Catalonia Travel Guide
Catalonia is a diverse and beautiful region located in northeastern Spain.
There is no lack of exciting destinations in Catalonia including the mountainous Pyrenees in the north, the rocky coastal coves along the Costa Brava and of course the vibrant city of Barcelona, one the worlds top tourist destinations.
5 Interesting facts about Catalonia
- Catalan is a romance language widely used in the middle ages.
- The first reference to Catalonia dates back to the 12th Century.
- Renowned artists Salvador Dali, Miro and Tapies all hail from Catalonia.
- Bullfighting was banned in Catalonia in 2010.
- It is estimated that around 9 Million speak the Catalan language worldwide.
Catalonia is a prosperous region, this was inherited from the early industrial era when Catalonia developed more rapidly than the rest of Spain.
With over six million inhabitants, Catalonia is the second most populated region in Spain.
Catalonia is home to a very proud population where the Catalan language is predominate throughout. It is sort of a country within a country, when you cross the borders from Valencia or Aragon you will certainly see the difference.
As in most parts of Spain the region has been in the possession of the Romans, Goths, Moors, Spanish and French in the past. The Catalan province was granted limited autonomy by the Spanish government after the death of Francisco Franco.
Catalonia has been home to some of the worlds most renowned artists like Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Lluis Domenech and of course Antoni Gaudi's influence reigns supreme.
Then you have some outstanding archaeological sites including Tarraco, the monastery of Poblet in Tarragona and the fascinating churches of the Boí Valley in Lleida, all declared World Heritage sites by the UNESCO.
If that wasn't enough, there are also some world-class museums such as the National Art Museum of Catalonia and the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres.
The north of Catalonia lies in the foothills of the Pyrenees which means there is plenty of scenic landscapes to explore.
The Valle de Nuria valley is located within a south-facing valley within the municipality of Queralbs in the province of Girona.
Visitors are treated to beautiful mountain scenery of peaks, lakes, mountain vegetation, hiking areas and unforgettable landscapes.
It is home to a religious pilgrimage site thanks to the historical Mare de Déu de Núria sanctuary and in the winter it comes alive as one of the top alpine ski resorts in Spain.
Vibrant Holiday Resorts
The beautiful Catalonian coastline is home to world-renowned resorts such as Salou, Sitges, Tossa de Mar, Cadaqués, Lloret de Mar and Roses located along the famous Costa Brava. And if you're looking for mountain scenery and being close to nature then a visit to the Catalan Pyrenees is a must.
First Class Skiing
The area offers with amazing scenery and some top Spanish ski resorts which are tailor-made for the winter sports enthusiasts, the top ski resorts include the National Park of Aiguestortes y Estany de Sant Maurici. And if your looking for spectacular mountain scenery then a trip to the Catalan Pyrenees is a must.
64 Michelin Starred Restaurants
The region boasts some of the best gastronomy anywhere, it has been home to the world's top voted restaurant in the last few years, the unforgettable Restaurant Celler de Can Roca located in Girona. If you are thinking of booking a table it is advisable to book well in advance as there is around six to nine months waiting.
Top things to do in Catalonia
The region's capital Barcelona is a vibrant modernistic and beautiful city, full of historic buildings and artistic content and home.
You’ll find so many interesting examples of a culture that it is difficult to know where to begin.
The city's unique buildings in Barcelona (known as “the capital of Modernism”) include the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia Cathedral and the Palau de la Música Catalana Auditorium.
Visit the Sagrada Familia Gothic church Barcelona
Catalonia holidays would not be complete without visiting one of the world's most famous tourist attractions.
The Sagrada Familia is one of the most outstanding landmarks in Spain and possibly the whole of Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The construction of this magnificent building began in 1882 under the guidance and direction of legendary architect Antoni Gaudí. The building is a wonderful blend of Gothic and Nouveau art forms.
Art critics have described it as the most exquisite interpretation of Gothic architecture in recent centuries.
You should definitely try to visit this architectural marvel when staying in or near Barcelona as it will capture your imagination and arouse interest in Gothic architecture.
Visit the Poblet Monastery in Tarragona
This is another piece of magnificent architecture in Catalonia, this one created by architect Arnau Bargués during the 12th Century, it was the royal pantheon of the kings and the burial site for more than eight kings of Aragon.
Additionally, this monastery is part of the Cistercian triangle which refers to three great monasteries in Catalonia, the Poblet Monastery is one of those and is well worth visiting. The Poblet monastery has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991.
Visit the ancient city of Girona
The historic provincial capital of Girona is located about an hour’s drive north of Barcelona.
The beautiful walled city features the River Onyar running through its core, with picturesque, multi-colour hanging houses virtually touching the water.
A summer’s evening stroll from one end of the old quarter to the other is highly recommended as you get a real feel of the history of this charming city.
Explore the maze of narrow streets, passageways and celebrated monuments before stopping off at one of the many cosy eateries, tapas bars and quaint terraced restaurants.
The Tarragona Amphitheater
Tarragona is home to a stunning coastline, clear waters and an excellent location above the sea, however, there is so much more to this picturesque region of Catalonia.
Perhaps the greatest jewel of the Iberian cities is represented by a complex of Roman Ruins and the Roman Coliseum Amphitheater mentioned above, both part of the UNESCO Patrimony.
Built during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian, the place where gladiators fights were held. Part of the Roman walls with their wonderful gardens can be visited by the public, for a small amount.
Explore the Costa Brava
There іѕ nо shortage оf things tо ѕее and dо іn Cоѕtа Brаvа and include unbeatable beaches, great sports activities, golf, skiing, visit the Dаlі Muѕеum, Emрurіеѕ Ruіnѕ (рrоbаblу thе most іmроrtаnt Rоmаn ruins uncovered in Sраіn tо dаtе), Gіrоnа-Rоmаn Ruіnѕ, the Arаb bаthѕ, аnd thе old Jеwіѕh Quаrtеr.
Excursions іn Cоѕtа Brаvа рrоvіdе рlеntу оf орроrtunіtіеѕ to еxрlоrе thе past and the рrеѕеnt.
Yоu саn vіѕіt thе рrеhіѕtоrіс caves оf Sеrіnуа, thе Mеdеѕ Iѕlаndѕ, оr аnу one of several grеаt bеасhеѕ іn аnd around Catalonia.
There are also plenty of opportunities to explore the lосаl wіldlіfе with clean wаtеrѕ and first-class beaches.
Tours & Excursions - Book in Advance
Recommended hotels and places to stay in Catalonia
For high end luxury in the city of Barcelona the 5 star Hotel El Palauet Living stands out as among the many. The hotel is ideally located in the centre of Barcelona and was recently refurbished offering elegant spacious rooms and top notch facilities. It is also close to many well-known attractions including Casa Lleo Morera, the Antoni Tapies Foundation and the Casa Batllo. Top streets Boixos Nois and Avinguda Diagonal are just a two-minute walk away. Reviewer Rating: 10.0
For value mid range accommodation the Hotel Museu Llegendes de Girona is top of the list for stays in Girona. A charming 4 star hotel is ideally located for discovering the cities top attractions as well as day trips to the local vineyards of Catalonia. Guest here enjoy a comfy lounge bar and a very affordable restaurant which serves a nice selection of authentic local food. There are also plenty of dining options if you prefer to eat out as well a good shopping options close by. Reviewer Rating: 9.0
If you are looking to stay on the Costa Brava the Hostel Ribas in Llloret de Mar is a good option. The hostel offers modern clean rooms with all the facilities to ensure a comfortable stay, great location close to the beach, bars, nightlife and many of the popular local attractions. Reviewer Rating: 8.9