Though it is not near the coast, Spanish and international tourists descend upon the region during the summer months indulge in camping in Lleida and hiking the fantastic trails. Lleida is beautiful and well worth a visit, but it is the surrounding landscape dotted with ancient churches and characterized by granite outcrops, forests, deep gorges, and mountain streams that bring in travelers.
The town lies in the mountainous foothills of the Pyrenees, in the west of Catalonia. It’s the capital and one of the oldest towns in the region. Over the years, it has been ruled over by the Romans and the Moors before becoming part of modern day Spain. The town is also home to the 13th century University of Lleida, the third oldest in the country.
Beautiful rolling hills in Lleida.
Campsite El Solsonès is located just outside the city and has many pitches available for tents, campervans, and motorhomes across the huge 6 hectare piece of land. If you are looking for a little more comfort, the campsite also have permanent bungalows to rent. The great things about this campsite is they offer a series of guided and self guided adventure activities which include hikes and mountain biking routes. The campsite features a swimming pool, a grocery store, and a restaurant offering a range of delicious local dishes. You can bring your pets and WiFi is available in almost every part of the camp. A great option for those looking to explore the local countryside. Prices start from around US $60 per night in high season.
Aiguestortes Camping Resort is nestled in the heart of the mountains, near to the village of Esterri d’Aneu. The campsite boasts more than 150 pitches available to campers, motorhomes, and cavarans, many of which benefit with shade, a welcome relief from the midday sun. The campsite also has a number of new wooden lodges which private terraces that are seriously comfortable, particularly in the off season. The nearby Aiguestortes National Park is spectacular, and well worth exploring by foot or bike. Alternatively, grab a rental kayak or canoe and glide down the nearby Noguera Pallaresa River. If you aren’t feeling that energetic, you can chill out by the pool in the beautiful surroundings of the countryside. Prices start from US $60 per night in high season.
Campsite Voraparc is located near to the village of Espot. There are pitches for over 100 campers in over 3 hectares of land, so there is plenty of space for privacy. Many of the pitches are shaded under the trees. The site also had a range of bungalows and apartments which can be rented for just a little more than a pitch. The camp site features an outdoor swimming pool, and a range of guided outdoor activities from hiking or mountain biking. Dogs are permitted at the campsite, though they must be kept on a lead. Cook up on your own stove, or if you are feeling lazy, the onsite restaurant has a range of basic, but filling dishes. They also have freshly baked bread delivered to the camp for guests. Nearby, there are plenty of activities on offer including sailing or kayaking along the river. WiFi is available across the camp.
Other than relaxing at the camp, swimming in the pool, or taking a siesta in a hammock in the shade of the trees, there is much to keep people entertained. These included visiting the beautiful city and wandering through its streets and adventurous activities in the surrounding mountains including hiking, zip ling, and kayaking.
Aigüestortes National Park is the only one of its kind in Catalonia. Locals and tourists visit the park to hike or mountain bike through the forested mountains. Though it may not look it, the highest mountains twoer up over 3,000 above sea level. Wildlife lovers’ should head straight for the park which teems with animals. Deer can be seen darting through the forests, while many bird species circle overhead. For serious trekkers, there are refuges in the park where travelers can light a fire and overnight should they wish. These do sometimes need to be booked in advance, so check before departing.
Other water sports are available along the rivers and lakes outside of Lleida. On the calms waters, travelers can hire kayaks and canoes and glide along the pristine river past beautiful mountainous countryside. These can easily be rented nearby to your campsite, with some even having their own for use by guests. There is also a zip ling course nearby, which allows you to whizz past the canopy treetops, spotting wildlife as you go.
If you are staying in one of the campsites outside of the town, the lack of light pollution means the view of the stars is incredible at night. There is also an observatory in the area where you can get up close to the Milky Way and Northern Star. It can be a little overcast in the mountains, but when the skies are clear, it’s a beautiful site.
The campsites are all located close to the town of Lleida, in which there is much to do and see. Be sure to visit the Saint Lawrence Cathedral, a 12th century structure built in a Gothic style. It’s simply, but truly beautiful. It’s open every day for tourists and there is no entrance fee. The Museum Roda Roda houses some incredible vintage motorbikes and cars, donated from a private collection. Head along Carrer de Santa Cecilia between Tuesday and Sunday (though it is closed at lunchtime). Entrance is free. The Museu d'Art Jaume Morera houses an impressive collection of contemporary and modern artwork and photography from local and international artists and is well worth visiting.
The Municipal de la Mitjana Park sits just on the edge of Lleida and is popular with locals who come to walk or jog around the lake. The wooded ecosystem is inhabited by much wildlife and there are guided tours available for guests who want to learn more about the flora and fauna. It’s particularly good for birdwatchers.
Lastly, it’s possible to take a boat trip along the Mon-Rebei, a spectacular gorge flanked by high cliff faces. The boat trip leaves several times a day throughout the summer season and tickets can be booked in town.
Winter transforms the Pyrenees into a ski playground.
The Catalans are fiercely proud of their cuisine, and for good reason, it’s one of the best in Europe. In the mountains, seafood is obviously not that prevalent (though it can be bought). The food here is simply, using top notch local produce and meat. Like the rest of Spain, bread is a staple, and bought daily (sometime multiple times a day) for the bakeries. It’s used for everything, from breakfast to mopping up stews at dinner. Freshly baked bread in the mountains is one of the best smells on earth.
Surprisingly, canelons (or cannelloni in Italy) is one of the regions most eaten dishes. Though the dish made from tubes of stuffed pasta has its origins in Italy, the centuries of trading brought the recipe to the shores of Catalonia. It differs from its Italian counterpart, being cooked longer with much more white creamy sauce.
Between late winter and early spring, calcots (a vegetable in the spring onion family) are eaten with gusto. During this time, the calcots are grilled over an open fire until crispy on the outside and soft in the middle and then eaten with plenty of romesco sauce. If you visit during this time, be sure to try one.
Called esqueixada, salted cod is popular across the Iberian Peninsula. Interestingly, cod isn’t fished from the Mediterranean waters, and is only found in the North Sea. This is perhaps why the fish are salted to preserve it in times gone by. There are many ways to cook the fish, but a popular dish is a salad made using cod, tomatoes, and olives. Perfect with a glass of Catalonian white wine on a warm summer afternoon.
You simply can’t travel to Catalonia without trying the famous Iberian cured meats. Perhaps the best place to try cured legs of ham, the acorn fed pigs produce the finest jamon in the world. Salty and glistening in rendered fat, the cured meat is simply eaten on its own with a glass of wine or a cold beer. Alternatively, the chorizo is also divine, sliced thinly and served with crusty Spanish bread.
Dessert is often mato, a fresh Catalonia cheese made from goats’ milk which is topped with local honey and sometimes fruit or nuts. The perfect way to finish a meal.
In the mornings, Catalans eat nothing more than bread rubbed with crushed tomatoes and drizzled with delicious Spanish olive oil and sea salt. You couldn’t get anything more simply, but the fresh Spanish produce doesn’t need anything more. Served with coffee, it’s a great way to start the day.
The easiest way to get to Lleida is to fly into Barcelona first. Flights can be found from all over Europe served by budget airlines, as well as further afield. Once you reach Barcelona, there are a couple of choices. Either hire a car from one of the international rental firms inside the terminal building and drive. The distance is around 130 kilometres and takes a couple of hours. It also makes it easier to get around the area when you arrive, particularly when you are camping outside the town. Alternatively, you can take the bus into the centre of Barcelona and take a one and a half hour train out to Lleida, from which you can take a taxi out to your campsite.