Catalonia is one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain and after Andalucia the second most populous one. You probably best know it from its capital city – the famous, vibrant, and always crowded Barcelona brimming with architectural masterpieces by Antoni Gaudi. But there is so much more to discover in Catalonia! Whether you’re looking for scenic landscapes with mighty mountains or lovely beaches, historic towns, sleepy villages, vibrant cities, outdoor adventures, delicious food, or unique festivals – in Catalonia you’ll find it all. Stay with us and discover the best places to visit in Catalonia.
To keep things organized we divided this post into two parts. The first part covers cities, towns, villages, and natural sites that we explored ourselves. The second lists even more places to visit in Catalonia for which we haven’t yet got a chance to visit. Vamos!
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How to move around Catalonia?
The best and fastest way of getting to all the soon-mentioned places is definitely by car, either yours or rented. If you don’t travel with your own car, you can easily rent the best one for your needs through the Rental Cars website.
Most of the best places to visit in Catalonia are also accessible by public transport, by trains or buses. You can search for the connections that might interest you on the rome2rio or Omio website. For the best train ticket deals visit Trainline.
If you don’t want to put too much effort into planning, and you’ll stay in bigger cities like Barcelona or Girona, you can always take advantage of the guided tours and let someone else take care of all the details. For a wide selection and well-reviewed tour options be sure to visit GetYourGuide or Viator.
Where to stay while exploring the best places in Catalonia?
It’s actually quite a hard question to answer as it all depends on which places you wish to visit and how you are planning to move around Catalonia. If you prefer to stay in one place and slowly discover the area via one-day trips, we’d recommend staying near Barcelona, Tarragona, or Girona. Things will be a little bit easier if you plan to move from one place to another as you can stay in all the spots you’d like. To find great accommodation visit Booking, Airbnb, or Hostelworld.
What’s the best time to visit Catalonia?
In general, the best time to visit Catalonia depends on your preferences and places you wish to explore. The coast is warmer, with hot summers and not-too-cold winters. Inland areas might experience cold winters with lots of snow, and summers are mild. If you prefer quieter times and lower temperatures spring and autumn months in lower season will be a good choice. If high temperatures and crowds don’t bother you – visit during the high season, between June and August.
Best places to visit in Catalonia
Girona is one of the most enchanting cities in Catalonia. It’s located inland, in the northern part of the region. Even if it’s a fairly big city, it isn’t as near crowded as for example Barcelona and can be a perfect place for a quiet escape. There you’ll find one of the best preserved Jewish Quarters in the world, colorful houses hanging by the river, an old town full of winding streets and historic landmarks, and medieval walls with spectacular views over the city and its surroundings. Oh! And there are many Game of Thrones filming locations that fans of the series will love. Girona without a doubt is one of the best places to visit in Catalonia.
Sitges is a small coastal town, located about 40km southwest of Barcelona. If you’re looking for a spot with scenic beaches (including nudist ones), a delightful old town perfect to wander, a relaxed vibe, lively festivals, or fierce all-night-long parties – Sitges will be a great choice for you. No matter if you’re a party-seeker or just looking for a picturesque destination in Catalonia – this city town should satisfy all your interests and needs. Also, Sitges is one of the most liberal and open-minded cities in the world with an amazing LGBT-friendly atmosphere.
Learn more: 10+ Best Things To Do In Sitges, Spain
Siurana is another amazing place to visit in Catalonia. This tiny, remote, and slightly forgotten village lies at the top of the high mountain, only about 50km inland from Tarragona. Siurana was the last Moorish stronghold in Catalonia that was unconquered for hundreds of years and witnessed many battles. Nowadays, in Siurana you might not find many things to do, but those that the village can offer will take you on a fascinating journey back in time to the Middle Ages. Breathtaking viewpoints, old stone town, and castle ruins are waiting for you. Oh, and it’s also a popular spot for rock-climbing lovers!
While in Siurana, you can also visit Cornudella de Montsant town which is located at the foot of Siurana, only about 8km away. It’s a small and charming historic town surrounded by vineyards. There you can stroll among its old town’s winding streets or enter one or two wine cellars to taste regional wines.
Tarragona is a real paradise for history buffs and those who want to escape the holidaymakers on the beaches or tourists on Barcelona streets. It’s a place where history comes to life at its best and surrounds you wherever you go. Numerous Roman ruins and archeological sites, ravishing medieval old town, gripping festivals featuring human towers, and stunning beaches… Tarragona has it all and even more, and definitely will keep every traveler entertained. No one will deny that this charming coastal town is one of the best places to visit in Catalonia.
Learn more: 15+ Best Things To Do In Tarragona, Spain
Figueres is located inland in the northeast corner of Catalonia, about 40km from Girona. The town itself might not be the most exciting destination in Catalonia but thanks to the Dali Theatre-Museum, a mind-blowing place where you can immerse yourself into the mind of the greatest Surrealist artist, it’s definitely worth a visit. Besides the museum, in town you’ll find the largest fortress in Europe, a gripping Toy Museum of Catalonia, and pleasant old town streets full of Modernist architecture. Particularly Dali fans and art lovers will be in heaven, but we’re sure that every traveler will find something perfect for themself in Figueres.
Learn more: 10 Things To Do In Figueres, Spain In One Day
Montserrat is the most important mountain range in Catalonia located only about 60km inland from Barcelona. It has been a popular pilgrimage site for centuries and is home to a Benedictine Monastery that hosts the ancient wooden statue of the Virgin of Montserrat – La Moreneta, which apparently grants wishes to those who touch or kiss her orb. But it’s not only a place for religious people, don’t worry! Besides spiritual experiences in Montserrat, you can find peaceful moments, fresh mountain air, great climbing and hiking routes with striking views, mesmerizing music, and tasty food. It’s a truly great place to visit in Catalonia, don’t miss it.
Learn more: One Day Trip To Montserrat, Spain Near Barcelona
Reus is an inconspicuous town, which is the birthplace of the famous Antoni Gaudi and nowadays a real heaven for modernist architecture lovers. If you’re one of them, prepare your jaw to drop not only once or twice. Reus is a town full of gorgeous architecture, history, and cozy streets perfect for lazy strolls. But we are sure that not only history or architecture buffs will love it and many will be surprised by its beauty and charm (like we were!). Oh, and it’s also the best place to taste vermouth, an aromatized, fortified wine flavored with various herbs.
If you’re looking for a small coastal town with a chilled vibe, without huge crowds, amazing beaches, and breathtaking views – Cambrils will be a perfect choice for you. If you’re a food lover you’ll find yourself in heaven too! You see, Cambrils is considered the gastronomy capital of Costa Dorada! During summer months it’s a popular holiday spot which can also be a great beach day trip from Barcelona for you. You can combine your visit to Cambrils with Salou, which is located only 10km away.
Learn more: 10+ Best Things To Do in Cambrils, Spain
Salou & PortAventura Park
Salou is best known for being one of the most popular holiday resorts on Costa Dorada that offers a perfect blend of relaxation and excitement. There you’ll find nice views, sandy beaches, exciting attractions, and lively nightlife. If you’re looking for some thrill and adrenaline rush be sure to visit PortAventura World – a world-renowned theme park featuring a diverse array of attractions from heart-pounding roller coasters to captivating live shows. Exciting!
Learn more: 10+ Best Things To Do In Salou, Spain
Penedes Wine Region
Penedes is a Spanish protected designation of origin (PDO) for wines in Catalonia. Its capital, Vilafranca del Penedes, is located about 55km from Barcelona and 20km from Sitges. Penedes wine region is considered one of the country’s best wine-producing areas and one of the most ancient viticultural regions in Europe. It’s best known for Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine similar to French Champagne. There you can visit as many wineries as you wish and take part in cellar tours and wine tasting. You can even follow the whole Penedes Wine Route! Without a doubt, it’s the best place to visit in Catalonia for wine lovers. Cheers!
Other great places to visit in Catalonia
Do you still need more ideas for great places to visit in Catalonia? We got you! Here are some we had on our bucket list but during our last stay we just didn’t have more time for. But we’ll definitely visit next time!
Barcelona, a jewel of Catalonia, is a city that probably needs no introduction. It attracts travelers with a captivating combination of history, architectural wonders, and vibrant Mediterranean life. While there, be sure to stroll down the iconic La Rambla, admire surreal Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces like Sagrada Familia or Park Güell, get lost in the Gothic Quarter, spend some time on lively beaches, and go for tapas tastings. You could spend days in this city and still have things to do left! It definitely can’t be denied that Barcelona is one of the best places to visit in Catalonia that needs to be seen sooner or later.
Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park
If you’re a nature lover, you probably won’t find a better place to visit in Catalonia than Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. It’s located in the northern part of the region, in Central Pyrenees, close to the French border and Aragon community. It’s one of the 15 national parks in Spain, and the only one in Catalonia. Many say it’s a real Eden filled with streams, rivers, lakes, forests, meadows, and mountain peaks rising over 3000m a.s.l. If you could visit only one spot choose Estany de Sant Maurici, the shining star of the area. You can be sure that in this haven for outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll experience nature’s greatness at its best.
Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is a small medieval coastal town that will transport you back in time hundreds of years. Its historic part is enclosed within medieval walls and filled with narrow cobblestone streets, old buildings, and ancient watchtowers. From there you can admire breathtaking panoramic views over the sea and Tossa’s surroundings. In addition to its historical charm, Tossa de Mar boasts beautiful golden sand beaches perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. Doesn’t it look like a great place to visit in Catalonia?
Castellfollit de la Roca & Besalu
Castellfollit de la Roca and Besalu are two tiny medieval villages located in inland Catalonia, just 15km from each other. Both of them will transport you back in time and exploring their streets will allow you to imagine how life might have looked like in the Middle Ages. Besalu is most famous for its iconic well-preserved bridge spanning over the Fluvia River and the Jewish Quarter with public baths that were devoted to Hebrew rituals. Castellfollit de la Roca sits on 50m high and 1km long basalt rock and is characterized by houses hanging over the cliff edge. Quite scary but looks amazing!
Cardona is a medieval town located inland, about 90km from Barcelona. It’s dominated by a stunning 9th-century medieval fortress, Castell de Cardona, from which you can admire magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. Old town is a labyrinth of streets and squares perfect for wandering and admiring ancient buildings like the Gothic church of Sant Miquel. The town is also home to the fascinating Salt Mountain Cultural Park, a former salt mine.
Cadaques is a beautiful seaside town in Catalonia, located in a close proximity to the French border. There you’ll find many whitewashed houses which give the town a pleasant Mediterranean feel. Take a long stroll along the bay and old town streets and explore all the nooks and crooks. During summer months Cadaques is also an amazing beach destination with many pristine beaches to choose from. The town is also well-known thanks to its connections to Salvador Dali. Looks like he had his home and studio nearby, which was transformed into the Salvador Dali House Museum. So if you love his art, be sure to visit not only Figueres but also Cadaques.
Best places to visit in Catalonia – Summing up
There are so many beautiful places to discover in Catalonia! Charming historic towns, sleepy medieval villages, lively cities, natural sites… If you’re staying longer in the area or planning a whole road trip you definitely won’t be bored. We hope this post was helpful, and now you’re one step closer to choosing great places to visit in Catalonia, best suited to your needs.
Enjoy the time during your trips and share your experience in the comments. We’re curious about which towns and natural sites you’ll choose. Oh, and if you know about some other gems that we haven’t covered yet, let us know as well!
Our opinion about best places in Catalonia & our TOP3
So far we’ve spent 2 months in Catalonia, living right next to Barcelona. And yes, we haven’t seen it yet! We decided to go back sometime in the future to explore it properly. As for Catalonia, it didn’t make it to our favorite regions in Spain (Andalusia and Asturias rocks!) but we enjoyed our time there. We liked our trips during which we explored the mentioned villages, towns, cities, and natural sites. We stayed there during May and June, and thankfully there were still no wild crowds and we explored most of the places in peace.
So what are our TOP3 places to visit in Catalonia? So far Girona, Sitges and Siurana!