Incensed by the completely inept websites and lack of specific detailed information in English about exploring Olot online, i am on a mission. 'They' still think if they ration the information online, you tourists will flock to their information offices and pay expensive guides to show you around and take you on interminable 4 hour walks in 35 degree heat. I am here to save you! It's not difficult. There are far too many people like me around here, qualified as Volcanic Park of the Garrotxa Guides, is why! Rant over.
So here you go:
Besalu From Girona, detour to Banyoles Lake for walk and breakfast (1 hour 15 minutes all the way round), on to Besalu for Medieval Jewish Quarter 1 hour tour (easily found in the centre) and lunch at restaurant Oliveras (week day buffet). Or you can do this on the way back, or other quick escapes from Girona. Banyoles is a 20 minute car ride from Girona. Besalu, 15 minutes longer.
Arriving in Olot, head for the Plaça Major, from there go uphill and you are at the foot of the Montsacopa Volcano (called 'Sant Francesc' if asking direction, because of the church on top). Walk up it via the 'stations of Christ' and down via the steep steps, or t'other way round. The cemetery is at the foot of the volcano steps. It takes 30 minutes, longer if you linger at the Carolingian war towers on top or have a picnic in the crater (not a bad idea). Pick up picnic stuff from the Olot covered market, c/ Mulleres.
Pere Colldecarrera, Olot - `La Moixina´
From the centre, you can walk to La Moixina, a reclaimed marshland area, favourite place for the Olot School landscape artists of yesteryear (see Art section on www.Gironalet.com website for a textbook example). Head towards the river, follow it round till you reach Parc de Les Mores, cross the main road after the park and follow the country lane. You will pass La Deu Restaurant and La Moixina Restaurant, Olot institutions, past their best, but still with potential for a good lunch, a pleasant sit on a shady terrace, a drink of fresh cold water from a natural spring. It's a circular walk of about an hour if you start from the car park of La Moixina for example, add half an hour each way if you start from the centre of town and it's hot. The walk itself is shady with streams and rivulets to walk by and magnificent views to the volcanoes and mountains. (I will walk it this afternoon and post slightly more specific directions here). This combination of Sant Francesc and La Moixina is a combination we walked with an ex-pat. group from Girona and they all loved it.
http://www.gironagrapevine.co.uk 'Girona Grapevine' - they meet for coffee at 11am every Wednesday in La Farinera cafe, near La Punxa, just ask directions, and all visitors are welcome. Catalans go to practise English.
For more volcanoes, on another day, drive towards Santa Pau from Olot. There is a sign for Santa Margarida Volcano car park on the right, before you arrive at Santa Pau. Park there and walk either El Croscat (other side of the road) or Santa Margarida if you don't want to get heat exhaustion.
El Croscat Volcano is fascinating, it was used as a quarry during Franco's time, and now you can still see the innards, beautifully presented. Santa Margarida crater contains a little hermitage, very picturesque from on high.
Also very popular is La Fageda, one of Europe's lowest altitude growing Beech Woods, happy on it's porous volcanic rock. Whatever you do, don't go at the weekend, as it is full! It's a lovely walk and you can visit
La Cooperativa d'Olot for an ice-cream or yoghurt. Even the website isn't in English but there are some indicative photos.