Catalonia is one of the many autonomous communities in Spain, designated as a “nationality” by its Statute of Autonomy. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Taragona, with the capital and largest city as Barcelona. The region is bordered by France and Andorra to the North, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the regions of Aragon and Valencia to the west and south respectively. Travellers flock this northern region of Spain for its colourful culture, rich gastronomy, night life, interesting art scenes, and the beaches.
What to see & do
Barcelona – this city is famous and is always mistaken for as the capital of Spain (sorry, Madrid) – and it acts as one, even if it really isn't; it is a not-so formal version of Madrid. Barcelona is a captivating seaside city that is characterised by its boundless culture of classy merrymaking, fabled architecture brought even to the farthest isles of the Philippines (see: the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, the San Agustin Church, and even the Manila Cathedral), and a world-class and unbeatable drinking and dining scene. The people here are so imbibed with their culture that it becomes a surrounding energy that will draw even the pickiest tourists in, and the beauty of the place is just ethereal and warm at the same time that everyone will feel at home within minutes of arriving here. Aside from these, the number of art and art pieces concentrated in this city will give ample art education to those who do not know Salvador Dali, and the gastronomy (there is just too much food and drink!) will make you fall in love with tapas, chocolates, and wines over and over again. Don't forget to shop during the day at the open mercatos (good bargains!) and party all night at some of the swankiest bars here (booze everywhere).
Girona – “Eclectic and powerful,” that is how Girona is best described – and there is nothing more apt than these adjectives. The province is a powerhouse of the olden times - a tight huddle of ancient arcaded houses, grand churches, climbing cobbled streets and medieval baths, and Catalonia's most extensive and best-preserved Call (medieval Jewish quarter) that is all enclosed by defensive walls and the lazy Rio Onyar. Various influences have touched this province: Romans, Jews, and even Muslims and Franks. Travellers will see a spectrum of eras unfold here: cultures sticking out every now and then through the surviving Romanesque and Gothic buildings that have surpassed time, attacks, and sieges, modern and lively nightlife, and the great eating, art, and music scenes that have been set by various influences.
Tossa de Mar – dubbed as the 'Blue Paradise' in the 1930s, Tossa de Mar is a picturesque village of crooked and narrow streets, crowned with an impressive wall of medieval towers and fortresses. Off season the waters are low, but during the high seasons, it is an enchanting place to visit – even made famous by the 1950 film Pandora and the Flying Dutchman.
How to get around
Catalonia, especially Barcelona, is fit and blessed with many transport modes that may be used to get around the region and its cities. The main train stations include Estacio de Sants (Barcelona), Placa de Catalunya (local and regional train services), and Passeig de Grace (local and long-distance lines). These trains not only bring travellers around the locality, but also connect them and give them access to other cities outside of the region such as Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza, and the Basque country. Some even bring travellers across the Pyrenees, the Costa Daurada Beaches, and others. Buses, as well as coaches, are also very much present in here. Stations include the Estacio de Sants (next to the train station, where international routes can be covered. Note that Spain is landlocked.), the Estacio del Nord, and RENFE station. Other modes, such as taxi cabs and car rentals are also available here. They can easily be accessed upon arrival on the El Prat Airport, or other airports of choice.
How to get there
Barcelona's El Prat Airport is the best entry point for travellers who would want to see Catalonia. The El Prat Airport is connected to various transportation modes going to the cities of Barcelona, Girona, Reus, Lleida, and is located only 15 kilometres from the central business district. The El Prat Airport is served by a number of airlines, including EasyJet, BMI, Virgin, Volare, and MyTraveLite.