The Most Beautiful Towns in Catalonia
A country’s landscape has a massive influence on its language, culture and identity. This is very true for Catalonia whose people have g...Read more
A country’s landscape has a massive influence on its language, culture and identity. This is very true for Catalonia whose people have given the territory a strong personality, rich culture and many traditions.
Within its borders, Catalonia’s landscape ranges from Pyrenean peaks to the warm, turquoise waters of the Mediterranean - as well as the many gorgeous valleys, cobbled villages and vast agricultural land in between. Its geographical variation also provides some amazing views from striking gorges to little coves chipped out of rugged, hilly coastline. Keep an eye out as you pedal past these natural wonders.
With millennia of human presence, its beauty is enhanced by a deep history which is felt around every corner. From UNESCO World Heritage sites to old fisherman towns, you’ll get to stop off at many of these delightful locations whilst exploring Catalonia on our leisurely cycling tours. So, to prepare you, we’ve provided some extra information about some of the most beautiful towns in the region that you have to visit.
Sant Joan de les Abadesses is a stunning little countryside town surrounded by emerald hills and vast, red pine forests. Located to the west of the Ter River, the town occupies the very centre of a valley which lies in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The population evolved as settlers grounded themselves around the monastery which is still an incredibly important monument for the community today. Its construction dates back to the 12th century but also has architectural influence from the Romantic and Gothic periods. You may also get a chance to pedal across the Puente Viejo, a beautifully arched bridge which has proven to be vital for the growth of the town by allowing mobility of settlers and produce across the river. Another gorgeous site is the Vila Vella, or Old Town of Sant Joan de les Abadesses, which consists of a network of olde worlde streets with small stone archways that glow orange in the sunlight. Catch a glimpse of these sites on our Catalonia from Mountains to Sea tour.
The charming town of Olot is known for its stunning surrounding views of La Garrotxa National Park. As you enter Olot, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled back to a different age with clusters of quaint old buildings and narrow medieval streets. This area is a fascinating place to visit and is renowned for its four inactive volcanoes scattered around the city centre. Their craters, now covered in verdant green and forest, not only provide lovely woodland hikes but are also invaluable agricultural sites for their extremely fertile ground. This area of Catalonia is famous across Spain and throughout the world for its “Volcanic” cuisine characterised by the raw ingredients harvested from its rich volcanic soil. Make sure to grab a snack or treat yourself to a sit-down meal to try some of its truly delicious food for yourself on our Flavours of Catalonia tour.
The small municipality of Sant Feliu de Pallerols, visited on our Catalonia Mountains to Sea tour, is a slow-moving town with tranquil views and lively traditions. If you’re lucky enough, you might even be visiting at the time of the Parton Saint Celebration; an event that has made the village famous for its colourful dances and symbolic performances which imitate the historic fight for land between the Christians and Arabs. Situated in the valley of Hotoles, Sant Feliu de Pallerols is formed around the confluence of several rivers making their way towards the sea. The main one passing through is the River Brugent whose crystal clear waters paint vibrant reflections of the sleepy town above. With a population just short of 1,400 people, this is the perfect place to catch your breath and relax before moving on to the bigger cities.
As the largest city in northern Catalonia, Girona is like a jewellery box of glowing buildings within a web of cobbled lanes. The River Onyar acts as a divider, separating the walkable historic centre on the eastern bank from the glistening commercial centre on the west. As you walk around, you’ll see modernist mansions shimmer in the waters below as well as an array of museums, galleries and gothic churches. Far more ancient than its facade which rises above the city skyline, Girona’s Cathedral demands to be seen. After ascending 86 steps to reach the entrance, you’ll be dazzled by its 14th-century silver altarpiece and the many elegantly carved fantastical beasts and biblical scenes. If you want to take a better look at this amazing city on your Catalonia cycling tour, you can climb to the top of the old stone Torre Gironella, a tower with breathtaking views over Girona.
As we move further south to the coast, we’ll encounter the gorgeous coastal town of Llafranc. Named the “secret seaside”, you can’t hear much else other than bird song and the rhythmic lapping of waves against the rocks. While the word “costa” holds a bad connotation, the Costa Brava shouldn’t be compared to other coasts. Rather, Llafranc is an elegant getaway for families, couples and groups of friends who are looking for some peace and quiet. Its white buildings that skirt the beaches contrast against the golden-lit sand and deep turquoise sea. The town was even a popular spot for film stars and artists including Salvador Dalí who visited Llafranc throughout the 20th century. Live this life of luxury on our Flavours of Catalonia tour.
The town of Calella de Palafrugell radiates tranquillity with breathtaking views over the cliffs, picturesque walks and the calming fragrance of Aleppo pines in the air – which can be described as somewhere between an orange blossom and jasmine scent. Small fisherman cottages and boat houses fringe the tangled streets; a truly endearing place to stay.
Last but definitely not least, the final destination on our tours - Palámos; the attractive old port town with a large sandy beach and spirited atmosphere. Palámos still stands as a working fishing village whose most important catch is prawns, or Palámos Gambas, a famous delicacy across the world. Excellent fish restaurants are centred around the old port which shines bright at night. You can guarantee whatever you order will have been caught that same day. Winding uphill behind the beach is the enchanting old town centre with pleasantly painted buildings, narrow streets and ancient churches. Be sure to relax here after your leisurely journey from the mountains to the coast.
For more information about our tours of Catalonia, give us a call on 020 74717760, or alternatively, view our Catalonia cycling holidays here.
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