Catalonia and its people are an innovative, forward-looking society that is always abreast of cultural movements, creative trends and the latest developments in the many sectors in which it is a leader.
In addition to its history and its cultural heritage, Catalonia enjoys a geographical diversity of environments, holiday destinations and landscapes. This, together with the character of its people, gives rise to countless attractions that are unquestionably worth discovering and learning about.
With its traditional and its inventive cuisine, the works of its eminent artists and the possibilities offered by the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees as places for leisure and work, plus the year-round international and popular cultural events and happenings, Catalonia has everything you could ask for, be it for long holidays, a short break or an incentive trip or as a complement to fill the free time between your business meetings and conventions.
Artists who have earned a place among the list of universal creators, such as Miró, Dalí, Tàpies, Pablo Casals and Gaudí, found inspiration in Catalonia for their artistic creation. Catalonia’s cultural heritage is rich and varied, taking in all disciplines and offering visitors monuments, unique traditional festivities and many music, dance, theatre and circus festivals.
Catalonia’s architectural heritage covers thousands of years of history. Its jewels include Iberian settlements, the remains of the first Greek city in the Iberian peninsula, the Roman legacy, Romanesque churches, Gothic cathedrals and Jewish quarters. With regard to artistic movements, Catalan modernism, which was at its height in the early 20th century with Gaudí as its greatest exponent, offers buildings that are unique in the world, such as La Pedrera, the Sagrada Familia and Güell Park.
UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to peace through education, science and culture and, as a part of this, it promotes the conservation and protection of the cultural and natural heritage bequeathed us by our forebears and which we in turn want to pass on to future generations. In addition to the measures taken by each country, UNESCO intervenes directly in the preservation of heritage so remarkable that it crosses the boundaries of an individual culture to be become what we call ‘world heritage’. Cultural world heritage consists of monuments, groups of architectural constructions, archaeological sites and the places shaped by human activity that are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art, anthropology and science. Such monuments and sites include the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall and the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, the Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Poblet, works by Antoni Gaudí, the Romanesque churches in the Vall de Boí and the archaeological ensemble of Roman Tarraco, as well as the rock art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula.
More than a hundred museums in Catalonia strive to live up to all this material, and the National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC), as well as Gothic and Baroque art, exhibits the largest collection of Romanesque art in the world, a must for culture lovers.
With its 580 kilometre coastline and almost 350 coves and beaches, Catalonia is one of the best so-called sun & beach destinations.
This sort of tourism can be completed with fine heritage and protected nature, which can be enjoyed along numerous signposted walking or cycling paths. Nautical tourism, family holiday destinations, gastronomy and sports tourism aimed at both professionals and amateurs are suitable to complete a seaside holiday in great style.
The Government of Catalonia is heavily working on prevention, control and improvement of coastal waters and beaches, while each municipality is in charge of cleaning its main beaches every day during the summer season.
The Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club (ADAC), with more than 17 million member families and a high reputation among German public opinion as an unbiased organization with tourism expertise, certifies year after year the quality of Catalan beaches, which are characterised by their water quality, large environmentally friendly leisure offer and countless tourist facilities, many of which are adapted to be accessible to any kind of users.
In addition to the blue flags and quality certificates at a vast number of Catalan beaches, facilities provided in the coastal municipalities and the numerous marinas and water sports businesses, it is the millions of tourists coming back to Catalonia every year who provide the best quality proof.
Prades potatoes, wines from the Penedès, the ganxet bean, Siurana olive oil, calçots (a type of tender onion) from Valls, rice from the Ebro Delta, sausage from Vic and the cheeses of Alt Urgell, to name but a few of the Catalan products with certification of origin and agri-food quality. Catalan cuisine is internationally renowned for achieving a difficult balance between innovation and tradition, through the work of chefs like Joan Roca, Carme Ruscalleda, Santi Santamaria and Ferran Adrià, who from the kitchens of El Bulli restaurant revolutionised the world gastronomy scene.
Behind the fine food of Catalonia today lies the story of a country, a land, a way of being and of doing things. That is why Catalan cuisine has been nominated for recognition by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Catalonia is a land of tremendous gastronomic wealth, as it enjoys a creative and innovative approach to fine food as well as the more traditional cuisine that identifies and defines it.
Gourmet hotels, of which there are more than 20 in Catalonia, play a very important part in preserving the roots of Catalan cuisine and produce. Scattered across the whole of Catalonia, these hotels invite you to enjoy the pleasure of an excellent meal and are showcases for local food of outstanding quality.
In addition to its many restaurants of every kind, Catalonia has a network of public markets where the quality of the produce is paramount, and a large number of groups of restaurateurs dedicated to promoting the cuisine typical of each area, combining the qualities of the terroir with local foodstuffs.
With such charming areas like Cerdanya, Núria Valley, Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant
Maurici National Park and Val d’Aran, the Catalan Pyrenees are an ideal destination to
enjoy the snow. Catalonia has been pioneering in skiing as La Molina ski resort in the Girona Pyrenees opened in 1943, the first in all Spain. Four years later Vall de Núria followed, also in the Girona Pyrenees.
Skiing attracts over two million visitors every year. There are 16 ski resorts in the CatalanPyrenees, providing a varied offer, the largest in Spain. The overall skiing area encompasses 600 kilometres of slopes and a capacity to carry around 165,000 skiers per hour. The 10 alpine ski resorts are Baqueira Beret, Boí Taüll Resort, Espot Esquí, La Molina, Masella, Port Ainé, Port del Comte, Tavascan, Vall de Núria and Vallter 2000. There are in addition 6 Nordic ski resorts with cross-country slopes and snow racket routes. These are Aransa, Guils Fontanera, Lles, Sant Joan de l’Erm, Tuixén-La Vansa and Virós-Vall Ferrera.
The Pyrenees also provide opportunities for other snow-related activities, such as snow racket walks, snow bikes, surfi ng, Telemark skiing, dog sled riding, ice climbing and heliskiing. In addition to most ski resorts, different companies provide this sort of services. All this is completed with a wide accommodation offer with all imaginable comfort, traditional mountain cuisine that stays up-to-date and numerous personal wellness centres.
Catalonia offers a great variety of exclusive items with the seal of the highest quality and service, ranging from the most typical products of the land to most sophisticated gifts.
Barcelona contains numerous premium establishments, with the elegant Passeig de Gràcia and Diagonal Avenue as the main arteries hosting the most prestigious shops, boulevards, fashion galleries and shopping centres, accessories, jewellery and gift objects. The city also organises the Shopping Night Barcelona, a unique shopping and recreational experience, and also hosts the 080 Barcelona Fashion event, an international showcase for the absolutely latest fashion and design.
Very close to the city, a venue that recreates a typical Catalan village offers exclusive outlet products by leading fashion brands. Catalonia abounds with places with the highest-quality products, as well as art galleries and antique shops where you can pick up original works by renowned authors and other items of value. Moreover, Catalonia’s museums and craft shops sell unique goods made of ceramic, glass, wrought iron, wood, paper, fabric or precious metals.
The Catalan Tourist Board has developed the Family Holiday Destination (FHD) brand, a specialisation label ensuring that a destination has an offer in accommodation, restaurants and leisure adapted to the needs of families: miniclubs with wardens, children playgrounds, water and theme parks, children seats and menus in restaurants, children swimming pools, identifi cation wristbands, safety at all destinations, a wide children animation programme at the accommodation and in the street, Connected rooms, availability of cradles and pushchairs, socket protectors, etc.
There are currently nineteen FHD certified destinations both on the coast and inland: on the coast we have Blanes, Calonge-Sant Antoni, Castell-Platja d’Aro, Lloret de Mar, Roses, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Torroella de Montgrí – l’Estartit, Calella, Malgrat de Mar, Pineda de Mar, Santa Susanna, Calafell, Cambrils, Salou and Vila-seca la Pineda Platja. On the inland we have Berga, Muntanyes de Prades, Valls d’Àneu and Vall de Boí. In addition to the current nineteen FHD certified destinations, there are further ten in the process of certification.
The FHD label encompasses about 600 partner businesses having made an effort to adapt and improve their offer, thus providing an optimum service to families. The range goes from accommodation to leisure including water parks, museums, nautical businesses and resorts and restaurants with an offer adapted to cater for children.
Catalonia was the birthplace of the gay, lesbian and transsexual movement in Spain when, in 1970, the country’s first clandestine group was formed in Barcelona. Since then, civil associations have advanced a great deal, and the brave struggle for equality and public recognition of the existence of the LGBT community has allowed for a mainly positive social attitude towards homosexuality to develop.
Sitges was also a pioneer. In 1980 it inaugurated one of the country’s first gay nightclubs, soon to be joined by a major leisure and commercial network that continues functioning fully to this day. Catalonia has lived calmly through both these realities: that generated by the vitality of civil associations and that led by commercial initiative. It has absorbed their meaning and drawn its conclusions. This means that our society generally respects and recognises the LGBT community, while new institutions have responded to the demands of the movement through laws and direct action.
Symbolic gestures cannot provide all the solutions. We are also pioneers in promoting legislation that favours equality and respect for LGBT persons, such as that allowing same-sex couples to adopt children and the creation of the National Council of Lesbians, Gays, and Transsexual and Bisexual men and women.
All these factors have generated social respect and have resulted in the creation of a Region where diversity is duly reflected; a Region where, besides everything the city of Barcelona has to offer or the great tradition of Sitges, there are also a full range of specific options for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals available throughout the Region: from rural and family-run accommodation through to bars and clubs, restaurants and shops.
Catalonia and its people – an innovative and avant-garde society, constantly at the forefront of cultural movements, creative trends and recent developments in the many sectors in which the region is the leader.
Proud of its cultural history and heritage, geographical diversity, the town’s destinations and countryside which Catalonia enjoys, together with the nature of its people. This whole combination provides an endless array of attractions which are worth discovering and exploring. These attractions include its food, both traditional and innovative gastronomy, the creations of its most well-known artists, the leisure and business possibilities provided by the Mediterranean and Pyrenees, and the constant range of cultural activities
and international popular events, this region is well equipped to meet any demands of incentive programmes or to provide leisure activities to complement a programme of meetings and conferences.
The Catalunya Convention Bureau identify a network of 9 Catalan destinations that are equipped to host congresses, providing first-rate, modern, accessible, well communicated facilities and organisational experience in the sector. Five of them are connected by AVE: Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, Reus and Lleida. All offer the following: congress palaces enabling meetings to be organised for a minimum of 300 people; large hotel capacity, with 3- to 5-star establishments; a local convention bureau to provide support; and a large range of tourist, landscape and cultural resources enabling organisers to draw up attractive social programmes and activities after the meeting. This network of destinations appear in the publication that includes an information sheet on each of the destinations, describing their facilities, capacity and services. Also included are information sheets on alternative destinations in Catalonia and meeting spaces with a global offer for the organisation of events.