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Proud of its distinct culture and heritage, Catalonia is an autonomous region within Spain. The fierce spirit of this region and its inhabitants has shaped the history of Spain and, often, the rest of Europe. Its diverse land is home to the metropolis of Barcelona and numerous smaller urban centers, villages, and resorts, many of which are packed with sightseeing possibilities and tourists all year long. Despite seemingly unstoppable commercialization and urbanization, much of Catalonia has managed to retain the wild, unblemished beauty that drew visitors to Spain in the first place. Its main geographical feature is the mighty Pyrenees range, dominating a landscape of green valleys dotted with sleepy rural communities, ancient monasteries, and working vineyards ideal for day trips. When using our Spain itinerary builder, you're building your holiday based on your own interests, visitor reviews, and the informed opinions of our well-traveled writers.Read the Catalonia Holiday Planning Guide »
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©La Sagrada Familia
©El Barri Gòtic
©Magic Fountain (Font Magica)
©Passeig de Gracia
©Fundacio Joan Miro
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Best things to do in Catalonia
La Sagrada Familia
Visit for: 1h 30min
Visit for: 1h 30min
Visit for: 2h
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya - MNAC
Visit for: 1h 30min
Sant Pau Recinte Modernista
Visit for: 1h
Visit for: 3h
Visit for: 3h
Visit for: 2h
Magic Fountain (Font Magica)
Visit for: 1h 30min
Kid Friendly Attractions©©©
Visit for: 2h 30min
Visit for: 2h
Visit for: 4h
Visit for: 3h
Visit for: 8h
Horseback Riding Tours
Visit for: 3h
Recently planned trips to Catalonia
15 days in Europe BY A USER FROM NEW ZEALAND June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Barcelona BY A USER FROM THAILAND February, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: February, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 6 days in Barcelona BY A USER FROM THAILAND February, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: February, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 14 days in Europe BY A USER FROM IRAQ November, outdoors, romantic, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: November, outdoors, romantic, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 16 days in Europe BY A USER FROM INDIA March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Spain BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 46 days in United States, Europe & Asia BY A USER FROM NEW ZEALAND August, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: August, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 28 days in Europe BY A USER FROM SINGAPORE May, culture, romantic, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: May, culture, romantic, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 35 days in Europe BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA July, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: July, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 36 days in Europe BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA July, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: July, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Sitges BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, hidden gems PREFERENCES: March, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 35 days in Europe BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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Catalonia Holiday Planning GuideProud of its distinct culture and heritage, Catalonia is an autonomous region within Spain. The fierce spirit of this region and its inhabitants has shaped the history of Spain and, often, the rest of Europe. Its diverse land is home to the metropolis of Barcelona and numerous smaller urban centers, villages, and resorts, many of which are packed with sightseeing possibilities and tourists year-round. Despite commercialization and urbanization, much of Catalonia has managed to retain the wild, unblemished beauty that initially drew visitors to Spain. Its main geographical feature is the mighty Pyrenees range, dominating a landscape of green valleys dotted with sleepy rural communities, ancient monasteries, and working vineyards ideal for day trips.
Places to Visit in CataloniaBarcelona: Spain’s second-largest city and the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is a vibrant center of culture, arts, and breathtaking architecture.
Costa Brava: A very popular tourist destination, the coast offers seaside relaxation and some of the best opportunities for sightseeing in Catalonia.
Costa Dorada: Miles of sandy beaches, scenic countryside, and charming towns and villages make Catalonia’s "Golden Coast" a perfect getaway destination.
Girona: The city where history comes alive, Girona lets you experience the true Catalan spirit while wandering through cobbled streets and admiring medieval structures.
Salou: With its golden beaches, countless activities to choose from, and a lively nightlife scene, the town is a great spot for a summer holiday in Catalonia.
Sitges: Combining a selection of beaches, rich cultural life, and cozy atmosphere, Sitges serves as a true seaside oasis just outside Barcelona. The town’s open-minded atmosphere makes it one of Europe’s favorite destinations for LBGT visitors.
Olot: Renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and rich cultural heritage, this historic town is surrounded by volcanic peaks that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
Tarragona: From ancient monuments to gems of modern architecture, Tarragona offers an opportunity for travelers who want to experience all the perks of Barcelona but in a more tranquil package.
Lloret de Mar: One of the most popular resort towns on Costa Brava, Lloret de Mar showcaseslong, open beaches and secluded coves perfect for diving and snorkeling, as well as several historical sights worth visiting.
Things to Do in Catalonia
Popular Catalonia Tourist AttractionsLa Sagrada Familia: Gaudi’s masterpiece and one of the most famous buildings in the world, the basilica is the must-see symbol of Barcelona.
Park Güell: Admire the views and wander through this magical complex of gardens, mosaics, and architectural features designed by Gaudi.
PortAventura World: Experience a huge selection of thrill rides spread throughout various themed areas at one of Europe’s largest amusement parks.
Casa Batlló: Known locally as "The House of Bones," this famous Gaudi work is one tourist attraction in Catalonia that you shouldn’t miss.
El Barri Gòtic: The historic heartland of Barcelona, this area provides the perfect place to get lost in a labyrinth of winding streets and admire the buildings and squares dating back to the Middle Ages.
Dali Theatre-Museum: Located at a former theater in Salvador Dali’s hometown of Figueres, the museum was partially designed by the painter himself and houses a great collection of his works.
Camp Nou: The home of FC Barcelona and one of the world’s most famous grounds, Camp Nou is the perfect addition to any soccer fan’s Catalonia itinerary.
Casa Milà: With its recognizable curvy lines and unique details, this building serves as a stellar monument to Gaudi’s genius.
PortAventura Caribe Aquatic Park: Taste the Caribbean spirit at Costa Dorada with slides, splash pools, and activities for visitors of all ages.
Magic Fountain (Font Magica): Admire the show of lights, music, and water at one of the major sights of the Montjuic neighborhood of Barcelona.
Planning a Catalonia Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Catalonia with KidsThere are few Mediterranean destinations better-suited for a family vacation than Catalonia. Towns and hotels across the region feature facilities specifically designed to accommodate the youngest visitors, and you’ll find an endless supply of places to visit in Catalonia with your family.
Apart from the remotest villages, almost every town in Catalonia offers enough attractions to keep you and your family entertained. Even the popular tourist resorts, such as Lloret de Mar are peaceful enough for a family vacation, and then, of course, there’s Barcelona, a bustling metropolis that is certain to captivate visitors of all ages.
Things to Do in Catalonia with KidsWhenever you plan to visit, you’ll find an abundance of things to do in Catalonia with kids. In the summer, the beaches alone offer an endless amount of fun for families, with soft sand, calm water, and plenty of facilities. A visit to PortAventura World provides water rides, shows, and aquatic playgrounds of all kinds. If you’re traveling to Catalonia in winter, try Rialp, where you’ll find some of the best and most family-friendly ski resorts in all of Spain.
Probably the greatest hub of tourism in Catalonia is its capital Barcelona, where the whole family can admire the magical works of Gaudi and enjoy an array of activities. For soccer fans, both young and old, a tour of Camp Nou will be an unforgettable experience (but be prepared to pay a hefty price if you attend a match or want to purchase memorabilia).
Tips for a Family Vacation in CataloniaCatalonia is generally a very safe and convenient destination for traveling families. Many towns, cities, and attractions feature many amenities and are easily navigable with a stroller. Just keep an eye on the kids while walking through the historic quarters, because they might get lost in the crowds and winding alleys. Beaches are some of the main tourist attractions in Catalonia, but not all of them have lifeguards. With the hot summer weather, make sure your family is well protected from the sun.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Catalonia
Cuisine of CataloniaFrom mountain pastures and hill slopes covered in vineyards to Mediterranean fishing ports, the cuisine of Catalonia reflects the region’s geographical diversity. While some local dishes resemble the recipes you can find elsewhere in Spain, most of the region’s specialties carry a unique flavor; the Catalans are very proud of their culinary "independence." In fact, some aspects of Catalan cuisine, such as the tradition of cheesemaking and widespread use of sauces make it similar to French cooking. Another thing that you’ll notice on your gastronomic tour of Catalonia is how much attention the local chefs put into even the simplest recipes, like the pa amb tomàquet--toasted bread covered with tomatoes and olive oil. Meat lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to try some botifarra--famous local pork sausage--while seafood lovers opt for specialties like esqueixada--a traditional cod dish. Tapas, the favorite Spanish snack, are widely available in Catalonia too, but if you’re looking for a quick bite, consider trying the Catalan version of pizza, known as coca. Catalan wines, including the sparkling Cava, are ranked among the finest in Spain, and visiting local wineries such as Cava Recaredo is a great addition to any wine-lover’s Catalonia itinerary. Widely regarded as the culinary capital of Spain, Barcelona is the place where you’ll find some of the finest restaurants in Catalonia, but other parts of the region definitely won’t disappoint.
Shopping in CataloniaKeen shoppers traveling to Catalonia will discover that the local selection of shops is more than ample for most visitors. Naturally, Barcelona, the region’s largest city, is also the shopping capital of Catalonia. Here you’ll find anything from large shopping malls to the small independent stores, and goods that include the world’s largest brands to the products of local craftspeople and designers. In addition to being popular with the locals, some of these stores have become true attractions of Catalonia. This is especially the case with local markets such as La Boqueria, where you can experience a whole world of local tastes, shapes, and colors in one place. A true treat for both kids and adults, Barcelonines makes traditional Catalan rag dolls. Bargain hunters in Catalonia will find numerous antique shops to browse through, and art enthusiasts can discover a selection of galleries, including Galeria Tarraco.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Catalonia
History of CataloniaHistory of Catalonia dates back thousands of years, and many different cultures have shaped what is now recognizable as distinctive Catalan culture. Following the numerous prehistoric settlements in the region, Iberian tribes established their control over the area. By the 6th century BCE Greeks had already established several colonies in the region, the remains of which you can still see at Ruins of Empuries. Several centuries later, Carthaginians, who were already widely present on the Iberian Peninsula, vastly increased their colonizing efforts as they fought with the Romans.
Following the defeat of Carthage in the Punic Wars, the area of Catalonia fell under Roman control and Roman culture quickly spread through the region. The capital of the newly established Roman province, Tarragona became one of the most important cities of Roman Spain. Today, visiting the city’s ancient monuments like Anfiteatro de Tarragona is one of the things to do in Catalonia any history buff would enjoy.
With the collapse of the Roman Empire, Catalonia was first conquered by the Visigoths, and then in 718 by the Umayyad Caliphate. The clashes between the Muslim conquerors and the Franks gave birth to the County of Barcelona, a Christian territory under Frankish rule. In the 13th century the region slipped from French control and joined the Kingdom of Aragon, then it became its essential part. During the high Middle Ages, Gothic architecture spread throughout the region that at that time became known as Catalonia. Sights like Barcelona Cathedral are great monuments to this period.
The union between Castile and Aragon, the founding of the Kingdom of Spain, and its political shift toward the New World colonies caused an economic decline of Catalonia that lasted until the 19th century. Even though the modern age saw the region bounce back as one of Spain’s cultural and economic leaders, wherever you go on your trip to Catalonia, you’ll notice that history here is never forgotten.