With its own language, culture, and cuisine, Catalonia (Catalunya in Catalan) offers the unusual experience of being in a country within a country. The region is intensely different from the rest of Spain and its people take pride in its unique history. Stretching from the Pyrenees in the north to the Costa Brava in the east, it is a large and diverse region offering a range of different holiday possibilities.
Catalonia is home to the most sophisticated and stylish city in Spain – Barcelona. With a captivating old quarter, inspiring modernist architecture, world-class museums, fine restaurants, and superb nightlife, it is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in Europe. From Barcelona, head for the mountain and monastery at Montserrat. The 1236m high mountain is one of the most unusual rock formations in Spain. One of Catalonia’s most important shrines, the Benedictine Monestir de Montserrat, perches more than halfway up.
The lively resort of Sitges lies just 35km south of Barcelona and is well worth a visit. The Costa Brava stretches for 60 kilometers north of Barcelona. Despite a certain amount of over-development, it is a magnificent piece of coastline with rocky inlets and picturesque headlands and offers some of the best diving in Spain. Visit the Illes Medes off L’Estartit. Protected since 1985 as an underwater nature reserve, the islands are an underwater haven of colorful sponges, corals, fish, and algae.
The artist Salvador Dali was born in the Catalan town of Figueres in 1904. Dali never strayed far from the town and in 1974 founded the Teatre-Museu Dali here. Showcasing a large part of the artist’s work, it is also full of illusions and surprises. Surrender yourself to one of the strangest imaginations of the 20th century. The Catalan Pyrenees is an exceptionally beautiful region.
Head for the Parc Nacional d’Aiguestortes I Estany de Sant Maurici which offers great walking and hiking opportunities in an area dotted with glassy lakes and dramatic peaks. There is good skiing in Baqueira-Beret in the Vall d’Aran. Sample some delicious Catalan food while here. Probably the best in Spain, it comes in unusual combinations – for example, meat with seafood – and with delicious sauces. Catalonia also produces cava – a local version of champagne.