Catalonia is comprised of four provinces, namely Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona. Together, these provinces occupy over 30,000 square kilometres in the north-eastern corner of Spain (bordering France and Andorra) and are home to some seven and a half million people.
Catalonia has three official languages: Catalan, Spanish and Aranese, and the region’s capital is Barcelona City. Given its size, its population, its languages and its culture, it’s hardly surprising that Catalonia feels different to every other part of Spain.
The region’s climate is quite diverse, with the coastal provinces (Barcelona, Girona and Tarragona) enjoying a Mediterranean climate. This means hot, dry summers and mild winters. Inland, in Lleida, the summers are not so hot and winters can get quite cold.
Catalonia’s coastline boasts some of the most spectacular beaches in the country, if not Europe. The Costa Brava and Costa Dorada are home to numerous resorts which act as magnets to the millions of visitors, both from Spain and abroad, who visit them every year. As well as the sunny beaches, the coastline also boasts spectacular scenery and many coastal walks. Other areas of natural beauty include the volcanic zone near Olot (in north-western Catalonia), the parks and forests of Garrotxa, and the historic town of Siurana.
Renowned the world over for its architecture, museums, art galleries and cultural events, Catalonia is a visitor’s paradise. Barcelona City and its satellite towns (including Mataro and Sabadell) offer the visitors more than one hundred museums, and the work of Gaudi seems to be around just about every corner! In Barcelona City and along the coast the nightlife too lives up to what one might expect of one of Europe’s most exciting hotspots.
In Catalonia, communications couldn’t be better. There are several airports, including Barcelona, Girona, and Sabadell airports. As for trains, the AVE (Spain’s high-speed train) connects the region with Madrid to the west, as well as Seville, Cordoba, and Malaga in the south. Barcelona train station is also the gateway for travel to neighbouring France, Andorra and Italy.
Barcelona port is also a stopping point for almost every cruise ship passing through the Mediterranean. Add to this a road network that’s second to none, and you will understand why Catalans are among the most-widely travelled Spaniards.