Catalonia, Spain: where it is, when to go and what to see

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Author and references

Known primarily for its capital city, world-famous Barcelona, ​​Catalonia is a traditional region of Spain proudly proud of its unique culture, which wonderful places unrecognized by the general public. In fact, thein Catalonia it is not just Barcelona, it is much more! In addition to cities such as Girona and Tarragona, which are very important and interesting from a historical and cultural point of view, in the surrounding countryside you can discover picturesque medieval towns, monasteries and quiet countryside villages. The Costa Brava, on the other hand, is famous all over the world especially for luxury resorts like Sitges and the secluded bays of Cadaqués. Finally, from a naturalistic point of view, not everyone knows the surreal volcanic territories of the Garrotxa or the mountain ranges of the province of Lleida.

Here is a guide of Catalonia: where is it, when to go and what to see!


  1. Travel informed: useful information
  2. Where it is
  3. How to reach us
  4. When to go? Info on climate and best time
  5. The main cities
  6. 10 things to see: the places of interest in Catalonia
  7. The main routes in Catalonia
  8. What to do in Catalonia: excursions and tours
  9. How much does a holiday in Catalonia cost? Prices, offers and advice
  10. User questions and comments

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 7.543.825
  • Capital: Barcelona
  • Languages: Catalan and Castilian
  • Local currency: euro (€)
  • Weather: Mediterranean along the coast (mild and relatively rainy winters and hot summers); continental and arid in inland areas (Lleida); Alpine climate with winters below 0 ° in the areas of the Pyrenees
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Where it is

    Catalonia is one Spanish autonomous community located in the northeastern tip of Spain, between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. It covers an area of ​​32.108,2 sq km and is made up of four provinces: Barcelona, ​​Girona, Leiden and Tarragona. It borders to the north with France (Occitania region, from which it is separated by the Pyrenees) and Andorra, to the west with Aragon, to the east with the Mediterranean Sea, and to the south with the Valencian Community.

    How to reach us

    By plane

    The main Italian airports are connected with direct flights with Barcelona-El Prat airport thanks to Vueling, EasyJet, Alitalia and Ryanair. The flight has an average duration of 1 h 30 min and the prices are very affordable, you can find offers even under € 50,00 - Compare flights to Barcelona

    The airport is about 12 km from the city center which can be reached by:

    • Aerobus fast shuttle bus (35 mini, € 5,90), departs every 5 min;
    • Train (30 min, € 2,00) which leaves only from terminal T2 every half hour;
    • Metropolitan Line 9 (30 min, € 4,50); bus 46 (30/35 min, € 2,15);
    • Taxi (15/20 min, average fare € 30,00)

    By bus or train

    The Flixbus company connects Milan and Barcelona with a direct service or with a change (in Turin, Nice or Lyon). The direct takes about 13 h and prices start at € 40,00.

    By train, travel times range between 11 h and 30 min and 22 h; the changes to be made are at least two (generally Montpellier and / or Lyon). Prices for the fastest combination, buying about a month and a half in advance, start at € 97,00. The Frecciarossa and Intercity high-speed trains allow you to travel from Milan to Barcelona in about 12 hours and from Rome in more than 20 hours. Rates starting from € 140,00.

    By car

    Getting to Catalonia by car is doable if you have enough time available. Barcelona is 875 km from Turin, 983 km from Milan and 1.360 km from Rome. It passes through Liguria and then crosses the Mediterranean coast of France, Provence, Montpellier, Perpignan and finally Girona. Entering Catalunya, via the French Autostrada dei Fiori (A12), the Mediterranean motorway takes you straight to Girona, just 70km from the border, Barcelona 150km and Tarragona 250km.

    The journey takes about 10 h and 50 min from Milan, not counting the breaks. The estimated cost of the trip is around € 180,00, of which € 97,00 in tolls and the rest in fuel.

    By ferry

    You can get to Barcelona starting from Italy by ship, even with the car in tow. The journey takes on average 19 hours and 30 minutes from Genoa with Grandi Navi Veloci. Grimaldi Lines departs from Civitavecchia, Livorno, Savona and Porto Torres, average travel time 20 h. Average costs from € 120,00.

    When to go? Info on climate and best time

    • Weather: Mediterranean along the coast (mild and relatively rainy winters and hot summers); continental and arid in inland areas (Lleida); Alpine climate with winters below 0 ° in the areas of the Pyrenees
    • Best time: each period can fit according to various purposes. Winter is perfect for skiing in the Pyrenees, summer for those who want to take a beach holiday, spring and September is ideal for visiting the cities
    • Period to avoid: none in particular, October is the wettest
    • Advice: comfortable and informal clothing and, even in the hot season, always bring something heavy (sweatshirt or sweater), in the evening there is always a pleasant breeze even on the sea

    The main cities

    1. Barcelona: capital of the region, a lively and colorful city, rich in art and famous for its nightlife. It boasts an atmospheric medieval quarter, striking modernist architecture and a vibrant urban culture - discover our Smart Barcelona Guide
    2. Girona: last province of Catalonia before the border with France. Convenient because here there is a secondary airport where low-cost airlines usually land, then connected to Barcelona by shuttle service
    3. Cadaques: small village overlooking the Costa Brava considered one of the most enchanting in the region
    4. Tarragona: very important city in the region, famous for the archaeological site declared a UNESCO heritage in 2000
    5. terrace: municipality in the province of Barcelona, ​​28 km from the Catalan capital. Terrassa is most famous for the Visigothic-Romanesque site of Sant Pere
    6. Lleida: the third largest provincial capital of Catalonia by population. The city is dominated by the Seu Vella, the old cathedral in the Gothic-Romanesque style. The city is also famous for its parks such as the Parc municipal de la Mitjana and the Parque de los Campos Eliseos de Lerida
    7. Sitges: on the coast south of Barcelona, ​​an interesting location for its historic center, beaches and the vitality that reaches its peak during the Carnival period and in summer
    8. Besalu: village of 2.500 inhabitants in the hinterland of the province of Girona. It is the medieval village par excellence that retains all the architectural features typical of that period
    9. Vic: picturesque medieval town nestled along the banks of the Meder river, about 72 km from Barcelona. The city has two historic districts: the area around Castillo de Montcada and around the cathedral
    10. Seu d'Urgell: Picturesque historic city set in beautiful natural scenery with the mountains of Catalonia and the Andorran Pyrenees as a backdrop. It is located in the province of Lleida, 173 km from Barcelona

    10 things to see: the places of interest in Catalonia

    1. Barcelona, ​​Sagrada Familia and Gaudi's treasures: in Barcelona, ​​the famous great Catholic basilica designed by Antoni Gaudí, the greatest exponent of Catalan modernism - find out what to see in Barcelona
    2. Sant Miquel del Fai: ancient religious complex immersed in a luxuriant and verdant nature, on top of a canyon carved by rain and river waters, in the homonymous locality. It is accessed by crossing a Romanesque bridge, the walk is wonderful
    3. Volcanic area of ​​the Garrotxa: volcanic region of about 700 square kilometers where 40 volcanic cones are concentrated. In the province of Girona, it is one of the wildest and most interesting territories in Catalonia
    4. Terre Ebro Natural Park: an oasis of incredible naturalistic and landscape value that represents one of the most interesting river deltas in Europe. A world where fauna and flora meet in a brackish and marshy environment
    5. Montserrat Mountain and Monastery: natural park of extraordinary beauty that hosts one of the most famous pilgrimage destinations in Catalonia, the Monastery of Monserrat which houses "La Moreneta" (Black Madonna), patron saint of Catalonia
    6. Archaeological site of Tarragona: declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, it shows one of the most important capitals of Roman Spain at the time of the Tarraco Empire. To see: an amphitheater, a Roman circus and an aqueduct. Also of great interest are the Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum and the Roman and Paleochristian necropolis
    7. Medas Islands: one of the richest sea beds in the whole Mediterranean Sea, a paradise for divers and freedivers. Among gorgonians, corals and a rich marine fauna, that of the Medas is an archipelago made up of seven islands, each with its own peculiarities
    8. Cadaques and the Cap de Creus National Park: protected strip of coastline along the Costa Brava where there is a wonderful unspoilt beach overlooking crystal clear turquoise waters. The whitewashed cottages that hug the sheltered bay have fascinated artists for decades
    9. PortAventura World: fun theme park with over 40 attractions and numerous daily shows for the whole family; a lively water park and, from April 2017, the first theme park in Europe dedicated to Ferrari - more info
    10. Monastery of Santa María de Poblet: UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was founded in the 141th century for the Cistercian monks who still use the space for their spiritual worship. Inside the church are the tombs of the kings of Aragon. The complex has two museums: the Poblet Museum and the Restoration Museum. It is located km from Barcelona

    The main routes in Catalonia

    Colorful cities full of fun, sea and mountains, archaeological sites and works by artists such as Dalì and Gaudì. Without forgetting suggestive monasteries, adventurous routes for the more sporty and good food. In conclusion, a destination suitable for everyone!

    The attractions that Catalonia offers are so many; for this reason it is a region that lends itself well to very different thematic itineraries from each other.

    1. The classic: runs through the main stages of the region: Barcelona, ​​Montserrat, Manresa, Parc del Montseny, Palafrugell, Figueres, Girona
    2. From the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean: for lovers of trekking and activities in contact with nature, through the Catalan Pyrenees, the provinces of Lleida and Girona. Main stages: Val d'Aran, Vall de Boí, Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, Seu d'Urgell, Ripoll, La Garrotxa, Besalú
    3. The Mediterranean coast: for those who love the sea, relaxing days on the beach and seaside villages. Main stages: Ebro Delta Park, PortAventura World, Tarragona, Barcelona, ​​Costa Brava
    4. World Heritage: the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the whole region of Catalonia: from modernism in Barcelona to the Romanesque churches of the Vall de Boí, passing through Roman Tarragona and several prehistoric caves
    5. Towards the hinterland: Catalonia less known among rural areas, nature, spas and culture. Stages: Begur, Pals, Peratallada, Monells, dfi Les Gavarres massif, Sant Hilari Sacalm, Rupit i Pruit - Vic, Montserrat
    6. Wine and culture: route that crosses the wine areas of Penedés (Barcelona and Tarragona) and El Priorat (Tarragona), alternating visits to wine bars, small villages in the hinterland, Cistercian monasteries and the surroundings of Horta de Sant Joan
    7. Dalinian triangle: places and cultural spaces that best describe the figure of the surrealist painter: the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres, the Salvador Dalí House Museum in Portlligalt (Cadaqués) and the Gala Dalí Castle House Museum in Púbol

    What to do in Catalonia: excursions and tours

    How much does a holiday in Catalonia cost? Prices, offers and advice

    Catalonia is one inexpensive destination; even in Barcelona, ​​despite being very popular and in demand, there are options for all budgets.

    In the off season or traveling on weekdays (no weekends) are found flights at bargain pricesconsequently, also very affordable flight + hotel packages (flight + hostel / camping 5 days at an average of € 155,00).

    Getting around the area on your own is the best way to enjoy it and manage the trip at your own pace. The car rent for a week it costs from € 72,00. According to the area there are accommodation of various kinds: campsites and resorts on the coast, modest or modern and luxurious hotels in large cities, hostels and guest-houses in villages and rural areas.

    Very similar speech for meals. Without forgetting, especially in the city of Barcelona, ​​the Andar a tapear which allows (if you limit yourself to small quantities) to spend very little. In the villages, small simple restaurants, often family-run, offer excellent local cuisine for € 15,00; completely different figures are talked about in fish restaurants on the sea.

    • Hotel and b & b starting from € 42,00 per room -
    • flights to Barcelona from € 30,00 -
    • Return flight + 5 days / 4 nights from € 152,00 per person -

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