Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, with a strong identity different in many ways to the rest of the country. Staying in Roses, an essentially Mediterranean town in the north of Costa Brava, we discover what makes this region unique. We spend time cruising along Catalonia’s spectacular coastline and on beautiful Banyoles Lake, which has sustained settlements for over 7,000 years. We cross the border to France, to visit historical Béziers and cruise along the Canal du Midi. Back in Catalonia we explore the magnificent medieval town of Besalú, while those with an interest in surrealism and Catalan Modernism will love our time in Cadaqués and Barcelona, where the work of Salvador Dali and Antoni Gaudi are openly displayed on the streets.
7 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport and our direct, scheduled British Airways flight to Barcelona. On arrival we transfer to the Costa Brava, where we stay at Prestige Hotel Sant Marc (3T) (2018) or Hotel Monterrey Roses (4T). Both hotels are a very short walk away from the town’s long, wide sandy beach.
Day 2 Cadaqués
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.
Day 3 Béziers
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.
Day 4 Roses
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.
Day 5 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.
Day 6 Barcelona
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.
Day 7 Roses
Spend your last day in Roses at your leisure.
Day 8 Roses - Barcelona - London
We depart for Barcelona Airport and our direct, scheduled British Airways flight to London Heathrow Airport, where you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.