Most visitors to Spain come to Barcelona to see the amazing architecture of Gaudi, explore the history and architecture of the art nouveaux period, and experience Catalonia life by enjoying tapas and wine in one of the cities many busy squares. Barcelona has much more to offer than just it’s famed city. The province is comprised of three major diverse regions providing truly something for everyone from nature lover to city dweller.
The Catalonia region is dotted with other smaller, unique cities that will give you a better idea of the Spanish way of life outside of Barcelona. About an hour north is Vic, a small town where with just a short drive you’ll feel miles away from the crowds of the city. Take a seat in one of the largest squares in Catalonia, the Placa Major for people watching or pick up produce in the open market there twice weekly. Take a walk through the small alleyways and dotted throughout the historical city center are many medieval churches and Roman ruins. The city is small but the culinary scene here is large. Smoked sausage, or Salchichon, is the local specialty and can be found hanging in local butcher shops throughout town. Restaurant Magda Subirana provided us with a wonderful sampling of Vic’s best ingredients with a multi-course meal, each plate more delicious than the last.
Go beyond Gaudi. Terrassa is another small town that has several unique examples of modernism architecture, one of the more interesting buildings being the Catalonia Science and Technology Museum. The old textile factory now houses temporary and permanent exhibits inside but don’t leave the museum without accessing it’s roof to see a unique vantage point of the building’s design. Each year in the spring the city hosts a Modernist Fair, a weekend to go back in time and celebrate its wonderful architecture.
The landscape and nature of Barcelona Province is not to be missed. We took out some E-bikes and Segways to ride through the Natural Park of Montseny, giving us the opportunity to take in some fresh air and explore some beautiful surroundings in a small slice of the 30,000 acres of protected land space.
The people are friendly, food in the country side is farm to table and delicious. The pace of life is calm and comforting so it makes for a perfect destination for a relaxing vacation. It is the ultimate in a slow travel destination, giving you the chance to experience truly how the Spanish live.
By air we hopped in a basket with Balo Tour and floated in a hot air balloon ride over lush farmland, giving you a chance to see the diverse landscape with the mountains in the background. I’ve been in balloons before but this was a unique experience to see the medieval city-scape below us along with the sprawling countryside.
Spanish are known for their wines and this is a perfect region to brush up on your varietals, especially Cava, which is the Spanish version of champagne. One of the highlights of the trip was spending an afternoon at Bouquet d’alella, a lovely winery atop a small hill overlooking Alella and on a clear day you can view the sea in the distance. The organic winery and the vineyard makes for a perfect backdrop for a picnic lunch paired with a wine tasting.
Barcelona has a beach right in town but it can often be busy and tourist filled during the hotter months. You can find some quieter spots along the northeast coastline to make your beach time more enjoyable. Lloret de Mar is a beach town where many of the locals go in the summertime for weekend getaways, but my favorite spot in Costa Brava coastline was Calonge. I spent some relaxing days at the Silken Park Hotel San Jorge walking along the cliff side and laying next to the sea.
Thanks so much to TBEX, Costa Brava and Barcelona Tourism Board for showing us that Barcelona is Much More! Although many of my experiences were hosted the photos and opinions are all my very own.