The best ever insider Catalonia travel guides written by tour guides, bloggers and others that live or spend a great deal of time in Catalonia. Discover & be inspired as never before!
Even smaller than its neighbour, Portbou, with around half the number of residents, at a total of about 600, if you’re looking for somewhere to escape the normal tourist trappings then Colera may be for you. The centre of the village can be found only 200 metres away from the beach, and the locals simply call it Plaza Mayor – which means Big Square. In the square you can choose from a couple of cafes, and sip your drink of choice under the banana tree, the Arbe de Libertat (The Liberty Tree), which was planted in 1898 for the town’s centennial. As you can imagine this is pretty much where the activity is, the Town Hall is located here as well some of the villages oldest shops. You’ll also find a smattering of restaurants and bars.
L’Ampolla was my first port of call, excuse the pun, when I decided to rent an apartment and see whether I would stay here long-term. Located on the Costa Dorada, in those early days, I was absolutely amazed at the great value for money, which is not just peculiar only to this village, to be had at lunch with Franco’s creation – the Menu del Dia. With average prices ranging from €8 to €10, and the quality and quantity of food differing from restaurant to restaurant – the one thing I knew very quickly was that you could get fed and watered (or wined) for a low-budget at this time of the day in most restaurants in the village.
Let me introduce you to the town of Amposta, by borrowing some words from Nobel prize winner, Ernest Hemingway: “I was watching the bridge and the African looking country of the Ebro Delta and wondering how long now it would be before we would see the enemy…” This is an excerpt taken from his short story – The Old Man at the Bridge, which he wrote about an experience in Amposta, during the Spanish Civil War, in 1938. Hemingway was dazzled by this scenery of the Ebro at dusk. It’s not a surprise; the scenery that evoked these feelings in Hemingway, shifts gracefully through different phases, that depend on the light, the mood of the weather and, I think, our own mood as well.
According to the British Telegraph newspaper, the beach at Tamariu ranks as one of the best beaches on the Costa Brava. Embraced by pine clad headlands, the horse shoe shaped beach is very pretty, family friendly and sheltered. Just behind the beach is the pedestrian promenade, where there are some cafes, restaurants and beach gear shops. Parents can happily while away a little time in the shade, sipping whatever they fancy, with their children only yards away from them playing safely on the sand. It probably won’t be the first time you’ve heard of it, in this of the woods, but Tamariu was originally a small fishing village. It has definitely retained some of its charm and identity, and its beautiful south facing sandy bay offers a romantic destination for lovers. It’s also a good choice for families seeking a quieter Costa Brava resort.
The fishing town of Sant Carles de la Rapita has been an important tourist destination for many years, because of its privileged location at the edge of the Delta de l’Ebre, by the sea, set against a backdrop of mountains. It certainly has a charm about it, although in recent years it has become more developed, but nothing that comes close to some areas of the Costa del Sol or Costa Blanca. This town is still a gem, which has exceptional food, surroundings and plenty to do.
Made up of three distinctive parts, Alcanar has its fair share to offer tourists, who want to enjoy a typical, relaxing holiday in the area. The town of Alcanar is 3 km from the sea, where you’ll find Les Cases d’Alcanar and Alcanar Platja (Alcanar Beach), and for those interested in history and archaeology, there is a very important site at Alcanar – La Moleta del Remei. If like me, you love prawns and seafood, this area should be on your radar, as I’ve had some of the best prawns ever there, plus it’s well known for serving a very special seafood casserole (which is on my list to try next time).
Definitely one of the Costa Brava’s little treasures, Begur, in Girona’s Baix Empordà, is around 50 minutes drive from the stunning city of Girona (50 km) or 90 minutes (131 km) from the ever-buzzing Barcelona. It’s within relatively easy reach of Ireland and the UK, with flights into either Girona or Barcelona. The town is stylish, colourful, classy and packed with gastronomic delights, with beaches where you can enjoy unparalleled beauty and crystalline waters. You really don’t need to do much in Begur, just laze around in gorgeous coves like Sa Tuna and Aiguablava, and then get stressed out by having to decide which restaurant to choose for dinner.
Home to Catalonia’s largest natural lake, Banyoles is the capital of the county, Pla de l’Estany, and has plenty to offer to visitors. Located around half an hour’s drive from both Girona and Dalí’s hometown of Figueres, although it’s best known for its wonderful lake, it’s also an interesting historic and cultural town, with good quality gastronomic offerings. Walking, Water Activities & Cycling Around Banyoles….Banyoles is a favourite with nature lovers, with a range of walks around the lake, on the Puda, the Can Morgat, Puig Clara, the Estunes, the water canals, and also in Banyoles old town. Of course you also get up close and personal to the water, whether you go swimming, canoeing, kayaking or fishing.
Saint Peter Festival Alcanar-Festa de Sant Pere (San Pedro) – 29th June
Saint Peter is a patron saint of fishermen, so this festival includes a lovely procession by boats.
If you are not familiar with Alcanar or Les Cases d’Alcanar, which is a lovely fishing village for relaxing holidays, which has very good food, then consider checking out our Alcanar Travel Guide
Home to plenty of beaches and one of Catalonia’s fantastic carnivals, Roses used to be a Greek colony, centuries before Christ. Greeks came from the lovely island of Rhodes in 776 BC, tempted by the peaceful waters of Roses’ natural harbour, when they set up their commercial colony. Today, apart from enjoying the obvious charms of the beaches and evening entertainment, you can still see the remains of this Greek city and those of the Roman town. In fact La Ciutadella (The Citadel) contains these remains and others, that relate to the various occupations, which have spanned the last 13 centuries.
Discover the delightful towns and the breathtaking beauty of the Camprodon Valley, where you can take part in all types of mountain activities, even skiing during the winter season. This place is one big photo opportunity, where you can capture spectacular natural settings, along with ancient churches, a 12th century bridge and little historical town centres.
Filled with lovely coves and blue flag beaches, L’Ametlla de Mar is an unspoilt fishing town on the Costa Dorada, Catalonia. I like the colours of many of these fishing towns and villages, and L’Ametlla de Mar is no exception. Of course it depends on the light and the weather, but the whitewashed buildings that watch over the sea, with its gorgeous shades of blue and green, lapping up against the light golden sand, does it for me. Touches of greenery here and there, with rock formations and of course the fishing boats, make up a very pretty scene.
Sitges somehow sits just as comfortably with its title of the Saint Tropez of Spain, as it does with being fondly called the Gay Capital of Europe. Its natural landscape is truly captivating, the architecture elegant and stylish, and its atmosphere is one of bohemian luxury. Originally a fishing village, Sitges is a precious gem which has attracted its fair share of the rich and famous. It is definitely a good place for Barcelona football fans to come and try to spot some of their favourite players.
Salou was a surprise for me! I had very low expectations of Salou because of its reputation as a popular destination with young people who are off on their first boozy holiday, and for being the home of the massive theme park, Port Aventura. We entered from the south, which meant that we saw the beautiful Penya Tallada in Cape Salou, with its spectacular views, which changed my perspective of Salou. Of course it does have everything to suit family holidays for those who want loads of English orientated facilities, but it also has fine streets and so much greenery.
Although I do like to be beside the seaside, and in nature, I also adore fine cities and Tortosa slots nicely into this category for me. It’s a Catalan city, that is dripping in history and culture, on the banks of the River Ebro. There are numerous interesting sights in Tortosa, which include the striking castle, cathedral, and some beautiful modernist buildings. In 2007 archaeologists found remains of the walls of the ancient city of Hibera, close to the now city of Tortosa. Hibera was the capital of Ilercavonia, which was the strategic point from where the Hannibalic War (208 to 201 BC) originated.
In Llagosta there is the Giants Festival, where the parade passes through the Onze de Setembre Ramblas and through many streets of the town. Giants are both local and from other towns in Catalonia, and it is joyful event. During celebrations in the Middle Ages giants were a part, and although down through the ages, they have sometimes been prohibited either for religious or political reasons, they really made a comeback after democracy was in place.
In La Vall-Can Pèlacs (Can Pèlacs Valley) – The people of the area want to show you how they do their work, so in mid to late September, around the Feast of Saint Michael – they organise a day for visitors to be with them and the grazing herd. Often more than a hundred people or so come to see this event. In 2014 these days have currently been changed to February.
Be bewitched in Centelles – enjoy an entertaining cultural festival programme of activities which focus around the town’s witch and the esoteric traditions, along with street entertainment, esoteric lectures, a market, the streets are themed, and there is storytelling, drinks and festivities. For a long time, the women who are born in Centelles, as well as numerous other towns in Catalonia , have the reputation of being witches. Although it’s not possible to trace why their famed reputation of being witches, it has been passed down from generation to generation up to the present day. In some folklore stories, there is the mention of – Centella, witches all – or – the land that sparks witches.
The Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park has a unique, magical landscape. As it’s flat, it is perfect for those who enjoy cycling, which in my humble opinion is a wonderful way to absorb its immense personality. The European Commission has designated it as an EDEN (European Destination of Excellence), because of its commitment to sustainable tourism. The part of the overall space of 320 km2 which was designated as the protected reserve of the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park takes up an area of 80 km2, which is located in the province of Tarragona.
It was in 1983 that it became a protected area, thanks to the peaceful occupation and mobilisation of people from the area of Deltebre, which given our level of ecological awareness of that time, is quite impressive.
Wandering around Les Cases d’Alcanar by the port and nearby, it can be a bit of a challenge to choose the right restaurant. Lots of restaurants and their menus look inviting, and this fishing town has a particularly good reputation for its seafood. Before leaving home I had been tempted to look at TripAdvisor, but I kind of thought that it would take the fun out of using our own instinct, and making our own mistakes….
The dramatic, rugged landscape of Els Ports National Park stretches between the communities of Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon, taking up a total space of around 60,000 hectares. The majestic limestone massif is filled with abrupt cliff faces, natural resources, forests, valleys and abundant wildlife. You can spot Hispannic goats (Ibex), wild boar, badgers, foxes, wild cats, squirrels, otters, Griffon vultures, eagles and many other bird species.
Surrounded by beautiful unspoilt countryside, the first impression of La Senia is of a typical Catalan town in a lovely rural location, with the only exception being that you’ll notice that there are a number of furniture shops as you enter La Senia. Weaving your way further into the town, there is the pleasant surprise of the old quarter and the Plaza Mayor, set against a stunning backdrop.
Located in southern Catalonia about 11 km from the border with the Valencian Community, Ulldecona is a typical Catalan town, only 10 to 15 minutes drive to the sea. Ulldecona is a good choice for visitors who want to sense the real Catalonia, enjoy nature, visit other towns and interesting sites, yet only be a 10 to 15 minute drive to the beach. The closest beach is at Les Cases del Alcanar, but other beaches that are very accessible are Sant Carlos de la Rapita and Vinaros.