Time needed: 1-2 weeks should be sufficient!
Few destinations in Spain bring the crowds like Barcelona, as it’s a place with something to offer everyone. Unsurprisingly, the region where Barcelona is located, Catalonia, often gets overlooked in favour of the city. If you are looking for an in-depth alternative trip check out these unique destinations all over Catalonia.
Delta de l’Ebre
Delta de l’Ebre is one of the most stunning natural environments in the region built by river Ebro’s sediment flows. As the seasonal home of dozens of migrating species of birds the area also hosts the third highest rice production in Spain. Take a stroll or rent a bike to cycle along the reserve and get to the end of the Delta where you will enjoy the unique coastal sandy landscape.
No visit to Delta de l’Ebre would be complete without taking a boat tour along Ebro to enjoy the beauty of the longest and most abundant river in Spain.
Old city of Empuries
Even if you are not a history buff, Empuries is worth a visit. It is the largest and only well-preserved Spanish settlement that embodied two ancient civilizations living together; The Romans and The Greeks.
Empuries is an old abandoned city that dates back to 575 BC. What makes the visit appealing is that the whole place has been restored providing a real outdoors museum that you can visit at your own pace, thanks to the audio guide. The free guided tours that they offer during the summer are incredibly eye-opening to those ancient cultures.
The visit also includes the museum building entrance located right in the border of the two cities. It does an excellent job of outlining Empuries’ history. There are a lot of artifacts and media displays that explain how they lived back then..
Congost del Mont-Rebei
If you are an adventure seeker, Congost del Mont-Rebei is your must-see in Catalonia.
Congost del Mont-Rebei is right in between Catalonia and Aragón, where the river Noguera Ribagorçana serves as a natural border.
The river had naturally eroded the land to dig a deep stunning gorge. You can take a basic visit, which is the stroll along the wall carved in the middle of the cliff or renting a kayak with a guide to go down the river.
If you are a fan, make sure to book a tour in advance and get the most of the place!
Fortalesa de Cardona
Cardona is a tucked away Catalan town highly recommended if you are looking for the real essence of the region. Cardona had been the wealthiest city in Catalonia for centuries thanks to the benefits coming from its salt mining. It has the strongest fortress ever seen or built in this area which you can visit joining the regular tour or on your own.
Over the years, the fortress, thanks to its strategic spot, defeated Catalonia from the muslims’ conquer as well as from the Bourbons troops during the Succession war.
The visit manages to balance a guided tour with independent exploration in some parts of the salt mine. You can also choose to arrange a tour inside the mines.
Vall de Nuria
Pack a lunch and enjoy the day in one of the best hiking visits around the region: Vall de Nuria. It is known for its stunning and Insta-worthy landscapes. Most recommended to enjoy one of the best pre-Pyrenees view is to start the path in Ribes de Freser train station, but if you are planning to walk any of the paths on top of Nuria, save your energies by taking the “cremallera” train that will take you straight to the top.
Once there, you have many possibilities that will fit your interests. You can just visit the area and take the cable (free ride) to go up to the youth hostel or you might want to get away from the main area and take the path heading to Setcases, which is one of the most recommended uphill walks.
Vineyards in Vilafranca del Penedés
Right in the heart of Catalonia, in El Penedés region lies “Carretera del vi”, a group of family-run vineyards surrounded by breathtaking views of the sea and modernist style cellars. If you are a foodie traveller, book a tour and taste gourmet wines while you meet in person the families behind them and enjoy a wine tasting experience that you will remember. If you are a lucky traveller, you’ll be also invited to savor the local cheese, ham or bread.
To make the most of this experience, check “Carretera del vi” website to select your perfect type of experience. There is a budget affordable for everyone as you can choose from a wide selection of offers. Do not forget to try “cava”, the region’s special sparkling white wine!
Cap de Creus
Cap de Creus is without a doubt, one of the places you must see with your own eyes! The wild coast had created the most incredible geographic accidents, like “Cova de s’Infern”, a natural cave with a pool inside it. Have a swim there or walk along the paths touring the local beaches and enjoying the beauty of its diverse geology. “Cala Culleró” the most well-known bay inspired of Dali’s famous works while he was living in Cadaqués, the must-see cute town in Cap de Creus.
No trip to Catalonia is complete without visiting the city of Girona, a one hour trip from Barcelona but free of the crowds of the main city.
After the release of the series “Game of Thrones”, the city became well known for its scenarios representing the city of Braavos.
Take a walk and explore its amazing green areas, the narrow steep streets of the Jewish quarter and the Arabic baths. You will find all of those inside the walled Old Quarter that sits surrounded by the river Onyar. It’s gothic style cathedral is the main feature of the area. Get lost in the surrounding streets and enjoy the medieval architecture on display. It is without doubt one of the highlights of the old walled city.
After your long walk take a break trying a budget-friendly but lively atmosphere. The locals’ recommendation goes to König restaurants. They offer a full variety of sandwiches and a great range of Catalan tapas.
Olot is a typical Catalan town located in a very exclusive area: La Garrotxa. The place is home to a large number of volcanoes that for centuries modeled the fascinating landscape, reason why the visit will make the delight of those interested in geology.
Visitors will be impressed to walk around one of the most famous volcanoes, the Croscat. Take a look at the black land under your feet to understand how active Croscat was for years. Keep on moving to La Fageda d’en Jordà, the only forest of the kind that survived indiscriminate deforestation thanks to the inadequacy of its soil for crops.
If those visits awakened a genuine curiosity, don’t miss the museum of volcanoes in Olot!
Altafulla will make you rediscover the beauty of Catalan cultural heritage featured in a beach. Altafulla is a picturesque walled town that will appeal to those who love typical food and lovely surroundings. Apart from paying a visit to its medieval town, take a quiet stroll along the fishermen houses right behind the beach and enjoy its artistic architecture.
Located in costa Dorada, Altafulla has a lot more than a charming beach to offer. There are well signaled coastal paths heading to Castell de Tamarit and its astonishing flowered gardens, and to Bosc de la Marquesa, where you will find your perfect tiny spot in case you are into nudism.