An autonomous community of Spain, Catalonia has a deep history and lots of cultural aspects. With amazing places to visit and things to do, Catalonia includes many of the most touristic spots of Spain. Catalonia Guide will give you the basics and get you started in your journey.
Where is Catalonia?
Situated at northeastern part of Spain, it borders with France and Andorra to the north and the city of Valencia to the south (see Catalonia map). The capital of Catalonia is Barcelona; a city that every traveler wants to visit one day.
Catalans are proud of their culture. If you ask the very simple question: ‘Where are you from?’ to anyone in the area, you never get the answer as I’m Spanish. They will always say: I’m Catalan / I’m from Catalonia. This explains everything. Obviously they all know Spanish, but among each other always prefer to speak in Catalan language. As a foreigner visiting, you are not supposed to know Catalan, but it still helps to learn some basic words, that would do as an icebreaker. They also have their own Catalonia flag.
Catalonia Guide for Tourism
There is serious tourism value in here. There are plenty of places to see. It has it all for from museums for history buffs to those who look for cultural events and exhibitions. Not to mention the endless beaches for romantic couples and families with kids.
Without doubt, the most important city is Barcelona. You can not think of a Catalonia trip without Barcelona. We have more information below in this Catalonia guide.
Best Time to Visit
The climate of Catalonia is basically Mediterranean. Therefore, the season for tourism is relatively long with many warm days of sunlight. If you go inland, the situation changes a bit with cooler temperatures. The summers are hot, therefore, in my opinion, the best time to visit Catalonia is April, May and September. Starting from June, the temperatures rise, and you’ll have lots of events. July and August are the high season months, with most of the festivals happening, and lots and lots of tourists around. Due to high season, the accommodation and flight prices will rise dramatically too.
Catalonia Barcelona Transportation
The main hubs are Barcelona and Girona. You can fly from all around the world to Barcelona airport. If you prefer cheap flights, you better fly to Girona Airport which is the main hub for Ryanir and several other low cost airlines which fly to several European destinations.
Barcelona is the hub for train and bus rides too. From Barcelona, you can get public transportation to almost anywhere in Catalonia. However, if you prefer to visit many Catalan villages in relatively remote areas, your best bed would be to rent a car.
Food culture in Catalonia is a clear reflection of Mediterranean cuisine. The food is usually simple to prepare, and includes fresh vegetables. As en example, one of the most typical dish when it comes to Catalan cuisine is pa amb tomaquet in Catalan, or pan con tomate in Spanish, which would be bread with tomato in English. You just need bread, tomato, olive oil, salt and garlic. Toast the bread a bit, rub tomato and garlic on the bread, add some olive oil and salt. That’s it! Simple, healthy and tasty. Have it for breakfast, or as an appetiser for dinner. Just make sure to use the fresh and good quality ingredients, that’s the key.
Being at Mediterranean coast, you have to try seafood. From different types of mussels and shrimps to a variety of fish, you can easily want what you are looking for and beyond. Eating snails served with different sauces is also a very common in Catalonia. It’s not easy to find it everywhere though, but once you get it, don’t miss it.
Not only for Catalonia but for all of Spain, there are several pork products. Most commons would be chorizo, that is pork sausage. And then the cured ham, jamon serrano or the higher quality one jamon iberico which is my absolute favourite. These you’ll encounter in almost any bar or restaurant.
For dessert, you can try Crema Catalan. And also you should try sangria, which is not a Catalan but a Spanish punch, prepared as a mix of wine, fruits, juice and brandy. That’s best for hot summer days as it comes ice cold.
Places to Visit in Catalonia
With lots to choose from, you can make your choice depending on your preferences. As a travel guide, here are most important places to go in Catalonia
Such as many European cities, situated by a river side, Girona old town is worth a visit. Being in close proximity to Barcelona, and having many cheap flights to Girona Airport, it’s an important transfer hub. Especially those who head to Costa Brava definitely should make a stop here.
Unlike many Catalan cities, Lleida is a small ancient city not by the coast but situated inlands. It has rich history, so would be a nice choice for those interested.
The area starting from north of Barcelona, heading all the way to the border of France through Mediterranean coast. It’s fair to say all coastline is quite touristy. Includes it all for all tastes. For example for people who look for tranquility, Tossa de Mar would be a good choice being in the form of a small fishing village. For more fun, party and nightlife options, Lloret de Mar and its beaches is the place to go!
Among places to visit around Barcelona, Tarragona is one of the top choices especially for summer months. You get there easily with a 1,5 hour long journey by the coast. Its importance is that it both has beautiful beaches to choose from and also historical old town.
There are some cities, that some like it and some do not. And there are others which are adored by almost anyone. Barcelona is simply in the second category. Trying to define this city using a few words, it would be: laid-back, sea, Mediterranean culture, art, architecture, fun, party, fiesta, siesta, multi-cultural, history…
According to your perspective and taste of life, how you will spend your time in Barcelona will vary. From masterpieces of Gaudi, to city beaches, from numerous restaurants and tapas bars to historical old town, things to do in Barcelona are limitless. A very brief list of places to visit in Barcelona would be as follows:
La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Las Ramblas, La Boqueria, Plaza de Catalunya, Casa Mila, Palau Güell, Barri Gotic, Ciutat Vella, Camp Nou, Barceloneta…