Bordering France and Andorra to the north, Catalonia remains one of the most popular regions in Spain thanks to cosmopolitan Barcelona, its wealth of smaller towns, world-class beaches, ski resorts, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Stay at one of our Catalonia vacation rentals and you'll see why the birthplace of so many artists (Salvador Dali, Antoni Gaudi, and Joan Miro, to name a few) delights everyone who visits.
Like the rest of Spain, Catalonia was first settled by the Phoenicians and Greeks, and later the Romans followed by the Visigoths. With the Spanish Reconquest, Catalonia gained a bit of autonomy that allowed the Catalan language and culture to flourish. In the 20th century, Francisco Franco tried in vain to abolish that. Today, Catalan is widely spoken across the region, and uniquely Catalan traditions - from the festive La Sardana dance to Castellers (a.k.a. human towers) to Catalan stew - have made a comeback. Enjoy the sites and sounds of this singular state from one of our Catalonia vacation rentals.
Catalonia includes four distinct provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Each offers unique sites, rituals, and cuisine.
Barcelona is the largest and most-visited Catalan province. The capital city boasts a wealth of culture in its amazing architecture, world-class museums, and great restaurants. The first stop on any itinerary should be Antoni Gaudi's architectural masterpieces. La Sagrada Familia, the neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau Catholic church in the heart of the city, is the most famous and was still incomplete at the time of Gaudi's death in 1926. You can also visit the Casa Vicens and Colonia Güell, among other Gaudi works.
Barcelona is home to a wealth of great museums. Head to the Museu Picasso, featuring the early works of the cubist master. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona features modern marvels galore and the Fundacio Joan Miro boasts many of Miro's best sculptures.
The province sits on the Mediterranean coast and features popular holiday resorts such as Sitges, Castelldefels, Sant Pol de Mar, Calella, and Arenys de Mar. There are also three nature preserves in the interior, Montserrat being the most celebrated thanks to the statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, the patron saint of Catalonia. Hike amid holm oak and spend the day at the Montserrat Museum.
This province, abutting France, boasts great beaches, nature reserves, and ski resorts. It's also home to three Salvador Dali museums and world-renowned Michelin-starred eatery El Bulli.
Dali lived for more than 50 years at what is now the Portlligat House-Museum. Pubol Castle is a medieval structure that was home to Dali and his wife, Gala. The Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres boasts a vast array of paintings, sculptures, and three dimensional collages by the surrealist master. It even houses select works of El Greco and Antoni Pitxot.
The beaches of the Costa Brava await, with their golden sand and blue water. The resorts of Tossa de Mar, Cadaqués, and Portlligat are of particular note. Spend the day at the nature reserves of Aigüamolls de L'Empordà and Cap de Creus and admire the volcanic remnants at La Garrotxa. The Catalan Pyrenees offer a wealth of ski resorts, too. The regional capital of Girona, a.k.a. the City of the Four Rivers, is worthy of a detour due to it medieval villages.
Lleida is a mountainous province and a natural wonderland. Visitors flock here to admire the beautiful Romanesque churches featuring amazing frescoes in the Vall de Boi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Aigüestortes y Estany de Sant Maurici National Park boasts nearly 200 natural lakes and streams. Adventure sports aficionados head here for ski resorts, and gourmands savor the local cheese and olive oil.
Tarragona is varied and beautiful, with a picturesque coastline and charming fishing villages. The Costa Dorada has sandy beaches and elegant resorts. The capital of Tarragona is home to the Palaeo-Christian Necropolis Tárraco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that once was the seat of Julius Caesar's Rome. You can also visit the Cistercian monastery of El Poblet and others like Santes Creus and Valbona de les Monges.
This gorgeous Spanish escape has everything and our Catalonia vacation rentals are the best base from which to explore it all!
Photo credit: Iakov Filimonov via Shutterstock