A regional capital packed with architectural treasures. Pretty, white-washed towns nestled between bright blue sea and lush green mountains. Startling archaeological finds from Neolithic times. There’s a lot to draw you to Catalonia, and lots to draw you back. Enjoying several boat rides, we explore this fiercely proud region of Spain, including Barcelona, peaceful Lake Banyoles and beautiful Besalú. And since it’s so close, we hop over the border to France to cruise the impressively engineered Canal du Midi.
7 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Barcelona. On arrival we transfer to the Costa Brava, where we stay at Hotel Monterrey Roses (4T). Both hotels are a very short walk away from the town’s long, wide sandy beach.
This morning we board a boat for a cruise along the coast to Cadaqués. The hour-long journey takes us alongside spectacular cliffs speckled with caves and vegetation. On reaching Cadaqués, a guide will take us on a tour. This small, white-chalked fishing town, flanked by mountains, was the birthplace of the famous surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, who has been remembered around the city with reproductions of his paintings and a bronze statue on the seashore. Many other artists have been drawn here by its bohemian chic and wonderful landscape, including Picasso and Henri Matisse; and many art galleries and workshops fill the streets today. We have a little time at leisure in Cadaqués before we make the return trip to Roses for an afternoon at leisure.
France is little more than 30 miles from our base in Roses, so today we take this opportunity to cross the border and continue to Béziers, one of Europe’s oldest towns. Our guide will offer an insight into this quiet gem as we explore, and take a boat along the Canal du Midi. This waterway was a major engineering achievement at the time of its creation, during the French Revolution. As you enjoy lunch on board, you can also enjoy views of medieval bridges, delightful villages and lovely countryside.
Enjoy a day at leisure. Roses is thought to have been inhabited by Greeks nearly 3,000 years ago. Much of its past is no longer visible; however clues can be found on your wander - from the uneven streets of the historic centre to the ruins of Roses Citadel. This 16th century, star-shaped fortress, built during the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, shows signs of the site’s historical evolution beginning with Greek colonisation around 4th-3rd centuries BC. Alternatively, take a walk or find a boat to take you to one of the many quiet coves along the coast.
Banyoles - Besalú
We spend today exploring historic Catalonia with a guide. Our coach takes us first to Banyoles, a town full of history and culture, but best known for its lakeside location. Banyoles Lake is Catalonia’s largest natural lake, and we take a gentle boat trip to appreciate this beautiful spot, full of natural life. Its six-mile shoreline is contained by small towns and tree covered hills. With free time in Banyoles, you have time to discover its historic centre, built around the Monastery of St Stephen, or La Draga, a Neolithic village where farming tools made entirely of wood have been recovered intact. Several cabins and barns have been reconstructed, demonstrations replicate reputed Neolithic life. Banyoles Regional Archaeological Museum contains one of the most important collections of palaeontology and archaeology in Catalonia, with local finds including the skull of a sabre-toothed tiger. In the afternoon we have a guided visit of exceptionally beautiful Besalú. This carefully preserved medieval gem has so much character, shaped by narrow cobbled streets, old stone façades and an impressive fortified bridge. Its Jewish heritage has been slowly rediscovered in recent decades; remnants of a 13th century synagogue and a rare 12th century miqvé (ritual bath) have been unearthed. You may like to spend your free time here visiting the Romanesque monastery.
Barcelona has been in the top five most popular European cities for many years, and today you will find out why. Our coach takes us to Barcelona harbour, to embark on a cruise along the city’s coastline for an alternative view of emblematic monuments above long city beaches. On returning to the harbour, make the most of your free time in Barcelona. Las Ramblas is the city’s most famous street, a wonderful, wide avenue to amble along, however head to the historic Gothic quarter to find the magnificent Palau de la Musica Catalana and dine in legendary Quatre Gats, frequented by Gaudi and Picasso, who held his first exhibition here. Or spend your time taking in Gaudi’s great legacies, scattered around the city - from the conventional Casa Calvet to convention-breaking Casa Batlló and the astounding La Sagrada Familia, still under construction after 125 years and no less impressive for its incompleteness.
Spend your last day in Roses at your leisure.
Day 8 Roses - Barcelona - UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.