When travellers think of Catalonia, they will more often than not picture bustling Barcelona. But there’s so much more to this autonomous territory on the northern fringes of Spain, as I discovered at a recent event.
Hosted by the Catalan Tourist Board, the evening celebrated Catalonia’s Year of Culture 2019 with the announcement of a new campaign and programme of cultural itineraries.
Guest speakers described their suggested routes through the region, taking in Unesco World Heritage Sites, the modernist architecture of Sitges and stunning sunsets over the Montserrat mountains.
For oenophiles there’s the option to hop on a rented bike and cycle through the wine region of Priorat, known for its powerful reds. The more adventurous can take on the impressive landscapes surrounding the Pyrenees, which are perfect for adventure sports. The summits themselves are a treat for avid hikers seeking thrilling routes.
The natural world is a significant part of any Catalan experience, with protected natural spaces comprising more than 30% of the land and more than 10% of the marine environment. Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park’s wetlands are home to 800 species of flora including eucalyptus trees and honeysuckle.
Chances to mingle with local communities and take in the rich history of Catalonia abound. The Costa Brava is only a short while away from numerous fishing towns and the three medieval villages of Pals, Peratallada and Monells.
Falset and Lleida are sites of historical interest for anyone intrigued by Roman architecture and the Spanish Civil War. The remnants of a strong Christian heritage mean there are many monasteries to visit, including Lleida’s gothic cathedral.
Aicard Guinovart, director of the Catalan Tourist Board for the UK and Ireland, said the region offers many surprises. “Catalonia is known for city breaks in Barcelona and family holidays, but we want to promote its cultural resources. The new routes show we’re always
ready to help people to discover new experiences in the region.”
Flights: Several carriers operate regular services from UK airports to capital Barcelona, including easyJet, BA and Norwegian.
Climate: Coastal areas have mild winters and hot summers. Inland, winters are cold with hot summers.
Language: Catalan and Spanish are spoken throughout Catalonia.