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Family day out at Banyoles

It's mid November and Autumn has finally arrived. During the cooler weather, we recommend an easy day out with the family hiking around the lake at Banyoles - the largest natural lake in Catalunya. There are loads of things to do here... Apart from the walk around the lake, there is the excavated and recreated neolithic village of Draga which shows how life was like when the lake was first inhabited over 7,000 years ago. You'll also find a pretty good play park for the kids and lots of grassy areas for picnics and ball games plus dozens of cafes and restaurants to keep the little ones and the big ones happy all day.


A wooden jetty extending out into the lake at Banyoles with mountains and autumn colours in the distance
L'Estany de Banyoles

This walk takes you around the lake and a side excursion up to the top of Puig Clara (hill) with stunning panoramic views over the lake and mountains. Once back at the lake, visit Les Estunes, a magical forest full of fairies, pixies and limestone rock formations eroded over centuries to make mini crevasses and canyons for the kids to explore.



The lake was formed around two hundred and fifty thousand years ago by tectonic activity which also created the Pyrenees mountain range. The area has been settled since the Neolithic period, approximately seven thousand years ago and the town of Banyoles located next to the lake dates back to the ninth century AD. The lake is now a protected natural area, a "Plan de espacios de Interés Natural" and a refuge for a huge array of flora and fauna. Fishing is prohibited except with a licence and pets must be kept on a lead. Swimming is also banned except in a designated area at the Banyoles swimming club and only electric powered boats, rowing boats / kayaks etc are allowed on the lake to protect the purity of the water. As such, you'll not hear a motor, just the wind, rustle of leaves and the water lapping at the edge of the lake.... A perfect place to relax and unwind.


If you don't want to do much walking, then there is an electric tourist boat in the summer with audio tours in the usual languages....


An elaborate fishing hut on the shores of lake Banyoles amongst autumn coloured trees
An elaborate fishing hut (Pesquere)

To get to Banyoles, take the road from Casa Cal Domino to Girona and then the AP7 to the exit at "Girona North". Follow the signs to Banyoles and the L'Estany. Drive straight to the lake and park up anywhere along the shore. We normally park up by the football stadium and on-road parking is free. Googlemap The trip takes about an hour.


One of the peculiarities of Banyoles are the 20 "pesqueres" (fishing huts) that dot the eastern shore. They were originally built in the 19th century by wealthy families for fishing, boat mooring and swimming. Over the years, the families competed with each other to show off their wealth and the small huts became more and more elaborate. All building on the lake is now prohibited, the pesqueres are still owned by rich families except one which now hosts the Tourist Information Office and all are protected buildings as part of the culture and heritage of the region.


Autumnal trees, blue sky and bluer water of Banyoles lake and rowing boats lined up for hire
Rowing boats for hire and Santa Maria de Porqueres church in the distance. Puig Clara is the smaller of the two little hills to the right of the church.

The hike around the lake is about 10km or so, more-or-less flat and full of places to explore with viewing platforms of the lake, flora and fauna; perfect to keep little hikers interested. The path is really obvious and it is virtually impossible to get lost, but if in doubt follow the signs for "Vuelta L'Estany". We recommend walking in an anti-clockwise direction around the lake to link up with the trail to Puig Clara.


Autumnal colours, forests and the Lake at Banyoles, Spain
Lake Banyoles and one of the Pesqueres

The Barcelona Olympic Games rowing competition starting platform and views over the lake at Banyoles
The viewing platform and the northern shore

At the Northern end of the lake you'll find the starting platform for the Barcelona Olympic Games Rowing competitions in 1992, the Junior World Rowing Championships in 1991 and the World Rowing Championships in 2004. It is a popular winter training destination due to the calm waters and pleasant weather, specifically for English oarsmen and women.


A marsh reed with blurred background of the lake of Banyoles
Stunning Views over the Lake.

A Pesquere (fishing hut) autumnal colours and view of the Banyoles lake in Spain
One of the Pesqueres

Two trees with autumnal leaves and the lake of Banyoles with mountains in the background
Lovely views at every corner.

On the western shore of the lake, after about 5km, the path joins and runs parallel to a small road. At this point there is a pedestrian crossing and a dirt trail on the other side of the road heading up into the forest. It is signposted "Itinerario 3 Can Morgat" and "Puig Clara". Follow the signs for about 3 km and after a shallow climb you'll arrive to the viewing platforms at the top. There are two viewing platforms, one for Lake Banyoles and the other for Puig Clara.


A viewing platform made of wood at the top of Clara Hill with panoramic views of the lake at Banyoles.
The view from the top of Puig Clara

A viewing platform legend at the top of Puig Clara with panoramic views of the lake at Banyoles.
Panoramic Views over the lake.

There are a few trails that lead down back to the lake although they are not very well marked. Unless you are following a WIKILOC trail or have a trail map, we suggest retracing your steps back to the road. This detour to the top of Puig Clara will add about 3km to your hike, but is well worth it for the views and the climb is easy. Once back to the road and the path, follow it to the right, past the church of Santa Maria de Porqueres and back towards the eastern shore and the pesqueres.


A view of the church at Santa Maria de Porqueres, Banyoles, Spain
Santa Maria de Porqueres church

Once past the church, and after about 500 metres or so, keep an eye out for directions to "Les Estunes" on the right. It's a very short detour of about 1 km and a perfect place for a picnic. There are a couple of wooden tables there in the shade and it is a magical place for the kids to run around and explore. We normally take our children there in the Spring to hunt for Easter Eggs. It's amazing how many little chocolate eggs the fairies leave in the canyons..... Normally it is a quiet and serene place unless we're there with the kids and then you'll hear lots of "Mira ! I've found another one !" etc, etc. Sorry....


The Limestone rocks have been eroded over time to create these little micro canyons and crevasses. It's a small wood, so there is no chance of the kids getting lost or getting into trouble.


Once the kids are exhausted and any other visitors start to give you dirty looks because of the noise, there are dozens of cafes and restaurants back at the lake for a snack or long lazy lunch / early dinner. We really recommend the "Banys Vells" with outstanding views of the lake and mountains. They have a couple of large wooden decks extending out into the lake and serve excellent food at a reasonable price (there are burgers etc for the children). It's a popular place and we recommend booking a table. If you arrive at Banyoles at about 10.30, and with a full head of steam, you'll be able to complete this route by 14.00. If you take your time, you'll be finished by 16.00-17.00 just as the sun starts to go down (November). Perfect for.... um... sundowners.


An evening view of the Banys Vells with diners eating on the deck over the lake in Banyoles.
Banys Vells Banyoles

Wooden deck extending out into the lake at Banyoles, Spain
One of the decks at Banys Vells

You can find them here on Facebook or here on Instagram to make a reservation. Bear in mind that although on a day like today (8 November 2023) it was a perfect day to walk in T-shirt and shorts, as soon as the sun goes down, you can expect temperatures between 10-15ºC. If you are planning on having a late lunch / early dinner, you'll need to pack something warm for the evening.


For the hike, you'll need suncream and water even in the winter months. We suggest some fruit and maybe a chocolate egg or two if you have kids for a "merienda" at Les Estunes.


Once back at Casa Cal Domino, plop the kids into bed, annoy your friends with gorgeous photos of your day out on Instagram and don't forget to have a bottle of Cava cooling in the fridge for a wallow in the Jacuzzi.


Prices (2023) based on a family of 6 are from just €2550 (€60pppd) for full private use of the Villa and its amenities (heated infinity pool*, heated Jacuzzi, sauna), all utility bills (gas, water, electricity), pool and house towels, bed linen, natural gas central heating with log fireplace for the winter months, CCTV entry, alarm and large safe for your valuables, our huge welcome pack (local meats, Cava, white and red wine, beers, cakes, croissants, bread, eggs, milk, tea and coffees, all cleaning materials and a large fruit basket), all taxes and final cleaning. A visit to Banyoles is free.....

*heated from May to mid October to 26-28ºC.


For other free activities here in Catalunya close to the Villa, see our blog , visit us on Instagram , Facebook or Tumblr




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