Coastal Freedom Trail – Walter Benjamin Escape Route
Join us on a popular coastal freedom trail, following the escape route taken by Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin during WWII. You will hike from Collioure, France to Cap de Creus, Spain along the Vermillion coast of the Costa Brava.
This trip includes four or five days of trekking and as a five or six day trip in total. Options are to stop in Llanca, walking to the Saint Pere de Rodes monastery or continuing straight to Port de la Selva. You will be accommodated in stylish 2-3* hotels during your journey and a 1* hotel in Portbou. Bags are transferred each day so you only need to walk with a day sack.
Click ‘reserve’ below to see available dates. If your preferred dates are not available, please contact us to enquire about alternative dates.
“Fantastic coastal walk; Anne was a knowledgeable and extremely competent guide and leader. Her interest in the history of the Freedom Trail shone through and she shared this with us as we walked” – Susannah Hacon
Reviews 1 Review5/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Medium Group
Coastal Freedom Trail Walter Benjamin – Pyrenees and Costa Brava
Duration: 5 or 6 days – including 4 or 5 days trekking depending on your choice
Accommodation: 5 or 6 nights accommodation in 1-3* hotels depending on location.
About: A journey along a popular Freedom Trail escape route taken by Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin and many others during WW2. This is a stunning voyage along the Vermillion coast of the Costa Brava where escapees fled to Barcelona and beyond.
Perpignan, where we land, was in touching distance of freedom and was one of the final stepping stones leading to Spain and ultimately the free world. One of the largest successful shipments of escapees and evaders of the ‘PAT’ line took place in the autumn of 1941 in ‘Operation Rosalind’.
In 1940, Jewish writer and philosopher Walter Benjamin tried to escape the Nazi officers by climbing over the Pyrenees to Spain, from Banyuls Sur la Mer to Portbou, after the outbreak of World War II with the help of passeur Lisa Fittko.
We will make this memorial journey along the coast through wine country before crossing the Col de Rumplissa to Portbou. We have the chance to visit the Camp de Riversauts memorial museum near Perpignan before starting the walk and Salvador Dali’s House museum in port Lligat at the end of the trip. Airport pick up and drop off included. If you would prefer to meet us in Collioure this is also an option. A stunning cocktail of history, art and freedom.
This trip includes four days of trekking. It is available as a five or six day trip, with the extra day spent in Port de la Selva, where you can visit St Pere de Rodes monastery and Sant de Verdera castle ruins.
Single person supplement 230€
Dates & Availability: Trips available April, May, June, October & November 2019 & 2020
- Accommodation and food as specified in the programme
- Transport to and from Perpignan on a single timed transfer per group
- Local transport as per the itinerary and moving of luggage
- Barcelona transfer from Cap de Creus
- Guiding by an International Mountain Leader
- Maximum ration of one guide to 10 clients
What’s not included:
- Mountain snacks
- Any additional transport or accommodation needed if you have to leave the group for a medical or fitness reason.
- Alcoholic drinks
- Transport to the airport from Barcelona on Aerobus or by taxi
Arrivals at Perpignan Airport
Afternoon arrival in Perpignan Airport and transfer to Collioure or Argels sur la Mer via the memorial museum site of riversautes concentration camp. In Collioure we see the Chateau de Collioure and seafront in the evening or the following morning before starting walking. 3* hotel
Walk Collioure to Banyuls sur la Mer via Cap de Bear via Port – Vendres (17.5km + 231m or +700m) 5hrs
We begin walking to Port-Vendres where Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin began his escape journey after arriving by train from Marseille. Lisa and Hans Fittko helped hundreds of refugees over the Pyrenees to Spain) and onto Barcelona, Madrid, Badajoz and Lisbon. We start taking to the Fort Sant Elm and head out past the Batterie Mally ruins to the Cap de Bear. We continue around the coast to Banyuls sur la Mer. 3* hotel or stylish apartment (B, L)
Walk Banyuls sur la Mer – Portbou via the Walter Benjamin escape route (13km, +500m)
Walk Banyuls sur la Mer – Portbou via the Walter Benjamin escape route crossing the Col de Rumplissa. Banyuls sur la Mer was a smuggling centre as well as the starting point for Walter Benjamin’s escape. On leaving Puig Mas we climb up through wine groves to reach the col. A memorial route is marked and we have the opportunity to visit the castle of Querroig before descending, at times steeply to the quaint seaside resort of Port Bou to make our escape into Spain. 1* hotel or hostel (B,L)
Walk Portbou - Port de Selva via Llanca (18km +600m)
See the Walter Benjamin memorial in the morning after breakfast and climb out of Port Bou to head along the ridge with views of Port Bou international train station in the background. We make our way to Port de Selva on a beautiful coastal path and navigate remote beaches on the Cap de Ras. It is possible to climb up to visit the monastery St Pere de Rodes on foot or by bus as part of the day to eat at the monastery or in town. 2 or 3* hotel in Llanca or Port de la Selva. (B,L,D)
Walk Port de Selva – Port Lligat (15km, 4.5hrs)
Visit the fabulous casa museu Salvador Dali visit in the afternoon. Dali sort exile in the United States during WW2 and only returned to his home in 1948. The Cap de Creus national park is renouned for it’s natural beauty and wildlife status. You will have the opportunity to explore. Transfer to Figueres where we will stay the night. 3* hotel or stylish apartments. Celebratory meal in the city. 2 or 3* hotel in Barcelona.(B,L)
Departure from Barcelona or Girona Airports early afternoon
There are numerous scheduled departures from Placa Catalunya in Barcelona to the airport. Your final hotel will be in easy walking distance of the airport bus or alternatively a taxi can be arranged. Aerobus https://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/airport/transport/barcelona-airport-bus-aerobus.html (B)
Extra Trekking Day
Include an extra day spending the night in Llanca to allow for a more leisurely approach and the optional ascent to St Pere de Rodes. Visit to the Dali House Museum before departing for an evening in Barcelona £875 per person, 5 days trekking, 6 nights accommodation.
Transfer to Barcelona. Celebratory meal in the city. 2 or 3* hotel in Barcelona. (B, L) Our services end.
Peter Behr's father a Canadian, Jewish family who escaped. We took Peter to follow in their steps.
Dali museum, Port Liligat
Walter Benjamin memorial, Portbou
Lisa Fittko's book
Fortifications on the Coastal Freedom Trail
This trek is in hotels from start to finish with the majority being comfortable 2 or 3* hotels with character and a sea view. We relish this accommodation and have individually tested all of the hotels for quality. Example hotel: Collioure Le Fregate *** or Triton **
Comfortable and stylish hotel accommodation
Baggage transfer so you only travel with a day pack
Meals according to the programme
Meals and transport not specified in the programme
Yes by staying in camping or bungalow accommodation
While this trek only has up to around 700m height gain on some days it has alot of undulating terrain and trekking up to 22 km in a day. Some short lived rocky steps will be encountered.
It crosses at the col de rumplissa 583m at it’s narrest end before heading down a steep valley to Portbou.
You just need to carry a day sack and we eat in restaurants. If you are a Jewish group there are some limited options for self catering, but wild barbecue’s are forbidden in most areas unless designated.