iconic driving route through Catalonia

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When we found out there was a route by car Designed to explore the most emblematic places, and some lesser known, of Catalonia, we knew we had to visit it. Also, that evocative name, Grand Tour of Catalonia, seduced us. Okay, we are not the young British aristocrats of a few centuries ago who came with their Grand Tour to Italy to educate themselves before the beauty of classical and Renaissance art. Come on, we are not young, nor aristocratic, nor British and we travel to enjoy. But heritage and art also motivate us. In addition to traditions, nature... and food, of course! And the good thing is that Grand Tour of Catalonia It brings together all of that and more.

Grand Tour Catalunya Vallbona de les Monges Jump
Jumping in the cloister of the Monastery of Vallbona de les Monges

We began to browse, reading in detail the itinerary of the Grand Tour of Catalonia, with all its sections and stages, mentally crossing out the places that we had already visited and marking those that we still had to go through. A mixed of memories and desires that took us from the landscapes of the Pyrenees to those of the Ebro Delta, from the medieval villages of the Costa Brava to those of Priorat, from the Romanesque churches lost in the middle of nowhere to the modernist buildings of the great cities, of breakfasts with Pa Amb Tomàquet and local sausages to the socks

After the “mental” visit, it was time for the physical one. No sooner said than done. We have gone to visit one of the stages of the Grand Tour of Catalonia and we tell you our experience.


What is the Grand Tour of Catalonia

He Grand Tour of Catalonia It is a route designed to explore the four Catalan provinces by car from north to south and from east to west. It starts and ends in Barcelona -it is a circular route-, it goes clockwise and, as we said, it reaches the most emblematic corners of Catalonia, but also some lesser known ones. Heritage, nature, food, traditions... nothing is missing!

Park Guell Barcelona Salamander
The salamander-dragon of Park Güell

The best thing is that it is a “journey full of trips”. Because you can choose which stretch to do, but also because you can organize each one to your liking and at your own pace, choosing where to go and what experiences to have. And it is that the itinerary is "very full" and there are also suggestions added in case you have extra time. So, if you're not very into running and more of enjoying calmly like us, you'll have to choose.

Grand Tour Catalonia Girona Onyar River
The Onyar river and the colored houses, the typical postcard of Girona

Another plus: the itinerary by car it is also part of the experience. Many of the roads are panoramic, so you will be enjoying the surroundings from the same car. Well, car or motorcycle, camper, motorhome… Whatever suits you best! In our case, car.
But let's get practical. There are two Grand Tour of Catalonia options: the Iconic Grand Tour and the Grand Tour in stages.

The iconic Grand Tour: around Catalonia in 13 days and almost 1,500 kilometers

The first mode, the “iconic route” of the Grand Tour of Catalonia, is designed to travel in a couple of weeks, 13 days to be exact. There are about 1,500 kilometers –1,496 specifically– in a circular itinerary that begins and ends in Barcelona. In addition to passing through the four Catalan capitals –Barcelona, ​​Tarragona, Lleida and Girona–, it reaches Montserrat, the Ebro Delta Natural Park, Priorat, the Poblet Monastery, Vall de Boí, Val d'Aran , the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres or Cap de Creus.

Grand Tour Catalonia Tarragona Roman Amphitheater
The Roman amphitheater of Tarragona at dawn

This is a route that, surely, will be more designed for foreigners who come from afar and cannot return to Catalonia many times. We, who are close, are more of exploring small areas thoroughly. But it can also be an “appetizer”…

the 13 stages

  • Stage 1. Modernist Barcelona.
  • Stage 2. From Montserrat to Penedès, with the Miravinya, Sant Sadurní d'Anoia or Vilafranca del Penedès route and its castellera group.
  • Stage 3. From Tarragona or Reus to the Costa Daurada.
  • Stage 4. The Ebro Delta. One day for the “Terres de l'Ebre”, its fishing villages, its landscapes and activities such as swimming with tuna.
  • Stage 5. From Priorat to the north. The vineyards of Priorat, Poblet, towns like Siurana and Montblanc and a calçotada in Valls.
  • Stage 6. Entering Lleida. Lleida capital with La Seu, spectacular landscapes such as the Congost de Mont-rebei and the best sky in Catalonia, in the Starlight del Montsec Reserve.
  • Stage 7. The Vall de Boí. The landscapes of the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park and the Romanesque of the Vall de Boí.
  • Stage 8. The Val d'Aran. Its capital, Vielha, small mountain villages, Romanesque churches and Aranese traditions.
  • Stage 9. More Pyrenees. Rafting in Llavorsí, the Romanesque cathedral of La Seu d'Urgell and the stone villages of La Cerdanya.
  • Stage 10. The inspiration of Dalí. The Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, the landscapes of Cap de Creus, Portlligat and Cadaqués.
  • Stage 11. From the Costa Brava to the interior. The Bay of Roses, the ruins of Empúries and charming towns such as Peratallada, Pals and Calella de Palafrugell.
  • Stage 12. From Girona to the interior of Barcelona, ​​with Rupit, Vic, Sant Benet de Bages or Mura.
  • Stage 13. Return to Barcelona passing through the crypt of Colonia Güell.
Routes Catalonia Car Lleida Seu Vella
Old Town of Lleida

Here you have the whole route in detail.

The Grand Tour in sections: 5 sections and more than 2,000 kilometers

Let's go with our favorite modality, the Grand Tour of Catalonia in five sections, to go deeper into a specific part of the route. The sections last between 5 and 7 days – each day is a stage – and start respectively in Barcelona, ​​Tarragona, Lleida, la Seu d'Urgell and Figueres.

Section 1: from Barcelona to Tarragona in 6 stages and 462 km

In addition to Barcelona and Tarragona, this section passes through places like Montserrat, Penedès, the Barcelona Coast and Sitges, the Monastery of Santes Creus or Altafulla. All in six days and covering more than 450 kilometers.

Grand Tour Catalunya Barcelona Montserrat Funicular
Montserrat from the top of the Sant Joan funicular

We had done all its stages, although on different trips and before knowing the Grand Tour of Catalonia. We tell you everything about this section in another article: From Barcelona to Garraf by car on the Grand Tour of Catalonia.

Section 2: from Tarragona to Lleida in 7 stages and 418 km

Section 2 joins two other capitals, Tarragona and Lleida, passing through Reus, the Ebro Delta, the towns and landscapes of Priorat and the Cistercian monasteries of Poblet and Vallbona de les Monges. Seven days and more than 400 kilometers.

Grand Tour Cataluna Section 2 Reus Casa Navas
Interior of Casa Navàs in Reus

This section is the last one that we have completed, following, now, the Grand Tour of Catalonia, although personalizing it a bit. Take a look at our Route by car from Tarragona to Lleida following the Grand Tour of Catalonia.

Section 3: from Lleida to La Seu d'Urgell in 5 stages and 357 km

Section 3 is the least known to us, as we only know Lleida and Vall de Boí, with its Romanesque heritage and the incredible landscapes of the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. Other iconic places that it covers are the Congost de Mont-rebei, the Val d'Aran or La Seu d'Urgell. All in six days and more than 350 kilometers.

Routes Catalonia Car Vall de Boi Santa Eulalia Eril-la-Vall
The church of Santa Eulàlia, in Eril-la-Vall

We have proposed to do this stage as soon as possible, but for now we cannot tell you more. You can find the complete itinerary in detail here.

Section 4: from La Seu d'Urgell to Figueres in 5 stages and 357 km

Section 4, which goes from La Seu d'Urgell to Figueres, we haven't covered it completely either. We know places like Pedraforca, the volcanic area of ​​La Garrotxa, Lake Banyoles and towns like Gósol, Castellar de N'Hug or Besalú, but we are missing others like Ripoll or Vall de Núria. It's five days and more than 350 kilometers.

Routes Catalonia Car Girona Besalu

We also want to tour them, for now, you have it here.

Section 5: from Figueres to Barcelona in 7 stages and 525 km

With Section 5, from Figueres to Barcelona, ​​it happens to us a bit like with Section 1, we have traveled the entire length, but in more trips. Some of its essentials are the Dalí Theater-Museum in Figueres, Cap de Creus with Cadaqués and Portlligat, medieval towns such as Pals, Peratallada or Calella de Palafrugell, Girona, Vic, the Montseny Natural Park or modernism on the Barcelona coast .

What to see in Cadaques La Ventana
The window of Cadaques

We talk about it in detail in our article By car from Figueres to Barcelona on the Grand Tour of Catalonia.

Do not tell us that you have not wanted to take a road map –or Google Maps, okay– and go designing your own version of the Grand Tour de Catalunya. We are working on it for the remaining sections…

Do you want to tour the Grand Tour of Catalonia? Here you can do it:

  • Your search cheapest flight to barcelona here.
  • choose the hotel that you like the best price in Catalonia here.
  • rent the car in Barcelona at the best price here.
  • The best guide in catalonia here
  • hire your tour guided in Catalonia here.
  • hire your travel insurance with a 5% discount here.

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