There are many things to do near Barcelona. If you are a wine lover, like to explore vineyards and fancy a bit of peace and tranquillity near Barcelona, you definitely have to visit this special place in Catalonia – El Priorat.
If you feel like spending a weekend surrounded by vineyards while you enjoy the beautiful vast scenery, glass of wine in hand; if you fancy tasting rich wines and delicious food, visiting towns, churches, valleys and other charming places, you have to come to El Priorat, a region situated in the south of Catalonia, in the province of Tarragona. It’s almost hard to believe that in under two hours you can get from Barcelona to this amazing place, where you can spend a few relaxing days raising a glass to life with wonderful red wine. Here are eight places that you shouldn’t miss if you happen to be so lucky as to find yourself in El Priorat (or, better still, book a flight now!).
1. Wine tourism in El Priorat
Choosing which wineries to visit is a difficult task in a region that has more than 160. DOQ Priorat and DO Montsant are two designation of origin wines that we find in El Priorat, and they are both a real treat for wine lovers.
There are all kinds of food & wine experiences available in El Priorat: tasting sessions, pairings, showcooking, tours of vineyards, courses, trails and many other things. This is the best way to discover an area that is famous for its sophisticated, intense wines with character that will be etched on your memory forever. Here are a few suggestions: Mas Doix, Scala Dei and El Lloar, with the amazing Miquel Espinet building, are some of the wineries not to be missed.
2. A walk around Siurana
One of the picturesque villages in El Priorat is Siurana, the last Moorish stronghold in Catalonia, which has a historic quarter with the archaeological remains of a 9th-century fortification, as well as a 12th-century Romanesque church. If you love climbing, don’t forget to bring your gear: climbers from all over the world come here to explore the area and enjoy the culture around this sport. If you’ve got enough time, we advise you to stay overnight at La Siuranella to enjoy the village when most of the tourists have gone home.
3. Visiting Escaladei
Another place not to be missed is Escaladei, where you’ll find the remains of a well-preserved Carthusian monastery. The Carthusian Monastery of Escaladei is one of the main tourist attractions in this area. It’s advisable to leave plenty of time to visit it, with a guide if possible, so you don’t miss a thing at this medieval site that tells us a lot about how monks lived at the time.
4. A stop at Celler Cooperatiu Falset-Marçà
There are many reasons to stop in Falset, the capital of El Priorat, explore its charming streets and go to the historic winery, Celler Cooperatiu Falset-Marçà, where you can learn all about El Priorat wines and discover its beautiful Modernist building. It was designed by architect Cèsar Martinell, who also designed other wineries in the area (the so-called “Wine Cathedrals”, like the one in Cornudella de Montsant). Don’t leave Falset without visiting this beautiful building and, of course, enjoying a glass of wine on the terrace of its wine bar. The amazing castle is also well worth a visit.
5. El Priorat from above: Sant Pau hermitage
If you want to make sure you take home a beautiful panoramic photo of the area from above, be sure to go up to Sant Pau hermitage, about two kilometres from the town of La Figuera. The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking. You can spot the River Ebro and even the Pyrenees, as well as the carpet of vineyards that stretches out below you.
6. El Bellmunt mining history
Why not spend some time learning more about the local history and culture? If you go for a walk round the town of Bellmunt, you’ll be able to discover El Priorat’s mining past, as there are many remains of this activity.
7. Nature in El Priorat
You shouldn’t miss Parc Natural de la Serra del Montsant, where there is even a wildlife shelter, as well as many hermitages, and it is wonderfully peaceful – you can experience a kind of silence that is hard to find elsewhere in Catalonia. If you’re physically fit, make sure you climb up to the loftiest peaks: La Cogulla, El Piló dels Senyalets and the popular Roca Corbatera, the highest point in Montsant, which are all over 1,000 metres high. This area is ideal for those who love hiking and cycling, as there are gentler routes to do with the family, as well as more difficult ones for those who love sports.
8. Ode to olive oil
If you’re partial to good food, you’re sure to love the delicacies on offer in this region, which also has the Siurana Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), producing very famous olive oil. So, as well as wine tourism, you can also do a spot of olive oil tourism, as there are many oil mills that tell you all you need to know about this liquid gold, the crown jewel of the Mediterranean diet. The Cooperativa de la Bisbal de Falset, Molí Gratavinum and Priordei are some of these places, and you can also dine amongst the olive trees.