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Let me share the details of our recent weekend in Lleida, the lesser-known part of the Catalonia autonomous community in Spain.

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Weekend in Lleida

Where is Lleida

Lleida is the city in the western part of the Catalonia autonomous community of Spain (known as Lerida in Spanish vs Lleida in Catalan).

The province itself is also called Lleida. While for this Lleida weekend, we stayed in the city, within this article, I will mostly share cool things to see and do in the region of Lleida.

By the way, one of the top gems of the Pyrenees, the Vall D´Aranregion, technically also belongs to Lleida, but it is set quite far away from the main city. To learn more about it, head to my other post instead – Adventurous Weekend in the Pyrenees of Catalonia (where I was exploring Vall D´Ara and top Pyrenees hikes).

How to get to Lleida

To enjoy this weekend in Lleida, we were driving from Castellon. Nevertheless, you can easily follow the same itinerary from Tortosa, Reus, or Tarragona.

Both Tortosa and Reus have international airports. You can also combine this Lleida weekend Itinerary with my Tarragona Road Trip, Weekend in Matarranya, and this 7-day Spanish Pyrenees Itinerary from Barcelona.

Where to stay in Lleida

For this weekend in Lleida, we picked a hotel in the city center, however, it was honestly a strange experience…

Lleida is known as a very rural destination in Spain, so I have genuinely expected it to be a match for my Undiscovered Spain Series: very local and non-touristy.

Instead, I have barely heard a word of Spanish or Catalan on the streets of Lleida. The city was full of large groups of immigrants from Africa and Morocco. Since Lleida is known for its agriculture business, I assume many people relocate to Lleida during harvest picking season. But the truth is that in my experience, even Barcelona with its international vibes and independence claims felt more like Spain than Lleida did…

So, if I plan another weekend in Lleida, I´ll stay in one of the nearest small towns. You can see the current offer of rentals near Lleida on the map below:

Top places to visit in Lleida (Province)

We started our Lleida weekend by visiting a secret museum on the road between Tortosa and LleidaMuseo del Ferrocarril.

Museo del Ferrocarril / Mora la Nova

Museo del Ferrocarril in the tiny village of Mora La Nova is a lesser-known museum that we decided to visit because it was conveniently located on the road towards Lleida. This place is open only on the weekends. In order to visit, you need to take a guided tour in Catalan. So, even though it was interesting, Museo del Ferrocarril might not be a match for international visitors.

I suggest you visit instead one of these two places: La Fontcalda hot springs or the cave Cova Meravelles.

By the way, if you love vintage trains, do not miss the Railway Museum of Catalonia in Vilanova i La Gertru.

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Museo del Ferrocarril in the tiny village of Mora La Nova
old trains catalonia museum
Learning more about the history of trains in Spain

The Catalan Cuisine

You know how much I enjoy trying the traditional foods in the villages across Spain. On the road towards Lleida city, we made a stop at a nice local restaurant (with a menu in a few languages) – Pas de l´Ase. The 3-course menu was around 30 euros per person, but the portions were abundant. For the starter, I got canelones (one of the Catalan classics) and the famous dessert crema catalana.

catalonia road trip food
Canelones – one of the classics of the Catalan Cuisine
catalonia food crema catalana
Crema Catalana – one of the most popular desserts in Spain

Aitona

Aitona is a small village near Lleida, known for some of the most spectacular spring blossoms in Spain. Every year at the end of March, the surroundings of Aitona are fully covered with pinkish peach tree flowerings.

We visited Aitona at the end of March but were not lucky. The blossoms were only picking up… But I hope to return next year during the peak time.

lleida aitona peach blossom
Aitona is a small village near Lleida, known for some of the most spectacular spring blossoms in Spain

The Cathedral of Lleida

When we arrived at our hotel in Lleida, we immediately headed to visit its most iconic landmark.

The city of Lleida is mostly known for its Seu Vella, the 13th-century Romanesque cathedral with a spectacular hilltop location.

The Cathedral of Lleida has been the city´s symbol since medieval times. The construction works were initiated in 1203 by Pere Sa Coma (on the base of the Arab Mosque). The project was finished in the 15th century and resulted in a new cathedral with Gothic and Romanesque architectural elements.

I would not call Seu Vella one of the most beautiful Spanish cathedrals in terms of decoration, but the whole structure is quite impressive. Plus, one can also head to the top of its bell tower to enjoy the spectacular views of the region.

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The Cathedral of Lleida
lleida cathedral things to see and do
The views from Seu Vella of Lleida

Penelles

The graffiti village of Penelles is one of the top places to enjoy street art in Spain. It was one of my favorite stops during this weekend in Lleida. You can check the photo gallery from my visit in this post.

street art europe spain penelles
Penelles – one of the top places to enjoy street art in Spain

Guimera

Since Lleida is an off-the-beaten-path region of Catalonia, I was eager to explore its secret villages.

I have read on the Spanish websites that many call Guimera the most beautiful medieval town in the whole of the Catalonia region. So, could not miss a chance to visit it during my Lleida weekend.

While the village was cute, I enjoyed Besalu during my Costa Brava road trip way more. Nevertheless, I still recommend visiting Guimera on any road trip across the Lleida region.

guimera catalan villages
Guimera – one of the secret villages in Spain
The streets of Guimera during this Lleida weekend
The streets of Guimera during this Lleida weekend

Ruta del Cister

Ever since my last Tarragona road trip and a visit to Santa Maria de Poblet (one of the top Spanish monasteries), I was eager to explore more places from the famous La Ruta del Cister.

This itinerary includes 3 ancient Cistercian monasteries – Santa Maria de Poblet, Reial Monestir de Santes Creus, and Vallbona de les Monges. The first two are set in the Tarragona province and the last one already belongs to Leida.

So, we decided to make the most of our weekend in Lleida by making a stop at Vallbona de les Monges. The drawback, in my opinion, is that this monastery only allows guided visits. To my surprise, it was additionally packed the tourists.

But on the plus side, Vallbona de les Monges is the only one of the three Cistercian monasteries within La Ruta del Cister that managed to preserve its nun community for 850 years.

This place is also famous across Spain as it houses the tombs of Violant of Hungary, the wife of Jaime I (still popular in the folk memory of the Catalonia and Valencia regions), and their daughter Sanca.

In case you haven´t read my post about the Spanish legends or seen any Spain documentaries about the Reconquista, let me highlight the importance of Jaime I in the history of Spain. He was the Spanish monarch who managed to reconquer back from the Moors the largest territories of the Iberian Peninsula. This is why you can also find him in the books as Jaime El Conquistador. His wife Violant of Hungary is still considered one of the most influential women in the Spanish Crown. She was her husband´s main political advisor, used to join him on military campaigns and part-take in important negotiations ( for instance when the Moorish rulers surrounded Valencia back to the Christians).

So, while many people claim that the monastery of Vallbona de les Monges is not as impressive as the other two of the Cistercian Route, the historical significance of this place is huge.

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Vallbona de les Monges – one of the must-stops during Ruta del Cister

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