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Hot air balloon in Parc Natural de la Garrotxa

One journey, endless possibilities: The Grand Tour of Catalonia!

Buckle up, pirates! We've got a guide to Catalonia that will help you tour the region at your own pace and in your own way!

This guide is all about experiencing the different cultures and flavours that Catalonia has to offer, from bustling cities such as Barcelona to cool mountain scapes in the Pyrenees, where you can hit the slopes. Of course, you'll also stop at beautiful view points to get some Insta-worthy pics.

The Grand Tour of Catalonia is a road trip itinerary exploring all there is to do and see in Catalonia. You can pick and choose which legs you'd like to try, or even do the entire tour in different stages. It's completely up to you how you'd like to do it! The entire route (which is 1243 miles) takes 13 days to complete. 

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Leg 1: Vineyards with a sea breeze—from Barcelona to Tarragona

  • Starting point: Barcelona city

  • From Barcelona to Solsona: 105 mi (ca. 169 km)

  • From Sant Sadurní d'Anoia to Sant Salvador: 56 mi (ca. 90 km)

  • From Sant Salvador to Tarragona: 53 mi (ca. 85 km)

In the first leg of the Grand Tour, you'll take some of the most famous places in Catalonia with you! The start is of course in Barcelona, ​​the capital of the region. Here you can stroll through the pretty streets, discover art and buildings by Antoni Gaudí, such as the world-famous Sagrada Família.

Then continue towards the Montserrat mountain range, where the impressive monastery dedicated to the patron saint of Catalonia awaits you. You can even stay overnight here! Hike through the Parc Natural de Montserrat and then get back on the road towards Solsona.

Head to the Vall de Lord for a plethora of water sports on the reservoir Pantà de la Llosa, and then treat yourself to a glass of wine (or two) in Penedès. Finally, the sea is calling! The fishing village of Sitges is one of the prettiest coastal towns in Catalonia. Stroll along the beach here before heading to the province of Tarragona, where one of the most historically significant buildings in Catalonia awaits you: the Monastery of Santes Creus.

Sanctuary of the Valley of Lord Llosa del Cavall, Solsonès © Oriol Clavera

Ciutadella Iberica - Calafell © Joan Capdevila Vallve

Castell de Cardona, located on a hill in the Vall Salina valley © Maria Rosa Vila

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Leg 2: Rendezvous with history—from Tarragona to Lleida

  • From Tarragona to Cambrils: 22 mi (ca. 35 km)

  • From Cambrils to the Delta de l'Ebre: 43.5 mi (ca. 70 km)

  • From the Delta de l'Ebre to Horta de Sant Joa: 42 mi (ca. 68 km)

  • From Horta de Sant Joan to Mora la Nova: 33 mi (ca. 53 km)

  • From Mora la Nova to Siurana: 37 mi (ca. 60 km)

  • From Siurana to Mont Blanc: 28.5 mi (ca. 46 km)

  • From Montblanc to Lleida: 54 mi (ca. 87 km)

Enjoy the view of the sea from the Balcó del Mediterrani in Tarragona before continuing your journey towards Cambrils. Seafood food lovers will be happy about the fresh offerings that the local restaurants have here. The route goes along the Costa Daurada with picturesque rock formations and beautiful coastal towns set on the turquoise sea.

We highly recommend making a stop to visit the Ebre Delta, which is one of the largest biosphere reserves in Spain and is home to 300 species of birds. Other highlights along this route include: snorkelling with tuna in L'Amettla de Mar, the coastal hiking trail Camí de Ronda and be sure to stop and have a taste of honey in El Perelló.

Continue on to Horta de Sant Joan, a mountain village where Picasso used to live. Hikers will want to make a stop at the Parc Natural dels Ports, which would make a great home base if you're looking to camp. Those not so keen on nature can go wine tasting in the Priorat region, instead. Before completing this section of the Grand Tour in Lleida, you can also visit the Vallbona de les Monges Monastery.

The Ebre Delta @ Tourist Board of the Provincial Council of Tarragona

The medieval village of Siurana by night and fog © Sergi Boixader

Mountain range of the Parc Natural dels Ports from the Sendroseta dels Cellers Bàrbara Forés estate in Gandesa © Rafa Pérez

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Leg 3: Up close to the sky—from Lleida to La Seu d'Urgell

  • From Lleida to La Pobla de Segur: 66.5 mi (ca. 107 km)

  • From La Pobla de Segur to Vielha: 52 mi (ca. 84 km)

  • From Vielha to Les: 15 mi (ca. 24 km)

  • From Vielha to Baqueira: 11 mi (ca. 18 km)

  • From Baqueira to La Seu d'Urgell: 15.5 mi (ca. 25 km)

At the beginning of this section, you'll have time to explore Lleida. Here, you'll find the royal palace, Castell del Rei, and the knight's castle, Castell de Gardeny. After you've had your fill of history, continue to Balaguer, where you can refuel with coca de recapte, a pizza-like sheet cake with peppers and aubergine. Enjoy the panoramic route to Baronia de Sant Oïsme - the famous Congost de Montrebei gorge.

In Àger, you'll be awarded with a starry night's sky, so don't forget to look up! From the Vall Fosca valley, you'll climb up to the Coll de la Creu de Perves, which offers a good view of the Pyrenees. The road then winds its way up into the mountains to the Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. The Vall de Boí is a paradise for hikers, while the Val d'Aran is a Pyrenean valley with its own language and very special architecture. Here is also the nature reserve Artiga de Lin, in which the waterfall Els Uelhs Deth Joeu is located.

In the wildlife park Aranpark in Bossòst you'll be able to spot brown bears, lynx and gray wolves. Fancy some action in the evening? Every Tuesday, the Pintxo Pote takes place in Vielha: a bar crawl that includes appetizers. Prefer relaxation? Then visit the thermal baths of Banhs de Tredòs! The brave should not miss a rafting adventure on the Noguera Pallaresa river! This leg ends in La Seu d'Urgell, the cheese capital of Catalonia.

Kayaking in the waters of the Noguera Ribagorçana river, in the Mont-rebei gorge © Oriol Clavera

White water rafting on the river Noguera Pallaresa © Oriol Clavera

View of the Noguera Pallaresa river in the municipality of Esterri d'Àneu, where its characteristic stone bridge and the bell tower of the Sant Vicenç church stand out © Oriol Clavera

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Leg 4: Ode to nature—from La Seu d'Urgell to Figueres

  • From La Seu d'Urgell to Bagà: 56 mi (ca. 90 km)

  • From Bagà to Ripoll: 80 mi (ca. 129 km)

  • From Ripoll to Olot: 47 mi (ca. 76 km)

  • From Olot to Banyoles: 19 mi (ca. 31 km)

  • From Banyoles to Figueres: 21 mi (ca. 34 km)

Alright, up to this point you've already seen a lot… but there's still more to see, so let's continue with leg 4! From La Seu d'Urgell, you'll drive on the panoramic road towards picturesque villages. In the Berguedà region, you can taste traditional dishes such as mashed potatoes with white cabbage. If you'd like to walk off the food coma, there are lovely walking paths that run through the district of Cerdanya. You can also hike along the Tren del Ciment railway line to Castellar de N'Hug. An overnight stay is recommended in Ripoll - where you can visit the Santa María monastery, founded in 879.

A detour to the Vall de Núria, which is full of hiking trails that often offer views of marmots and chamois, is also worthwhile. For a more unique experience, you can hire a hot air balloon and soar high over the Santa Margarida and El Croscat volcanoes.

At Lake Banyoles you can go glamping in transparent spheres in the middle of nature—you'll have a view of the starry sky from your bed! The lake is also suitable for swimming and kayaking. This leg ends in Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí.

A hot air balloon flies over the Parc Natural de la Garrotxa © Laurence Norah

Panoramic aerial view of the municipality of Santa Pau, located in the center of the Parc Natural de la Garrotxa © Pep Sau

A view of Vall de Núria, Queralbs © Vall de Nuria

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Leg 5: Surrealism and Art Nouveau—from Figueres to Barcelona

  • From Figueres to Peratallada: 80 mi (ca. 129 km)

  • From Peratallada to Tossa de Mar: 45 mi (ca. 72 km)

  • From Tossa de Mar to the Vall d'en Bas valley: 53 mi (ca. 85 km)

  • From the Vall d'en Bas valley to Viladrau: 51 mi (ca. 82 km)

  • From Viladrau to Barcelona: 98 mi (ca. 158 km)

  • End in Barcelona

Your diverse journey is coming to an end, but you still have one leg ahead of you. After you have learned everything about Dalí's life in Figueres, you can continue to Cadaqués, for example—a fishing village with a perfect postcard silhouette.

Afterwards, continue along the Bay of Roses, which is one of the most beautiful bays in the world. History buffs should make a stop at the archaeological site of Empúries, the place where Greeks and Romans first settled on the Iberian Peninsula. Here you can also swim and snorkel, as well.

Continue on towards La Garrotxa, a region that has been carved out by its volcanic origin. Following the River Ter you have a clear view of the Collsacabra mountain range. The charming village of Rupit is set amidst a spectacular landscape of gorges and waterfalls.

Before heading back to the coast, make sure to stop in Vic and taste the famous cured meats! The road leads you through the dense forests of the Montseny Biosphere Reserve to the fine sandy beaches of the Maresme.

In Canet de Mar you can study at the Casa-Museu de Domènech i Montaner. Learn about the life and work of the great Art Nouveau architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and admire the models of some of his emblematic works, such as the Palau de la Música Catalana or the Hospital de Sant Pau. Return to Barcelona through the DO Alella wine region. It is not only one of the oldest, but also the smallest of the twelve Catalan wine regions.

Beach with bathers and boats in the fishing village of Palafrugel © Francesc Tur

Rice fields near the Castell de Montgrí. In the background the Montgrí massif © Dani Salva

Aerial view of the archaeological site of Empúries © Rafa Pérez

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