What you didn’t know about Via Ferrata in Catalonia, Spain

Via Ferrata, when I first went to Spain I really thought, what the hell is that? Never heard of it. Until an Austrian friend told me that it is also called via ferrata. Then a light went on. Originally this phenomenon comes from Italy, which is why you find many routes in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France and Germany. But so also in Spain! Klettersteigen is kind of climbing and hiking at the same time, and of course you have different levels.

The advantage of living partly in Barcelona and partly in the Netherlands ensures that I actually have best of both worlds. Also in terms of discovering new things. Until a year ago I had never done a Via Ferrata and now I have done it twice.

You can basically do a via ferrata if you are fit and also have quite a bit of strength. Although this is my opinion and I can only speak from my own experience. Have also seen children doing certain Via Ferrata’s so in itself it totally depends on what difficulty you do. These are divided into K1 to K7.

The two Via Ferrata I did (or almost did) were K2 to K4. In which I skipped the K4 pieces, I’m not that good. Am just not a climbing goat.

I enjoy the active life and a Via Ferrata fits this very well. Fortunately, there are many in Catalonia and also in Andorra, which is only a 3-hour drive from Barcelona. There are also relatively much easier routes here with K1 and K2.

What is a Via Ferrata?

Let’s start with the word: via ferrata literally means iron road in Italian. It is actually a kind of combination between hiking and climbing, but in a relatively easy way. Doing a via ferrata takes you to places you normally can’t get to with hiking, and that means beautiful views, too!

There are secured routes with iron cables and steps through which you can climb up (or down), as it were. In the process, you always secure yourself in two places so you are never loose from the cable. You also have a rope that you can use to rest. That one is a lot shorter and you hook yourself to, say, a step and can then dangle for a while and enjoy the view. Of course, you only do this if there are no other people waiting behind you to pass.

What levels are there in a via ferrata?

There are different levels ranging from beginner: K1 to advanced K6. You find that it gets harder because the iron steps are in places where you really need more insight and/or strength to reach them. I myself am not a climber nor am I giant strong (mean, I still have childhood traumas from the climbing shorts I had to wear in high school) and I felt comfortable with K2 with the occasional K3. A through E is also used where A is the easiest and E is the most difficult.

What do I need to do a via ferrata?

It is best if you do not have equipment to rent it. If you go with an organized group this is usually included in the price. I do recommend if you’ve never done it before to always go organized because this way you always have someone around to help you along the way plus you get explanations on how to best use your body. In addition, the guide always knows the way, which is nice because not every route will be well marked.

You need:

  • outdoor mountaineering boots or at least shoes with a firm tread (soft soles are very irritating for climbing)
  • climbing belt
  • via ferrata set (2 cables with carabiners and a rest cable)
  • helmet
  • special gloves (optional)

If you are in Barcelona or Sabadell you can rent all your gear at Vertic Outdoor and costs about 20 euros if you rent everything.

Do I have to be very fit to do a via ferrata?

It depends on several circumstances: first, the route. When you do a K1, or K2 you don’t need to be much fitter than for a good walk. Anything above the K3 I find (but that’s personal) that you do need some arm strength and agility. So if you never go to the gym and are also not athletically inclined, I would just opt for a K1 and K2.

Weather conditions

Second, the weather. A K3 can be super heavy when it’s 30 degrees and the sun is burning brightly on your head. So be sure to keep a close eye on the weather forecasts. Besides, a thunderstorm is also life-threatening since the iron cables are good conductors. Therefore, never go on a via ferrata when the weather is bad or predicted!

The duration of the via ferrata

Third, the duration of the via ferrata. Some are only an hour and others are as long as 4 or 6 hours. So mainly see what you feel like yourself and ask advice from a guide, for example. Watch out with experienced people who have been doing it for years, my experience is that they easily say: oohh that’s not so hard, you can do that :). And then you are then terrified when you are halfway somewhere and don’t know how to continue.

Baumes Corcades

This was my very first experience with via ferratas. And what a one. On a drizzly Sunday afternoon, we went to Baumes, about an hour to an hour and a half drive from Barcelona. It had rained that morning so it was quiet when we decided early in the afternoon to go anyway. That was lucky because normally this is a crowded via ferrata. This is probably because of the Nepali Bridge with its 69 meters!

In this route there are K2 to k4 sections where it starts with K3 and that was fine for me as a first time, quite bit challenging but not scary. After some time you come to a very long “bridge” that is nothing more than a few cables and which you then have to cross. Since I am not much of a dare davil, I took the K2 route and skipped the rest of the K4.

It is a nice route with climbs and challenges and for the climbing enthusiasts a nice route where you will be back at the parking lot in half an hour to 40 minutes approximately walking at the end.

Because of the corona pandemic, since March 2021, you must reserve a time slot so that there are never too many people in attendance. And this really needs to be done, because my experience is that , especially in the summer, there’s whole congestion at stretches where it’s a little more difficult and people really need to take a moment to cross a bridge, for example.

Cala del Moli

This is one of the most beautiful and idyllic via ferratas near Barcelona, though. About 1.5 hours away, you can literally look into the sea from the rock. In fact, this via ferrata is all along the coast. This is the only seaside via ferrata in Europe. So definitely worth a try! This via ferrata had been around for a while but was closed in 2003 due to technical issues. It was then reopened by the municipality of Sant Feliu de Guíxols 2013. The by road between Sant Feliu de Guíxols and Tossa de Mar you will find one of the most beautiful sections of the Costa Brava.

A good friend of mine did Cala del Moli even with her broken foot in a cast.

The level of Cala del Moli is K3. So it is important that you have some agility, some strength and, above all, no fear of heights! If you are adventurous and sports-minded then I would definitely recommend this route.

Check carefully beforehand how hot it will be, as that can determine your experience positively or negatively. Especially here in the full sun is draining. Coming here in 2020, it quickly became clear to me that this via ferrata was not for me. It was 30 degrees, I had no gloves and slipped every time. Had no confidence in my strength, became insecure, and on top of that I had no strength at all. Something about 3-month lockdown. In short, I dropped out but my friends who did do the via ferrata were all super excited! Definitely highly recommended!


It is super beautiful and great to do, however, an accident is always in a small corner. Therefore, make sure you have insurance for (extreme) sports when you go to a via ferrata, especially if you have never done it before. Unfortunately, I have had a friend who ended up in the hospital with a broken arm and badly bruised back (super experienced climber!) because she took the wrong route. Fortunately, she had insurance and the helicopter was able to pick her up.

Therefore: go organized when you first go without people with experience!

If you want more information on climbing, via ferratas and outdoor activities, check out a website by a friend Carmen (yes the one from the photo with a broken foot in a cast): Laidback Places. She really has super much information on all kinds of climbing routes and via ferratas!

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