Catalonia is an absolute must when visiting Spain. There is so much to see and do here, but these are the very best places to visit in Catalonia on your trip.
On the east, you have breath-taking beaches to surf, sunbathe or enjoy good cocktails.
In the northern part, you can go hike the incredible Pyrenees.
And then, of course, you have one of the world’s most impressive cities to visit: Barcelona. With its amazing architecture from Antoni Gaudi.
If you are an Art Lover, Figueres is a place to visit, the birthplace of Salvador Dali.
And let’s not forget to mention the mouth-watering Catalonian cuisine, which alone is worth a visit for every Food-Lover like ourselves.
Here is a list of the best places to visit in Catalonia. Which one to choose for your next holiday? That is the question.
Good luck with that.
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Barcelona should not be a question; it is a definite must. So here one choice was made for you already.
Barcelona should be on that list of your Catalonia trip. Even if you are not really a ‘city-lover’, trust me, this place is so magical it will not feel like a typical metropolis.
Some Interesting facts about Barcelona
- It is the capital of Catalonia.
- You can find a lot of magical architecture from Antoni Gaudí here. He is known as “God’s Architect”. One of his buildings is the Sagrada Família, which the most-visited monument in Spain. Attracting around 2.8 million visitors a year. It has taken longer to build than the great pyramids (well actually it is still being built.) Construction began in 1882 and it is expected to be complete in 2028)
- It is the only city that received a royal gold medal for architecture, in 1999.
- Barcelona is older than Rome.
- It is one of the few places where smoking cannabis is legal.
- Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain.
- It is also the largest city on the Mediterranean Sea.
- You can find 68 Parks, in and around it, making it a very green city.
- Their traditional dance is the Sardana and not the Flamenco as many believe (The Flamenco is native to Andalusia.)
- Bullfighting was luckily banned (In the whole of Catalonia actually, since 2010).
- You can go visit about 55 museums. If you bring enough time.
- You can dine out in more than 20 Michelin starred Restaurants.
Things to do in Barcelona
- Definitely visit Gaudis architectural wonders: Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Battlo (can you spot the dragon?), Casa Mila.
- Stroll through one of the many beautiful, parks like Parc de la Ciutadella, Parc de Cervantes, Parc de Laberint and a very unique parc; the Diagonal Mar Parc.
- Play Volleyball or just go relax on Barcelona’s beach.
- Wander around Barcelona’s most famous street: La Ramblas.
- Buy fresh produce at the biggest and well-known Market in Barcelona: La Boqueria.
- Visit one of Barcelona’s many Museums like the Picasso Museum.
- Admire the beautiful Barcelona Cathedral.
- For all the Soccer fans, go catch a match at Camp Nou.
- Walk through the narrow medieval alleyways at the Gothic quarter.
- Enjoy some great graffiti art at Bostik Murals.
- To feel magical, and like a little child again, go to the Montjuic Fountain show.
- To have an amazing view of it all or to enjoy a lovely sundowner, climb up Tibidabo, Collserola, or Montjuïc.
Barcelonian dishes to try
Bombas (‘la bomba’, meaning the bomb). It is a type of potato tapas, inspired by a local chef during the Spanish civil war.
Figueres is best known as the birthplace of the surrealist artist Salvador Dali.
‘’There are some days when I think I’m going to die of an overdose of satisfaction’’ -Salvador Dali
It is situated 140km NE of Barcelona.
Things to do in Figueres
- Once you are already at the birthplace of Salvador Dali, you should visit the Dali Theater and Museum.
- In the same building, you will find Dali Joies, which contains a collection of unique jewelry pieces.
- Visit Museu del Joguet: a Toy Museum, that will not only fascinate the little ones.
- The Sant Ferran Castle is situated on a hill in Figueres and is the largest monument of Catalonia.
- Check out the Monument of Salvador Dali.
- Take a look at the Church of St. Peter. Salvador Dali was baptized here, for those of you who are interested in that.
Montserrat is a majestical Mountain top Monastery in Catalonia and is popular especially for Catholic Pilgrims. It is situated 1h NW from Barcelona in an absolutely amazing natural setting.
Some interesting facts about Montserrat
- Montserrat is mostly a reconstruction, as it got almost completely destroyed by Napoleon’s army in the 19th century.
- Montserrat means: ‘’Jagged or serrated mountains’’
- According to the legend, angels came down and serrated the mountain with a golden saw to create a throne for Virgin Mary.
- Around 70 monks live in it.
Things to do at Montserrat
- For one, enjoy the stunning view.
- Take a hike around the monastery, there are different routes, regarding the level of difficulty and duration.
- Make very touristy selfies in front of the famous Instagrammable ‘Stairway of Heaven’ sculpture.
- Visit the Monastery.
- Take a view of Catalonia from high above, when taking a cable car to the peak of the mountain. The view from up there will not disappoint.
- Touch the Black Madonna’s hand. The whole Montserrat was built around this statue, which is believed to have healing powers.
Girona is situated in northern Catalonia, about 100km NE of Barcelona.
Interesting facts about Girona
- It is a perfect place to visit for all the history lovers amongst you. It has lots of museums, in relation to its size, and has lots of historical buildings and old roman-Arabic baths.
- For all of the ‘Game of Throne’ lovers, it might be of interest to visit Girona, because some scenes of this very successful TV show were filmed here.
Things to do at Girona
- Visit the beautiful festival, Temps de Flors (flower festival) in May.
- Take one of many beautiful bike routes around Girona.
- Take a wall walk, to the watchtowers of Girona and enjoy the spectacular view of the Gironian skyline.
- Have a glimpse of the Girona cathedral.
- Visit the Jewish Quarter: El Call.
- Visit the Church of Saint Feliu, which has a unique top that is flat instead of pointed.
- You really do not want to miss the Arab Baths.
- Have a stroll in Placa de la Independencia, and enjoy some beautiful cafes, bars, and restaurants.
- Stroll the Waterfront on the Onyar River, and be captivated by the eye-catching, and pretty colorful houses.
- You will find one of the best restaurants in the world here, so enjoy a romantic dinner at, ‘El Celler de Can Roca‘.
- Cross the famous Eiffel bridge Pont de les Peixateries Velles.
- Visit the Monastery of St Daniel
Girona Dishes to try
XuiXo (shoo-shoo): A Catalan dessert originally from Girona. XuiXui is a pastry, filled with yummy ‘Crema Catalana’. It is almost like a mix of a ‘Croissant’ and a ‘Churro’, filled with cream, so definitely a must-try.
Miravet is a must-see, picturesque Catalonian town. This wonderful place will let you stop in awe every two minutes and you will try to soak up all of its beauty.
It is situated 2 hours SW of Barcelona.
It has a population of only 797 people.
The Miravet castle is spectacularly situated, throning above the little town, on the side of the Ebro river.
Originally it was an Iberian settlement and was later used by the Moors. It was one of the last Islamic strongholds in Catalonia.
Things to Do in Miravet
- Visit the Miravet Castle, which was built on the remains of an Islamic fortress and then converted into a castle Convent.
- Walk the beautiful narrow streets of the old town. Here you will come across lots of history, like the Jewish quarter, a Moorish Mosque, and the last remains of the River Ebro shipyard.
- Buy beautiful handmade ceramics.
- Have a sundowner on the pier and take in all of Miravets beauty.
- If you love being active on your holidays, cycle the 3 C’s: ‘The Castle of Miravet’, ‘The Cave Wonders of Benifallet’ (a cave full of natural beauty made of stalagmites and stalactites), and the ‘Cathedral of Wine‘ in Pinell de Brai, where you can enjoy a great wine tasting as well.
- You can take a Ferry from the end of June to early September, or go canoeing.
- Visit the Miravet Cherry Festival on the second Sunday of June.
- Cross the river by using the traditional boats “Pas de Barca”. This type of boat was already used in the 1960s, but only two still remain today, both in Miravet. Oh, and, they are eco-friendly by the way.
- Do not forget the mountains. They are so majestical in this area. Hiking them is a must whilst you are here.
Olot is situated 1h30min north of Barcelona, in the Garrotxa Nature Reserve.
It is known for its natural landscape and also for the four dormant volcanoes that surround the city center. That’s why it is also known as the “City of Volcanoes”.
Things to do in Olot
- Explore the Parc natural de la zona volcanica de la garrotxa.
- Explore the city of Olot itself, and the great architecture, like the Claustre del Carme and The Hospici.
- Visit the Volcano Museum (Museu dels Volcans) or any of the other great Museums.
- Take a walk around or hike up Volcà del Montsacopa. (the closest Volcano of the 4)
- Enjoy some modern street art in the backstreets of Olot.
- Climb up one of the Sant Francesc Towers, and enjoy a beautiful view from their platform.
For traditional and native dishes of the Garrotxa region, you should visit one of the ‘Cuina Volcanica‘ restaurants. (The Volcanic Cuisine). It is a group of restaurants that have recuperated traditional recipes of the Garrotxa region. They also only use local ingredients.
Some of the dishes to try are
- Catalan cold meats.
- Anise cakes.
- Suet pastries.
- Buckwheat pancakes.
- Ratafia fortified wine.
Berga is a small town about 100km N of Barcelona. It is famous for its traditional festival la Patum on corpus Christi, lasting 5 days. The festival consists, of a series of dances and is declared as a masterpiece of ‘The Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO.
It is also well known for its popular cuisine.
Things to do in Berga
- You can go on lots of beautiful hikes in this area. Berga is the gateway to the Pyrenees and connects the mountains to the plains.
- If you travel with kids, they will enjoy some horseback riding in the surroundings.
- Cross medieval bridge Pont de Pedret that crosses the Llobregat river. It is just 10min outside of Berga.
- Meat lovers should try the artisan ‘Embutidos’ (Spanish sausages)
- Around autumn, restaurants offer delicious mushroom cuisine, the area is the capital for the delicious red pine mushroom. (If you have good knowledge of mushrooms you can even go for a “Mushroom-Hunt” yourself in the forest.
98 km north of Barcelona, Rupit is dramatically situated in a breathtaking environment.
It is situated in the Osona region, deep in the Pyrenees. It is best known for its medieval appearance, stone houses, and streets made out of natural rock.
The ‘Riera de Rupit’ is a small river that runs through Rupit and forms the ‘Sallent’ waterfall.
You can reach the center of the village via a small hanging bridge. Puente Colgante de Rupit.
5 Fun Facts About Rupit
- Rupits population is only about 219.
- People have been living in Rupit for over 1,000 years!
- Rupit comes from the Latin word “Rupes” which means rock, thus Rupit probably gets its name from the many boulders surrounding the old town.
- The stone houses were built back in the 16th century and are still being used as residential houses today.
Things to do in Rupit
- Have a view over Rupit from the Església de Santa Magdalena (Church of Santa Magdalena)
- .Take one of the many beautiful hiking routes around Rupit.
- Go bird watching, and especially keep your eyes open for some of the bigger birds like eagles and vultures, that live in the cliffs of the Pyrenees.
- Explore the beautiful old town.
- Take a stroll to the Sallent waterfall. It has an impressive fall of 100m. You will reach it, by following the Rupit River. Once you are there you will understand why it is considered, the most beautiful waterfall in Spain.
- On your way to the Sallant waterfall, you will also pass the Pedretes cave and the Moli Rodo‘ waterfall, with a fall of 25m. The best time to visit the waterfall is after heavy rains. (Rainy season is usually the beginning of spring or in fall.)
- Go explore via Mountain bike.
Best View points
- Mas del soler, which is in Rupit itself overviewing the city.
- L’agullola. This is an enormous rock that broke away from the cliff. Some have nicknamed it, “the nipple of Catalonia”, due to its shape.
- The Vantage Point. Located on the road that runs from Pruit to Falgars, which boasts views of the Pyrenees and of the summits of Aiats.
- Catalan stew made out of Broad beans.
- Fuet (dried meat)
- Escudellos; stews made with game meat and vegetables.
- Also try Coca, which is are delicious pastries, either savory or sweet, found typically here.
Sitges is situated 35km SW Barcelona and is known internationally for its film festivals and entertaining carnival time. It is also known as the “St Tropez of Spain”.
Interesting facts about Sitges
- The first beach bar of Spain, El Chiringuito, opened its doors here, in 1913. Today, more than 100 years later, you can still enjoy a great cup of coffee.
- Spot the whales that come to visit Sitges every year at El Garraf.
- Sitges was once under attack by pirates. The watchtowers and the cannon replicas can be found here. (The original ones can be found in the Sitges Museum). These were used to defend the city.
- The beach of ‘Sant Sebastia’ was chosen as; ‘The Best Urban Beach in Europe’, by the New York Times.
- Sitges has been the scene location of many films.
- Almost 35% of the 26000 inhabitants are dutch, UK citizens, French and Scandinavian.
- It has 17 beaches.
Things to do in Sitges
- Enjoy a day at the beach. You have 17 to choose from. 😉
- Visit the ‘Museu Cau Ferrat‘, which was once the home to artist Santiago Rusinol, who is also very well known as one of the most important figures when it comes to the Catalan modern movement.
- Stroll along the waterfront Passeig Maritim. It is a boulevard on the waterfront with lots of little cafes, restaurants, and ice cream parlors.
- If you visit Sitges at the end of lent, participate in the carnival with colorful floats, costumes, and wild after-hour parties.
- Explore the old town with its churches from the 15th century: Church of Sant Bartomeu and Santa Tecla.
- Enjoy beautiful day walks in the Garraf Natural Park. Maybe you are lucky and spot some whales.
- Visit the ‘International Film Festival of Sitges’ in October. It is regarded as the most important film festival for fantasy films worldwide.
Dishes to try in Sitges
- The traditional seafood, Xató, with a sauce made of hazelnuts, almonds, and vinegar. We have not tried it, when we were there, however, it sounds interesting for sure.
- Some of the best traditional seafood restaurants can be found on the waterfront or in the old town.
Sant Cugat del Vallès
Sant Cugat del Valles is just a few minutes north of Barcelona. And well worth a visit. It is charming and cute.
Things to do in Sant Cugat del Vallles
- Visit the Monastery of Sant Cugat.
- Have a look at one of the oldest Pine Trees. Yes, you heard correctly, a normal Pine tree, but one that is 230 years old.
- Visit the Theatre-Auditorium of Sant Cugat and enjoy events, live music, etc all year round.
- Meet and mingle with the locals at the historic food market, Mercat Vell.
Tarragona is situated 1h South of Barcelona via train. You could say that it is a smaller version of Barcelona with also fewer tourists, but nonetheless really worth visiting.
- The Roman ruins of Tarraco are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- It is believed to be older than 500BC
- It is considered the chemical hub of Southern Europe.
- Tarragona is very important to Spain’s economy as it has a busy port.
- It used to be a Roman Colony and thus has lots of Roman Archeological sites.
- ‘Castells’, or human towers are native to Tarragona. It is a local competition of building towers of humans as a team sport.
Things to do at Tarragona
- Visit the Tarragona Amphitheater.
- Have a look at the beautiful Tarragona Cathedral
- Visit the Tarragona National Archaeological Museum.
- Be amazed by the Pont del diable (Devils Bridge). If you do not mind heights you can even walk over it.
- Get up onto the original Roman walls.
- Stroll around Part Alta, and grab a coffee or have a chat with the locals.
- Enjoy a panoramic view of the sea from the Mediterranean Balcony and don’t forget to touch the iron railings for good luck.
- Camp at, or simply enjoy, Tamarit-Punta de la Móra, a gorgeous coast.
- Stroll the Tarragona waterfront at the Platja del Miracle.
- Walk alongside the more sophisticated boulevard of Tarragona, with high-street brands and fancy restaurants, Rambla Nova.
- Meander in the labyrinths of small streets in the old town.
- Have an Archaeological Walk (Paseo Arqueológico), a beautiful garden path at the base of the ancient Roman wall.
- Visit the Roman Forum, which is the last remains of the ancient town of Tarraco.
- Wander around the old fishing village of El Serrallo and enjoy delicious fresh-caught and made seafood in one of the restaurants.
- Visit the amazing Tamarit Castle.
- A dish you should try, if you happen to be there in winter, is ‘Calçots’. Made of roasted green onion served with a romesco sauce.
- Order ‘Paella Negra’, seafood cooked in squid ink.
Ah… Besalu, a historic gem. Fairytalelike. Full of character. Experience medieval times. Stroll the beautiful historical town, that is entered by crossing a majestical bridge, like crossing into a different time. A time machine, that beams you into the past.
It is situated 1.5h NE of Barcelona.
Facts about Beasalu
- Besalu got its name from the Latin word: ‘bisuldunum’, meaning a fort on a mountain between two rivers, namely the Fluvia river and the Capellada river
- This wonderful place is often overlooked by tourists, so it is not as touristy as a lot of other Catalonian places.
- It was a Jewish community once that coexisted peacefully with the local Christians.
Things to do at Besalu
- Enjoy Besalu from the top, after climbing up Sagrat Cor.
- Visit the fascinating Jewish baths.
- Simply stroll around the town.
- Make amazing photos of the bridge from the river banks, best time, around sunset.
Eat at the ‘Pont Vell‘, meaning ‘Old Bridge’. This is more of a restaurant suggestion really, they do however also serve a variety of local dishes, the best thing about this place is the location, overlooking the Bridge of Besalu.
Banyoles is Catalonia’s largest freshwater lake, situated 130km NE of Barcelona.
Fun Fact about Lake Banyoles
Legend says it has its very own lake monster that lives in the depth of the lake.
Things to do at Banyoles
- Especially in summer, the lake invites you for a swim, however, it is allowed only in certain areas, like Casita de Madera. It is open to the public and free of charge. You can also use the swimming area after ordering something at the restaurant ‘Els Banys Vells’.
- This brings us to the next point, enjoy the view or the incredible sundowner over the lake from ‘Els Banys Vells‘ over a delicious meal or a glass of wine.
- Rent a canoe or enjoy a boat trip on the lake.
- Walk around the lake or hike in the magical woods of Les Estunes. Be aware of crevices that have been formed by the limestone here.
- Hike up Rocacorba and be rewarded with an astonishing view.
Hidden in the wild cliffs of the Costa Brava you will find this beautiful beach that you do not want to miss out on
Interesting Facts about Cala Estreta
- It will be a bit more difficult to get here because you will have to walk alongside the rugged cliffy beach and can’t drive up close to it, but it will be worth it, as you will find a lot fewer people here than on the rest of the Costa Brava beaches.
- The clear blue water here is perfect for snorkeling. Tip: Bring along some pair of swimming shoes, to protect your feet from the sharp rocks in the water.
- It is allowed to swim nude here, but if it makes you feel more comfortable you can obviously also wear your swimsuit. (Like we did 😉)
- It is one of the quieter beaches but might be a bit difficult to reach with small children, also the beach is rather cliffy. If you rather look for a sandy beach, where you can build sandcastles with your kids, Platja de Castell might be better suited for you. It is also easier to reach, which however also makes it more crowded and not as quiet. So I guess you have to choose what suits you better.
Things to see at Cala Estreta
- Alongside the beach, a short walk in the beautiful landscape, you will reach the Baracca Dali. This little hut was constructed by Dali’s good friend Puig Palau, who was also an artist, and build it for Dali, who used it several times.
- At one of the ends at Estreta Cove, you will find a small old fisher hut, that you are able to rent for a day.
Tossa de Mar
An ancient fisherman village, and also a really touristy area. And for good reason. Tossa de Mar is really beautiful. It also is the last fortified medieval town on the Costa Brava.
You can get a trance-like state of mind at the main beach, Playa Gran‘, while looking at the Blue Mediterranean waves, listening to the seagulls, and simultaneously admiring the impressive historical castle situated next to the sea on a beautiful hill.
If you want that meditation kind of feeling, it would be great if you can cut out all the noises that the other tourists are making. In summer it might be a bit overcrowded here.
Things to do at Tossa de Mar
- Visit the icon of Tossa de Mar, the Vila Vella Castle. You find it on almost every postcard of Tossa de Mar. It is the typical tourist photo you must take, otherwise, no one will believe you that you were actually there. 😉
- Tip: for a quieter secluded beach go to Cala Futadera, 6km N of Tossa de Mar.
- If you are looking for a perfect snorkeling place, 3km from Tossa de Mar you can find Cala Bona.
- Catch a romantic sundowner on the city walls.
Dishes to try at Tossa de Mar
A typical Tossa de Mar, fisherman dish, you would want to try is SimiTomba. Yes, it is seafood.
Canet de Mar
Canet de Mar is not as known as the other places here. But we were lucky to stay in a lovely AirBnB owned by a very friendly Lady that gave us great local tips. Canet de Mar was a great place to stay, away from all the buzzing tourist spots. It has a beautiful waterfront with a Calisthenics training spot on the beach. I mean if there is one thing that can make exercising even better, it is on the beach, right?
Things to do at Canet de Mar
- Take a walk on the beautiful waterfront.
- Do some exercises on the beach, either at the Calisthenics circuit or by playing some beach volleyball.
- Enjoy a sundowner, good food, and great company from the locals in one of the many tapas bars.
Lloret de Mar
Lloret de Mar is the nightlife center of the Costa Brava.
Things to at Lloret de Mar
- Party, Party, and Party. This picturesque beach might be magical, but it is not at all peaceful. Especially after sundowner, this is where the fun begins. In the Party Town, you will find 20 nightclubs and you will have a night you will never forget.
- For those who need a bit of rest during the parties, there is a wonderful place you can find between all the party places. A beautiful holy garden. The Jardines de Santa Clotilde. Really a treasure in Lloret de Mar. Magical, romantic, just out of this world.
- For family fun, you can enjoy a day at the biggest water park in the whole of Europe: Water World.
- Enjoy beautiful walking routes to medieval castles, like the Castell d’en Plaja or the Castell de Sant Joan.
- Take a hike to Puig de Castellet, An Iberian fortified settlement 195 meters above the sea level.
- Admire the church of Sant Roma.
Cap de Creus
A Peninsula on the far north of the Catalan Costa Brava, about 25km south of the French border. The nearest largest town is Figueres.
Things to do in Cap de Creus
Hike the national park of Cap de Creus and enjoy a well-deserved meal at the end of your hike at the lighthouse.
Cadaques, an inspiring village at the Costa Brava, with bohemian vibes.
Things to Do at Cadaques
- Visit the House of Salvador Dali, which is now a Museum.
- Stroll through the well-preserved village. It is accessible only for pedestrians, so no place for cars, which makes it even more beautiful to walk through.
- Hike Cap de Creus, up to the far de Cala Nans, the lighthouse in the Cap de Creus National Park.
Dishes to try traditionally made in Cadaques
- Indulge in a Taps de Cadaques. A local sponge cake that you can find at Patisseria La Mallorquina.
- Try some Arros de Cabra de Mar (Spider Crab Rice).
- Have some Sipia amb pesols (Cuttlefish with peas). A traditional and seasonal seafood dish of Cadaques.
- If you love seafood, try Suquet de Pei’, the famous traditional fisherman fish stew of Cadaques.
- Anxoves are also well known for Cadaques. Which are Salt-Cured Anchovies.
When we visited Catalonia we immediately fell in love. It has so many things to offer. Something for everyone’s taste. Is it, looking at some of the world’s most stunning big cities like Barcelona, enjoying some adventurous outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, snorkeling, canoeing, etc, indulging in absolutely delicious Catalan Cuisine, or simply relaxing at one of the many beaches. Convince yourself on your next trip to Spain and visit one of these amazing Places.
Please also let us know which places you would add to this list or simply tell us what you loved most on your trip to Catalonia.