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Catalonia & Little Trains of the Pyrenees

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8 days From £1,199 £1,099 per person
4.3 stars(368 reviews)
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Experience the shining peaks of the Pyrenees on captivating train journeys and enjoy the sparkling coast of Catalonia from the charming seaside town of Roses

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Save £100pp on Europe 2024 holidays, when you book by 21st May 2024.

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No Solo Supplement

No Solo Supplement subject to availability on selected departures. 

Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: 24FRS

About the tour

From your base in the charming seaside town of Roses, experience the glistening Catalan coast and the imposing peaks of the Pyrenees as you take in the stunning natural scenery of France and Spain on this enchanting holiday.

Experience the delightful Núria Valley Rack Railway on a fascinating journey through a peaceful valley and ride the captivating Little Red Train from Rivesaltes to Axat in France's Pyrenean foothills..

Explore Catalonia's historic towns and cities, including Besalú - the picture-perfect former capital of an independent state - and medieval Girona.

Uncover the surreal world of world-famous artist Salvador Dalí as you visit his exuberant museum in the pretty town of Figueres..

Unforgettable experiences

Ride the charming Little Red Train through the French Pyrenees
Ride the charming Little Red Train through the French Pyrenees
Passing châteaux, sloping vineyards and dense forests, this 100-year-old heritage railway takes you on an enjoyable journey to the gorgeous Pyrenean foothills with the option of viewing the landscapes from open-air carriages.
Journey to a pilgrimage site on the scenic Núria Valley Rack Railway
Journey to a pilgrimage site on the scenic Núria Valley Rack Railway
Taking a picturesque route high up into the Pyrenees, this enchanting railway passes beautiful gorges and valley scenery before arriving at the impressive Sanctuary of the Virgin of Núria and a peaceful lake.
Experience pretty Figueres and the Salvador Dalí Museum
Experience pretty Figueres and the Salvador Dalí Museum
A classic Catalan town in its own right, Figueres contains the largest surrealist object in the world – the Dalí museum that contains the largest collection of works by the town’s most revered son.
Stay in relaxing Roses on the shimmering Catalan coast
Stay in relaxing Roses on the shimmering Catalan coast
Your base for the week is idyllic Roses on the northern edge of the Costa Brava, a historic fishing town that now exudes a laid-back charm with a promenade stretching along two miles of golden sandy beaches.
Explore the historic old town of beautiful Girona
Explore the historic old town of beautiful Girona
Home to the second-widest church nave in the world in its spectacular cathedral, Girona’s old town is a delight to discover with a labyrinthine Jewish Quarter and colourful buildings that cling to the banks of the river.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – From London to Catalonia

Your holiday begins when you meet your dedicated Tour Manager and the rest of your group at London St Pancras International, before boarding the Eurostar service to Paris. In the French capital, you transfer to the high-speed TGV for a journey through France to the Catalan town of Figueres.

From here, you have a short transfer to your base for the next week - Roses. This beautiful coastal town lies at the head of the Costa Brava in the Cap de Creus Natural Park, nestled between glistening sea and sun-baked hills. You check into your hotel that provides a comfortable and relaxing base from which to discover this beautiful part of the world.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – A day to explore beautiful Roses

Today you're free to explore the lovely coastal town of Roses, located between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains.

Roses exudes a laid-back atmosphere with white-washed buildings adding an extra shine to this charming town. The town centre contains the church of Santa María and an ornate Modernist house, Casa Mallol, while the Bay of Roses has several blue flag beaches. Its beautiful sandy beaches are less busy than its more touristy neighbours and your hotel is just a short walk from the closest beaches that arc southwards from the town centre.

Once a Greek colony, the town has a fascinating history, with monuments from the Roman, medieval and even neolithic periods. In the hills above the town lies the remains of Puig Rom - a Visigoth fortress from around the 6th century. Near your hotel is the Ciutadella de Roses, the site of a fortress used by Greeks, Romans and Visigoths. History abounds in Roses and, at the other end of the town is the Trinitat Castle, an old hilltop fortress that provides excellent views of the sunset reflecting in the blissful Mediterranean.

As a working fishing port, the town has many excellent restaurants and bars, the best of which are to be found along the coast, some having terraces so you could enjoy a lunch of freshly caught fish or some tasty tapas with a panoramic view.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Riding the Núria Valley Rack Railway up the Pyrenees

Today is a highlight of your holiday as you first make the journey to the village of Ribes de Freser, where you board the Núria Valley Rack Railway, which transports tourists and pilgrims the eight miles up to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Núria.

On the way up this vast Pyrenean valley, keep an eye out for deer or marmot amid spectacular views of the steep slopes, verdant mountains and rugged gorges. The railway is the only way to access remote Núria, and its car-free status makes it an oasis of serenity. The neo-Romanesque Sanctuary of the Virgin of Núria looks out on to a crystalline blue lake, with an arc of Pyrenean peaks as a backdrop.

Legend has it that Saint Giles arrived here in approximately 700AD and crafted an image of the Virgin Mary which he hid in a cave when forced to flee persecution. Around 300 years later, a pilgrim found the image after he had a prophetic dream and Núria has remained a popular place of pilgrimage ever since.

You have time to explore the tranquility of this delightful sanctuary before taking the Núria Valley Rack Railway back to Ribes de Freser and returning to Roses in time for dinner.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 – The impressive old town of historic Girona

After breakfast this morning, you travel by coach to the city of Girona to enjoy some free time exploring this well-preserved example of a medieval Spanish town. An enchanting maze of winding alleys, colourful buildings and diverse galleries and museums, Girona's old town is located to the north-east of its modern centre.

Standing on a hill formerly occupied by Capuchin monks, historic Girona's importance has seen it attacked and conquered many times. The old Jewish Quarter, a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets packed with ancient synagogues and cafes, is close to the city's cathedral. The impressive Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona stands at the top of a grand Baroque staircase and contains a Romanesque cloister and a nave that is the second widest in the world - only St Peter's Basilica in Rome is wider.

One of the defining images of Girona is the colourful buildings that cling to the bank of the Onyar river which can be viewed from a number of bridges, including the metallic Pont de les Peixateries Velles, designed by Gustave Eiffel..

After sightseeing, you may want to relax at one of Girona's many cafés or restaurants and try some classic Spanish dishes and authentic tapas. A Catalonian speciality is 'pa amb tomàquet' - crispy bread topped with tomato and drizzled with olive oil and salt.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 – Relaxing Roses and the calm costa

Today you have the opportunity to relax or explore further. Your hotel is equipped with everything you will need for a laid-back day of lounging in the sun, occasionally taking a dip in one of the pools, and enjoying a refreshing drink from the pool bar. If you feel like a change of scenery, there are two miles of beautiful golden sand beaches almost on your doorstep. Walking along the palm-lined promenade beside the Bay of Roses, you are never far from a good spot to stop for refreshments or a delightful view of Roses, backdropped by the wild Cap de Creus Natural Park.

Roses, an authentic Spanish fishing port, exudes laid-back charm. There is plenty of history in the hills surrounding Roses, but a gentle stroll to one of the town's squares is hard to turn down. Whatever you choose to do, it is worth finding a quiet café where you can soak up the atmosphere with a coffee or a cool glass of wine.

**Please Note: On select departures Day 5 and Day 7 have been swapped.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Journeying on the Little Red Train into the French Pyrenees

It's a firm favourite for a reason, and today you transfer by coach to Rivesaltes near Perpignan, France, where you board the fantastic Little Red Train. Known officially as the Train du Pays Cathare et des Fenouillèdes (TPCF), the line was constructed more than 100 years ago to connect Rivesaltes and Carcassonne but was closed after part of the route past St-Martin-Lys became unsafe. Three train enthusiasts formed an association to protect part of the unaffected line and the TPCF was born.

Nowadays, tourists travel in cheery red carriages which stand out against the dense green of the majestic Pyrenees from Rivesaltes to the small town of Axat. This scenic trip chugs past shining vineyards before verdant forests and rocky outcrops become more prevalent as the route climbs higher. Look out for historic Cathar strongholds blending into the mountaintops on which they are perched. Maybe head to the open-air carriages to fully immerse yourself in the passing scenery; breathe in the fresh mountain air and soak up the views on this charming railway as it clings to the cliffs and winds its way over valleys.

On arrival in Axat, there is time to explore this delightful rural valley village - a huddle of rustic houses nestled between imposing peaks - before boarding a coach back to Roses, returning in time for dinner.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Ancient Besalú, artistic Figueres and the Salvador Dalí Museum

This morning, you visit the spectacular historic town of Besalú, an incredibly well-preserved medieval town at the foot of the volcanic Garrotxa Natural Park. Once a town of huge importance and the capital of an independent state, its cobbled streets and sand-coloured huddle of buildings still burst with charm and history. Accessed by the remarkable bending 12th-century Romanesque bridge that features a gateway halfway across, you enter a stunning town of ancient buildings, pretty squares and narrow and arcaded cobblestone alleys. You have a free morning to explore this enchanting town before boarding a coach to Figueres.

The first port of call in Figueres is the largest surrealistic object in the world - the Dalí Theatre-Museum. This joyous pink building, decorated with golden representations of bread rolls and topped by a series of giant eggs, contains the largest collection of Salvador Dalí's works in the world, as well as pieces by El Greco and Marcel Duchamp. Dalí was born in Figueres in 1904 and the renowned artist became one of the best-known figures of the Surrealism movement in the late 1920s. An iconic painter and sculptor, his most famous work, the 'Persistence of Memory', depicts melting clocks with a background inspired by the coastline near Figueres.

After a visit to the museum, there is time to wander round Figueres, a classic Catalan town with an impressive 11th-century church at its heart. The sheltered lanes of the town centre are buzzing with cafés, tapas bars and gelaterias, and open on to picturesque squares. The sprawling Sant Ferran Castle is the largest 18th-century bastioned fortress in Europe and rests on a hilltop near to the town, providing excellent views of the area, as well as interesting information on the area's military history.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 – Homeward bound

A coach transfer takes you to Perpignan to catch a comfortable train connection to Paris. As you travel through the Occitan region of France, you can start to recall the incredible contrasts of Catalonia. From its pristine Pyrenean wilderness and charming towns to the glistening coast around Roses and the playful and thought-provoking art of Salvador Dalí, Catalonia is an incredible feast for the senses.

As the route reaches the Rhône, you are transported through the heart of France to its capital. In Paris, you change to the Eurostar service back to London St Pancras International, where you bid a fond farewell to the rest of the group and the Tour Manager but hold on to your wonderful memories.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel Mediterraneo Park, Roses

Hotel Mediterraneo Park, Roses

View hotel

Hotel Roses Platja, Roses

Hotel Roses Platja, Roses

View hotel

Trains

Eurostar
Núria Valley Rack Railway
The Red Train of the Pyrenees

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

Door to door luggage service
Eurostar Upgrade
UK rail connections
London hotels
Upgrade room at the Hotel Mediterraneo Park
Upgrade room at the Hotel Roses Platja

Reviews

4.3 stars4.3 / 5 · 368 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (178)
  2. 4 stars
    (127)
  3. 3 stars
    (48)
  4. 2 stars
    (10)
  5. 1 star
    (5)

Christopher Shaw

1 stars

Submitted 16/May

too much coach travel (2hrs) to get to the start of rail excursion trips. Roses for the actual base of the holiday was too remote to take in the rail trips into the Pyrenean Mountains. Figueres would have been better base (place) as it has a main line station to Girona and Barcelona plus a shorter distance to travel by coach for the rail trips. The hotel accommodation etc in Roses was fine and the Tour Leader was excellent

Collected by Trustpilot

Ribin Duijstomer

4 stars

Submitted 14/May

Great holiday, but too much time in coach journeys. Hotel, food, Guid all top notch, country fantastic, as was rack railway. Thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

Collected by Trustpilot

C Allen

4 stars

Submitted 13/May

A very well run and enjoyable holiday and experience.

Collected by Trustpilot

mrs a russell

3 stars

Submitted 11/May

Obviously the bad weather did t help, but really there was too much coach travel to each train.

Collected by Trustpilot

Kathleen Gunn

2 stars

Submitted 9/May

Abysmal luggage transfer service.Was told we would be entitled to compensation for delayed delivery but no sign and no response from Rail Discoveries on contacting them which was very disappointing.Other aspects of the holiday were fine but holiday somewhat spoiled by the nonarrival of luggage and I am very disappointed in the lack of communication about this from Rail Discoveries

Collected by Trustpilot

Barbara Maurelet-Sutton

4 stars

Submitted 8/May

Good value if you are not very mobile Very shocked that Steve Sutton, who bought this trip, wasn't able to be reimbursed anything when his wife was dying and died, and that despite being informed of the situation 3 weeks before the travel date.

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