Catalonia is a region that still holds an independent footprint on the cultural soil of Spain. Although Spanish is the national language, Catalan is spoken by nearly half of residents. They have an autonomous government and President and there is a national feel to the identity of the area. And although it’s home to the sandy bays of the Costa Brava in Girona, the Costa del Maresme, Costa del Garraf and Costa Daurada in Tarragona, you can just as easily pop to the ski resorts of Lleida if you want to cool off.
There are 6 airports dotted around and high-speed rail links Catalonia with major European cities like Paris, Madrid and Perpignan. The cities and towns are well connected by both public transport and road systems. Most of the population (and work) centres in Barcelona, with 16% of the 5 million or so residents there being foreign-born. Barcelona is the richest, most industrialised city in Spain and its Poblenou district has become a tech hub to rival Dublin.
The home of Cava, four restaurants with 3 Michelin stars and 3 of ‘the World’s Best 50 Restaurants’, it’s truly a land of plenty with natural resources including almonds, olive oil, fresh fruit, Mediterranean vegetables and fish to tickle the palate on any budget. As a result of the separatist culture, many traditions thrive. For example, Castells are human towers originating from Valls, near the city of Tarragona. No festival is without gegants i capgrossos — a parade of giants — and Barcelona hosts the Festes de La Mercè, incorporating all this as well as the La Fira de Vins: a food and wine fair. If the world-famous opera house, football club or Olympic Park aren’t enough, there’s always the work of Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, and Antoni Gaudi to drink in.