Admittedly, a Catalonia road trip is not just about Barcelona. Sure, the captivating city is a true cultural utopia with its spectacular Modernist architecture and cosmopolitan vibes. But the delights of the region go beyond Gaudí’s fantastical creations.
The cities and towns around Barcelona make for a fascinating and fabulous escape — best enjoyed on four-wheels on a Barcelona itinerary.
Begin with the magnificent sights of Barcelona, yes. But then walk the ancient medieval walls of Girona, pay homage to Salvador Dali in Figueres, and discover majestic architecture in Vic. So buckle up and get ready to explore a region with too many cultural must-sees to keep count.
Catalonia’s capital needs little introduction. This seaside city, with its wealth of historical and cultural sites, is loved the world over.
Buildings than span the ages, from the temple columns of Ancient Rome to Gothic drama and Modernism’s quirkiness, find a backdrop in the rolling green Collserola hills and look out onto the glimmering Mediterranean sea. This Iberian sun-soaked city has long provided inspiration to artists. Let it inspire you too.
This first stop on your Catalonia road trip is all about art — surprise, surprise. Explore Cubist classics in the Picasso Museum. Then head to the Museum of Contemporary Art: the building alone is a masterpiece, designed by Richard Meier. Then, of course, the Sagrada Família — there really is nothing quite like it.
For more Gaudí, pay a visit to Casa Batllò or the Palau de la Mùsica. And, when night falls, catch an open-air movie at The Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.
from Barcelona depot
Joan Miró Foundation
For some of the artist’s most famous pieces.
Gaudí’s Hansel and Gretel-like creation.
The Magic Fountain
A mesmerising display of light and music.
French cuisine, spectacular interior.
Local food with views of the Med.
Aparcament Fira de Barcelona
Parking garage, closes at 9pm.
l best to reserve a space.
Camping Tres Estrellas
Next to beach, bus access to city.
Next on your Catalonia road trip is the medieval city of Girona. A cultural chocolate box of museums, galleries, and Gothic churches, all connected by a maze of picturesque cobbled lanes, Girona straddles the River Onyar.
On one side is the city’s historic hub, Modernist mansions reflected in the flowing water. On the other side, its commercial centre. The river is crossed by the Pont de les Peixateries Velles, designed by Gustave Eiffel, creator of — yes, you’ve guessed it — Paris’ most famous landmark.
Begin by strolling the medieval centre. Visit the remains of the Força Vella fortress and trace the Passeig Arqueològic, a walkway that runs along the city’s ancient walls. Head to a watchtower for exceptional views, both of Girona, and, in the distance, the snow-capped Pyrenees.
For some culture of the pop variety, head to ice-cream parlour Rocambolesc, which serves a blood orange concoction in the shape of the hand of Games of Thrones’ Jaime Lannister.
The Museum of Cinema
Movie history and memorabilia.
A stone lioness, to be kissed for good luck.
The Girona Cathedral
The widest Gothic nave in Europe.
Michelin starred traditional food.
Large sharing plates.
Parking Vayreda La Devesa
Motorhome parking close to city centre.
Can Toni Manescal
20 minute drive from Girona.
Figueres is best known as the birthplace of surrealist icon, Salvador Dalí. The Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí, designed and founded by Dalí himself, attracts people from all over the world. Art aficionados or not, they are drawn by the allure of a man who was just as uniquely odd as his oeuvre.
Aside from surrealist delights, Figueres, the next stop on your Catalonia road trip, also provides great food, wine, and small-town charm.
Head first to the Dalí Foundation. Whether you consider him a genius, or a self-indulgent eccentric, you can’t help but be bowled over by this magical wonderland, which includes giant eggs and great walls of bread.
Figueres is also home to the Toy Museum Of Catalonia, a collection of teddies, tricycles, spinning tops, and steam engines, among other children’s momentos. And then there’s the quirky Technical Museum of the Empordà, known for its collection of rare antique typewriters. It’s more interesting than it sounds, we promise.
If you’re looking to extend this Barcelona itinerary, the coastal area near Figueres is the perfect excuse for doing so. From Cadaques down to the Golf de Roses, Catalonia’s most northeastern coast is seriously worth a detour.
Museu de l'Empordà
Museum covering art, archaeology and history.
Dreamy fishermen’s village where Dali spent holidays.
Swimming lagoon, waterfall and castle remains.
Tapas in a cosy pub atmosphere.
Asian food in converted warehouse.
Formal dining, local produce.
Parking Figueres, Avinguda de Salvador Dalí
In the centre of Figueres.
Camping Bassegoda Park
Next to the Alta Garrotxa Nature Park.
Inland from Barcelona sits Vic, a city often ignored in favour of its coastal cousin. More fool them. Vic is home to fascinating cultural attractions and you won’t have to fight the crowds to see them.
With its young population, it also has a sassy energy that draws you in. Here you’ll find restored Roman ruins, Romanesque bridges, Gothic town halls, and Modernist mansions — a real cultural hodge-podge that just makes it more handsome.
Visit the Catedral de Sant Pere where the neo-classical and Romanesque collide. Then to the Roman temple, surrounded by the walls of an 11th-century castle, packing a lot of history into its few square metres.
Wander the art collection of the Museu Episcopal. Relax in one of the cafes that overflow into Plaça Major, home to Vic’s bi-weekly markets. Stroll ancient alleyways and stumble upon intriguing street art.
And when cultural adventuring wears you down, refuel with local cured meats, known as embutidos — probably the best you’ll have on this Catalonia road trip.
Monastery of Sante Pere Casseres Benedictine
Monastery with beautiful views.
Cat hot air ballooning
Hot air ballooning, but better.
Historic palace with plenty of photo ops.
Popular Catalan cuisine.
Sophisticated setting, contemporary Catalan cooking.
Energetic atmosphere, sweet and savoury crêpes.
Pàrquing del Sucre
Free parking 10 minutes from centre.
Camping Santa Eugenia Park
Peaceful camping 11 minutes from Vic centre.