When most people think about Catalonia, two things inevitably come to mind; Barcelona and the tourist-triptych of sun, beach and fiesta. But to reduce Catalonia to just those two is to miss out on much of what makes the region so special. Of course, that’s not to say it’s not accurate. As the most touristic region of Spain, the nearly 200 beaches that stretch from the coves of the Costa Brava (in the north) to the fine sand of the Costa Dorada (in the south) delivers firmly on the promise of sun, beach and fiesta. And Barcelona, with its more than 32 million visitors every year, deserves the attention it gets. But the beautiful and proud region of Catalonia is so much more besides.
The Catalonia hinterland is full of charm with precariously perched villages and natural parks of jaw-dropping beauty clinging to the steep slopes of the Pyrenees. Catalonia is home to Tarragona’s Roman remains, Romanesque churches, Girona’s rich Middle-Ages heritage and of course Barcelona’s celebration of flamboyant Catalan Modernism, where from Sagrada Familia to Palau Guëll, Gaudi and his colleagues left a collection unlike anywhere else.
Our hoteliers and their hotels will help you discover a land deeply attached to its thousand-year-old culture, its traditions (culinary in particular), its language (Catalan) and the Senyera, the Catalan flag of blood-red and golden-field-yellow stripes that is raised throughout the region. Find out what our local experts – our hoteliers - recommend doing, visiting during your stay in Catalonia!
How to go to Catalonia ?
Catalonia’s popularity makes it easy to get to. Cars, buses and trains are all easy methods to arrive in the region, but air is the fastest and often the cheapest way to get there. Allow for 6 and half hours by TGV from Paris and just 3 and a half from Toulouse ((it is also possible to opt for the rail from Lyon, Marseille and a dozen other cities in the south of France). By car the point of entry is via the A9 (Catalan), which once past the Perthus pass in the Pyrenees becomes the AP-7 (Autopista de la Mediterrània). Catalonia’s main airports are Barcelona, Girona and Reus which offers in-season flights only.
When to go to Catalonia ?
Winters on the Catalan coast are mild and the more you go inland the more temperature drops, especially as you approach the Pyrenees. Summer? Guaranteed sun and high temperatures are tempered by a procession of small breezes, each with a name more exotic than the last (Gregale, Xaloc and Migjorn) which circulate between the ocean and the mountains. The only negative during the summer months is the extra influx of tourists. So, if you’d rather avoid them book your stay in spring or autumn where the weather is almost as warm, the crowds are fewer and the rain will rarely put too much of a damper on your days-out.
From our well-located hotels, admire the incredible Pyrenean landscapes, explore miles of coves and sandy beaches on the shores of the Mediterranean, be swept away for the night time festive whirlwind that seizes cities and villages after dark, discover a thousand-year-old culture and have your fill of museums, heritage and architectural discoveries ...Catalonia reveals its appeal as you go from art to adventure. Benvinguts to Catalunya! Take a look at some of our hoteliers must-visit attractions and top things to do.
The capital of Catalonia attracts nearly 32 million tourists every year from every corner of the globe! Join them and be transported and transformed by the atmosphere of the city as you step into each of its neighbourhoods and open a new chapter of its history. Follow in the footsteps of genius Gaudί, from Sagrada Familia through Casa Milà and up to Park Güell. stroll on the Ramblas, sun-soak on the beaches, taste your way through the tapas menus, and let yourself fall in love with this festive city.
Welcome to a holidaymaker’s paradise with crystal clear waters, bright sunshine and beaches of all shapes, sands and sizes. The Costa Brava enchants in its small ports and its charming villages like the white Cadaques, Tossa de Mar and the rich medieval history of Begur which hangs quietly on the side of a hill. Walk along the coastline to discover many preserved gems, like the coves scattered around Calella de Palafrugell, Sant Pol de Mar and Platja d'Aro.
Tarragona and the Ebro Delta
The wealth of Tarragona is its history. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was for a time the second largest city in the world if judged by its Roman remains. Looking for something more nature-focused? Head in the direction of the Ebro Delta, south of the city, where the wetlands are populated with an iconic population of bulls, a diverse collection of fauna and flora, rice paddies and the temptation of mussel and oyster tastings from local farmers.
Located in the Catalan hinterland, Girona, which ranks first in the ranking of the most pleasant cities in Spain, is definitely worth a visit. The narrow streets of its Jewish quarter invite you to stroll where the colourful facades of its ancient houses seem suspended above the Riu Onyar. The facade of its 12th century cathedral seems familiar? Or perhaps the Arab baths or its monastery Sant Pere de Galligants rings a bell? Perhaps you got your first glimpse in a certain Game of Thrones…
The Catalan Pyrenees
From village to village, from valley to valley, the mountains of Catalonia offer a wild escape and chance to meet the cultures and traditions of the region. In any season, the panoramas and the light are fantastic and promise an unforgettable experience for hikers or skiers. From the summit of Pedraforca, you can reach the first mountain resorts, and continuing towards Seu d'Urgell, you will be able to reach the Aigüestortes Natural Park and the Aran Valley, an isolated region of rare beauty.
In the footsteps of Dalί, Picasso and Miró
Artistically they may not always meet eye-to-eye but Dalί, Miró and Picasso have a strong Catalonia connection. The first was born in Figueras, the second is much a part of Barcelona as Barcelona is part of him, while the third spent his teenage years in the Catalan capital. Proud of its major artists of the twentieth century, the region has opened museums to celebrate the height of their genius. The Picasso Museum and the Miró Foundation open their doors in Barcelona, while the artistic delusions of the painter with the famously flamboyant moustache are expressed in Portlligat, Figueras and Castell De Púbol.
hoenician, Greek and Roman influences, Catalan gastronomy offers an impressively varied mix of sweet and savoury flavours. Here, grapes and nuts are often find themselves in vegetable dishes and meats are totally at home when cooked with fruits. Among the typical dishes not to be missed: pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato, garlic and olive oil), calçots, green onions cooked over a wood fire (best eaten with your fingers) or coca de recapte (vegetable pie). For dessert, opt for panellets, almond sweets synonymous with All Saints Day, or the cousin of the creme brulée, crema catalana. Want to taste the best of Catalonia? Here’s what our hoteliers recommend.
Head hear for authentic tapas bar in Barcelona’s Born district. Each dish is a small delight made with the latest arrivals from the market. It's fresh and understated. Everything is savored in a warm (and narrow!) space. One piece of advice: pay attention to prices before ordering, the bill can climb quickly.
El Celler of Can Roca
This Girona restaurant, created in 1986 by 3 brothers, is one of the best restaurants in the world and has 3 Michelin stars to prove it. The menu might seem a little avant-garde, but at its heart is a reflection of the know-how inherited from a family of cooks, who for four generations have regaled the palates of its guests.
La Cuina de Can Simon
In the shade of the ramparts of Tossa de Mar, this gourmet restaurant will delight lovers of seafood. Behind the stove, the 2 chefs (2 brothers) pay tribute to their grandparents (a fisherman and a painter) through a menu that perfectly marries colours and flavours and earned a well deserving one Michelin star.
This restaurant located in the historic district of Tarragona offers seasonal cuisine combined with up-to-date traditions. Fine and delicate dishes play with aromas and textures and aim to pleasure both taste buds and pupils. Savour your dinner under the gothic vaults of a building dating from 1503.
Inspired by the philosophy of French chef Escoffier "good food is the basis of happiness", this restaurant perched on the heights of Lloret de Mar (away from the crowds) hides a pleasant shady terrace behind tall palm trees. On the menu: simple and traditional Catalan cuisine made from fresh and seasonal products.
This wonderful restaurant in Barcelona only has 4 tables, so reservations well-in-advance are unsurprisingly mandatory. But the experience is worth the wait. You won’t find a menu, but expect the unexpected as the chef creates his day-to-day menu in his "laboratory-kitchen" where flavours, colours and innovations are explored.