We send our Luxury Custom Travel consultants to scope out destinations around the globe so that they can stay ahead of the curve on incredible travel experiences for our guests. Whether you’re interested in exploring a destination on your bucket list or experiencing a new side of a place you love, our consultants can help you create the trip of a lifetime.
Elisabeth Nelson scouted Catalonia recently and returned with lots of recommendations for exploring Spain’s northeastern-most region. While it’s perhaps best known for its lively capital, Barcelona, Elisabeth filled us in on the best of Catalonia’s medieval towns, distinct cuisine and spots to soak up its pristine Mediterranean scenery.
Where did you go?
Around the Catalonia region, which is home to Barcelona, the Pyrenees Mountains and the Costa Brava. My time in the Pyrenees took me to Ribes de Freser, Vall de Núria, Besalú and Girona. In the Costa Brava region, I visited Cadaqués, Portlligat and Calella de Palafrugell.
Where should our guests start for unique experiences in Catalonia?
If you’re looking to discover the Costa Brava, the town of Cadaqués has beauty waiting around every corner. I recommend starting at the Església de Santa Maria in the center of town. After admiring the church’s stunningly intricate wood carvings, step outside and gaze down on the city and Mediterranean coastline.
Girona is a treasure of the Pyrenees with impressive medieval architecture. The Onyar River divides the older section of the city from the modern side, so make sure to cross the water to visit the old town. Here, you can wander past historic sites, charming shops and award-winning restaurants—plus some Game of Thrones filming locations.
Describe some can’t-miss experiences and destinations.
While you’re in Portlligat, get an up-close look at the life of one of the world’s greatest artists with a trip to the Salvador Dalí House-Museum. Dalí lived and worked here for most of his career. Take a peek at some unfinished paintings, check out the bizarre décor and relax in the garden while you enjoy the olive trees and coastal scenery.
The medieval town of Besalú is filled with history and has a more small-town feel than nearby Girona. Its tiny side streets are the perfect place to get lost for a few hours, and you can also visit one of the three Jewish baths left in the world.
Outdoor enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Camino de Ronda, a trail that spans over 100 miles of the Costa Brava. Pick a starting point near Calella de Palafrugell and make your way past secret secluded beaches as you marvel at some of the best viewpoints in the region.
Describe some of your favorite food experiences.
Els Caçadors, a hotel restaurant in the small mountain town of Ribes de Freser, served the most creative and delicious food of my entire trip. I feasted on fried chicory, toasted bread with fresh tomato and olive oil, and more jamón than I could possibly eat. One surprising dish: mushroom “carpaccio” with Parmesan ice cream.
Another favorite was the Martin Faixo winery in Cadaqués, located on a hilltop surrounded by rolling vineyards. After a wine tasting on the patio, I enjoyed a fresh, tasty lunch next to a large window overlooking the grapes.
What surprised you about Catalonia?
There’s such a variety of landscapes in this region—lush green mountains, medieval towns, enchanting coastal villages, amazing beaches and the metropolis of Barcelona, all within a couple hours of each other. Barcelona is surprisingly walkable. Despite being such a big city, most of the must-sees are relatively close together. Traveling outside the city center also feels like a breeze because there’s so much to stop and see along the way.
I also loved the unique cuisine. While Catalonian food shares some similarities with traditional Spanish fare, most of the dishes are exclusive to the region.
This is just a small sampling of some of the things we can arrange for you in this fascinating region. We can design the perfect Spain trip for you, based on your interests and time constraints. Just give us a call or click on the “contact a consultant” button below to get started.