Why Travel to Catalonia?
The Catalonia (Catalunya) region, in Northeastern Spain, feels like another country with its own language (Catalan), its famous architecture, and distinctive gastronomy. This autonomous region of Spain is made up of 4 provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. While it is best known for its capital, Barcelona, Catalonia is so much more. Whether you are looking for nature, history, or world-class food and wines, Catalonia has it all. From the wine regions of Penedès and the Priorat to the lively beach resorts of Costa Brava to the peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains, which reach as far as Andorra, there is something for everyone!
The gastronomy and wines of Catalonia are quite diverse. Some things you must taste when visiting the region include Pa amb tomàquet (bread smeared with tomato and oil, and sometimes garlic), Calçot (specially cultivated onion, grilled and served as a "Calçotada"), Crema catalana (the famous yellow cream custard) and of course Cava, the sparkling wines of the Penedes wine region. This is only a brief introduction to a varied and rich cuisine that you can try in the traditional and innovative restaurants throughout the region, run by many world-renowned chefs.
Best Places to Visit in Catalonia
- Barcelona: The regional capital and one of the best-known cities of Spain, has a beautiful, historic Gothic Quarter, the thriving La Rambla pedestrian mall, many museums and several cool beaches. Antoni Gaudí ´s distinctive modern art and architecture can be seen at the Sagrada Familia Basilica and in the colorful outdoor mosaics of Park Güell.
- The Costa Brava: This coastal region in the province of Girona is dotted with coves and villages, offering beaches, hiking, and historic monuments to visitors. Some of its picturesque towns include Palamós, Tamariu, Cadaqués, and Lloret de Mar.
- Girona, Tarragona and Lleida: The other three regional capitals of Catalonia are not to be missed either. From the ancient forts and monuments of Girona, to the medieval reenactments of Tarragona, to the famous Seu Vella cathedral of Lleida, these three cities will make you feel like you are living history.
- Montseny Hills: A mere 40 kilometers northeast of Barcelona, the Montseny Hills offer hiking trails, prehistoric ruins, and natural springs. Towns dot the edge of the park, including the spa town La Garriga and many others, offering accommodation and restaurants.
- Garrotxa Region: In the north of Catalonia, La Garrotxa is divided into two parts. In the south, it has more than 40 volcanoes that form a mostly flat area in the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, while in the north, the Alta Garrotxa is filled with peaks and valleys. Either way, the area features a variety of hikes for those who wish to see Catalonia’s natural beauty at its finest.
- Penedès and the Priorat: Both Penedès and the Priorat are best known for their award-winning wines and offer impressive gastronomical offerings. In Penedès, one can also visit the famous Costa Daurada (Golden Coast), so named for the color of the sand when hit by the sun, and Sitges, a beautiful coastal town there that has long attracted painters and sculptors, giving it an impressive art scene. In the Priorat, the historic village of Siurana and the Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria d´Escaladei offer magnificent architecture rooted deep in history.
- The Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figures: Inaugurated by Dalí himself in 1974, this museum transports its visitors to a surreal world as soon as they enter. Dalí personally created the museum as a gigantic work of art, his largest and arguably one of his greatest. And if you still can’t get enough Dalí, the Gala Dalí Castle in Puból and the Salvador Dalí House in Portlligat offer an opportunity to dive even deeper into the world of the magnificent and iconic artist.
Capital of Catalonia: Barcelona
Population: 7,522,596 inhabitants (2023)