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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

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.

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Barcelona

Barcelona

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.

Costa Brava

Costa Brava

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.

Dalí’s Catalonia

Cap de Creus

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.

Girona

Girona

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?

Imgs: bigglesmith, art_es_anna, geese, habi / Flickr cc.

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4 responses to “Catalonia: Barcelona and beyond

  1. The culture is just awesome in Barcelona. I cannot wait to get back there again

  2. Painter Salvador Dalí wasn’t Spanish, he was Catalan. Tapas is a Spanish tradition, not a Catalan one except for the tourists, like sangria or flamenco. You omitted the fact that Catalonia has its own language (Catalan, more similar to French than to Spanish) and its own culture and identity. In fact, most people in Catalonia want the secession from Spain.

  3. Travel to the Costa Brava is always a pleasure. There are many beautiful towns and villages to visit. Personally, I love Calella de Palafrugell, a small fishing village frozen in time, where in summer are also several interesting festivals.

    Margaret

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