Travel Tips: Discover Matarraña in Spain
A remote but easily reached corner of Aragon, a pre Tour de France cottage in Yorkshire and a new hotel in Iceland
Take me there: Matarrañya, Spain
With its sun-baked hill towns, olive groves and terraced vineyards, Matarraña invites comparisons with Tuscany. But unlike its Italian counterpart, this remote corner of Aragon is blissfully off the tourist trail. Ibex still roam the rocky hillsides and the medieval villages seem to be frozen in time. It may be wild, but this region is easily reached – Ryanair flies into Reus, 70 miles away.
What to do
Hike, bike or horse-ride through the stunning gorges of the Puertos de Beceite national park, stopping to cool off in one of the many turquoise pools. Explore the beautiful towns of Valderrobres, Calaceite or La Fresneda. Visit the prehistoric settlements in Calaceite and the cave paintings in Cretas and Beceite. See vultures circling overhead at feeding time at the Mas de Bunyol observation centre (masdebunyol.com).
Where to stay
La Torre del Visco, a 15th-century palace in Fuentespalda, is the place to stay, with 17 gorgeously understated rooms and a highly rated restaurant (from €180, torredelvisco.com). The Kube rooms at Consolación in Monroyo look as though they have sprung from an episode of Grand Designs (from €155, consolacion.com.es). If camping is your thing, you won’t find a more idyllic spot than La Fresneda (€14 per pitch plus €5.50pp, campinglafresneda.com).
Where to eat
Aragon is famed for its cured hams, game, olive oil, goat’s cheese, walnuts and wine. You’ll find all of these on the menu at the unpretentious Matarraña restaurant in La Fresneda (Plaza Nueva 5, 00 34 978854503).
“Our favourite swimming spots are El Salt waterfall in La Portellada, where you can swim and picnic surrounded by huge boulders, and Font Rabosa on the Matarraña river,” say Jet Knijn and Joost Leeuwenberg, owners of La Fresneda campsite. “A fun thing to do is hire a bike and cycle the Vía Verde de la Val del Zafán, an abandoned and restored railway track that goes right through the Matarraña.”
Give me a break: deals of the week
Home: Westwood Lodge in Ilkley Moor
With less than a month to go before the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Yorkshire, Premier Cottages is offering cyclists the chance to get ahead of the pack. A week’s stay in a cosy cottage at Westwood Lodge in Ilkley Moor, which has a secure bike shed and access to the Tour route, has been discounted by £200 for arrivals on 27 June, bringing the cost to £795 for a week (premiercottages.co.uk)
Away: Stracta Hella, Iceland
In June and July the sun barely sets in Iceland, making it the perfect time to explore the country’s volcanoes and waterfalls. A new hotel, the Stracta Hella will open in the south this month, the brainchild of footballers Hermann Hreidarsson and David James. The Stracta Hella will offer stylish rooms and self-catering cottages with outdoor hot tubs from £130 a night (stractahotels.is)