturesque fishing village of Cadaqués.
Forming part of the Bay of Roses, the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park is the second largest wetland in Catalunya and set over 4,800 hectares. The patchwork of different ecosystems provides a habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna, including over 300 different bird species. Look carefully and you’ll spot kingfishers, storks, spoonbills, nightingales, stone curlews and garganey ducks (the park’s symbol).
The Medes Islands off the Costa Brava form one of the largest marine flora and fauna reserves in the western Mediterranean. The popular scuba diving destination is an archipelago made up of seven islets, less than a mile off L’Estartit beach. The islands boast a rich variety of marine environments, including underwater caves of red coral and entire meadows of Posidonia Oceanica – a species of seagrass common to the Mediterranean. Glass-bottomed boat trips around the islands, and along the spectacular Montgrí coast, can be booked from L’Estartit.
The finest example of volcanic terrain on the Iberian Peninsula, La Garrotxa Volcanic Natural Park comprises 40 extinct volcanoes, whose lava flows sculpted the unique landscape of the region. The red rock and black sand provide a striking contrast from the coast, just an hour away. There are no less than 28 walking routes through the park’s 12,000 hectares of protected land. Visit the Croscat and Santa Margarida volcanoes, or take in the breath-taking views from the Montsacopa volcano and the Batet plateau. And while in the area check out some of La Garrotxa’s other treasures – the magical beech forests of La Fageda d’en Jordà, or the medieval cliff top village of Castellfollit de la Roca.