In Spain’s north eastern corner sits the fiercely independent comunidad autónoma of Catalonia, an enthralling region of historic towns, mountains and a dramatic coastline that runs up to the French border.
At its heart is Barcelona, a destination in its own right, but outside the charismatic city there is much to explore. To the north of Barca, the city of Girona is host to one of the world’s finest restaurants – El Celler de Can Roca – and a rich encapsulation of Spanish history with its Gothic cathedral, old Jewish quarter and Arab baths.
Continue north an you’ll reach Figueres, home to the surreal Dalí Theatre and Museum, and if you keep going you will be met by the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees and some sublime hiking.
Along Catalonia’s rugged coast, the Costa Brava, secluded beaches are punctuated by fishing towns such as the beautiful Cadaques, a long-term muse to Dali, and innumerable opportunities to get off the beaten track to find your own corner of north eastern Spain.
Through it all, Catalonia’s proud traditions and distinct identity runs deep, be it in the language, cuisine or palpable confidence of the people.
When to go
This is a year-round destination with sunshine most of the year. Summer (June to August) are the hottest months and while busier, they are not overrun with tourists. Spring and fall are nice times to visit but there is small amounts of rain.