Catalonia is an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Spain in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula. It is made up of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. It has always been a popular holiday destination for locals and tourists alike, us included.
Inntravel sent us a yummy hamper of traditional Catalonian delights including olive oil, sausage and biscuits – perfect to snack on or as the basis of a great meal. The sight, smell and tastes of them brought memories of our time in Catalonia flooding back.
Inntravel asked us what we love about Catalonia, we found it quite a difficult question because there are so many things we love, here are just a few of them….
Food & Drink
Food is a major player in the Catalonian region, with it being home to 3 of the world’s top 50 restaurants. Catalan Cuisine constantly receives very high praise and understandably so. However, there is so much more to the food in Catalonia than just the actual act of eating. Meals in Catalonia are a social occasion, usually accompanied by local wine and with the climate being what it is, al fresco dining is common most, if not all of the year round.
With the annual average temperature in Catalonia being 17.5 degrees it is obvious why it is a year-round holiday destination, especially for us Brits. We visited in January a few years ago when Britain was experiencing one of the worst winters on record, so much so all airports were closed. Therefore, we had to spend extra time in lovely, sunny Catalonia – we certainly weren’t complaining! The summer months of July and August are the most popular with temperatures often hitting the mid-30s.
There are so many beautiful golden beaches in Catalonia covering the Costa Brava and Costa Dorada areas. Our top three are:
Barcelona City Beaches – location wins hands down here. Any major city that has a beach gets a massive thumbs up from us. A perfect place to chill out in between sightseeing in such a vibrant city.
Sitges Beach – a gorgeous seaside town with lively old town approximately 40 km south of Barcelona. This palm tree lined beach here is extremely popular, especially in the summer months.
Calella – located in the Costa Brava, Calella is a seaside town which sees tourists and locals enjoying its beautiful beach which has been consistently awarded the European quality Blue Flag
Theme and Water Parks
If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie or love theme parks like us then no trip to Catalonia is complete without visiting PortAventura World. With roller coasters, shows and spas whats not to love – great entertainment for all the family. You can also find a number of water parks dotted around the region including Water World in Lloret De Mar, Marineland in Palafolls and Aqua Brava in Roses.
History and Heritage
The Catalonian region is steeped in history, stretching back over 1,000 years. Its heritage can be viewed throughout the area. In fact, it is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites:-
- The Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco, Tarragona
- The beautiful Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boi, Lleida province
- Poblet Monastery, found in the Tarragona province
- Palau de la Musica Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau both in Barcelona
- As well as several works of Antoni Gaudi, all found in Barcelona, including:
- Sagrada Familia, the famous Catalonian Cathedral
- Parc Guell, Gaudi himself once lived
- Palau Guell
- Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera)
Art and Architecture
The architecture in Catalonia is phenomenal, a prime example of it is Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. No visit to the city would be complete without viewing it for yourself. Construction of Sagrada Familia commenced in 1882 however it is still not yet finished, regardless it is still an amazing site to see. Coupled with the numerous art galleries in the area, Catalonia is perfect for culture vultures.
Have you ever been to Catalonia? It would be great to hear your tips and recommendations with regards to hidden gems or places we should visit next time we visit.
For further information on what to do in Catalonia check out the Catalonia Tourist Board’s website.