Prettiest Towns in Catalonia

If you feel like you need a break from the city, in just an hour or two from Barcelona you can find yourself in a gorgeous natural setting, whether by the coast or inland. The rich history of region can be seen in numerous towns and villages, with many being well preserved from the medieval period.

Cadaqués

Cadaqués

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Cadaqués is a former fishing village set on a bay in the middle of the Cap de Creus peninsula on Spain’s Costa Brava. With a population of around 3,000 the economy of the town is now primarily driven by tourism. The drive to Cadaqués from Barcelona is only about two and a half hours.

Castellfollit de la Roca

Castellfollit de la Roca

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Castellfollit de la Roca is a town of about 1,000 residents in the province of Girona, Catalonia. The Medieval old town, perched dramatically on a narrow basalt cliff ledge, is bordered by the confluence of the Fluvià and Toronell rivers. The town sits at the edge of the Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa, a spectacularly beautiful and green area, great for hiking.

Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar

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Tossa de Mar is located on the Girona coast, about half way between the city of Barcelona and the French border. Only about 75 kilometers from Barcelona, the drive to Tossa de Mar takes less than 90 minutes, making it a popular weekend escape.

Montblanc

Montblanc

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Less than two hours drive from Barcelona, Montblanc is the capital of the Catalan comarca Conca de Barberà, in the province of Tarragona. The 14th century Gothic church of Santa Maria is pictured above. Montblanc is famous for its week-long Medieval festival (La Setmana Medieval) which takes place yearly in late April to early May. The nearby Monestir de Poblet dates back to 1150 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many kings and queens of Aragon are buried at the Poblet Monastery.

Santa Pau

Santa Pau

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The medieval village of Santa Pau is situated beside the Baixa Garrotxa Volcanic Nature Reserve in the Girona region of Catalonia. It was the seat of the barony of Santa Pau and a striking 13th century castle marks the center of town. A 16th century Gothic church dedicated to Santa Maria also stands on the main square. Santa Pau was granted protected heritage and artistic status in 1971.

Horta de Sant Joan

Horta de Sant Joan

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Horta de Sant Joan is the birthplace of Manuel Pallares, friend and companion of Pablo Picasso who he met at the art school in Barcelona. After dropping out of the art school in Madrid, Picasso spent some time in Horta during his teens (1897–98) with Manuel. He is quoted as having said, “Everything I know I learned in Horta”. Picasso later returned to develop his Proto-Cubist style of painting in 1909. (See also: Picasso’s Barcelona)

Calella de Palafrugell

Calella de Palafrugell

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Calella de Palafrugell is a charming old fishing village set on several rocky coves. The unspoiled town has whitewashed fishermen’s houses, narrow streets and restaurants overlooking the sea. The beaches are Blue Flag certified for their clean water and safety. The stretch of coast between Calella de Palafrugell and Palamos is widely recognized as among the most beautiful in the entire Mediterranean.

Besalú

Besalú

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Besalú is a medieval village in La Garrotxa region. The town is most famous for its 12th-century Romanesque bridge over the Fluvià river, which has a towering gateway in the middle. A trip to Besalú is often combined with a visit to the beautiful nearby Lake of Banyoles, the largest natural lake in Catalonia.

Rupit

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Rupit is about 100km north east of Barcelona, in between the towns of Vic and Girona. The town is famous for its medieval atmosphere, with winding cobblestone streets. The church of Sant Joan de Fàbregues and its castle date back to the 10th century. Some of the most spectacular hiking routes in Catalonia are near the town. See also: Hike from Tavertet to Rupit.

Miravet

Miravet

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Miravet is a small town on the bank of the river Ebro, famous for its medieval castle which is one of the best examples of the architecture of the Order of the Templars in Europe. Another Templar castle can be found further south in Peñíscola. In the potters’ quarter of Miravet, craftsmen continue to make traditional ceramics as they have done for centuries.

Gósol

Gósol

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The village of Gósol is situated in the Pyrenees, sitting to the west of the striking mountain called Pedraforca. Pablo Picasso lived in the village with his partner Fernande Olivier from the spring to August of 1906. Gósol has a small museum dedicated to Picasso’s work during this period.

Siurana

Siurana

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Siurana is situated in the comarca of Priorat, Tarragona, famous for its full-bodied red wines. The limestone cliffs around the beautiful clifftop village attract the world’s best climbers every winter.

Pals

Pals

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Pals is a well preserved medieval town in the province of Girona. It lies a few kilometres inland from the Costa Brava. The GR 92 footpath passes through the town. Peratallada is another beautiful medieval village a short distance from Pals.

Mura

Mura

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Mura is just an hours drive north of Barcelona. It is situated on the edge of the Parc Natural de Sant Llorenç del Munt i l’Obac, a 9630-hectare nature reserve. The Sant Martí church of Mura is a Romanesque building, its main nave dating from the 12th century.

Beget

Beget

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The tiny village of Beget is fourteen kilometres from Camprodon, in the comarca of Ripollès. It is situated 541 metres above sea level, where the Beget river meets the Trull stream. Beautiful stone houses, bridges and streets characterize this peaceful retreat. The 12th century Romanesque church of Sant Cristòfol can be found in the center.

Camprodon

Camprodon

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Camprodon is situated in the far north of Catalonia, close to the border with France. Pictured above is the beautiful Pont Nou (New Bridge), dating from the 12th century. The musician Isaac Albéniz was born in Camprodon, and the town has a museum dedicated to him.

Sitges

Sitges

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A little less than an hour’s train ride south of Barcelona, Sitges is a charming seaside town famous for its beaches, lively nightlife and rich artistic heritage. Fantasy and horror movie lovers flock to the town each October for the Sitges Film Festival.

Sant Llorenç de Morunys

Sant Llorenç de Morunys

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The village of Sant Llorenç de Morunys is situated near Port del Comte mountain and the Cardener river. It has roughly 1,000 residents and is popular among mushroom pickers in the autumn and skiers in winter.

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