The sprawling Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica makes up much of the Baixa Garrotxa region. You won’t see lava flows and smoke-snorting volcanoes, though – the last eruption was almost 11,000 years ago, and the park in fact largely green and verdant, with a remarkably fertile soil. The volcanic landscape comes in the shape of the park’s forty cones, which vary widely in size, the bigger ones topping 170m.
There are numerous trails through the park – if you’re short on time, you can opt to take shorter trails to several of the volcanoes that start at car parks around Olot. Posted signs point out those that lead to the two easiest cones to access from town: Volcà del Croscat, the youngest cone in the park, and Volcà de Santa Margarida.
Medieval Santa Pau, 9km southwest of Olot, sits right in the middle of the volcanic region, and is a great jumping-off point for exploration. The beautifully preserved village features stone houses, narrow lanes, ancient archways and the thirteenth-century Plaça Mayor, once the Firal dels Bous (Cattle Market). Santa Pau is also known for its fesols (haricot beans), which figure prominently in the local cuisine. The village celebrates its beloved bean in the Fira de Sant Antonic, also known as the Fira de Fesol (Fesol Festival) in mid- or late January.