With these 20 amazing places to visit in Catalonia – you’ll be spoilt for choices to plan an epic road trip across the region. While Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe, the whole Autonomous Community of Catalonia doesn’t really stay behind in terms of unique landmarks.
Top Places to visit in Catalonia
While Catalonia is one of the closest Spanish regions to explore for me (being based in Castellon), I should admit that I visit it way less than I probably should. As I´ve already complained to you in my Cuenca post, the autonomous community of Catalonia is one of the most touristic areas in the whole of Spain. This obviously doesn´t make it any less amazing, but being an expat in Spain with a passion for places off the beaten track has made me used to enjoy the lesser-known sites all to myself. So it´s often hard to adjust to the touristic buzz of Catalonia.
Although, during one of my recent Spanish road trips across Catalonia I was able to check a few secret gems of the region and can state with all certainty that Catalonia is full of surprises. It clearly keeps so many people gravitating back all the time for a reason.
Moreover, after my recent stressful trip to Cambrils, I was honestly aiming to have a more enjoyable experience in Catalonia. I´m glad that Catalonia has overcome my initial expectations this time. My latest favorite of all the great places to visit in Catalonia is La Garroxa, where I had only a brief visit. Therefore, I´m planning another getaway there sometime soon, in order to focus on volcanoes, hiking, and nature.
Let´s briefly discuss one by one all the great places to visit in Catalonia. Also don´t miss my IG Reels – Beautiful Places in Catalonia.
The urban hub of the Catalonia region is definitely the city of Barcelona. It ranks globally for the iconic Gaudi architecture, while its international visiting card is La Sagrada Familia Basilica, one of the most beautiful Spanish cathedrals.
There´s no shortage of tourist activities and landmarks in Barcelona: from its La Rambla thoroughfare and Gothic Quarter to countless temporally expositions and events.
Planning a Barcelona weekend is often a bucket list activity for those who search for winter sun destinations in Spain.
History geeks can’t miss Tarragona with some of the most epic Roman Ruins in Spain. The city is full of unique Spanish landmarks taking you back to the times of the Great Roman Empire dominating Hispania (i.e modern Spain). The main touristic sights of Tarragona are:
- The Roman Amphitheatre ( where Gladiator contests and public executions took place; was built in the II century and accommodated around 15 000 people)
- The Roman Circus (300m/100m wide, it was used for the numerous events, like chariot races, and accommodated around 30 000 people)
- Pretorio ( the only remaining palatium in Spain built around I A.C; currently house Tarragona History Museum)
- St. Anthony Gateway or Portal San Antoni in Spanish (a monumental gate on the wall of Tarragona)
- Arch of Bera (built on the Via Augusta to pay tribute to the Roman emperor Augustus)
- The Ferreras Aqueduct (located 4 km north of the city)
- Tower of the Scipios (a funerary monument of Tarragona)
Also, one of Tarragona´s greatest advantages is its accessibility. You have numerous travel options to get to Tarragona from Barcelona by car, bus, or train (100km). Moreover, Tarragona can be also reached from Castellon (180 km), or even Valencia (250km). The city has a port and is often an important stop on most Mediterranean Cruises.
The Abbey of Montserrat is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Spain and one of the most popular places to visit in Catalonia. This unique Abbey is all in one – beautiful, magical, and peaceful. Your visit is especially worth it if you take into consideration the otherworldly beautiful Spanish landscapes surrounding Montserrat.
The monastery was founded by Oliba, the Abbot of Ripoll and Bishop of Vic, back in 1025. Through centuries it kept growing and receiving more and more pilgrims searching for the miracle performance of the Virgin Mary ( or “La Moreneta” in Spanish). Many believe that if you touch the statue of the Virgin and ask for a wish – it will be granted to you.
Montserrat is a popular day trip from Barcelona. Check these tips to plan your trip to Montserrat and make the most out of it.
Girona is one of the most well-known places to visit in Catalonia, especially since it became one of the Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Spain. This medieval walled city represents a unique blend of different cultures in Spain: the Romans, the Moors, and the Jews. The Cathedral of Girona has elements of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architectural styles.
Girona´s most popular area is its Old Town, especially Rambla de la Libertad – a pedestrian street full of shops and cafes.
Besalu is officially known as one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Spain, full of cobblestone streets and historic buildings. Although the most impressive sight of Besalu is its Viejo bridge, built in the 11th century.
The small town of Figueres is known worldwide for its unique Salvador Dali Theatre-Museum, full of surrealistic art pieces and decorations. This museum is definitely one of the coolest and most unique museums in the whole of Spain.
Cadaques is one of the most iconic small towns in Spain, globally famous as Salvador Dali’s beloved hometown. Full of white-washed houses hidden in one of the trendiest Costa Brava bays, it is one of a few beautiful places in Spain (together with Mojacar perhaps) slightly reminding the Greek islands like Mykonos or Santorini.
While the whole region of Catalonia always leads on my list of Spanish road trips during the winter months, Cadaques felt really empty back when I visited in February. However, in the summer months, Cadaques on the contrary is extremely popular among both local and international visitors. It is a real challenge to find parking spots during the peak season.
The small town of Sitges was one of my biggest discoveries during one of my recent Spanish road trips. This small coastal town, located only 42 km from Barcelona, is famous for its Spanish movie festival – Festival de Cine de Sitges.
Sitges on the weekends is bustling with life even in the off-season. It is full of secret Spanish museums, like Cau Ferrat and Palau de Maricel.
Cau Ferrat was a home workshop of the artist Santiago Rusiñol. The museum offers one of the coolest virtual tours in Spain.
Palau de Maricel was a custom-made mansion of the American millionaire and art collector Charles Deering (1852-1927). Even though Deering left his Sitges residence in 1921, taking most of his lavish art collection back to the U.S, this place is still such an eye-candy for art lovers.
Empuriabrava is often called “the Venice of Spain”, as it is the largest residential marina in Europe. This small town is full of canals, boats, and luxury villas.
The most popular thing to do in the area is to rent a boat and explore the canals. You have eco-friendly electric boat rental options when no boat license is needed.
10. Port Aventura
Port Aventura is one of the most popular Amusement Parks in Europe, well known among those who visit Spain with kids.
Despite my last stressful trip to Cambrils, Port Aventura was an absolute highlight for my two toddler girls.
Even though there were only a few attractions they could enjoy because of the minimum height requirement. I suggest you check it for your kids before traveling on the Port Aventura Web. I wish they would have more places for smaller children inside the park.
11. La Garroxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park
La Garroxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park is one of the most unique places in Spain for nature lovers. The area is known as one of the top volcanic landscapes in Europe and contains 40 inactive volcanoes.
Also, La Garroxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park is an epic hiking destination full of Spanish magical forests, like Fageda d´en Jorda and Bosc de les Estunes.
12. Cap de Creus
Cap De Creus is one of the top places to visit in Catalonia and one of the most epic cliffs in Spain. Located near Cadaques, Cap de Creus nature reserve was the first natural park in Catalonia to cover both sea and land since 1998.
Also read: The Prettiest Flower Fields in Spain
The total area of Cap de Creus is 13 886 hectares. Within the nature reserve, you can find lots of hiking trails and unique natural settings, like Cova de S´Infern, Cala Culip, Cala Cullero, Pla de Tudela.
The rocky coastline of Cap de Creus can´t compete with Galicia in terms of heights, even though its highest peak San Salvador reaches 670 m. Nevertheless, these landscapes served as an inspiration for Salvador Dali, who lived in the area and you can visit his house in Cap de Creus – Casa-Museo de Salvador Dali.
13. Baqueira Beret
Baqueira Beret is one of my favorite places for skiing in Spain. The resort is located in the Catalan Pyrenees, in Lleida’s Val d’Aran. It includes 4 700 acres of ski area, with slopes for all tastes and preferences. It´s usually open from mid-December till mid-April.
Baqueira Beret has three valleys – Baqueira, Beret, and Bonaigua – all interconnected with each other by 167 km of slopes and 29 lifts.
The local gastronomy of Baqueira Beret has a distinctive French influence, and there’s a good range of fine mountain restaurants and lively tapas bars to try all the delicious regional specialties.
You can read more about my family trip to Baqueira Beret in this post.
14. Jardin Botanico Marimurtra / Blanes
Jardín Botánico Marimurtra is one of the most unique Spanish gardens located in the Catalan town of Blanes.
One of the most unique features of Jardín Botánico Marimurtra is its gorgeous panoramic setting with peaceful Mediterranean views. This place reminds me of one of my most romantic travel experiences around the world – the French Riviera Road trip.
The plant collection of Jardín Botánico Marimurtra reaches 4000 plant species. It was created by a German businessman, Carl Faust in 1924.
The medieval town of Peratallada is popular for its ancient stone houses and narrow streets among the fans of undiscovered Spain.
While Spain has a far-reaching history of royals and a vast number of dreamy castles, the castle of Peratallada is one of the most picture-perfect ones. It was built between the 11th and the 14th century and currently houses a luxury hotel and a restaurant.
If I knew of Peratallada before – I’d include it on my list of secret villages in Spain most of you have never heard of.
Deltebre is a unique natural setting full of wetland landscapes, especially beautiful at sunrise/sunset with all the water reflections. However, we´ll wait for our kids to grow up a bit for the sunrise visits.
Also, the Ebro river is an epic watersports destination: SUP, kayaking, jet skiing. The last one has been on my Spain travel bucket list forever, so we’ll be coming back soon for sure.
17. Santa Pau
Santa Pau is one of the lesser-known medieval towns in Spain, but it’s quite well-preserved. The 13th-century square Plaza Mayor houses a local Romanesque Church of Santa Maria.
18. Parador de Cardona
No list of local landmarks could be full without a few mysterious and haunted places in Spain. Parador de Cardona is currently a four-star hotel in the Province of Catalonia. Although centuries ago it used to be a castle with a tragic legend behind it. Nowadays, many guests assure they have experienced strange things during their stay. Especially those, who spent a night in room 712. Some even claim to see a ghost of a girl in a white dress. You can read the full story in this post.
19. Jardines de Santa Clotilde
Jardines de Santa Clotilde is a beautiful Spanish garden in Lloret de Mar. It used to be a vineyard area, before its owner, Marquis of Roviralta, hired a landscape gardener and architect to create 27 sq m of beautiful gardens with stunning sea views.
While the elevations were the main obstacle in the process, they’ve managed to implement a few beautiful optical effects: when you see the staircase from the bottom it reminds a waterfall made of plants.
20. Park Sama
Park Sama with its 14 hectares of greenery and 1500 plant species definitely belongs on the list of the most beautiful gardens in Spain.
This beautiful botanic garden was created in 1881 and served as a residence for the Sama family, marquises of Marianao. This place has some authentic old charm and will definitely surprise you with its Romantic Spanish vibes.