Albera Range - Alt Emporda Costa Brava
The Sierra Albera of the Alt Emporda region of the Costa Brava is the easternmost part of the Pyrenees bordering the Roussillon region of France. It runs all the way to the Mediterranean, where in places it abruptly falls away in dramatic cliffs.
With it’s rugged rocky slopes, river valleys and rich history this part of the Alt Emporda is a beautiful area that isn’t on too many tourists itineraries – which is great because it means some days you feel like you have the entire place to you self!
Man has been up and down this land for centuries largely due to the fact that the mountains here have the lowest passes across the entire Pyrenees and it is why the Albera Range is rich with castles, monasteries and dolmens.
Requesens Castle and the Monastery of Sant Quirze de Colera are really worth a visit!
The Albera was first declared a Natural Site of National Interest in 1986, primarily to save the Hermann’s Tortoise.
This lovely little tortoise which is mostly found in the eastern part of the park has suffered tremendously over the years from habitat loss (mostly forest fires and cultivation).
Now with the Tortoise Centre and good park management the future of our hard-shelled friends looks much brighter.
Other animals you may see here include Genets, Fox, Roe and Fallow Deer and Boar, but all of these are very elusive. There are also Eagle Owls and Bonelli’s Eagles resident on the rocky slopes and if you are very lucky you may spot a majestic Golden Eagle or two, soaring along the ridges up above.
The Albera Natural Park is fantastic walking country.
Most of the northern zone is only accessible by foot. There are many routes all over the protected park area – ridge walks, river valley walks and beech wood walks.
Two of the most popular walks are the circular routes that start from Requesens Castle and Sant Quirze de Colera. You can get details of these walks from the park information offices (see below).
The winding roads of this part of the Alt Emporda make for great cycling...with few cars on the road, varied terrain and fantastic views. It is also possible to go off road on some of the tracks that traverse the hills.
This part of northern Spain is a land dominated by Holm Oak, Cork Oak and Beech. However, if you know what you are looking for you will also see more unusual trees like the Italian and Montpellier Maple and the Wych Elm.
Depending on the time of year you visit, a walk along the rivers here, in particular the Anyet and Orlina, will have you coming across flowering Gorse, Rock Roses, Spanish Broom, and Orchids such as the Violet Limodore and Bird’s Nest Orchid.
There are some great drives through the Sierra Albera and the major sites can all be reached by car. Two of our favourite drives are...
The park has two information offices – one at La Jonquera and one at Espolla. There is a brilliant park leaflet (in many European languages) detailing the history and the geography of the Albera, which also has a very useful map of the park. You can also pick up other leaflets for the rest of the Alt Emporda region.
The lovely small towns and villages of the north Alt Emporda region, such as Vilamaniscle, Espolla, Rabos and Mollet de Peralada all have nice bars and restaurants with outdoor seating. Or you can pack a picnic to enjoy at the picnic areas (shaded tables and benches) that are dotted throughout the Albera.
Can you make out the French coastline of Languedoc glistening in the background?
This region of north east Spain deserves a day or two to explore, although you may find you spend a week here – if you have the time!! It is also worth considering the Albera’s location. Figueres, Roses, the Costa Brava coast, the Alt Emporda wetland natural park, Cap de Creus and the stunning Sant Pere de Rodes are all within an hour’s drive…….AND if that’s not enough, France is just over the hill!!!
How to get to the Albera Range
Zoom in on Vilajuiga and then on Garriguella on the map below to see the numbers and names of the roads. The nearest motorway is the AP7.
The Albera Range stretches north all the way to the border with France, all the way east to the sea and all the way west to the Coll de Pertus pass.
If you need car hire in the Costa Brava please click on this link.
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You can get to Garriguella and Vilamaniscle by bus from Figueres ampurdanbus.com.Train:
The nearest train station is Vilajuiga (approx 3km away).
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