Visit Vall de Núria with these 11 Amazing Things to Do in 2023
Welcome to Vall de Núria, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees! This stunning mountain valley is a nature lover’s paradise, boasting a stunning alpine landscape, fresh mountain air, and a wealth of outdoor activities to keep you busy year-round.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an adventure-packed getaway, Vall de Nuria Spain has something for everyone. It also boasts the best hikes near Barcelona!
In this article, I’ll share with you 10 of the best things to do in Vall de Nuria, from hiking and skiing to cultural experiences and even a visit to a beautiful alpine village. So get ready to discover the beauty of this enchanting corner of Spain!
Table of Contents
Where is Vall de Nuria Spain
If you’re looking for a peaceful mountain retreat, Vall de Nuria might just be the perfect destination for you.
This picturesque valley is situated in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees, in the province of Girona, Catalonia. Tucked away at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level, Vall de Nuria is surrounded by towering peaks, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls.
Despite its remote location, it’s easily accessible by train or car, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Speaking of city life, Vall de Nuria Spain is 130 km directly north of Barcelona.
Vall de Núria is located in the most iconic valley of the Catalan Pyrenees mountains within the municipal area of Queralbs. This hidden gem It sits above one of the highest points of the Ribes Valley and is surrounded by peaks of almost 3,000 metres. What makes this so incredibly special is the only way to get there is by rack railway or by foot, a 3-hour hike up the old pilgrim’s road. Either way, you’ll be afforded some amazing views of deep narrow gorges, rocks, rivers and trees.
How to get to Vall de Núria
Getting to Vall de Nuria is a breeze, thanks to its convenient location in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees. Note, Vall de Núria is only accessible via rack railway. You can catch the rack railway to Vall de Núria from one of 3 places: Ribes-Enlaac, Ribes-Vila or Queralbs.
- By Train. Take Renfe, a national train line, that offers a combined ticket that includes both the train and rack railway journey. The ticket allows you to take a round trip on the train from any train station in Catalunya to Ribes de Freser, where you can then hop on the rack railway for a scenic ride up to Vall de Nuria. (Approximate cost €45)
- By Car. Drive to one of the 3 places to catch the rack rail. If coming from Barcelona to Vall de Nuria the closest is Queralbs (130 km from Barcelona) and then take the rack railway that takes you to Vall de Núria. There’s free parking at the rack railway stations.
- By Group Tour. The easiest and most enjoyable experience is joining a group tour from Barcelona. Let a knowledgeable guide arrange all the logistics for you and all you need to do is enjoy our day in Vall de Nuria. More about this group tour later on in this article.
Check prices and book your dates for an amazing 1-day in Vall de Nuria
Is Vall de Nuria Worth Visiting
Where history and outdoor activities collide.
Yes! Vall de Nuria is a destination where history, natural beauty and outdoor activities collide, making it well worth a visit!
It’s pretty special to know that you are hiking one of the most iconic hiking routes in Catalonia. Where for centuries, pilgrims used this very path to the sanctuary. It’s a path full of history and legends.
Be sure to add Vall de Nuria to your travel bucket list. You won’t be disappointed!
10 Things to Do in Vall de Núria
#1 Take the Scenic Núria Rack Railway
Take the rack railway called Cremallera de Núria through a beautiful route that runs 12.5 km and ascends about 1,000 m from Queralbs. You get to admire the unspoiled panoramic mountain landscape views from the Núria rack railway windows. This in itself was a highlight of the tour.
Rack Railway Information:
- Schedule: it operates on seasonal demand running approximately every 1 to 2 hours (for detailed information on schedule, tickets purchase and prices visit the official website)
- Cost: €39 (round-trip adults)
#2 Learn about the Ancient History of Vall de Núria
Vall de Núria has a fascinating legendary tale. Here’s how the story goes. Saint Giles or San Gil arrived in this area from Athens around 700 AD. He lived the life of a hermit, living in caves and spending his time with the local shepherds. He was thought to have carved the painted image of the Virgin Mary. For safekeeping, he hid the carving in a cave when he had to flee from prosecution.
#3 Walk the Shrine of Núria
In 1072, some would say by divine inspiration, a pilgrim named Amadeu was called to this area to help build a chapel and search for the Virgin Mary. He and the local shepherds discovered the image and carried it to Queralbs. However, many believed it needed to remain in Núria. So, a procession was organized to bring the carving back to Núria. Thus, this is how the Shrine of Núria came to be.
The religious symbols of Vall de Núria are the cross, which San Gil brought with him to the valley, the cooking pot which he used to cook the meals he shared with the shepherds, and the bell with which he summoned them at meal times.
The Shrine of Núria, a popular pilgrimage route, is the same path that the Pilgrims took from the town of Queralbs to Núria. Here, you will find stone crosses, churches and artifacts littering the route.
#4 Hike the Vall de Núria
Some of the best hikes near Barcelona can be found right here.
There are so many hiking trails you can choose from, all starting at Vall de Núria. Clear descriptions of distance, altitude, estimated walking time and experience level are clearly marked.
Here are the hikes I did:
- Cami de les Coves, altitude of 2,134 m
- Cami del Bosc trail, altitude of 2,122 m
Many of the trails have connecting points with the Santiago el Camino, the famous pilgrimage route. The flag signifies a main intersection and marker for hikers.
This is the high Pyrenees, close to the border with France, and you can see the path that people used during the Spanish civil war to pass from France to Spain.
#5 Take a Cable Car Viewpoint
Take the scenic cable car ride up to the summit of 2,122 m. It offers an incredible viewpoint of the Nuria valley. You have two options – walk down and join the Cami del Bosc trail or ride the gondola back down the hill.
#6 Tour the Sanctuary of Núria
Tour the original site of the church sanctuary and hostel to house the Pilgrims from centuries ago.
Today what stands is a large building that includes a hotel, restaurant, information center and gift shop. Immediately you are taken aback by such a large complex, in this remote high valley of the Pyrenees. It’s an incredibly scenic area – framed by the mountains with a large grassy area and a small lake in the foreground.
#7 Have a Picnic
One of the most delightful ways to experience the natural beauty of Vall de Nuria is by enjoying a picnic amidst its stunning alpine landscape.
With its lush forests, sparkling streams, and breathtaking mountain views, there’s no shortage of idyllic spots to lay out a blanket (or sit at a picnic table close to the Hotel) and enjoy a leisurely meal in the great outdoors.
Dine at the Hotel’s restaurant – either in the dining hall or ask for takeaway and choose a picnic table or nice grassy spot and take in the tranquil surroundings while you savour every bite.
#8 Hit the Ski Slopes
Skiing in Vall de Nuria is said to be an unforgettable experience, with its pristine slopes, picturesque alpine scenery, and excellent ski facilities courtesy of the Hotel Scanturay.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skier, there’s a wide range of runs to suit all levels, as well as ski schools and equipment rentals to help you get started. With plenty of snowfall during the winter months, Vall de Nuria offers excellent skiing conditions, along with stunning views of the surrounding mountain landscape that will take your breath away.
#9 Go Ziplining over the Nuria Valley
Ziplining in Vall de Nuria is an exhilarating way to experience the mountain valley’s stunning landscape from a different perspective. With several ziplining options available, you can soar above the treetops and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Nuria valley.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or simply looking for a unique adventure, ziplining in Vall de Nuria is a must-try activity – that’s very popular with families.
#10 Visit the Nature Classroom
A visit to the Nature Classroom in Vall de Nuria is a great way to learn about the natural environment of this beautiful mountain valley. The classroom offers a range of educational programs and interactive exhibits that teach visitors about the local flora and fauna, as well as the geological history of the Pyrenees. With knowledgeable guides on hand to answer questions and provide insight, a visit to the Nature Classroom is a fascinating and informative experience that’s perfect for both adults and children alike.
#11 Stroll through Queralbes
The alpine village of Queralbs is just a stone’s throw away from Vall de Nuria. Actually, it’s one of three places to catch the rack rail. A stroll through this picturesque stone village won’t take you long, but it’s definitely one of my favourite things to do on this trip! You can see just how pretty this village is through my 17 Photos to inspire you to visit Queralbs.
Highly Recommend Group Tour From Barcelona to Vall de Nuria
I experienced Vall de Nuria on a group tour, and this 10-hour day left me with lasting memories!
The small-group tour includes:
- Transportation in an air-conditioned minivan that seats 8 people
- Núria Rack railway ticket
- Guided hike (optional)
- Hiking poles (if required)
- Typical Catalan snacks and bottled water
- Personal Insurance
- Lunch is not included (hence the picnic!)
If you are in Barcelona and looking for a unique day trip to somewhere off the beaten path this is highly recommended. Check prices and book your dates.
Other helpful tips for your visit
What to bring with you
- Dress for the elements (e.g., hat, sunglasses)
- Warm clothing as you reach the top the temperature drops at least by 10 degrees
- Wear hiking shoes, the trails are steep and rocky
- Snacks (or packed lunch)
- And, your camera!
If you opt out of hiking the steep elevation (which ranges from beginner to advanced) there are still lots more things to do as you can see from my list!
What is the Vall de Nuria weather?
The Vall de Nuria weather can be up to 10 degrees cooler than Barcelona due to its elevation. Expect snowy conditions from November to April.
What is the meaning of Nuria?
The meaning of Nuria is a name of Catalan origin that means “bright” or “shining”. It’s also a girl’s name and the name of a mountain valley in the Pyrenees of northeastern Spain
How do I get from Barcelona to Vall de Nuria?
To get from Barcelona to Vall de Nuria, take a train to Ribes de Freser, then transfer to the rack railway for a scenic ride to the valley. The whole journey takes about 2-3 hours.
Is 1 day enough to see Vall de Nuria?
In 1 day in Vall de Nuria you can experience the highlights of Vall de Nuria, however, if you stay overnight you can do more hiking or skiing.
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As a holidaymaker
Enjoy the break from Barcelona and go to Vall de Núria for the day. Discover the beauty of the Pyrenees mountains on a hike through the Nuria valley. It is such a peaceful place. Whether you are a spiritual person or not, it will leave you feeling inspired, grateful and longing to return.