Inspired by mid-seventeenth century aristocratic Grand Tours – it distills Catalonia’s architecture, gastronomy, ever-changing landscapes, local traditions and customs into one incredible journey.


Even the Catalan’s can be surprised by what they find along the Grand Tour of Catalonia – a new multi-day tour from Barcelona that travels clockwise through the changing landscape of Catalonia. It connects cultural icons, natural settings and gastronomic pleasures that define this land’s personalities in both rural and urban settings.


This new route was inspired by the journeys taken by young English aristocrats from the mid-seventeenth century onwards, known as ‘Grand Tours’.  These were not leisure trips but educational ones, and for this reason their parents meticulously pre-planned everything, allowing them to discover sacred sites of classical culture and to meet with European high society.

Due to the distances, the Grand Tour of Catalonia is designed primarily for car travel, which works well as the journey presents an ever-changing landscape at every stage of the trip, from roman coastal scenes to monastic vineyards and dramatic mountain formations.  The tour focuses on authentic local culture where the food and wine capture the nuances of the regions, the adventure varies from kayaking, hot air ballooning, hiking, mountain biking or star gazing and the history and architecture spans all ages from monasteries, churches and castles to pre-historic cave paintings.  The artists shine – amazing writers or famous artists including Dali, Picasso and Gaudi – each stage is rich in experience.


The Catalan Tourist Board created the tour with sustainability and responsible tourism at its heart.  Experiences can be enjoyed year round in all seasons, and encourages exploration beyond overly familiar areas, featuring high quality product with a subtle nod to ‘slow tourism’.


“We aim to foster knowledge and respect for the territory, its customs and culture and to do so in an inclusive way.  The tour itself seeks to enhance the discovery of local life and local products and to encourage respect for the environment,” said Raul Guerra, Regional Director, Catalan Tourist Board.

The 2,000 km tour can be completed by motor vehicle in either a single 13-day journey or in five stages each featuring between five and seven smaller itineraries.


Stage 1 – Barcelona to Tarragona (462km): Vineyards with a taste of the sea

The starting point of the Grand Tour of Catalonia is the city of Barcelona with its modernist legacy, finishing in Roman Tarragona, land of calçots, cava and xató.  This stage includes the mountain of Montserrat, Cardona and its castle and the historical and artistic heritage of Solsona.  It also features the vineyards and wineries of the Penedès, the charm of Stiges and the musical history of Pau Casals in El Vendrell through to the beaches of the Garraf and the north of the Costa Daurada.


Highlights include Gaudi’s modernism especially the Sagrada Familia, the Museu Picasso and the medieval monastery of Sant Benet. Wine lovers will appreciate ‘tines route’ in the Montcau Valley featuring dry stone constructions where grapes were stored, more vineyards to be enjoyed in the cava capital Sant Sadurni d’Anoia and the Miravinya route.


Stage 2 – Tarragona to Lleida (418km) : In search of history

The second stage begins in Roman Tarraco, and follows the coastline of the Costa Daurada, between ancient olive trees and vineyards, where the seafood cuisine of Cambrils can be sampled and where it’s possible to explore the Delta de l’Ebre by canoe or bicycle. Leave the coast behind and head inland along the Ebre river to discover the wild nature of the Ports, the art of Picasso, the wine cathedrals of the Terra Alta and Priorat and the impressive monasteries of the Cistercian Route, such as Poblet, before finally arriving in Lleida.


Highlights include feasting on oysters and mussels in Fangar Bay, Roman amphitheaters and a necropolis in Tarragona, a collection of more that 40 sites of rock art in caves in the Prades mountains and the imposing Seu Vella Cathedral complex and La Suda Castle in Lleida.


Stage 3 – Lleida to La Seu d’Urgell (357km): Very close to the heavens

From Lleida and its iconic Seu Vella, this stage leaves the plains and enters the Catalonian Pyrenees. The Val d’Aran, its quaint medieval villages, the starry sky of Montsec and the pair of Romanesque churches in the

Vall de Boí become regular travel companions. This trip also includes a visit to the Aigüestortes i Estany National Park in Sant Maurici and adventure sports on the Noguera Pallaresa river, before arriving at the Seu d’Urgell.


Highlights include stargazing at the UNESCO Starlight Reserve of Montsec Astronomical Park, taking a bath in Europe’s highest thermal spa of Banhs de Trdos, white water rafting along Noguera Pallaresa one of the best in Europe, the 12th century Church of Santa Maria in Arties, and sampling cheese from the Pyrenees.


Stage 4 – La Seu d’Urgell – Figueres (357km): Ode to nature

Starting at the Seu d’Urgell, this stretch of drive heads east across the Catalonian Pyrenees around the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park. The route passes through the Ripoll monastery, with its façade of biblical scenes, the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park and its 40 volcanoes, and through iconic municipalities such as Santa Pau, Besalú and Banyoles. It culminates in Figueres, the gateway to the universe of Dalí’s genius.


Highlights include adventure sports in the Seu d’Urgell Rafting Park, the Picasso Centre, the Romanesque church of Santa Maria de Talló, one of the important points on the Camino de Santiago in Catalonia, hot air ballooning over the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Nature Park where you can see the 40 of the best cones from the sky, walking the fortified Romanesque bridge over the river Fluvia part one of Catalonia’s best preserved medieval villages before driving the beautiful Costa Brava coastline.


Stage 5 – Figueres – Barcelona (525km): From Surrealism to Modernism

From Figueres this section continues to explore the surreal world of Dalí, visiting Cadaqués and Cap de Creus. It continues along the Costa Brava and its seaside towns with their coastal roads and fishing ports, such as Palamós. Medieval villages such as Peratallada offer the chance to take a break before crossing the Montseny mountain range and stopping off at the beaches and fishing villages of Costa Barcelona. The journey ends in Barcelona.


Highlights include the Dalí Triangle formed by the Museu Dalí de Figueres, the Casa Salvador Dalí in Portlligat and the Castillo Gala Dalí in Pubol, hidden coves along the Cap de Creus National Park, kayaking in the Estartit-Illes Medes Nautical Station exploring coastal caves, a cooking workshop to prepare Pals rice and bright-red Palamos prawns, the thousand year old city of Vic – alive with history and culture, the Montseny a Biosphere Reserve for hiking or mountain biking, sampling the white wines from the DO Alella, before arriving back to Barcelona home to over 43 markets and Michelin-starred restaurants.

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