From Barcelona’s unique personality to the region’s 800 kilometres of coast and its world-acclaimed gastronomy – here are some reasons to make Catalonia your next travel destination
To many, Catalonia conjures images of Barcelona and Antoni Gaudí’s dreamy Sagrada Familia church. While the city is a must-see, a visit to this unique Southern europe region shouldn’t stop there. Spanning 360 miles along the Mediterranean coast, Catalonia is home to Romanesque art, medieval mountain monasteries, Art Nouveau masterpieces and Roman ruins. Its cuisine is as varied as its landscape, and traditions run deep. One day you could be hiking through the Pyrenees; the next, enjoying fresh seafood in a quaint seaside town.
More than 800 kilometres of coast, 18 natural parks, routes based on wine tasting and some of Europe’s most vibrant music festivals
In Catalonia you will always have something more to discover. Choose the landscape to suit your own taste
Sea and mountain
In the Pyrenees of Catalonia, time moves more slowly. They still maintain a part of the rural essence, of times gone by, in the villages and in the artistic heritage, which mostly expresses the Romanesque style. Nature maintains a hold on many corners that are practically unexplored, which can only be reached via a hiking route, by crossing thorugh forests, rivers, and alpine meadows, and by heading towards one of the highest peaks in the Catalan geography.
A little more than two hours by car and you will find the sea bathing the Catalan coast. This is a great added value to your visit, because the diversity of landscapes you can see is very large. The Mediterranean, the birthplace of Western civilizations in ancient times, is one of the places with the highest concentration of biodiversity in the world, clearly defined by its colour, fauna and temperature.
The Catalan regions show one of the Mediterraneanís most hidden sides, transforming into tiny and charming coves with fishing boats, kilometres of fine sand beaches, and urban beaches capable of satisfying the need for sunshine of any visitor. Because in Catalonia the climate is your friend: the average temperature is 17ºC and you can enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine every year.
Land of geniuses
These landscapes have served as inspiration for artists from around the world who have contributed to shaping the artistic feel of the twentieth century. These creative geniuses have helped the name of Catalonia to cross borders. The melancholic world of the first piece by Picasso, born in Malaga and created in Barcelona, the luminosity of Miró, the surrealism of Dalí, the painting of Tàpies, and its origins in the group Dau al Set have been inspired by this journey. Catalan culture has managed to unite tradition and roots to result in works that remain in your memory and in time, such as the Sagrada Familia, by the great Antoni Gaudí. The architecture of GaudÌ fascinates people with the structural elements created, the sophisticated constructive techniques, and the use of the materials, the fantasy and the originality of the decorative elements.
Catalonia is a thousand-year old country where you can find all sorts, from dinosaur footprints and traces of Neanderthal man’s presence, to a rich Roman heritage and numerous villas and places that have preserved the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. The Romanesque and Gothic style also have a space in the native cultural diversity, as well as the modernism that became the style of the great illustrated civil works of the bourgeoisie that inspired the Industrial Revolution. It left a mark, especially in the field of architecture, with works such as the Casa Batlló, the Pedrera, and the Palau de la Múica.
Catalonia is the region of Spain that has the greatest number of goods protected by UNESCO, and one with the most in all of Europe: from human towers ‘Castellers’ to cave paintings and a world acclaimed diet.
The Catalan capital is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Mediterranean. Its unique personality, which combines design and the avant-garde with the heritage of more than two millennia of history, will charm you from the very beginning. Sunny and vibrant, Barcelona offers stunning Mediterranean scenery together with bustling urban energy. The Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) is the old town, a delightful area of impossibly narrow streets filled with street musicians playing classical Spanish guitar or singing opera in this unique magical surroundings. Barcelona’s most lively thoroughfare is La Rambla, a tree-lined street with many shops and outdoor cafés. La Rambla is at the center of the city’s social life and buzzes with activity day and night. While strolling this avenue, don’t miss the Palau Guell, a masterpiece of avant-garde architecture by Antoni Gaudi. Other must-see landmarks created by the celebrated architect are the Basilica de Sagrada Familia, a surreal place of spiritual worship, and the UNESCO-listed Park Guell, a fantastical park featuring whimsical benches and fountains decorated with colorful ceramic fragments.
Barcelona is famous for its culture and gourmet cuisine. The city has more than 70 top-notch museums and 24 Michelin-starred restaurants. Be sure to visit the Picasso Museum and National Museum of Catalan Art. For a delectable Catalan gastronomic experience, try one of Barcelona’s finest restaurants. The two-star Michelin-rated Moments Restaurant is on the elegant Passeig de Gràcia (number 38), a few steps away from Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and a few blocks from the Casa Mila, the most famous mansion designed by Gaudi.
Whatever your interests may be, Barcelona has something to offer you.
The food stalls at Boqueria Marquet, a night at the opera at historic Liceu, breathtaking views from Montjuic magic mountain and the pulse of Camp Nou, Europe’s largest stadium – Barcelona holds it all
Urban and rural life co-exist together
Other Catalan cities also have their own unique appeal, such as Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. They lead interesting socio-cultural, avant-garde and state-of-the-art movements, but they also know how to look back to their past, building human towers, growing fruit trees, carefully cultivating the vineyards to produce the best wines, and giving shape and colour to pottery.
Urban life coexists with small charming villages with squares and arches that maintain the testimony of thousands of years of rural life. Different sized villages receive the inspiration of visitors and offer creativity, innovation and an open spirit based on centuries and centuries of urban life. This is Catalonia. A contrast between the more rural surroundings and the more urban streets just a few miles away.
Since the time of the first Greek and Roman settlements, Catalonia has been fascinated by gastronomy. It is omnipresent in all corners of the country, both in the form of producers, who are the first link in the gastronomic chain, and restaurants. They have led the revolution of stoves that Catalonia has experienced over the last 25 years that has turned it into a world benchmark. Chefs such as Ferran Adrià, Carme Ruscalleda, and the Roca brothers have placed our cuisine among the most reputed in the world. The 60 Michelin stars of 50 Catalan restaurants recognise the combination of tradition, quality, innovation and effort.
“Catalan cuisine is the landscape placed in the pan”, as writer Josep Pla said. The sea and the mountains are two ingredients that are also mixed in traditional Catalan cuisine in the form of different products. The Catalan pantry is varied, delicious and of the highest quality. Cheese, sausages, wines, cava, meats, fish, vegetables … Products that vary according to the season, seasonal products that fill the markets of towns and cities.Home to more than 300 wineries, Catalonia is a wine lover’s dream come true. From the terraces of Priorat to the Empordà coast to the mountains of Lleida, you can sip your wine pretty much anywhere. Wine experiences run the gamut, from vineyard tastings to vinotherapy treatment. Be sure to stop in to a wine cathedral, the Art Nouveau tasting rooms built to resemble churches. If you’re looking to visit several vineyards in a day, the Catalunya Bus Turistic route through the Penedès region is one of Catalonia’s best wine tours. Situated between the Mediterranean and mountains of Montserrat, Penedès is best known for its sparkling Cava wine.
Information or content provided by the Delegation of the Catalan Government to the UK and Ireland.