Explore the proud region of Catalonia and the Pyrenean Principality of Andorra during with this magical eight-day round-trip starting and ending in Barcelona. Discover ancient Roman ruins, picturesque mountain villages, timeless medieval towns and historic cities. Journey through verdant valleys and breathtaking mountain landscapes, and experience the raw beauty of the Catalan and Andorran countryside. Immerse yourself in the surreal world of extrovert artist Salvador Dali and the imaginative architecture of modernist master Antoni Gaudi. This tour introduces you to all the attractions that have made Catalonia such a fascinating destination.
Botifarra amb mongetes: The Catalan equivalent of bangers and beans is a hearty and homely national favourite
Hydrotherapy: Andorra is famed for its thermal springs so drop by one if you get the chance to relax after a day’s sightseeing
Big breakfast: Visit the Boqueria market off the Ramblas in Barcelona for a tasty and at times unusual morning treat
Tarragona: Discover the classical heritage of one of the Roman capitals of Hispania
Solsona: Explore the town of L’Espluga de Francoli and the magnificent walled monastery of Poblet en route to this historic market town
Andorra: This picturesque Pyrenean principality boasts stunning landscapes dotted with remote hamlets
Garrotxa: Stroll through the craggy village of Castellfollit de la Roca and beautiful Besalu during the journey through this scenic highland area
Figueres: The spirit of surrealist artist Salvador Dali lives on in his home town as a visit to the entertaining theatre-museum dedicated to him will reveal
Barcelona: Visit iconic Gaudi creations such as Park Güell and the Sagrada Familia basilica, and stroll along the Ramblas
Sant Sadurni d’Anoia: Enjoy a guided tour of a cava winery and cellars followed by a sparkling wine tasting
Montserrat: Pay homage to La Moreneta, Catalonia’s patron saint, in this monastery high up in the mountains
Meet and greet service at Barcelona El Prat Airport and transfer to your hotel in the Tarragona, which was one of the Roman capitals of Spain, when it was known as Tarraco. Today, the city’s Roman ruins have earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before exploring Tarragona with a city tour. Visit the ruins of the old city walls, which date from the third century, and other significant Roman monuments such as the Forum, the circus and the amphitheatre, which is almost on the shores of the Mediterranean. See also the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Mary, a magnificent fusion of Romanesque and Gothic styles and admire the graceful elegance of the Plaça de la Font, where the city hall is located. Continue to L’Espluga de Francoli, a busy town closely associated with Conca de Barberà wines, to enjoy free time to wander through its historic core. Just 5km to the south is the Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria de Poblet, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex is completely surrounded by defensive walls and to stroll around it is like travelling back in time to the Middle Ages. Romanesque, Gothic and baroque architectural styles can be appreciated throughout the monastery, which also served as the pantheon of kings of the once mighty Crown of Aragon. Continue to the market town of Solsona for check-in at the hotel.
Take to the road after breakfast at the hotel, heading for the important town of La Seu d’Urgell, which lies in the plain before the foothills of the Pyrenees. Enjoy free time to explore La Seu d’Urgell, which is the seat of the Bishop of Urgell, one of the two historic co-princes of Andorra. The 12th century Cathedral of St Mary retains many of its original Romanesque features with capitals that tend to feature grotesques intended to strike the fear of God into medieval peasants. Enjoy some free time to explore the town before continuing to Andorra for check-in at the hotel. Rest of the day free to explore the capital of Andorra at your own pace. As well as a multitude of duty free shops selling electronic equipment and the latest fashions, attractions include the medieval churches of St Columba and St Stephen and the historic Casa de la Vall.
Breakfast at the hotel is followed by departure for Ripoll in Catalonia. Drive for a few hours through the majestic mountain landscapes of the Pyrenean foothills and the Cadi-Moixero Natural Park and the Catllaras Range, where dense forests and farmland are dotted with the picture-postcard hamlets and villages of the area as La Garrotxa. Arrive at the restored Benedictine monastery of St Mary of Ripoll, which was founded in the ninth century. Enjoy free time to explore the monastery, admiring its magnificent Romanesque portico, which survived the sacking and destruction of much of the monastery by anticlerical forces in the mid-19th century. Then it’s on to the village of Castellfollit de la Roca, which is vertiginously perched on a thousand-metre-long crag with a drop of 50 metres. On one side of the village, the homes look down on the river Fluvia, a scene of breathtaking beauty. A short drive eastward along the river is the equally mesmerising town of Besalu, which was traditionally reached via one of the most romantic medieval bridges in Europe. The eight-arch bridge crosses the river at an angle, with a fortified tower complete with portcullis in the middle. Enjoy free time to explore the old town, with its winding streets, pretty plazas and historic churches and palaces. Continue to Figueres for check-in at the hotel.
Explore Figueres after breakfast at the hotel en route to the zany and thought-provoking Dali Theatre-Museum. The master of surrealism was born more than a century ago in this small city near the French border, and his genius has forever changed the town. The Theatre-Museum boasts an eclectic collection, which ranges from paintings to installation pieces such as the Mae West Room and the Rainy Taxi as well as works by others such as El Greco and Ernst Fuchs. A 40-minute drive to the south is the hamlet of Pubol, where the Gala Dali Castle is located. This 14th century palace was the final studio of the artist and he spent years renovating it, meaning it is another one of his creations with surreal elements such as the fountain with the multiple busts of composer Richard Wagner and doors that aren’t really doors. See the richly decorated reception rooms and bedrooms as well as the dozens of works throughout the house before continuing to Girona. Enjoy a walking tour of the well-preserved old town on arrival, strolling across the bridges of the River Onyar with their views of the hanging houses, and along the hilly cobbled streets of El Call, the former Jewish quarter. Behold the beautiful baroque façade of the cathedral, which sits atop a hill reached by a staircase, and the Gothic St Feliu church. Enjoy a different perspective of the centre from the ramparts of the city walls, which surround the old town. Continue to Barcelona for check-in at the hotel.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before spending the morning exploring Barcelona’s historic Gothic Quarter. Stroll through narrow cobbled streets and alleys, which open up to picturesque plazas with café terraces and secluded churches. Admire Santa Eulalia Cathedral and the churches of Santa Maria del Mar and Santa Maria del Pi, three outstanding examples of Catalan Gothic architecture, and behold the medieval majesty of the former royal palace at the Plaça del Rei. Later visit Park Güell in the northwestern suburbs of the city, and see what Gaudi’s vision of an ideal ‘garden city’ was. The park remains unfinished but enough was built to captivate the imagination, with myriad mosaics made from irregular and broken pieces of tiles. Enjoy the views over Barcelona and the Mediterranean before continuing to the still unfinished Sagrada Familia basilica, with designs which stretched the realms of the imagination and have made it the iconic symbol of the city. The basilica has three fascinating façades, one of which – the surreal Nativity façade – was more or less completed before Gaudi died, and only recently was the roof of the nave finished. Back in the centre, enjoy free time to wander around the Ramblas.
Take to the road after breakfast at the hotel, heading to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia some 50km away. This prosperous town is the heartland of the cava-producing Alt Penedes region. Tour a vineyard and explore the bodega itself, learning all about this world-famous sparkling wine. After the guided tour, enjoy a sparkling wine tasting before continuing to Montserrat, Catalonia’s holiest mountain and home of the Black Virgin or La Moreneta. As well as being a spiritual and cultural journey, a visit also affords stunning views of the highlands and their staggering rock formations. Montserrat has been a place of pilgrimage since the ninth century when some shepherd boys found a statue of the Virgin Mary in a cave. Since then, the statue has been venerated and it is believed to have turned black thanks to centuries of smoke from candles. Today, Montserrat is the largest Benedictine monastery in Spain. Wander the courtyards and cloisters before entering the impressive basilica and exploring the museum.
Transfer to the airport in Barcelona for your departure flight. Breakfast included.