EuroVelo 8 Route. Section 1: La Jonquera-L’Escala

The starting point of the EuroVelo 8 route in Catalonia is the Coll de Panissars. Located in the Albera mountain range at an altitude of 568 m, this pass connects El Pertús and La Jonquera.

The starting point of the EuroVelo 8 route in Catalonia is the Coll de Panissars. Located in the Albera mountain range at an altitude of 568 m, this pass connects El Pertús and La Jonquera. While you're cycling through, take the opportunity to pass by the ruins of the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria. It was built on the site of a Roman building, a villa known as Summum Pyrenaeum, erected to commemorate the victory of Pompey the Great in a revolt in Hispania. 

Halfway towards El Pertús, you will find the Castle of Bellaguarda. This fortification is typical of this frontier territory, built for defence and surveillance. But it also offers an added attraction for cycling enthusiasts: pedalling over a medieval drawbridge high above the old moat. You don't often get the chance to say that you have ridden over a moat into an impregnable fortress surrounded by a wall with 5 bastions.

Cycling toward La Jonquera, a quieter route away from the traffic awaits you. The only drawback is that you will have to work a little harder due to the steep slopes alternating with short, sharp climbs. After 50 m of stony paths, you reach a flat concrete road. 

An alternative route that is easier but has more traffic is to go from Coll de Panissars to El Pertús along a tarmacked road and take the N-II to La Jonquera. Take advantage of the end of the stage to stretch your legs and visit the Exile Memorial Museum (MUME), an interpretation centre dedicated to the memory of the people forced into exile by the Spanish Civil War. The building is located in the town's main street (Carrer Major), the same street used by the exiles to flee the country.

Leaving La Jonquera, there is a short but steep climb of 1 km with a gradient of 1:13.7. Once you have recovered from the effort of getting to the top, you will feel that you have suddenly been transported back to prehistoric times. If you look closely, along the way you will see dolmens, menhirs and even a cromlech, agroup of monoliths arranged in a circle. 

They form part of the Albera megalithic route, passing alongside the Canadal pools. When you cross this area, you will see round granite boulders along the path in the midst of the woodland. It is easy to understand why our ancestors used them as funerary monuments. 

Surrounded by cork oak forests, the Albera Interpretation Centre not only explains man's presence in this area from the Neolithic period to the present day, but also the area's exceptional heritage. In a relatively small space, you will find a great variety of habitats and, if you are lucky, a Mediterranean tortoise or one of the Albera's native cows.

Afterwards, the route follows a very pleasant path through woodland and farmland until you reach the Empordà plain. A tarmacked road and the first vineyards and olive groves welcome you to Capmany

Wine and olive oil are the two star products of this village, which is the DO Empordà village with the largest number of wineries. Take the opportunity to stop here and stroll among the stone-walled farmhouses. A hearty breakfast washed down with a glass of wine and a tasting of olive oils from the DOP Oli de l'Empordà can be a great way to end this stage.

You will leave Capmany along an unpaved road that takes you to the Empordà plain. The route follows traffic-free, flat, compacted gravel tracks. It's time to pedal leisurely and enjoy the varied scenery, which makes the route less monotonous. Pine forests alternate with olive groves, vineyards, wheat fields ... until you reach Vilarnadal. When you see its 14th-century castle, you will know that you have reached the plain. Stop and enjoy the peace and quiet. 

You now cycle by narrow irrigation channels that run alongside the road, until you come to another castle, Biart Castle. Inside the castle you can do a bit of wine tourism in the winery before continuing to Peralada. Tasting the local wine or cava is also a good way of learning about the village's history, which is closely linked to wine growing. 

Visit the Cloister Museum of Sant Domènech and stop for a while to admire its capitals decorated with biblical and secular scenes. Here you will find the tourist information office, which will tell you all the places you can visit. 

Take a look at the coffered ceiling made of polychrome wood at the Convent del Carme inside the Castle-Museum of Peralada. This historic site also hosts the famous music festival every summer. And to end the day, a relaxing bath with wine or a massage in one of the many wine spas in the area. 

The route continues towards Castelló d'Empúries, passing through flat, riverside scenery. Along the way, you can join up with the Itinerànnia network of paths, which offers trails totalling 2,500 km between the counties of El Ripollès, La Garrotxa and L'Alt Empordà. For example, at Vilanova de la Muga, there is a path that takes you to Castelló d'Empúries. If you're up for it, you can leave your bike for a while and put on your boots to hike on one of these historic paths.

Once you get to Castelló d'Empúries, you can take in the town's medieval atmosphere. The town's tourist information office is at the Cúria Presó, a Gothic building dating from 1336 which also houses the Museum of Medieval History. Why not take a break from cycling and visit the Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria? And if you're interested in seeing how flour used to be made, visit the Flour Mill Ecomuseum, which is also a support point for cyclists following the route.

We leave Castelló d'Empúries, taking the Camí Natural de la Muga greenway which follows the River Muga in a southerly direction. The route out of the town crosses the old bridge. This 7-span bridge dates from the 13th century. After that, it is easy pedalling along well-maintained, compacted gravel rural roads.

Halfway along, you reach a wooden bridge which crosses the Muga and takes you to Els Aiguamolls de l'Empordà Natural Park. The route passes through riverside woods, pools and lagoons, all very relaxing. If you stand for a while at one of its viewpoints, such as Senillosa, you may see some storks and large numbers of horses cooling down in the water after grazing. A number of trails radiate from El Cortalet this natural area's information centre for observing its flora and fauna, especially migratory birds. 

The route continues towards Empuriabrava, the world's largest residential marina with 24 km of navigable inland canals. The River Muga runs along the bottom edge of the marina until it flows into the Mediterranean. With its unique natural environment, this area has become very popular with international skydivers. Why not make a jump? And if you're not up for it, you can experience a very similar sensation in the Empuriabrava wind tunnel. 

The EuroVelo 8 route continues towards Sant Pere Pescador through flat countryside criss-crossed with tarmacked country roads, passing by rice and cereal fields and apple orchards. The route takes you directly to the mouth of the River Fluvià in Sant Pere Pescador. This village is the place for water sports. You can try kayaking on the river or windsurfing on the beach, where the prevailing winds are ideal for this sport, blowing from the north and southwest. The World Windsurfing Championships are held here every year.

It is time to leave the wind and waves of the coastal village of Sant Pere Pescador behind and head for Sant Martí d'Empúries. 

On the way you go through Armentera, a village where you can visit a well-preserved 18th-century water mill and its neoclassical church. On the second Sunday in October, the village celebrates the Apple Fair, where you can even try an allioli (garlic mayonnaise) made with this fruit. You will see large expanses of fields with apple trees, cereals and sunflowers, which are the typical crops of the area. 

Cycling along the apple tree-lined road, you will come to Sant Martí d'Empúries, which belongs to the municipality of L'Escala. This town was the first capital of the earldom of Empúries and was used by the Ancient Greeks as an entry point to the peninsula. In fact, the Greek port, one of the most outstanding engineering works of Antiquity on the Iberian Peninsula, is still standing. 

Leave your bike for a while and stretch your legs a little in the small medieval village of Sant Martí d'Empúries. The stroll among the stone houses and narrow streets is well worth it, as it still preserves the original layout of the medieval streets and the noble heraldry on the façades. The streets take you to the main square and behind the church, a small jewel awaits you: The Mirador de les Coves viewpoint, one of the best on the Costa Brava. From here you can see the peaks of the Pyrenees in the distance, the entire Gulf of Roses and, to the south, L'Escala and the Montgrí massif. 

One highly recommended visit is to the ruins of Empúries and its museum, which can be visited all year round. Everything is there, on a single site: A Greek city and fish-salting factory, an Indigete settlement - an ancient Iberian tribe that lived in the area - and a Roman city. And to celebrate the end of the stage, if you come to Sant Martí d'Empúries in May, you can enjoy a tasting of DO Empordà wines at the Arrels del Vi Wine Fair, which is open to everyone.

The route out of Sant Martí d'Empúries is easy to follow. In fact, it's a tarmacked cycle lane, separated from the road traffic, that heads towards L'Escala. Once you get there, you may notice an unmistakeable smell: the smell of anchovies. Take a pit stop to learn about this town's star product and taste this Omega 3-rich fish. It will give you strength to continue your journey.

Why not take a guided tour of the town's anchovy factories? It's a unique opportunity to find out how L'Escala anchovies are made today. Visit the Anchovy and Salt Museum, which is also the tourist information office, to learn more secrets about this well-known fish. You can follow the anchovy route, which takes you around the town while savouring a tasty tapa accompanied by the sea breeze. 

L'Escala holds its Anchovy Festival in the first week of October, but if you're more of a fish suquet (stew) type of person, you're also in luck. Restaurants in the town prepare various menus with this dish during the gastronomic days that take place from April to May.

Wikiloc track

  • Classification of the route: Cicloturismo
  • Means of transport: By bike
  • Level of difficulty: Experienced
  • Circuit distance: 58,1 km
  • Length of stay: 4
  • Length of stay: 4 h
  • Uphill (m): 444
  • Downhill: 765
  • Visiting season: All year round
  • Tourist offices: Peralada Tourist Office, Castelló d'Empúries Tourist Office, Empuriabrava Tourist Office, Sant Pere Pescador Tourist Office and L'Escala Tourist Office.
  • Province: Girona
  • Region: Alt Empordà
  • Places of interest: Capmany, Castelló d'Empúries, L'Escala, La Jonquera, Peralada, Sant Pere Pescador.
EuroVelo 8 Route. Section 1: La Jonquera-L’Escala
  • EuroVelo 8 Route. Section 1: La Jonquera-L’Escala

  • Costa Brava

  • EuroVelo 8 Route. Section 1: La Jonquera-L’Escala
  • EuroVelo 8 Route. Section 1: La Jonquera-L’Escala

  • Costa Brava