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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 Hotel Miramar will act as the base for your exploration, offering contemporary, comfortable living, combined with convenient proximity to Barcelona’s coast, as well as the attractive city centre. 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 Spa Empuries. This hotel strikes a confident balance between light, airy, seaside Spanish design, and more contemporary style. 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
    Prices start at £1,540 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 Hotel Miramar 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 Spa Empuries in L'Escala
    • 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

    DAYS ONE TO TWO:
    Arrive in Barcelona and spend two nights

    Start your Catalan holiday by flying into Barcelona. Take a taxi to the five-star Hotel Miramar, a sophisticated and relaxing property set in lush gardens near the city’s port, 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. 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.

    DAYS THREE TO FIVE:
    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. 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 TO EIGHT:
    Drive south east to the Catalan coast and spend three nights in L'Escala

    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 Spa Empuries, an elegant hotel in the exclusive town of L'Escala, where you will spend three nights. Located in the arch of a golden, sandy cove, your hotel is 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, 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. To get out into the surrounding countryside, perhaps run, walk, or cycle down the Ruta de Carrilet, an old railway track. For something less active, however, remain in your hotel to make the most of the excellent spa facilities, including massages, pool, and sauna. 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. For a taste of local history, wander round L'Escala's old town, which hosts a number of lively festivities all year round; or, head to nearby Sant Marti D'Empuries, a neighbourhood reliant on L'Escala that has been beautifully preserved as a medieval town. Walk along Les Planasses to see the rugged coastal cliffs, in which war-time bunkers have been preserved. The Anchovy and Salt Museum will give any visitor a valuable insight into local produce and cuisine. You could also venture inland to 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. In the evenings, dine on fresh seafood and Mediterranean cuisine in the Restaurante Villa Teresita.

    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 L'Escala: 2 hours 45 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.

    Hotel Miramar
    Barcelona
    Hotel Miramar is a luxurious five star hotel in Barcelona which offers a taste of seaside indulgence in a quiet corner of the city. Located in gardens on Montjuïc Hill overlooking the port, this elegant property allows guests to find peace just a stone’s throw from the city’s major attractions. Guests can easily wander into the city centre or be transported down to Barceloneta beach on a cable car. From the grandeur of the elevated 1920s building – a converted palace – enjoy majestic views of the urban skyline, set against the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel was refurbished in 2006 by the imaginative Oscar Tusquets, to whom the sophisticated interior design is credited. Hotel Miramar offers 75 guestrooms and suites with sleek lines and a modern, industrial-style décor, where soft greys, browns and sandy hues complement the combination of steel and wood. This inoffensive colour scheme allows the captivating views to steal focus through vast windows that frame the gardens, the city, and the sea. The final touch is a private balcony – a perfect little corner for two to read, relax, and indulge in a casual drink. One of the more privileged commodities for a city centre destination is the stylish swimming pool area with spacious patios and lawns, allowing guests to relax in peaceful surroundings. You can enjoy casual meals at the poolside bar; here, as well as at the Lobby Bar, tapas and cocktails are the name of the game. But for more satisfying dishes of an authentic Spanish flavour, seek Forestier for Catalan and Mediterranean meals comprised of seasonal ingredients. Wines from the Mies Van der Röhe wine cellar are the accompaniment. Hotel Miramar is the perfect location for a relaxing short break in Barcelona, offering a peaceful retreat just slightly removed from the hectic buzz of the city’s bustling tourist draws. Stays at the Hotel Miramar are complete with complimentary access to spa facilities, such as an indoor pool and gym.
    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 Spa Empuries
    L'Escala
    The four-star Hostal Spa Empúries is a luxury seaside villa on the Costa Brava; set beside Portitxol Beach and just steps from ancient Roman and Greek ruins, this is a hotel with an interesting history. Once known as Villa Teresita, it was built in 1907 as accommodation for archaeologists excavating the remains of the nearby Empúries ruins. The original building stands intact today, its crisp white walls and vast veranda elegantly stretching along the shoreline. Recent renovations have seen the addition of a modern wing , and the fluency between the old and new is seamless thanks to the contemporary refurbishment throughout. The result is a contemporary beachside haven with a tangible history. The decoration is charming, simple and tasteful, with clean lines, bright colours, natural materials and both antique and contemporary furniture. This can be seen in the guestrooms, some of which boast sea views from a small balcony. There are two restaurants to choose from at the hostel: Villa Teresita Restaurant serves fine dining fare in the form of Mediterranean dishes using seafood fresh from L’Escala, while Bistró del Mar offers a more casual menu for casual meals. Behind the menus of each there lies an ethos of sustainability, with ethically-sourced produce - including vegetables fresh from the hotel’s own kitchen garden - informing much of the menu. The Spa at Hostal Spa Empúries promises total relaxation and wellbeing with a range of treatments and therapies using organic products. There is a gym, a relaxation room, four treatments rooms and an exclusive water area with numerous water-based experiences including heated pools, a steam room, dry sauna and a sensation shower. The hotel also offers Hatha Yoga classes on the beach, while other activities are provided for with bicycle rental, stand up paddle board rental and the exclusive offering of a 23-metre sailboat. Hostal Spa Empuries is a luxury boutique hotel on the Costa Brava offering an indulgent service right beside Portitxol Beach, the Empuries ruins and L’Escala.
    Find out more here.

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