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El Priorat in eight essential stops – Routes near Barcelona

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.

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Three Day Adventure in the South of Catalonia

The Tierras del Ebro and its mountains, situated in the south of Catalonia, offer anything an adventure lover could wish for – pleasant boat rides, walking or horse-riding expeditions, paragliding flights for the most daring, kitesurfing for the more sports inclined or potholing for inquisitive minds, among many other activities. Here, then, is a selection of activities you can embark on to make the most out of your visit to these splendid climes during a three-day getaway.

First Day

Safari in the Ebro Delta
A good way of making your first contact with the Ebro Delta is by venturing across it. The crew at Natura & Aventura offer an interesting outing along its beaches, lagoons and rice paddies. An expert ornithologist will point out the most interesting species on the way, prominent among them being flamingos, which are sure to be the subject of some of your souvenir photos.

A Bird’s-Eye View of the Priorat
Imagine being able to see the vineyards of the Priorat from the air! With Parapente Montsant, you can do just that. Located in Cornudella de Montsant, they offer flights in a two-seater which will take you above the Serra de Montsant Nature Reserve, an experience you are not likely to forget ever.

Discovering Els Guiamets
After flying over the Priorat, we return to earth and head for the Guiamets reservoir, located in the heart of the Priorat, where the Centro Natura ServiKaYaK offers pleasant rides by kayak, pedal boat or fishing vessel. The idyllic scenery which accompanies the ride is the final flourish to your thrilling first day.

Second Day

The Seductive Sebes Nature Reserve
The second day also starts out in the Ebro Delta, but this time you embark on a guided tour of the Sebes Nature Reserve and the Flix meander. This area is known for its wetlands where you will again be treated to sightings of local fauna, particularly storks, and to exciting panoramic views from a number of observation platforms.

Underground Beauty Too
One of the more unusual attractions in the Tierras del Ebro is provided by the Benifallet Caves, commonly known as the “Cuevas de las Maravillas” (Caves of Marvels), where water has eroded the rock into a unique landscape. Make a point of including it on your wish list.

Third Day

Galloping Across the Montsià
A great way of exploring the Montsià mountain range is on horseback. The Carlos Cid Riding School offers outings through the mountains, following a route studded with olive groves, orange and carob groves, bulls, watering holes with bird-life and dry-farming land. A unique and entertaining way of touring the area. Be sure to sign up for it!

Kitesurfing in the Ebro Delta
Sports enthusiasts should take the opportunity to delight in the playful side of the Ebro Delta’s waters. One option is to try your hand at kitesurfing. The folks at DeltaKiteSup will guide you through your first few paces or bring out your more advanced kitesurfing streak. Take note!

Text and photos by Turisme Catalunya

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Discover Tarragona and Its Hinterland

Situated just under an hour and a half from Barcelona lies the city of Tarragona, its Roman and medieval past providing visitors with an amazing wealth of history and art. However, this cultural journey goes beyond the city limits – inland we find the three gems of the Cistercian route, as well as the landscapes that inspired such artists as Antoni Gaudí and Joan Miró. What more could you ask for?

Itinerary 1: the Roman Legacy

Tarraco – Roman Tarragona
What was once the capital of the province of Hispania Tarraconensis still preserves numerous vestiges of that splendid past. Designated a World Heritage Site in 2000, travellers to the city will be dazzled by the Roman wall, the provincial forum, the circus, amphitheatre and a host of remains awaiting them on their walks through ancient Tarraco. You can join a guided tour at Auriga Serveis Culturals so as not to miss any details of that legacy.

Roman Villa of Centcelles
Just six kilometres from Tarragona, in Constantí, lies the Roman villa of Centcelles, a landmark monument of palaeo-Christian art. One of the highlights of that site is the dome ornamented with a Christian-themed mosaic, one of the oldest surviving examples from the Roman world.

Roman Villa of Els Munts
Located in Altafulla, 12 kilometres from Tarragona, is the villa of Els Munts. It was apparently used for agricultural purposes and still displays constructions featuring richly decorated elements.

Itinerary 2: a Splendid Medieval Past

Jewels of the Cistercian Route
The three jewels that make up this magnificent route through Cistercian monasteries are the Monastery of Santes Creus, with its stunning chapterhouse and Gothic cloister, the Monastery of Vallbona, a 12th-century nunnery boasting a monumental church and cloister and – the most popular of all – the Monastery of Poblet, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its magnificent cloister and royal pantheon where King James I the Conqueror is buried, among others.

Montblanc – Medieval Spirit
Montblanc is one of the paramount medieval complexes in Catalonia, thanks to its excellent state of preservation. Make a point of exploring it and wandering through its streets, where you are sure to be transported to medieval times. Or, if you prefer, you can sign up for one of the routes organised by the Town Council, featuring options to suit all tastes.

Siurana – the Stuff of Legend
This village in the Priorat, which seems to have leaped out of some novel, was one of the last Moorish enclaves in Catalonia which managed to hold out and check the Christian advance. Turismo de Siurana offers dramatised guided tours highlighting stories, tales and legends about the area.

Discover the First Charterhouse on the Iberian Peninsula
Built in the 12th century in the Priorat county, the Carthusian Monastery of Escaladei is regarded as the earliest Carthusian monastery to emerge on the Iberian Peninsula. Those parts of the charterhouse currently open to the public include the three cloisters, church, refectory and a monk’s cell which has been reconstructed down to the last detail.

Itinerary 3: In the Footsteps of Miró and Gaudí

Mont-roig – Source of Inspiration for Joan Miró
Joan Miró first visited Mont-roig del Camp in 1911, when he was 18 years old. The landscape made such an impact on him that it became his habitual place of pilgrimage, a town he would return to time and again in search of peace and inspiration. Well worth visiting is the Centre Miró where you can acquire greater insight into the relationship between the artistic genius and the town and its surroundings.

Searching For the Origins of Gaudí
Just 18 kilometres from Tarragona lies the small town of Riudoms, site of the house where Antoni Gaudí was born. Open to the public, it reveals the origins of this unique artist and the environment which was to influence his work. Interesting, isn’t it?

Text by Agencia Catalana de Turismo


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Catalonia in 7 Coastal Routes

In the following we reveal seven routes in which culture, gastronomy, enotourism, sport and adventure come together to transform your visit to the Catalonian seaboard into an unforgettable experience.

Route 1 - From Sant Carles de la Ràpita to L’Ametlla de Mar (98 km)
Our point of departure is tinged with the marine flavour of oysters and mussels, which you can taste at La Caseta del Parrillo farm, part of the Ruta de las Bateas (Route of the Rafts), which involves a boat ride across the Alfacs bay in Sant Carles de la Ràpita. At Amposta, be sure to sign up for a tour of the Ebro Delta Nature Park with MónNatura Delta del Ebro. You can visit their interpretation centre, the salt marshes, the hides for observing estuary birdlife, as well as ride in the traditional punts. The finishing touch is supplied in L’Ametlla de Mar by the team at Tuna Tour, who will take you diving among red tuna, which you will also be able to taste at the end of the excursion.

Route 2 – From Tarragona to Gratallops (73 km)
Tarragona is the first stop on this second route, which includes a tour of the city guided by Icono Serveis, while Tarragona Experience goes a step further by taking you into their Roman kitchen workshop, Domus Apicius. After this heady dose of culture, it’s time to head for the Port Aventura amusement park, where thrills and excitement are guaranteed. How about a day’s fishing in a genuine fishing boat? The experience is yours at Pesca Turismo Cambrils, so make sure you don’t miss out on it! A stopover at Reus is the perfect excuse for visiting the Gaudí Centre, where you can follow the first few steps of one of the most outstanding and unique architects in this land. The itinerary ends in the Priorat region and their magnificent DO wine, which you can taste in such wineries as Clos de l’Obac, located in Gratallops.

Route 3 – From the Prades Mountains to Vilanova i la Geltrú (112 km)
Awaiting you in the Prades Mountains are villages like Farena, Alcover and Capafonts. You can also join some of the activities offered by Brogit Guiatges, including dramatised excursions, homemade cheese and honey tastings or walking with a shepherd. When you feel like a break, we recommend heading for one of the three monumental complexes making up the so-called “Ruta del Cister” (Cistercian Route), notably the Monastery of Poblet, where you can also stay the night. Wine lovers can take the opportunity to visit Pacs del Penedès and indulge in an enotouristic experience at the Torres Winery. We wind up this third itinerary at the town of Vilanova i la Geltrú, where you can observe a splendid sunset from a yacht. What more could you ask for?

Route 4 - From Sitges to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (74 km)
In such an inspiring place as Sitges, one good option is to rely on AGIS to take you on a stroll through artists’ workshops. And, if you’re hankering for something racy, why not drop in on Casa Bacardí and learn how to make cocktails? The town of Santa Coloma de Cervelló is a must for devotees of Gaudian architecture, as there you can visit the Güell Colony and Gaudí’s Crypt. And, needless to say, this trip also includes a jaunt through the Penedès DO region where you can stop off at an organic wine cellar like Albet i Noya, or proceed to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, home to the main cava wineries such as Codorníu.

Route 5 - From Montserrat to Caldes de Montbui (61 km)
One site you simply cannot afford to miss is Montserrat, a major symbol of Catalonia. There you can visit the monastery and the art museum, as well as hike through the amazing nature park. After this immersion in raw nature, you could head for Terrassa, which boasts a number of first-rate museums, notably the Museu de la Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya, (Science and Technology Museum of Catalonia) Museu Tèxtil (Textile Museum) and Parc Audiovisual de Catalunya (Audiovisual Park of Catalonia). This itinerary winds down in “relaxation mode” at the Termes Victòria spa hotel, or the Broquetas Spa, both located in Caldes de Montbui.

Route 6 - From Montmeló to Palamós (155 km)
Are you a speed freak? Then the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, located in Montmeló, is the place for you, where you can get to drive your dream car. And, if you have any energy to spare for more excitement, at Globus Voltor, in the town of Cardedeu, you can sign up for a hot-air balloon ride, or visit the Can Vila horse-riding school in Sant Esteve de Palautordera and explore the Montseny Nature Park on horseback. This route comes to a close in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, where a walk along the coastal footpath comes highly recommended, and Palamós, where you can take part in a seafood cookery workshop in the Espacio del Pescado.

Route 7 - From L’Estartit to Girona (149 km)
Our final route starts with a diving excursion led by the Aquàtica crew in the waters around the Medes Isles off the coast of L’Estartit, while the wetlands of the Empordà region are ideal for ecokayaking with the SK Kayak team. On the outskirts of the nearby village of Sant Martí d’Empúries you should make a point of visiting the Greek and Roman ruins, and a heady dose of culture awaits you in the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes – dramatised visit included – the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, the Salvador Dalí House-Museum in Portlligat and the historic centre of Girona, which you can tour on a segway. The final flourish on this route is provided by the Empordà DO wines – you are urged to visit Empordàlia, located in the town of Vilajuïga, where you can taste wines, oil and the region’s typical dishes.

Text by the Agencia Catalana de Turismo

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