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nuria valley, vall de nuria, pyrenees, catalonia, spain (2)

Into the valley

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This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

Getting to the Nuria Valley

There are only two ways to get to the heart of the Nuria Valley, high in the Spanish Pyrenees and isolated from much of the region. The first is to walk. The second is on an antiquated train, along the ridges above valleys and through mountain tunnels. Coming out of the last tunnel, the light shines in through the window and, across a lake at eye level, the destination is revealed. It is an enchanting way to arrive.

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Not that the walk is unpleasant. It can take a few hours uphill (shorter downhill) and follows the valley up almost a thousand metres. The path sometimes feels as though it’s on a cliff ledge; sometimes it comes down into the valley and crosses the river; and often it leads you to viewpoints that look out across the stunning landscapes of Catalonia.

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nuria valley, vall de nuria, pyrenees, catalonia, spain (6)

The Nuria Valley

The Nuria Valley is a popular day trip for the local Spanish. The train drops you off at the resort which has restaurants, shops and other facilities. From there, a ski lift can take you further up the mountain… or you can rely on your feet. During summer, families often just stay in the valley, eating by the lake and enjoying the atmosphere. The more adventurous use the valley as a jumping-off point for hikes back down to the towns or off into higher mountain ground.

In winter, the hills around the resort become ski fields, with 10 different tracks (including two black ones).

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Nuria Valley Accommodation

One of the things I like most about the Nuria Valley is the choice of accommodation. In front of the lake and caressed by the surrounding mountains, is the official hotel. It has 65 rooms and 12 apartments, with total capacity of about 200 people. It’s a comfortable and well-maintained hotel with the luxury of tranquillity. Prices are somewhere between 50 and 100 euro a night (with your choice of meals included).

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But if that is too expensive for your travel budget, there’s another option. At the top of ski lift, just a few minutes away from the luxury hotel, is a youth hostel. It’s an older building but well-maintained. There’s something fun about having to get a gondola up to the front door, though, and it has its own amazing views out across the valley. Prices start at about 18 euro a night.

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nuria valley, vall de nuria, pyrenees, catalonia, spain (8)

Conclusion

There aren’t many places on the European tourist trail that you can’t get to by car. So it’s the isolation that makes the Nuria Valley so special. The journey in is as memorable as the time spent there. And the time spent there is so flexible but so carefree that it’s easy to forget the rest of the world exists.

Whether it’s summer or winter, there’s something for everyone in this sanctuary of the Pyrenees.

* You can find out more about visiting the Nuria Valley on the official website here.

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona tourism board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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14 Comments
  • Vera | Jan 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Nuria valley is stunning – we went there and back by train, but should I make it back, I will definitely walk because all the parts of the walk we drove past on the train ride looked just so nice! Plus, it totally escaped me that there was a hostel up there – that’s not to say nobody told me, but I’m sure I was busy turning around in a circle and admiring the scenery while valid information was passed on to me. Good thing there’s bloggers to write about this stuff!! Saved by the Turtle – again.
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      I loved your post from Nuria. You guys made it look so beautiful… which is not to say it isn’t normally, but it was taken to a whole new level. I’m impressed you guys got such great shots while turning around in a circle – mine would have just turned out blurry.

  • Molly | Jan 9, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I visited this area when I was a young girl. A beautiful place. The train trip up there feels like you are in another time. Thanks for recreating this memory for me. Catalonia has alot to offer.

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Even though the valley is stunningly beautiful, I think it’s all about the train trip too. In one direction, that is. It is worth walking back down and seeing the changing scenery as you descend.

  • Laurel | Jan 9, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Loved the Nuria Valley and surprising (in a good way) that there are accommodation types for all budgets, normally remote places tend to be more expensive.
    Laurel recently posted..Up Close with Hippos in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South AfricaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Yeah, I was really surprised too! I don’t normally write too much about accommodation but I thought it was really worth pointing out that there were two different but decent and reasonably-priced options.

  • A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) | Jan 9, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I wish I loved hiking even just a little bit so I could get to see those views too!
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      A hike would be worth it for these views. Surely you would enjoy it… surely?

  • Jennifer | Jan 10, 2013 at 1:16 am

    I loved the Nuria Valley and would love to go back, especially in winter!
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      I don’t think I would enjoy it in winter. Snow and cold and all of that is not really my thing. What a waste of pretty scenery. But… each to their own…

  • Jarmo | Jan 10, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Places that are a bit more difficult to get to are always more interesting. I’ll need to remember this on my next visit to Spain.
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      I think being a bit difficult keeps the crowds away. Not that it is too hard to jump on a train… but a lot of people I imagine don’t like to be too far from their cars. Oh well, it works perfectly for those of us who prefer things to be a bit quieter.

  • Larissa | Jan 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I love finding off the beaten places like this–they make the journey so worth the effort. Haven’t been to the Pyrenees yet, but I will definitely put the Nuria Valley on the list when we go–thanks! :)
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    • Michael Turtle | Jan 14, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      You’ll love it there. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to soak it in. It’s a wonderful place just to relax, away from all the big cities and the roads.

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