Turn a Trip to Spain Into a Moveable Feast
Chic Barcelona is where all food trips to Catalonia should begin. The thriving Catalan capital is a perfect harmony of Catalan and Spanish, traditional and modern, exciting and laid-back.
Stroll the historic Gothic and Born quarters and stop at markets bursting with colorful produce and “best of Spain” showcases, including the legendary Joselito, the Iberic Bellota cured ham. This delicacy has been perfected over six generations and considered the best in the world. Along with other fine meats from the surrounding hill towns, you’ll taste exquisite preserves, the best Spanish olive oils, and the iconic Catalan coca pastry of the Spanish Mediterranean coast. You might duck into your guide's favorite hidden corners in the intricate maze of the Gothic Quarter alleys, such as the charming local Spanish cheese shop that all the locals know. It’s run by a charismatic woman who is passionate about her local cheeses and how they pair with Priorat and Penedes local wines. On your stroll through the Barcelona Old Town, those with a little sweet tooth will definitely want to indulge in the dried nuts, fruits, and homemade nougats and chocolates with a glass of dessert wine.
Walk the “Gaudí Route,” and see the buildings that the locals adore; they have become monuments to Catalan culture, modernism, and identity. Designed by world-famous architect Antonio Gaudí, the iconic Sagrada Família Church is a giant basilica that has been under construction for more than two centuries. It’s expected to be finished by 2030. Its nativity façade and crypt are World Heritage sites. So, too, is his Park Güell, one of the most impressive public parks in the world.
The feast continues to another temple of sorts, a small Iberian ham shop. It’s authentic and spoken of in reverent tones, one of the best places in all of Catalonia to taste the different types of this local delicacy along with local cheeses and the Catalan signature breads with tomato and extra virgin olive oil. Chocolate lovers will find paradise in a nearby boutique partially owned by famous chef Albert Adria. This is where you will the city's finest chocolates.
Now that you’ve got your Catalan tastebuds tuned up, head into the Gothic Quarter for a cooking class. With instructions from Spanish chefs, prepare a sumptuous meal to accompany regional Rioja red and Galician white wines.
Venturing out of the city, through fields and forests, vineyards, pine trees, oak trees, olive trees, with the Mediterranean Sea as the backdrop, you’ll rest at a beautiful winery estate and share an rustic, traditional Catalan lunch and wine tasting.
About 60 miles northeast of Barcelona is the coastal city of Palamós is one of the best-preserved fishing villages on the Mediterranean Costa Brava. It’s a pescatarian’s delight. The Palamos shrimp are the best (and most expensive) shrimp you can get in Spain. You can find them during a visit to a fish market and, most afternoons, at the daily fish auction. A stroll along
the extensive promenade shows where the small boats come into harbor with their catch of the day.
Between Barcelona and Costa Brava is enchanting Girona, a truly old soul. Passeig de la Muralla, offers a walk right on top of the medieval walls that span the eastern border of the old town of Girona. Meander through the Jewish Quarter, one of the best preserved in the world. From 982 to 1492, Jews lived in Girona in an area called El Call, is a maze of narrow, winding, cobblestone lanes looking much like they did over 500 years ago.
The Girona Cathedral dominates the skyline of Girona. Perched on top of a hill, a climb up the staircase offers magnificent views. Fans of “Game of Thrones” will recognize this cathedral from Season 6. In fact, Girona was a major filming location for the fictional Braavos. At the foot of the cathedral, a small dome peeks above a stone building. It is the city’s Arab baths, a little jewel of a building that follows the model of Roman baths and Jewish mikvahs of the 11th century. All the history fits together seamlessly: the winding stone walkways and walls and specialty shops amid medieval homes that families have passed down through the generations.
In the heart of Girona´s market quarter, take a Catalan cooking class. It starts with a trip to bespoke local food markets to buy ingredients and ends with a meal paired with local Catalan wines.
Peralada is a village famous for its castle and a wine-making history dating back to the 14th century. Its finest cava—Spanish sparkling wine—is still fermented in the same monastery where the Carmelite monks of the 14th century used to prepare it. During your stop here, you’ll try of a variety of cavas, whites, and reds from the cellar. When you’re not sipping wine, you might be slurping olive oil. The region is renowned for quality olive oil, especially from the aromatic Arbequina and Argudell olives.
Many visitors to the Costa Brava often are so dazzled by the white sand beaches and azure water that they might overlook the area’s medieval history and heritage. Settlements can be traced back to pre-Roman times, and many buildings still in use today date to mediaeval times.
Your feast continues to the tiny picturesque hilltop medieval towns of Pals and Peratallada. Pals is famous for the cultivation of Catalan rice, so crucial for rich paellas and other signature dishes. Peratallada gets its name from pedra tallada, meaning carved stone. Everywhere are stone archways, cobblestone streets and wrought iron balconies adorned with flowers, and surrounding the town is a moat carved into the stone. Both were considered to be among the best fortified medieval villages in Spain. Strolling the narrow, windy streets you can easily imagine life in medieval times.
As you stroll, stop to treat yourselves to fresh goats cheese, produced by a charming local grandma. She will also have local honey on hand as it goes just perfectly with her cheese. This artisan family business produces several delightful handmade goats milk products. The most popular is their iconic recuit de drap, a traditional dessert cheese from the Empordà region.
Before heading back to Barcelona, stop in Calella de Palafrugell and Llafranc, two of the prettiest seaside villages on the Costa Brava. These ancient fishing villages, formed by seaside coves, have preserved their old-world charm: narrow streets, steep tiled roofs and some traditional two-floor fishermen’s dwellings. An unhurried walk along a cliff path with spectacular views of the Mediterranean eventually leads to an afternoon coffee stop at one of the beach bars—or a glass of sparkling wine or an ice cream.
Walking and tasting and sipping and walking—all part of the moveable feast of Old World Catalonia.
Learn more about our 7-Day Girona & Costa Brava food tour and explore Catalonian culture through its cuisine.