You could be forgiven for thinking that all there is to Barcelona is its fantastic city, modernistic architecture, great food and sandy beaches. But on my recent trip to the Province of Barcelona, I discovered that there was so much more to explore than I would ever of imagined. Barcelona is not just a city, it is a diverse province and one that is bursting full of culture, nature and adventure. From the Pyrenees at the top, to the Mediterranean Sea, from 100 km of stunning beaches and coastline to its rolling hills of vineyards and its ancient towns to its smart, modern cities. It’s a region that made a seriously impression on me, and it opened my eyes to just how many activities and places there are to see. So, besides the obvious city of Barcelona, what else is there to see in this beautiful region?
1. Ancient Towns & Medieval Cities
Barcelona Province has its fair share of historical towns and medieval cities. Explore some of the regions best examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture in the historical centre of Vic, one of Catalan’s oldest cities or take a visit to the Industrial city of Terrassa and uncover its Modernist architecture, its industrial past and its rich medieval heritage. You can also explore the hilltop town of Cardona and discover its medieval castle and its interesting salt deposits that formed 40 million years ago.
The Province of Barcelona boasts over 100 kilometers of beautiful coastline and some great beach resorts. Hit the beach for a day and enjoy a range of activities to suite everyone. Build sandcastles with the children, take a romantic stroll at sunset or perhaps take up a water sport and windsurf, kayak or jet ski. There is also a range of coastal paths to follow that run along side the coastline where you can discover rugged cliffs, hidden bays and smugglers caves.
3. Monasteries & Shrines
Take a day to relax and take a slower pace by discovering some of the region’s monasteries and shrines. The most popular and best known monastery in the region can be found in Montserrat, Catalan’s cultural hub for history, spirituality and unique landscapes. Visit Montserrat for its beautiful views, the basilica’s famous library, its sculpture garden and hear its famous choir.
For those interested in religion, The Way of Saint James also passes through Montserrat as well as Cervera, Tarrega and Lleida and there are various places for pilgrims to sleep and visit before the traditional route continues to Zaragoza and Logrono.
4. Amazing Architecture
Most people know that you’ll find an array of Gaudi’s modernistic architecture scattered across Barcelona’s city. But you’ll also find other architecture wonders all over Barcelona’s Province. If you’re a fan of Guadi’s work you’ll find gardens, industrial factories, houses and museums all in the Art Nouveau and Modernism style. Try visiting Terrassa and climbing the rooftop of the Museu de la Ciencia i de la Tecnica de Catalunya for a wonderful example of Modernista style or stopping by the Freixa Farmhouse, a previous residence from 1907 with arches and vaults inspired by Gaudi’s work.
5. National Parks & Natural Areas
Escape the hussle and bussle of the city and head to one of 16 natural parks in the Barcelona Province. Seek out your adventurous side and take time to hike, cycle or practice outdoor sports in a range of landscapes. For those that like to hike, there are a range of routes that will allow you to really connect with the surrounding fauna and flora. You can visit Barcelona’s only UNESCO Natural Biosphere Reserve called El Montseny National Park, a haven for those who simply enjoy peace and quiet amongst nature. Although if you’re the adventurous type, you can take a segway tour or an electric bike tour through the countryside to a picturesque lake. There are also places where you can get up close to wildlife and a range of birdlife. You may even be lucky enough to spot a Peregrine Falcon, a resident bird that can be found flying high about the green plains.
6. Delicious Food
As you travel through Barcelona Province you will come across a whole range of tastes. Tuck into some of the freshest seafood, snack on delicious tapas or savour the taste of a famous Crema Catalana for dessert. In this region a whole array of foods awaits you as well as a whole range of places to eat, taste and smell freshly grown produce and home-made dishes. Extend your culinary journey by taking part in a cookery class, visiting a local market or dining in one of the region’s Michelin star restaurants for a gourmet experience you won’t forget.
7. Festivals & Events
There is always a festival or an event to attend in the Province of Barcelona! Throughout the year you’ll find a mass array of different types of events that suit all tastes and interests. One of the most popular events is the thrilling human castles that are traditional to this area. Witness the most impressive scenes of people climbing over each other to build a tower that just keeps getting higher and higher with every person that pulls their way to the top. If you visit during Holy Week expect a long list of religious festivals and celebrations to happen including the plays, processions and carnivals. Of course for those who love sport, visit the famous Camp Nou home to FC Barcelona or Circuit de Catalunya to watch a Formula 1 or GP Motobike race.
8. Wine Tourism
Home to Cava wine, this region is a heaven for wine lovers and connoisseurs alike. Dive into the fascinating world of wine on a tour of some of the regions wineries and vineyards, learn to taste the difference between each type of wine and indulge your senses in a wine and Cava tasting. There are of course many ways to tour the wineries and vineyards. Perhaps take a scenic segway tour or bicycle ride through the picturesque countryside, take a relaxing weekend and stay at one of the vineyards or take a leisurely lunch at a boutique winery and indulge all five of your senses.
9. Get Adventurous
Hiking, water sport, horse riding, segway tours, bike rides, hot air balloon rides, zip lining, golf and more…Barcelona has a massive range of outdoor and adventurous activities for everyone to take part in . The regions diverse landscapes allows for all sorts of adventures. Try a hand at Geocaching in the natural parks, take a bicycle ride through the Pyrenees, hike one of the many coastal trails, horse ride along the beach of take a thrilling zip line through the trees in Santa Susanna.
10. Cultural Heritage In Art & Museum
Barcelona Province is like a cultural open air museum, boasting hundreds of heritage sites, art and museums to visit and their is something to suit all preferences. Nature lovers will love discovering the 15,000 hectares of the El Montnegre i el Corredor Park and learning all about its ecclesiastical heritage and its flora and fauna, children will love the Railway Museum in Vilanova and Park Guell in Barcelona with its bright colors, art lovers can explore some of Picasso’s less famous works of art in Gosol and restored pieces of Renaissance frescoes at the MNAC (Museu Nacional d’art de Catalunya) in Barcelona.
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