Catalonia is a northeasterly region of Spain, rich with historic appeal and home to some of the most vibrant communities in the entire country. Its capital, Barcelona, is one of the friendliest and most welcoming cities in Europe, and the Catalonian countryside is filled with rugged landscapes, picturesque cathedrals, and year-round festivals and celebrations. Visitors should note that many Catalans consider the region to be separate and distinct from the rest of Spain, reflected by the fact that Catalan, and not Spanish, is the first language of many people here.
Some of the must-see places in Catalonia include:
-Barcelona: Home of Gaudi's striking architecture and some of the most vibrant nightlife and exciting cuisine in all of Europe, Barcelona is a must-see for any visitor to Catalonia. You could easily spend your entire trip exploring Barcelona.
-Costa Brava: Dotted with rugged cliffs, rolling hills and striking scenery, Costa Brava is home to some of the best beaches and campsites in Catalonia.
-Tarragona: With a history dating back to the Roman Empire and home to impressive Catalonia cathedrals, Tarragona is the ideal destination for visitors looking to slow things down a little and take in the rich Catalan culture at a leisurely pace.
-Catalan High Pyrenees: Bordering France, this quiet corner of Catalonia is perfect for nature lovers. It is home to a high concentration of natural parks, and its sublime, unspoiled beauty is well worth the trek into the mountains.
-Girona: Near Costa Brava, Girona is a scenic, centuries-old town and is home to one of the region's most impressive Jewish quarters.
In Catalonia, festivals take place throughout the entire region during, literally, every week of the year. If you're visiting to take part in local festivals, you'll find the greatest concentration of major celebrations during the summer, as well as around the Christmas season.
Vacation rentals make ideal accommodations for visitors to Catalonia, offering visitors more comfort and privacy than hotels at often more affordable rates. Beachfront villas, urban flats and trendy apartments are among your many options.
If you want to do more exploring in the area, you can head deeper into Spain by visiting the capital region of Madrid, or go northwest through the Pyrenees into quiet Andorra or neighboring France.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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