The wonderful thing About Catalunya Spain is it’s spectacular contrasts, from the soaring peaks of the Pyrenees to the sparkling blue water of the Mediterranean’s shallow coves. The bustling seaside resorts along the Costa Daurada to the stillness of ancient parish churches hidden deep in the rural villages situated inland along the River Ebro. Despite its diversity, Catalunya is relatively compact, so it’s possible – as many a local will proudly point out – to ski in the morning and sunbathe on the beach in the afternoon.
On the whole everything is easily reached from Barcelona; the city is linked to most main centres by excellent bus and train services. The obvious targets are the coasts north and south of the city, and the various provincial capitals (Girona, Tarragona and Lleida), destinations that make a series of comfortable day-trips. Even on a short trip, you can take in the medieval city of Girona and the surrounding area, which includes the extraordinary volcanic La Garrotxa region, as well as the best of the beach towns on the The Costa Brava, which runs up to the French border. Just inland from the coast, Figueres contains the Teatre-Museu Dalí, Catalunya’s biggest tourist attraction.
With more time, you can head for the The Catalan Pyrenees, which offer magnificent and relatively isolated hiking territory, particularly in and around the Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici, and good skiing in winter.
South of Barcelona, the Costa Daurada features a fine beach at Sitges and the attractive coastal town of Tarragona; inland, the appealing cava vineyards around Sant Sadurní d’Anoia or the romantic monastery of Poblet figure as approaches to the enjoyable provincial capital of Lleida.
Barcelona may make the biggest splash with visitors, but it’s the rest of Catalunya that defines the region’s distinct – and proud – identity. Out of the city – and especially in rural areas – you’ll hear Catalan spoken more often and find better Catalan food. Towns and villages are surprisingly prosperous, a relic of the early industrial era when Catalunya developed more rapidly than most of Spain.
For more information read: www.roughguides.com/catalunya
Places of Interest
In the south of Catalonia, Costa Daurada, dotted with seaside villages, is an area of long fishing tradition. The long beaches are filled with dunes of fine sand. The wide selection of apartments in the area characterises the Costa Daurada as the most popular family holiday destination. Suitable for children and the elderly, it offers an ideal tranquil, restful holiday. The 20 municipalities that make up Costa Daurada stretch along a seacoast of 216 kilometres, with 786 hectares of extensive, clean, sandy beaches washed by crystal, shallow waters. Lying between the sea and the mountain range are wide open areas, home to tranquil villages and fields of crops ranging from vineyards and olive groves to carob, hazelnut, almond trees and vegetable-garden crops. In total the area receives an average of 3,500,000 visitors per year.
L’Ametlla de Mar.
L’Ametlla de Mar is located on the Costa Daurada on the Eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain; about 45 minutes’ drive from Reus airport. L’Ametlla de Mar is very quiet and peaceful place, but one where you will find all necessary amenities, including a supermarket, good restaurants and bars, a marina, scuba diving, local schools, doctors, 2 open air summer discos and beautiful virgin beaches. The principal industry in L’Ametlla de Mar is fishing, the town incorporates the largest tuna fishing fleet in Spain. The fish auction takes place in the harbour every working day from 4.00 p.m. except during May and June. L’Ametlla de Mar has a 14 km long coastline, magnificent cliff structures, little bays of crystalline, blue water surrounded by rocks and pine trees, bays with fine, white sand like Cala del Trevol, Calafat, Sant Jordi and pebble beach coves such as the Xelin.
Other scenic coastal spots include Llenya. The natural harbour of L’Estany and the secluded Baix Ebre coast, where you will be able to find peace and quiet away from the crowds.
L’Ametlla de Mar enjoys mild winters with some rainfall, warm blossom filled springs long hot summers and autumns of golden sunlight and rich sweet plums.
Salou offers a host of Costa Daurada attractions, not least of which are it’s beaches. The main beach of white sand is long and wide, shelving gently into the sea providing ideal conditions for young children. A tree-lined promenade is fronted by shops, cafes and restaurants. Salou is packed with lively night-time bars and discos, as dusk falls and you can watch as Salou’s famous illuminated fountain springs to life.
Sitges has always been a place that has captivated artists, tourists and, in general, visitors from all around the world. For many, the secret lies in Sitges’s light and almost 300 sunny days a year to enjoy it’s beautiful beaches, as confirmed by the painters, sculptors and writers who made this town their home during the late 19th century.
Cambrils and Calafell.
Cambrils is Salou’s quieter Costa Daurada resort neighbour, but things are still pretty lively here, especially in peak season. Renowned for its excellent seafood restaurants, Cambrils has a thriving fishing industry and heritage. Cambrils also has a delightful harbour and borders the Parc de Sama just inland. Cambrils has 9 glorious km of beach space with adjoining promenade, popular for both strolling and cycling.
Calafell consists of three main areas, the old town which rose around the high medieval castle, the nucleus of Segur and Calafell beach. The area has a mild climate with long, hot summers and short, pleasant winters. If it’s a beach holiday you want then Calafel has 5km of fine, sandy beach, with clean sand and the water is shallow and warm.
Hospitalet de L’Infant.
The small and scenic town of Hospitalet de L’Infant is charming in its own right. This panoramic town sits near the harbour. The 102 square kilometers of Hospitalet de L’Infant is situated in the Baix Camp region which includes 2 small towns and 3 villages. On the coast- line you will find L’Almadrava, and further into the mountains are the villages of Vandellïs, Masriudoms and Masboquera, all of which give a warm welcome to visitors.
Sited between the sea and the mountains, has found a formidable balance: a foot in the traditional things and the other in the avant-garde. Barcelona has the reputation of being the most cosmopolitan, modern and avant-garde city in Spain. Barcelona can really boast about its wide variety of parks, ranging from the largest to the smallest, both private and public. The parks and gardens in Barcelona include many that were the former private gardens and parklands of Barcelona’s nobility and whether it is just a small square with surrounding trees or a larger open space, they are all peaceful places to relax.
There are many bars and restaurants to explore in Tarragona, especially around the port area, near the marina.There are several beaches and coves for a spot of sunbathing or watersport, or, take a look around the the Roman remains including th amphitheatre built in the second century A.D..
The Ebre Delta.
The Ebre Delta Nature Reserve is world famous for its wildlife, plant species and it’s fauna as well as 95 nesting species of birds. Activities at the Delta include: climbing, sport fishing, canoeing, water-ski, diving, snorkeling, mountain biking, quads, hiking, archery and more. On the left hand side of the Delta you can find Marquesa beach and the lighthouse of Fangar and its beach along with the beach of Riumar. To cross to the other side of the river you can use the ferries.