Discover the essence of Catalonia with this self-drive through Barcelona, the Costa Brava, and the Spanish Pyrenees. Along the way, you'll enjoy excursions like private visits to Barcelona's Gothic Quarter and iconic Gaudi architecture, plus leisurely self-guided day trips to the Costa Brava beaches and towns. Soak in the beauty of the Spanish Pyrenees as you drive through winding mountain roads, sleep in charming villages, and hike along alpine lakes, ending your trip back to Barcelona for some tapas.


  • Visit the quaint villages and beaches of the Costa Brava
  • Explore the historic city of Girona from the perspective of the "Game of Thrones"
  • Hike near beautiful lakes in the Pyrenees Mountains
  • Explore Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, architecture, and tapas

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Barcelona, Private Walk in the Gothic Quarter Barcelona
Day 2 Drive to Girona, Food & Market Excursion Girona
Day 3 Game of Thrones Walk in Girona, Drive to the Costa Brava Costa Brava
Day 4 Self-Guided Beach Day in the Costa Brava Costa Brava
Day 5 Self Guided Day Trip to Cadaqués, Figueres, Begur & Palafrugell Costa Brava
Day 6 Drive to Val d'Aran Val d'Aran
Day 7 Private Guided Road of the Seven Lakes Val d'Aran
Day 8 Return to Barcelona, Evening Tapas Walk Barcelona
Day 9 Private Gaudí Architecture Walk, Depart Barcelona  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona, Private Walk in the Gothic Quarter

Barcelona's Gothic cathedral
Discover Barcelona's Gothic Quarter and Cathedral with a local

Welcome to Barcelona! After picking up your rental and settling into your accommodation, you'll enjoy your first excursion: a guided walk through Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. Stroll through the oldest part of Barcelona, the Barrio Gótico (Gothic Quarter), and learn about this district's 2,000-year history, stopping to visit important sites like the Barcelona Cathedral. This structure offers one of Europe's best examples of Gothic architecture, and you'll discover the story behind its 13 resident geese.

Other interesting stopping points include iconic places like Plaça Nova, the Temple of Augustus, and Santa María del Mar, the "Cathedral of the Sea." After the walk, you'll bid farewell to your guide and enjoy the rest of the evening as you wish. Your guide can recommend tapas bars for dinner, as the Gothic Quarter is the perfect place to enjoy these traditional bites with some local drinks. 

Day 2: Drive to Girona, Food & Market Excursion

The skyline of medieval Girona

The drive between Barcelona and Girona typically takes a little over an hour. Yet as the roadway parallels the coast, you can take your time and stop in two of Catalonia's most beautiful coastal towns, Tossa de Mar and Canyet de Mar. You'll cut across the Massís de les Cadiretes nature preserve until you reach Tossa de Mar, a charming seaside village known for its beaches, fishing ports, and medieval walled town.

Tossa de Mar is perfect for strolling along the beach, swimming in the sea, cruising the coast, or trying water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. But the town's big draw is its walled castle with panoramic views and cobbled streets. Then, drive about 30 minutes along the twisty, curvy coastal road, stopping at a viewpoint or two as you make your way to Canyet de Mar, a small fishing village on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea—the perfect place for lunch, a light hike, and/or an afternoon swim.

Once settled, you'll head out on a food and market walk in Girona, discovering the city's local gastronomy, wine, and history. A guide will take you through the charming medieval streets and to places like artisanal bakeries, buzzy market halls, traditional restaurants, and family-owned shops. Each stop has a taste or two of delicious, local, and authentic bites. The last place you'll visit is a must in Girona: Rocambolesc, with its Michelin-starred chef and homemade ice cream.

Day 3: Game of Thrones Walk in Girona, Drive to the Costa Brava

One of the most recognized spots in Girona for the Game of Thrones
One of the most recognized spots in Girona for the Game of Thrones

Enjoy a "Game of Thrones" history walk in Girona in the morning before leaving the city. You don't have to be a fan of the series to partake in this activity, as the walk focuses equally on Girona's unique and varied history. Girona features iconic aspects of the show, including narrow, cobbled streets leading to medieval and Roman squares. The city's entire Old Town encloses incredible Roman and medieval architecture, and your guide will take you through the streets to find those famous filming locations while telling stories of the city's past.

Then, in your rental car, you'll make the drive from Girona to the Costa Brava. Your driving time depends on where you're headed. If you're staying in Begur or anywhere near/on its coastline (Tossa de Mar, Platja d'Aro, Calella de Palafrugell, L'Estartit, etc.), the route is no more than an hour. If your destination is more north in Cadaqués or its neighbors (Roses, Llança), the drive is just a bit longer at one hour and 15 minutes.

Since it's a relatively short drive, you could easily add a stopping point or two to your journey and make a mini road trip. Between Girona and the Begur area is the famed Empordà wine region, a great place to learn about wine production or have lunch. Or, one of the main cities between Girona and Cadaqués is Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí and where you'll find the Dalí Theatre-Museum. Another potential detour is Besalú, known for its iconic Romanesque bridge, medieval center, and Jewish heritage. 

Day 4: Self-Guided Beach Day in the Costa Brava

The beach in Calella de Palafrugell
The beach in Calella de Palafrugell
Plan your trip to Spain
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Though you might picture the south of Spain when thinking about the country's beach scene, the Costa Brava is one of the most beautiful regions, with endless stretches of sand. With about 100 miles (160 km) of shoreline along Catalonia's coast—stretching from Tossa de Mar north of Barcelona to Port Bou on the French border—you have plenty of choices regarding beaches and beach towns on the Costa Brava.

Typical hotspots include well-known coastal hubs like Calella de Palafrugell, Begur, and l'Estartit, but there is no shortage of options. You'll find plenty of other famous beaches and hidden coves along the coast, including in national parks and those requiring a little hike. If you're looking for adventure or sport, you'll also find areas ideal for snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, and even scuba diving.

Choosing which beaches to visit and how long to spend in each location is a perk of a self-guided excursion. Upon booking your trip, you'll receive all the necessary practical information, plus personalized insider tips. You'll choose from beaches suitable for families, low-key vibes, remote adventures, and those that offer services like equipment rentals, activities, eateries, and restrooms.

Day 5: Self Guided Day Trip to Cadaqués, Figueres, Begur & Palafrugell

The coastal city of Cadaqués
The coastal city of Cadaqués

Yesterday you visited the region's beaches; today, it's time to explore its villages! Renowned for its stunning medieval towns and rugged coastline with numerous idyllic coves, ports, and beaches, the Costa Brava gives you two options: inland or coastal. Of course, you can combine the two to embrace this picturesque and historic area truly.

This self-guided activity focuses on four Costa Brava towns, two inland options, and two along the coast. You'll discover the historic fishing villages of Cadaqués and Palafrugell. Head inland to Figueres with its Dalí heritage and museum, or focus on Begur for medieval streets and a hilltop castle. Upon booking, you'll receive details about where and how to spend your day exploring these charming towns.

Day 6: Drive to Val d'Aran

Val d'Aran
The scenic villages of Val d'Aran

Today, you'll swap the coast for the mountains and drive from the Costa Brava to Val d'Aran, a beautiful journey through Catalonia. Val d'Aran is a valley in the Pyrenees Mountains known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreational activities. You'll most likely stay in the area's main town, Vielha. The stretch between Costa Brava and Vielha is quite the drive, a little over 260 miles (425 km) and about 4 hours and 45 minutes. 

Because it's a long journey, you'll want to start your drive in the morning and consider making a stop or two to stretch your legs and enjoy the region. La Seu d'Urgell is a great place to stop, as it's about three hours into your drive. Here you can visit cathedrals, museums, and parks. Cardona is another optional stopping point while going to Val d'Aran, known for its ninth-century castle, Castell de Cardona. There's also an archaeological park and, nearby, salt mines and a monastery.

To help you better understand your driving options, know that the direct route without any stops will take a little under five hours, covering 236 miles (381 km). Stopping in La Seu d'Urgell actually decreases the miles to 226 (364 km) but adds about 10 minutes to the drive, not including the time to enjoy the village. The Cardona route is the longest at about 5.5 hours, covering 252 miles (406 km). Note that these distances and times start in Begur.

Day 7: Private Guided Road of the Seven Lakes

Enjoy a lake-filled hike in the Pyrenees Mountains
Enjoy a lake-filled hike in the Pyrenees Mountains
Discover one of the best hiking routes in the Pyrenees, the Road of the Seven Lakes in the Circ de Colomèrs. With your private expert guide, you'll follow this partially circular itinerary through the head of the Aiguamòg River and lake area of Colomèrs, a beautiful alpine area dotted with numerous glacial lakes. Some of the scenery you'll enjoy along the way includes a refuge cabin, waterfalls, mountain peaks, high-alpine forests, and lakes. As a moderate trek, you'll complete the trail in just about four hours of hiking across a little over 6 miles (10 km).

Day 8: Return to Barcelona, Evening Tapas Walk

Evening Tapas Walk in Barcelona
Evening Tapas Walk in Barcelona

It's time to make your way back to where it all began, driving from Val d'Aran to Barcelona. This is a beautiful journey through the Pyrenees Mountains, starting in Vielha. Like the route between the Costa Brava and Val d'Aran, the stretch to Barcelona is also quite long, a little over 200 miles (313 km) and four hours. 

Again, breaking up the drive with a stopping point or two is a great idea. Remember that La Seu d'Urgell has its beautiful Romanesque cathedral and regional museum. There's also a scenic sanctuary nearby, perfect for a light hike. Though you'll need to take a train to get there, it's worth the effort if you have time! Cardona is the other option, outside the mountains and ideal for history buffs with its castle, monastery, salt mines, and archaeological park. 

After returning your rental car and settling into your accommodation, it's time for a quintessential Spanish experience: an evening tapas walk in Barcelona. With the help of local experts, you'll stroll the streets of Barcelona's favorite neighborhoods, ducking into alleys leading to beloved tapas spots to taste a range of typical dishes. Start with cheese and meats in the Gothic Quarter, transition to seafood by the beach in Barceloneta, then end with traditional Catalan plates in El Born.

Day 9: Private Gaudí Architecture Walk, Depart Barcelona

Private Gaudí Architecture Walk with La Sagrada Família
Private Gaudí Architecture Walk with La Sagrada Família

Make the most out of your final day in Spain with a private Gaudí architecture walk through Barcelona. Join a local and walk through the neighborhoods influenced by Antoni Gaudí's impressive works. You'll start by visiting the exterior of Casa Batlló to learn how Gaudí mixed colors and shapes, then stroll down the famous Passeig de Grácia to view the exterior and interior of Casa Milà (La Pedrera). Finish at the architect's most renowned project, La Sagrada Família, where your guide will lead you through this impressive (and still unfinished) structure.

When the time comes, a private driver will take you to the airport to catch your flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Pyrenees & Costa Brava Road Trip - 9 Days
Map of Pyrenees & Costa Brava Road Trip - 9 Days