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Catalonia

Travel Guide Europe Spain Catalonia

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Introduction

Santa Maria Church, Taull, Boi Valley

Santa Maria Church, Taull, Boi Valley

© All Rights Reserved davidx

Catalonia, Cataluña (in Spanish) or Catalunya in its native Catalan language is noted for many features and rivals Andalusia for attracting visitors. The city of Barcelona is simply wonderful but is by no means alone. There are numerous places that justify a visit.

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Geography

The Costa Brava rivals the southern Costa del Sol for attracting beach-loving tourists. The Parque Nacional de Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici is one of Spain's Pyrennean national parks and the much visited Parque Natural de la Montaña de Montserrat, near to Barcelona, is another mountain area.

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Cities, towns and villages

Coastal

  • Barcelona - see the wiki guide for the city of Barcelona.
  • Tarragona - Historical interest from Roman and medieval times - including an excellent Roman aqueduct a short bus ride out and a cathedral dating from the tradition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture.
  • Castelldefels - Nondescript town but with kilometres of fine beach served by a decent selection of restaurants and bars & a point of access to the Parque Natural De Garraf for walking - half an hour by train from Barcelona, next stop Sitges.
  • Sitges - Characterful town with some fine architecture and a heady mix of traditional Catalan family life and its role as one of the predominant European gay holiday destinations. Good spot to experience carnival in February, well worth a visit at any time of year.
  • Blanes
  • Lloret de Mar
  • Calella
  • Pineda de Mar
  • Tossa de Mar
  • Malgrat de Mar
  • Rosas
  • Cadaqués
  • Salou

Inland

  • Girona - A fine old town with an old Jewish area as well as a cathedral with the remarkable Creation Tapestry and some interesting churches.
  • Figueres - site of the Salvador Dalí museum.
  • Vic - museum of high quality for Romanesque church pictures, removed when Napoleonic armies were advancing.
  • Poblet - monastery open to public
  • Ripoll - 9th century monastery.
  • Ribes de Fréser - Start of the rack railway to the mountain manastery of Nuria and cable-car from Nuria to start of mountain walks.
  • La Pobla de Segur - good railway journey from Lerida
  • El Pont de Suert - start of bus to Boi Valley
  • Boi - one of several villages in the Boi Valley with dramatically picturesque Romanesque churches. Minibuses to the Aiguetortes national park.
  • Taull - Above Boi and with not one but two Romanesque churches.
  • Lleida
  • Banyoles
  • Besalu - bus ride from Girona - village with significant medieval element and very unusual fortified bridge.

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Sights and Activities

Barcelona Beaches

Barceloneta beach

Barceloneta beach

© All Rights Reserved alejandra9

Barcelona is listed number one in the top 10 list of beach cities, according to National Geographic. Barcelona has no less than seven beaches, totalling 4.5 kilometres. Sant Sebastià and Barceloneta beaches are the most popular ones and also the biggest at around 1,100 metres in length. These two beaches are separated by The Olympic Port from the five other city beaches: Nova Icària, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Nova Mar Bella and Llevant. These beaches average around 500 metres and were opened as a result of the city restructuring to host the 1992 Summer Olympics. Barceloneta Beach was voted in 2005 as the best urban beach in the world and the third best beach overall, according to the docu-film "Worlds Best Beaches" by Discovery Channel. It's located in the Barceloneta neighbourhood, also famous for its many restaurants and nightclubs along the boardwalk.

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Getting There

By Plane

1. Barcelona Airport (BCN) is the second biggest airport in Spain and the 9th biggest airport in Europe. It handles over 30 million of passengers every year and it is perfectly connected to the other main European airports by direct flights operated by either low cost airlines or regular ones.

To/from the airport

  • Rail: It is located a few kilometres away from the city, but it is easy to reach by train with RENFE. The trip lasts 30 minutes and it costs around €2. Trains leave from Terminal 2 and run from the Maçanet-Massanes station, with major stops at Barcelona Sants railway station and the fairly central Passeig de Gràcia railway station to provide transfer to the Barcelona Metro system. Passengers for Terminal 1 must take a connecting bus from the train station to T1. As part of the major expansion above, a new railway station will be built nearby, connecting the airport to the Spanish AVE network, and Line 9 of the Barcelona Metro.
  • Bus: The Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) public bus on line 46 runs every 16 minutes from Plaça Espanya. A scheduled private bus line (Aerobús) from Plaça Catalunya, stops at Urgell and Plaça d'Espanya.
  • Car/Taxi: Another alternative are taxis, which tend to be more expensive. If you leave from Sants Station the trip will last 20 minutes and cost around €22. Taxi stops are available at each terminal. The C-32B highway connects the airport to a main traffic interchange between Barcelona's Ronda de Dalt beltway and major motorways. There are around 25,000 parking spaces available, equally divided among both terminals.

2. The Girona - Costa Brava International Airport (international code: GRO) is located about 10 kilometers south of the city centre and is getting more and more popular as a start of a trip in the region as there are quite a few low-cost airlines serving the city. Ryanair serves dozens of cities in Europe, including London, Brussels and Rome. A few others include Jetairfly, Transavia and Star1.

To/from the airport

  • Car: The airport can be reached by the E-15/AP-7 toll road (Perpignan, France - south of Spain), C-25 (Lleida - Girona) and N-11, (Madrid - Barcelona - Perpignan, France).
  • Bus: Buses go to Barcelona (1 hour 10 minutes, departure times depending on flights. On Sunday the last bus leaves Barcelona at 7:15pm), Costa Brava/Maresme (Stops at Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar, Blanes, Malgrat de Mar, Santa Susanna, Pineda de Mar and Calella de la Costa), North Costa Brava (Stops at Figueres, Roses, Pineda de Mar, Calella de Palafrugell and Tossa de Mar), Girona city centre(25 minutes, one every hour) and Perpignan in France (6 times daily).

3. A third airport can be found near the town of Reus. This airport is also being used by lowcost airlines that have charters to the Costa Brava.

By Train

Getting there from other parts of Spain is quite easy: there are several trains every day between Catalonian cities like Barcelona and Girona and main Spanish cities such as Valencia, Madrid, Zaragoza and Bilbao. Check the RENFE website, Spain's national railway company.

By Boat

Barcelona is the main gateway to travel to Catalonia by sea:

Italy

Morocco

  • GNV operates services from Barcelona to Tanger.

Algeria

  • Chan Maghreb Lines (website under construction) has boats between Barcelona and Oran and Algiers.

Acciona Trasmediterránea is the main ferry operator with boats from Barcelona to the Balearic Islands. Other ferry operators include Balearia between Barcelona and the Balearic islands of Menorca, Mallorca and Ibiza. Iscomar offers roughly the same connections as well.

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Sleep

Contributors

as well as Herr Bert (11%), davidx (4%), TJC (4%), Lavafalls (1%), JulesDeb (1%)

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Catalonia Travel Helpers

  • jepmaria

    I am an expert in Catalonia.
    I work in catalan cultura and tourism for about 30 years.
    I can offer free info and, also, can offer customized programs for visits (to pay). I am an expert in industrial tourism, food, festivities and folklore.
    I am licensed professional guide in catalan, spanish, french and italian language.
    josepmariapey@gmail.com

    Ask jepmaria a question about Catalonia

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