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  • Catalan discovery: mountains and coast

    Hotel Miramar

    Hotel Miramar

    Hotel El Castell de Ciutat

    Hotel El Castell de Ciutat

    Hostal Spa Empuries

    Hostal Spa Empuries

    Catalan Discovery: Mountains and Coast

    Fly-drive Tour - 8 nights and 9 days
    This eight-night fly-drive touring holiday is the ideal way to discover the diversity of Catalonia, taking in the vibrant city of Barcelona, the mountain landscapes of the Pyrenees and the rugged beauty of the Costa Brava. Stay in three luxury hotels which all have a unique character and make up the perfect base for exploring the local area.

    Begin this luxury touring holiday with your arrival in Barcelona. Spend two nights in this bustling, dynamic city, exploring its many-faceted quarters, and marvelling at the wealth of astounding architecture and culture. The Grand Hotel Central will act as the base for your exploration, offering contemporary, comfortable living, combined with an excellent location in the attractive city centre near the famous Cathedral. From here, drive north to El Castell de Ciutat in La Seu d’Urgell, situated amidst the rugged scenery of the Pyrenees, and stay for three luxurious nights. Take in the magnificent panoramas whilst traversing the mountainsides, or absorb the sublime atmosphere of the mountains from the poolside. Next, this tour takes you to the Costa Brava. Stay three nights at the Hostal de la Gavina. This hotel is elegant and, situated on a small peninsula looking over the Bay of Sant Pol, claims striking seaside views. Spend your days enjoying the sea air, diving off the rocky coast, and relaxing on golden beaches. Within easy reach of many other seaside villages, as well as the cities of Girona and Figueres, you are perfectly placed to soak up the last of the cultural delights of Catalonia. Finish your tour by returning to Barcelona for your flight back to the UK.
    Click here to download a pdf with details about this touring holiday.

    Prices start at £1,890 per person.

    What’s included:
    • Scheduled flights with British Airways, from London Heathrow to Barcelona El Prat return
    • Group C car hire for seven days
    • 2 nights bed and breakfast in a standard double room at the Grand Hotel Central in Barcelona
    • 3 nights bed and breakfast in a standard double room at the El Castell de Ciutat in La Seu d’Urgell
    • 3 nights bed and breakfast in a standard double room at the Hostal de la Gavina in S'Agaro
    • Parking available at all hotels

    Click the tabs above to view our suggested day-by-day touring itinerary and to find out more about the hotels featured.
    Click here to find out more about how our touring holidays work.

    Catalan Discovery: Mountains and Coast

    Day-by-Day Itinerary

    DAY ONE: Arrive in Barcelona and spend two nights
    Start your Catalan holiday by flying into Barcelona. Take a taxi to the five-star Grand Hotel Central, a sophisticated property located in Barcelona's Gothic quarter just a short distance from the cathedral, where you will stay for two nights. This stop on your luxury touring holiday provides just enough time to explore Barcelona’s several diverse quarters.

    DAY TWO: Barcelona
    Begin with Montjuïc, famed for its castle, the tallest landmark in Barcelona. Perhaps also visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, featuring a vast collection of Romanesque and Gothic art. Also of interest is the minimalist white building of the Fundació Joan Miró, the landscaped gardens, and the Poble Espanyol. The Gothic quarter might be next on your list. This part of the city is characterised by its maze-like medieval streets, and the beautifully designed buildings. Some of the best shops, and the most beautiful palaces, churches, and squares are nestled into these streets. In La Ribera, the former palaces of merchants have been converted into revered museums, such as the Museu Picasso. This quarter is also home to the fantastically mesmerising interior of the modernist Palau de la Música Catalana. You may also wish to visit the historic Santa Maria del Mar, with its cavernous interior, ochre stone walls, and pillars. El Raval was once one of the most prolific red light districts in the Mediterranean; but now, this notorious history is almost lost beside the beauty of the Romanesque monastery of Sant Pau, and Antoni Gaudi’s enchanting Palau Güell. The Barcelona coast is divided into six Blue Flag beaches, and serves some of the best seafood in the city – besides the oysters and street food at La Boqueria market on Las Ramblas. This is the perfect place to pass a lunchtime or early afternoon before taking in more of the sights. Barcelona’s most famous quarter is perhaps the Eixample. Riddled with eclectic Modernista architecture, its streets are imprinted with the style of architects such as Antoni Gaudi. For a sweeping view of the best works of this movement, wander down the Passeig de Grácia, and see the Manzana de la Discòrdia, Le Pedrera, and, of course, the magnificent Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s most famous and best-loved work takes the form of Barcelona’s temple. Its modified gothic architecture fractures the skyline in a series of elegant spires, while inside the shape of the Sagrada still revolves around the image of the traditional Latin cross. Contrary to popular belief, however, this temple is still inferior in height to the Montjuïc Castle, and therefore visiting both sites is essential to any trip to Barcelona. The Zona Alta, which sits further away from Barcelona’s centre, is home to Gaudi’s Parc Güell, and Horta’s labyrinth, and is therefore ideal for passing an afternoon outside. Complete your stay in Barcelona on Las Ramblas, taking in the lively atmosphere, the music of the buskers, enjoying the work of the living statues, sampling the delicacies of the stalls, and seeking the perfect souvenir in the shops.

    DAY THREE: Drive northwest to La Seu d’Urgell, and stay for three nights
    Pick up your hire car and drive northwards to the town of La Seu d’Urgell in the Pyrenees, a journey of just over 100 miles. Your route takes you near the Monastery of Montserrat, a religious complex in a spectacular setting atop craggy mountains with chapels, hermits’ caves and numerous nature trails. You could also break the journey in Cardona, a picturesque town full of Romanesque and Gothic architecture dominated by a 9th century fortress. Arrive at your hotel, El Castell de Ciutat, a contemporary alpine lodge in a rural location with astounding mountain views, where you will be staying for three nights.

    DAYS FOUR AND FIVE: La Seu d'Urgell
    Spend your time exploring the nearby nature reserves by bicycle or on foot, take part in activities such as horse-riding, canoeing, and mountain biking; venture over the border to the quaint hillside village of Fontaneda in the Principality of Andorra, or simply relax and enjoy the outstanding mountain views from the comfort of the hotel. In the centre of the village of La Seu d’Urgell, sits the 11th century Catedral de Santa Maria. This austere, but dramatic, cathedral is a testament to the Italian influence on the Catalan Romanesque style. Its tall central chamber is quite severe, lacking in natural light; yet, this serves to make the circular window that hangs above the altar at the end of the hall all the more affecting. Corridors and the cloister border a beautiful courtyarded garden. Also within the cathedral is a Diocesan Museum, which displays a collection of mediaeval paintings and sculptures that pertain to this region of Spain. La Seu d’Urgell has its own Sagrada Familia, though its charming exterior bears little resemblance to the temple in Barcelona. You may also wish to wander around the cloister of the Església de Sant Miquel, a church that continues the austerity of the cathedral, with tall curved walls and brooding interiors. One part of the church, however, still bears evidence of a once more colourful building. One of the greatest pleasures of spending time in La Seu d’Urgell might be a leisurely stroll through the historic quarter, taking in the picturesque beauty of the arcaded streets and old mansions, stopping off on your way at the convent of Sant Domingo.

    DAYS SIX: Drive south east to the Catalan coast and spend three nights in S' Agaro

    Drive for around three hours south east to the Costa Brava, travelling via the quintessentially Catalan town of Vic, where an excellent market is held in the main square. Head to the Hostal de la Gavina, an elegant hotel in an impressive seaside location, where you will spend three nights. Located on a peninsula the hotel looks out over sandy cove and rugged cliffs beyond, a haven of relaxation with plenty of activities and excursions nearby.

    Visitors can indulge in the spa, enjoy a game of tennis, relax on the sandy beaches or by one of the two pools, partake in numerous water sports, including windsurfing and water-skiing, hire a boat to explore the coastline, or discover the local area by car. The beaches, coves, and rock pools are what gives this area most of its charm. During the days guests may choose to explore the Camino de Ronda which leads down to Sa Conca beach. Alternatively, recline on the beach, with the serenity of the Costa Brava as your backdrop, and with the rush of the lapping sea to help you relax. Guests can enjoy access to the St Pol Beach Club. Just a short drive inland is Girona, a cosmopolitan and characterful city with a well-preserved mediaeval Jewish quarter as well as Islamic and Christian monuments. Further north is Figueres, the town which is known for its popular and eccentrically designed museum dedicated to the work of Salvador Dalí.

    DAY NINE: Return to Barcelona for your return flight to the UK
    Drive for about one and a half hours back to Barcelona, where you will return your hire-car and catch your flight back to the UK.

    Driving times for this touring holiday:
    Barcelona to La Seu d’Urgell: 2 hours 15 minutes
    La Seu d’Urgell to S'Agaro: 2 hours 40 minutes
    L'Escala to Barcelona: 1 hour 35 minutes

    Click the 'Hotel Information' tab to find out more about the hotels featured in this touring itinerary.

    Catalan Discovery: Mountains and Coast 3

    Hotel Information

    These are the luxury hotels that are featured in this vast touring holiday. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations – please contact us for full details.

    Grand Hotel Central
    Perfect for a stylish city break to the artistic city of Barcelona, the five-star Grand Hotel Central embodies a sophisticated aura that harks back to the building’s 1920s beginning. Having been sympathetically renovated to complement the building’s original style, Grand Hotel Central now strikes a compromise between old and new. Grand doorways open to reveal spaces that blend chic modern décor with original features. Bold blocks of colour, contemporary lighting and a minimalist scattering of statement features contrast high, coffered ceilings and soaring columns. Each of the 147 guestrooms is minimal and comfortable, decked with fine linen, top quality fittings and soothing colour schemes to create a relaxing space in which to unwind after a day travelling this most vibrant Spanish city. Situated beside Barcelona Cathedral, the Grand Hotel Central occupies a prime location for exploring the city. Stroll out the hotel’s doors and find yourself on Via Laietana, which runs from the seafront to the old town. When you get tired of exploring by foot, guests at the Grand Hotel Central can retreat to a rooftop terrace to gain an aerial perspective of Barcelona. A chic and sophisticated space, it is without a doubt the statement piece of the entire hotel. Here, a slick infinity pool stretches to a spine-tingling drop at the building’s edge, providing vast, one-of-a-kind views over the city. Skybar is a marvellous addition that reflects the sleepless city’s cosmopolitan appeal, with its stylish and contemporary atmosphere. Angular wooden benches are angled towards each other to create intimate booths that are lit by candlelight and mood lighting. Neon blue lighting can be seen to mirror the city lights that surround this rooftop spot. Avalon Restaurant and Café is another location in which to indulge at the Grand Hotel Central. Overseen by the two-Michelin starred chef Ramon Friexa, divine cuisine is served in a fashionable and sleek space decorated in a deep colour palette. The hotel’s Wellness Suite offers an altogether different menu of sensory and indulgent experiences. Enter this aromatic space and be pampered after a tiring day of exploration.
    Find out more here.

    El Castell de Ciutat
    La Sue d’Urgell
    Hotel El Castell de Ciutat is a charming four-star Relais & Châteaux property which takes the style of an alpine lodge, and hugs the hillside above the historical town of La Seu d’Urgell. Basking in rugged isolation, the long, low-lying buildings are overshadowed by evergreen trees, while the ancient ruins of a Roman fortification add a tangible sense of history to this landscape. The astounding views are maximised at all turns, with vast windows and terraces taking in rolling scenery of the Urgellet Valley, where the Cadí Moixeró natural park is framed by distant, snow-dusted peaks. While the hotel itself was named after the historic remains behind, the signature restaurant of Hotel El Castell de Ciutat borrows its name from the family who have run it since the 1960s. Tàpies Restaurant exudes an undeniable romance, its elegant interior accompanied by excellent service, striking vistas and a menu of fresh, regional produce including truffles, wild mushrooms and local cheeses. The design theme of the hotel is utterly in keeping with the setting, including the bar and salon where fireside warmth is supplied to a cosy library space. Guestrooms are typical in their pine-clad style, all looking out over the valley below with Superior rooms benefitting from the addition of a peaceful terrace. Personal touches give a homely ambience, whilst the complimentary mini bar allows guests to help themselves to drinks throughout the day. Families are welcome at El Castell de Ciutat, where suites have space for extra beds. For total relaxation, guests can seek the services of the Wellness centre, which has indoor swimming pools, a gym and an array of spa treatments. The outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi are both set in the hillside with lovely views over the surrounding countryside. Bicycles can be rented by the day, while nearby activities include hiking, horse riding, fishing, and water sports at the Olympic canoeing centre located in La Seu d’Urgell. After a day of alpine activities in the Pyrenees, Hotel El Castell de Ciutat is a welcome retreat with the opportunity to combine with a trip to Barcelona or even a hop to nearby Andorra.
    Find out more here.

    Hostal de la Gavina
    The Hostal de la Gavina is an elegant five-star resort which exudes timeless luxury in an impressive seaside location. Situated on a small peninsula the exclusive villa and grounds enjoy striking views of the Bay of Sant Pol, crystal clear water and the rugged cliffs beyond. The villa was built in the early 1920s and oozes with the style and elegance associated with that era. Originally having just 11 bedrooms the villa has been added to over the years and now boasts 74 rooms and suites, yet it has not lost any of its traditional charms. Inside the hotel is decorated with tapestries, antiques and rich fabrics with contrast with the plain white walls that give the rooms a sense of airy space. The rooms themselves are spacious and decorated individually with historical pieces, guests can enjoy outstanding views over the patio or out to sea. The dining experience at the hotel is exquisite, with an array of delicious Mediterranean dishes on offer, which can be enjoyed in the intimate Candlelight restaurant or, during summer months, in the picturesque courtyard area. During the days guests can relax by the pool and on sun loungers that overlook the pretty cove or choose to indulge in the range of treatments offered by the hotels spa, a luxurious experience that is completed by the sauna, jacuzzi and Roman bath that are also available. In a beautiful location there are also plenty of coastal walks and beaches within easy reach of the hotel for those who wish to explore the local area. Hostal de la Gavina offers guests a truly rejuvenating experience, with a luxurious range of accommodation and facilities in a truly beautiful setting on the Costa Brava.
    Find out more here.

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