Famous for its Mediterranean coastal cities, there is also a treasure trove of medieval towns in Catalonia Spain. Driving from one small medieval village to the next, you can choose various combinations to make exciting Barcelona day trips. Each of these small towns in Spain holds something special and unique. Often, it feels as if time stood still. If you have more than one day, we recommend a multi-night adventure that lets you explore these medieval towns in Catalonia in more detail.
Catalonia covers the northeast corner of Spain. Costa Brava includes only four of the coastal comarques (regions) in Catalonia. A long inhabited area dating back to palaeolithic times, most of the villages we visited were built in the 11th to 14th centuries. They are charming and some of the most beautiful places in Spain.
Our exploration of the medieval towns in Catalonia wasn’t a Barcelona day trip, as we were living about 120 km northeast of Barcelona in Palamós on a long-term home exchange. It gave us a perfect base to discover so many beautiful villages in Spain, both beach and medieval towns. We spread our visits out over several days.
Barcelona Day Trips Itinerary to Medieval Towns in Catalonia
Table of Contents
- 1 Barcelona Day Trips Itinerary to Medieval Towns in Catalonia
- 1.1 Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Pals
- 1.2 Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Palafrugell
- 1.3 Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Torrent
- 1.4 Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Sant Julià De Boada
- 1.5 Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Fontclara
- 1.6 Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Palau Sator
- 1.7 Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Peratallada
- 1.8 Medieval Towns in Catalonia: La Bisbal d’Emporda
- 1.9 Medieval and Artistic Towns in Catalonia: Figueres
- 2 Medieval towns of Catalonia map from Barcelona
- 3 Practical information on Barcelona day trips to these medieval towns of Catalonia
- 4 Which of the medieval towns of Catalonia appeal to you?
Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Pals
The village of Pals is a maze of quaint, narrow cobblestone streets and alleys surrounding a well preserved medieval church, stone buildings, detailed archways, and flowering vines. Located on a hillside, it offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. Pals is the third stop on our map (below), yet it is my personal favourite of the medieval towns and villages we visited. Restored after a revolution in the 14th and 15th centuries, walking through the arch covered streets, it’s as if time stopped. Some consider Pals to be one of the best restored Gothic sites in this region of Spain.
Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Palafrugell
Palafrugell is actually the first stop for many optional Barcelona day trips to the medieval towns of Catalonia. For us, it was close to home and easy to visit. It’s the only coastal community in this itinerary. It’s a modern community, and there is a mix of the old and new as you walk down some of the streets.
Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Torrent
The second stop on the map below is the small village of Torrent with its narrow streets, archways, and a sprinkling of the modern. It’s a town with a population of under 200 people.
Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Sant Julià De Boada
Next, we visited the Sant Julià De Boada hamlet, made up of six farmhouses and a Pre-Romanesque Church.
Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Fontclara
The Romanesque church in Fonclara dates from the 11th century. The monastery that once lived here is long gone.
Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Palau Sator
Palau Sator was another medieval town in Catalonia that stole my heart. A town with a population of fewer than 300, it is well maintained with hints of modern life. It’s a walled medieval city with a stereotypical appearing flag flying from one of its castle turrets. Narrow cobbled roads complete fantasy feel.
Medieval Towns in Catalonia: Peratallada
Finally, the stunning church in Peratallada:
Medieval Towns in Catalonia: La Bisbal d’Emporda
The medieval section of La Bisbal d’Emporda is similar to those shown above with stone buildings, narrow streets and cobblestone roads. We arrived on market day, and the town market takes place inside the old town. Afterwards, we headed to the castle.
Medieval and Artistic Towns in Catalonia: Figueres
As a destination on Barcelona day trips, Figueres is a must see. This town is as eclectic as it’s most famous former resident, Salvador Dali. No wonder he wanted to build the Dali Theatre and Museum here. However, if you are looking only for medieval architecture, you will have to work a bit harder to find it in this town. It exists, but there is an overwhelming modernism.
Our favourites from Salvador Dali on Amazon:
Medieval towns of Catalonia map from Barcelona
We headed north of Barcelona to a series of small villages in Spain. If the map doesn’t show on this page, click here to see it on Google maps.
Practical information on Barcelona day trips to these medieval towns of Catalonia
- If you were to attempt to do the entire itinerary listed above as one of your day trips from Barcelona, you will spend nearly 4.5 hours in the car, making for a very long day of only quick looks at most of these beautiful towns in Spain.
- Our top recommendation is to take a few days to explore Catalonia. Aside from the medieval villages listed here, other Catalonia Points of interest include stunning Mediterranean beaches, unusual dive and snorkel destinations, ruins, old Jewish quarters, and ceramic creations.
- With only one day, if I were a fan of Salvador Dali, I would go directly to Figures, stopping in one or two small medieval towns on the way back as time permits. If I wasn’t a fan of Dali, or wanted to spend less time in the car, I would skip Figueres, thus reducing total drive time to just over three hours.
- Better still, with limited time, I would let someone else do the driving and take one of these tours that pick up and drop off at Barcelona hotels:
OR ( ↓↓ smaller groups ↓↓ )
- The primary language of the region is Catalan, although we found most people also spoke Castillian (Spanish).
- We did a long-term home exchange in the town of Palamos, along the Costa Brava Mediterranean coast. Home exchange is a great way to absorb one’s self into another culture, and have free accommodation. We have done several and have had overall positive experiences. You can explore home exchange here. Before you make a deal with a partner, read our list of advantages and cautions of home exchange.
- We have visited other medieval areas in Spain (La Coruña, Santillana del Mar, Segovia), as well as in England (York, Rievaulx Abbey, and Fountains Abbey ), Portugal (Evora and Obidos), and France.
Which of the medieval towns of Catalonia appeal to you?
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