There are plenty of possible ways to get to Casa Rafela, but having one’s own transport is all but essential – even if that’s a bicycle – see below! While perusing the options, however, please bear in mind the journey time from the borders or airports  – a stressful journey and a late night arrival is no way to start a holiday – and remember that there’s no Sunday Shopping in Spain!


Spanish airports

Barcelona (125 miles/200 km) has by far the most flight options from all over Europe. With the opening of the new T1 in 2009 it is now developing into Spain’s second Intercontinental Hub. There are scheduled flights from 20 UK airports with the major airlines as well as low cost operators such as Easijet, Monarch and  Vueling. The route from Barcelona is the quickest and most direct, at around two and a half hours.

Girona (165 miles/260 km) and Reus (110 miles/180 km) are small regional airports which principally serve the holiday market of their respective ‘Costas’. Both are hubs for Ryanair but also receive numerous charter flights from all over Europe. The route from Girona is highly straightforward, whilst Reus, although the shortest, is somewhat slower as it goes ‘cross country’. Allow three hours drive in either case.

Zaragoza (150 miles/230 km) is located to the west of Lérida (Lleida in Catalan) and is an important hub for internal flights, but since the 2008 Expo it also has budget flights from the rest of Europe. It links directly to the motorway to Lleida offering a very easy drive to Tremp.

French airports

These fall into two categories: those in or near the Midi-Pyrénées region; Carcassonne, Pau and Toulouse and those along the Languedoc-Rousillon coast: Beziers, Montpellier and Perpignan. All are budget flight destinations but the difference is the access to Spain: from the Midi the border crossing is in the Pyrenees at the Val d’Aran, from Montrejeau (100 miles/160 km) or St. Gaudens (105 miles/170 km) via Vielha. Whereas from the Languedoc area the access is by the motorway to Girona and then follows the route from there (165 miles/260 km).

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P & O operate a twice-weekly ferry service from Portsmouth to Bilbao (320 miles/515 km) while Brittany Ferries offer a weekly service to Santander (380 miles/612 km) from both Portsmouth and Plymouth. The onward routes from both ports converge on Zaragoza and are mostly on motorways. The timing of each route is about seven hours, making Casa Rafela a viable destination after an overnight ferry crossing.

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All routes across France converge on the border crossing into the Val d’Aran via Montréjeau (100 miles/160 km) or St. Gaudens (105 miles/170 km). From here the route follows the Spanish National highway (N230) which passes through the Aranese ‘capital’, Vielha, and on through the new Vielha Tunnel to within twenty kilometres of Casa Rafela. Despite the good quality of this highway it is important to bear in mind the mountain crossing when estimating journey time; for example the RAC calculates three hours from Montréjeau to Tremp.

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Travel by rail is a viable option since the opening of the High Speed Train line to Lleida, but there’s still time for romance on the weekly Tourist Special!


The main advantage of rail access has been for groups to meet and share Casa Rafela during divergent travel plans – especially parents from Australia and New Zealand catching up with their itinerant offspring!

The Spanish national railways, RENFE, has  mail-line and services to Lérida (Lleida in Catalan) from throughout the Iberian peninsular and beyond. The Spanish High Speed Trains (AVE) also serve Lérida on the Barcelona – Zaragoza – Madrid line. Within Catalonia there are also local trains, called Media Distancia and Regional High Speed Trains, called Avant that link Lleida with Barcelona in under and hour. Apart from Media Distancia all trains require booked seat reservations. From Lleida a branch line, which is part of the Catalan government’s extensive FGC network, runs just one train per day to and from Tremp. The journey up to Tremp is not very feasible on the same day as it departs from Lérida at 09.10, but the return journey connects easily with trains to Barcelona and Madrid

Media Distancia trains have through tickets to Tremp which are bought at main-line stations or from the guard. For specialist advice on booking seats on long haul train travel, especially booking RENFE tickets on-line, it’s wise to consult The Man in Seat Sixty-One or use the link below. Finally, note that the Lleida – La Pobla de Segur branch line is a tourist attraction in its own right and runs a vintage steam special train on Saturdays from May to October!

Search here to book rail tickets both within Spain and from the UK!


Direct coach services run from Barcelona and Lleida, which in turn connect to National and International services. The coach service is from ALSA, the main Spanish scheduled coach operator.

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Car Hire

Please note that however your travel access to a car is all but essential for a stay at Casa Rafela (but see below!). The nearest car hire is at Lleida, where Europcar and Avis have offices in the railway station, although actual bookings can be made through numerous budget agencies.

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Yes, it is possible to Go Green at Casa Rafela! The nearest shops are in Tremp, which is only six miles (10 km) away – and it’s only a six-hundred and fifty foot (200 m) climb to get home again, so that’s no problem! More importantly perhaps, the water at Casa Rafela is safe to drink and there is a garbage collection point in the village.

Bicycles go free on the local trains (see above) but note that bikes cannot be taken at all on Spainish Main-line or High Speed Trains, even as excess baggage! Therefore the best way to get bicycles to Spain would be by air to Barcelona, which has a local train service to the airport itself, or to Reus, whose RENFE station is a just a short ride from the airport.

Another interesting possibility is to take the French Corail Lunéa train to at from the Spanish borders at either end of the Pyrenees, Irun and Portbou, and cycle the whole length. As Casa Rafela is about half way along the range it’s ideally situated for a rest break!

Search here for bike hire in Catalonia!

  • Important Notice

    All material in this web page is subject to copyright: © 2012 Simon Rice. The downloadable guides are free to use.
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  • Generalitat de Catalunya

    Casa Rafela is a registered self-catering holiday accommodation. Nº HUTL-000734

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