Given my recent decision to get back in touch with that part of my brain that had loved Japanese so much (and of course, the eager early planning of a trip to Japan next spring) it felt like good karma to enjoy my own Hanami in Spain this month.
You may remember last year’s hanami in Spain: the late blooming of Extremadura’s 1.000.000 cherry-tree valley.
Well, I’m happy to report that spring has been kind with us this year. No more surprise snows and no more interrupted kayaking plans,
Enter Goldilocks temperatures, tailor made to coax the pink peach tree flowers to put on their best show.
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Hanami in Spain: The Catalan Jerte Valley
At the outskirts of Catalunya, just before you set foot in the Aragon province, a true natural fiesta awaits to tickle your senses, come spring . I head out to Aitona, the small village a stone’s throw away from Lleida.
This Nippon Catalan doppelganger is surrounded by oceans of pink : the fragrant flowers of peach trees stretching for miles and miles (or close to 10000 hectares, to be more precise) are the new Insta-star of the region.
You’d better plan a visit soon, before the camera trotting hoards catch on !
There are six villages where to be the protagonist of floral tourism: Aitona, Torres de Segre, Granja d’Escarp, Soses, Seròs and Alcarràs. Aitona is the popular sister.
The locals of Aitona, used as they are to the annual spectacle, are aware that the value of their landscape stretches beyond the peaches they sell (the majority them exported to entice the taste buds of other countries)
Fruturisme is an original rural tourism concept led by the Aitona city council, which includes activities to promote the local heritage, landscape, culture and cuisine of the region. And of course, a taste of the spring hanami in Spain.
This is best experienced in March, when the tourist season begins with the guided itineraries “The route of the blooming peach trees”
A Japanese Spring in Aitona
At present in Aitona there are 8,500 hectares of fruit trees with an annual production of 150 million kilos.
Sustainable Tourism: the Routes
I’m usually all for DYI, but if you really want to enjoy this particular hanami is Spain, you may want to make it a guided experience – just to play it safe.
Given that influx of tourist hoards is now becoming the norm all over the world, it’s no wonder Aitona would prefer a more organized approach.
I sincerely recommend you plan your visit via the several options that Fruiturisme makes available: bus, bike, quad or hikes.
Other tours promise you these views, but beware of white lies (I’ll tell you such a story in my next post)
Six routes are available for your delight (you can see them on the official website of Fruiturisme ) : 3 self guided and 3 guided, all with starting point in the Municipal Sports Pavilion of Aitona.
The 3 free route are located along the banks of the Segre River :
- Sierra Brisa Route: the path that ascends by the hills that surround the town in search of the best panoramic ones happening through the románica hermitage of San Juan de Carratalà. You can do walking and cycling (mountain). They are 4.5 km (around 1h 30min)
- Fruit tree route: Path between fruit trees and Segre River completely flat. It can be done on foot or on any type of bike. They are almost 6 km (around 1h 30min)
- Ruta del Camino Verde Natural Aitona Soses: Road between Aitona and the town of Soses that borders the Segre River and allows to enjoy a green path and native fauna. It can be done on foot or by bicycle. They are almost 10 km (around 2h 30 min)
Different option: For those of you enjoying a bird’s eye view, here’s also the option of a hot air balloon with Viajes Kontiki. which lasts around 1 hour and 15 minutes , and costs approximately € 160. It’s a pity they only fly in the morning, because if you ask me, it would be a much prettier experience late in the afternoon.
When to go:
The flowering has a very variable expiration date, depending on the weather. On a regular spring, the Aitona Hanami can be enjoyed starting March 9. The Hanami usually lasts for around 15 days
Follow the hashtag #fruiturisme on Instagram to see the evolution and check the estimated date.
Not here in March? You have alternatives!Go see the blooming almond trees around Lleida, which bloom in February
How to Get to Aitona
Aitona is just 30 minutes from Lleida, which is perfectly connected by AVE from Barcelona or Madrid.
From Lleida, you can either rent a car, or make sure to time your visit well, with public transport. There are buses from Lleida , you can see the bus schedule here, or simply check out rome2rio.com
The Cherry Tree Hanami in the Valley of Jerte, Spain is one of the best places to see Cherry Blossoms in Europe.
More options to see Hanami in Spain?