February 21, 2018

Catalonia – Spain’s Best Kept Secret?

Sitting in the north east corner of Spain is Catalonia. Home to a varied landscape that offers many surprises, Catalonia is a well kept secret that is waiting to enthrall you with all its charm.

Barcelona is the capital and most well known city of the region but there is so much more to be found.  A land of contrasts, Catalonia offers a rugged coastline, mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, forests, and surprises around every corner.  The villages are as lovely as the natural environment. Sights range from Romanesque architecture to Arab remnants and from prehistoric relics to avant-garde art.

San Mauricio Lake Catalonia Spain

San Mauricio Lake by Gligan

Here are 5 reasons to visit Catalonia!

Natural Wonders

You are surrounded by nature in Catalonia. The countryside varies from coastline to mountains and includes wetlands, rivers, valleys, lakes, plateau, forests and even volcanoes.  All of this beauty combines to offer a multitude of options for outdoor activities.  You can find something to do whether your time is spent on the snow-capped peaks or on one of the majestic beaches. In one trip you can enjoy the Pyrenees and then find yourself lounging by the Mediterranean!

Boi Valley Catalonia Spain

Vall de Boi: Boi and the valley by David Domingo, on Flickr

Outdoor Activities

The options for outdoor activities are as vast as the landscape.  Ranging from gentle easy hikes to canyoning or enjoy an easy glide down a river or the intensity of white water rafting!  Your days can be spent on horseback or quads.  You may choose to explore the region from the heights of a hot air balloon or from a seat on a horse-drawn carriage.  You could even visit a Natural Park made of salt to feast your eyes on salt stalagmites and stalactites!

Kayaking in Catalonia Spain

kayak by miuina, on Flickr


The historical and artistic heritage of Catalonia is also very diverse. Catalonia’s cultural treasures include cave paintings, ruins of great civilizations both Greek and Roman, Romanesque architecture, medieval castles, Gothic cathedrals, Jewish quarters, modern buildings and great art.  This is the land of great artists such as Dali, Miro, Picasso, Gaudi and Pau Casals.  A visit to the museums, houses and scenes that inspired their works can be enlightening!  If this isn’t enough, enjoy one of the many concerts, performances or local festivals the region offers.

Village of Cruïlles Catalonia Spain

Village of Cruïlles by Vincent van Zeijst


The world famous cuisine of Catalonia uses all the resources of the region from the mountain, sea and farm. In fact, people travel to this destination solely for the cuisine.  Traditional favorites include Pa amb Tomaquet (bread smeared with tomato and drizzled with olive oil), Escudella (a meat and vegetable stew) and Bacalla amb Samfaina (Cod with a ratatouille).  But also of importance is the modern cuisine found by renowned chefs and Michelin rated restaurants.  Learn about local cuisine by enjoying a cooking class, visiting a local fresh market, gastronomic museum or at one of the many festivals and fairs.  Catalonia also produces great wine and Cava.  The wine production in this area dates back to Roman times and has been growing since.  Visit museums related to the wine industry or enjoy tastings at the vineyard.

Barcelona Cuisine Catalonia Spain

Barcelona by George M. Groutas, on Flickr


Spas seem to have grown in popularity lately but wellness has been important to Catalonia since the Roman era! In Catalonia there are 18 thermal baths found in natural surroundings including at least one Natural park.  The spa towns can be found spread throughout the region.  Other wellness centers can be found in resorts near the coast and other inland areas.  Each offers a variety of treatments including mud treatments, paraffin baths, massage as well as facial and beauty treatments.

Tossa de Mar Catalonia Spain

Tossa de Mar by Gordito1869


Whether you want to spend your time on a bike, at a spa, on the golf course, touring the historic sites of a city or on the sea, you’ll find an abundance of options in Catalonia!


Why would you visit Catalonia?

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  1. Myself I am Andlyn Sheeba currently I am living in Auckland, New Zealand. In Catalonia like barceloneta beach is the most beautiful playas in Catalonia and city center beach for its chaotic energy, with an outdoor gym, packed chiringuito bars, old men playing dominoes. But I like Catalonia Culture Very much…

    Jump into the dream world of happiness, fun and accommodate in New Zealand hotels and enjoy your holidays

  2. Wehrner says:

    I’m currently living in Catalonia and I love this country. What I like the most is that Catalonia has everything! In such a little country you have a coast bathed with clean and warm beaches; you have the Pyrennees where you can enjoy mountain sports; you have ancient romanesque architecture and astonishing modernist architecture too; you have superb gastronomy with a myriad of dishes and wines. But one of the things I like the most is Catalan language. It sounds like a soft french mixed with italian. I like it more than Spanish because it has richer sounds. One of my preferred Catalan words is “maduixa” (mah-doo-shah), which means “strawberry”. Love it! 🙂

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Thank you for your glowing review of Catalonia! I am hoping to visit this fall and comments like your make me even more eager to see for myself 🙂

  3. Lynne says:

    We visited Montserrat and the Benedictine abbey.
    Lynne recently posted..Sunday Post: Sunrise

  4. All I need is one reason my friend…you’re article and fantastic pics say it all…especially Vall de Boi!!! Looks lovely.
    Jeff Titelius recently posted..The Splendor of the Seaside Village of Marken in The Netherlands

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      The pictures are calling me too! I am actually in the midst of planning a trip this September 🙂 My fingers are crossed it all works out.

  5. Laurel says:

    I love Catalonia and will be going back in a couple of weeks to do some hiking and again in Sept for TBEX. I didn’t know much about it before I went, but loved it, especially the charming villages, and the food, and the landscape, and…you get the idea 🙂
    Laurel recently posted..Solving Food Mysteries on a Rome Market Tour

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I am looking forward to seeing those charming villages when I am able to visit! Seriously considering attending TBEX too so maybe I’ll get the opportunity in September 🙂

  6. Kristy Harris says:

    This is really an awesome place. Catalonia is a very perfect destination for having a wonderful holiday vacation. Indeed, the outdoor activities are astonishing to experience. I love to reside on that place by just looking on your photos. There are new things you will discover on that wonderful destination.

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more! I am looking forward to visiting Catalonia to begin the exploration 🙂

  7. I love Catalonia for all of these reasons. Great round-up! 🙂
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..Top 10: Things To Do in Venice, Italy

  8. Jenkins says:

    Wow! To visit this place is truly great, this is a perfect place for a great fun and amazing adventure…
    Jenkins recently posted..bed and breakfast Paignton seafront

  9. Looks like my kind of place. I love outdoorsy activities, beautiful views, and good food.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Foto of the Week from … Buenos Aires: Confiteria El Molino

  10. I have been in Catalonia and must to say: You are right. It is interesting region.
    Victor Tribunsky recently posted..To Visit Arizona for Miracle – The Wave at Coyote Buttes

  11. Sabrina says:

    Wow, this is totally not what I expected when I saw Catalonia in the title. I had no idea how green and lush it was! I kind of expected more of the beach-y pictures 🙂 Thanks for introducing me to it!
    Sabrina recently posted..Green Spaces and Parks in Germany

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I was surprised too. I thought it might look more like Southern California. . . brown. Sure is a beautiful sight!

  12. I’ve heard the landscape in Catalonia is just stunning, and these pictures prove it! Everyone always focuses on Barcelona, and for good reason, but it’s good to see the rest of the region get some air-time, too.
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..Lima’s El Parque del Amor: A Photo Essay

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I really do enjoy getting out of the more well-known parts of regions! There is always some wonderful gem just waiting for me.

  13. Beautiful! These pictures alone make it look amazing. I was trying to pick a top reason and I couldn’t. I would visit for all the wonderful reasons you listed. We didn’t see this part of Spain the last time we visited and would love to explore this region.

  14. Spencer says:

    I loved Catalonia when I went there. Everything about it from the food to the scenery to its people is fantastic! I would highly recommend it.
    Spencer recently posted..Hotels in Pictures – LA Hotels

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Great to hear it is as wonderful as the pictures make it out to be! Hopefully I’ll get there very soon.

  15. Catalonia was definitely the highlight of my year so far – I LOVED Besalù and Cap de Creus.
    A Montrealer Abroad recently posted..An Itinerary Through Old Montreal

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      I can only imagine how wonderful a trip to Catalonia would be. We are seriously considering a trip this fall!

  16. Castles? Wellness? All that beautiful scenery? Why would I not visit there? Oh yeah…time and money. Dagnabit. Adding this to my ever growing list of places I want to see. I really need to win the lottery or invent something amazing so I can amass a travel fortune!!!
    Courtney Mroch recently posted..Movie Monday: A Look at “Haunted History: Caribbean”

  17. Carol says:

    A perfect destination for everyone who wants to have a very relaxing vacation.

  18. In my teens, I spent 4 months in Barcelona. That trip really opened my eyes and, I think, changed my life. It also set the bar really high for future trips. I fell in love with the food, the wine (and Cava), the art and cultural life and, of course, the landscape — all the things that until then I didn’t realize I love, came together for me there. I still remember almost all the meals I had and all the museums we visited, at least one every week and I was never bored. Thanks for reminding me how beautiful this region of Spain is, Debbie!
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

  19. Oh Catalonia…how I’ve missed thee. One of my best travel memories was on a train from Paris to Barcelona. We were sharing a table with a Catalan couple, and I attempted to order what I assumed was champagne with the gentlemen in front of me. I was told by our server that I could not because I wasn’t on the proper “plan” for beverages. The gentlemen went on to explain that he was drinking Cava, shared its history with me, and insisted that I take the remainder of his glass. It was one of those moments you only experience with travel, and I’ll likely always remember it…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Typhoon Lagoon – Deej Does A Water Park

  20. Leigh says:

    Why wouldn’t I visit is really the question. I’ve heard about the hiking there before and would love to try it. The food sounds delicious and the scenery looks magnificent too. Sign me up.
    Leigh recently posted..Our Big Trip for Summer 2012 – Exploring BC’s Remote Interior

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Catalonia sure looks inviting to me too! I really can’t think of a reason I wouldn’t go either.

  21. Steve says:

    Definitely the cuisine for me. I can’t pronounce Bacalla amb Samfaina, but I’d sure love to try some!
    Steve recently posted..The Sweet Seats

  22. All of the above are reasons I’d like to visit Catalonia! The beauty of the area alone would be enough to make me happy — well, that and the awesome food!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Culture Curious in Chicago

  23. Marlys says:

    That’s one region we definitely will visit because we heard there’s good hiking over there
    Marlys recently posted..Easy Hiking Is Adventure For Beginners

    • Debbie Beardsley says:

      Looks like there is tons of hiking in the entire region both inland and on the coast!


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