If you haven’t experienced more of Catalonia than just Barcelona, you are definitely missing out. This north-eastern region of Spain has deep traditional roots and a culture that has inspired some of the greats. From scenic coasts, trendy cities, medieval towns and alpine forests, we’d like to introduce you to Catalonia.
Tapas, the Gothic Quarter, beaches, sultry and seductive nights out… Barcelona is addictive. As the capital of Catalonia as well as a favourite for expat students, Barcelona has a fresh and alternative atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else in Spain. For tapas, stick to smaller places in the Barri Gòtic where the traditional tapas recipes are still served. For some incredible views, you’ll have to climb the mountain, Montjuic or head to the top of the hill in Gaudi’s playground, Parc Güell.
For beach time and sandy adventures, the Costa Brava is your destination. Head north from Barcelona to escape the often crowded city limit beaches. When you reach Tossa de Mar, you will know you’ve arrived. The crescent-shaped beach, bordered by pine trees and an ancient stone wall is picture-perfect. It’s no wonder that it continuously inspired the painter Marc Chagall in the 1930s. For a more secluded beach day, try Platja Mar Menuda, just north of Tossa. For dinner out, try Calella de Palafrugell, a charming old-world village with plenty of fish restaurants facing the sea to choose from.
There is no doubt that surrealism has major roots in Catalonia, home to Spanish painter Salvador Dalí. The rocky landscape of Cap de Creus never stopped inspiring the artist who used to walk barefoot for hours along the cape from when he was a child. He once described the place as,
“a grandiose geological delirium.”
Don’t miss a visit to the artists house, now turned museum the Casa Museo Dalí. Although he spent a lot of time in coastal towns, he was born and died inland in a place called Figueres where the world’s finest collection of his work is located at the Dalí Theatre Museum.
Many of budget travellers heading to Barcelona on Ryanair flights make a huge mistake: skipping Girona, where the low cost airline lands. Most just grab the Barcelona shuttle waiting for them right outside the airport arrival terminal but Girona is one of the finest examples of medieval Spain, a pity to miss. The town cathedral is hard to miss, as is the city’s incredible stone architecture: churches, palaces, ancient synagogues, narrow alleys are a contrast against the pretty modern riverfront.
Have you visited Catalonia before? Did you take time to see more than just Barcelona?