From Surrealism to Modernisme
Start the Grand Tour of Catalonia in Barcelona, and end up back in the Catalan capital. Welcome to Section 5, the last section of this circular route of some 2,000 km (1,200 miles) around Catalonia. This section will take you on a journey from Surrealism to Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau), with guest geniuses Dalí and Gaudí. This last section begins in Figueres and ends in Barcelona, travelling along the Costa Brava, through central Girona and Vic, and Costa Barcelona. Ready for the off?
- Stage 1: The universe of Dalí
- Stage 2: A journey to the Middle Ages
- Stage 3: Along the Costa Brava coast
- Stage 4: Hiking on the Montseny Massif
- Stage 5: Modernisme in the Maresme region
- Stage 6: An appointment with Gaudí
- Stage 7: The sea around Barcelona
Start your journey in a high-class electric or hybrid vehicle from SIXT´s premium fleet. You can get a car at numerous SIXT branches in Barcelona and Girona, for example, directly at the airport in the SIXT branch Barcelona Aeropuerto or the SIXT branch Girona Aeropuerto. If you arrive by train, pick up your environmentally friendly car directly at the train station at the SIXT branch Barcelona Sants Train Station or the SIXT branch Girona Estación.
Stage 1: The universe of Dalí
Figueres is Dalí’s birthplace and where this stage of the route starts. The spectacular Dalí Theatre-Museum, the Toy Museum, which contains works from the artist’s youth, and the Dalí Jewels museum, which contains some of the jewellery made by Dalí, await, with everything you need to make you feel like you know the artist well. Dalí’s house in Portlligat and Gala Dalí Castle in Púbol complete what is known as the “Dalinian Triangle”.
Among the vineyards of the Designation of Origin Empordà wine region, very close to the Mediterranean Sea, you will come to Sant Pere de Rodes Monastery. Even in the distant past, the monks who lived there grew vines to make wine. The monastery is within Cap de Creus Natural Park. The landscape of the area seems almost lunar in appearance, shaped as it is by the tramuntana, the northerly wind that buffets the Costa Brava.
The route continues along the Catalan coast, passing Roses, Els Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park, Empúries, and L’Escala. This seafaring area is renowned for its anchovies. In fact, you can visit the Anchovy and Salt Museum in L’Escala to learn about the anchovy salting works there and taste this local delicacy. Enjoy comfortable rides in the SIXT premium fleet, such as the Tesla Model 3 electric or a spacious SUV such as the BMW X2 hybrid or the BMW iX electric.
Stage 2: A journey to the Middle Ages
This stage starts with a journey through time, visiting the mediaeval villages of l’Empordanet, an inland area of the Costa Brava region: Peratallada, Ullastret, Canapost, Monells, and Pals. All of them have managed to preserve large swathes of their mediaeval history.
On the way back towards the coast, stop off in Palau-Sator. Since you are in the terrain of the Protected Geographical Indication of the Girona apple, we recommend visiting a cider bar and sampling the cider, juice, jams and vinegar made here from local apples.
The last stop is Palamós, where it is worth going along to one of the cooking demo events at the Espai de Peix. This is a cultural space dedicated to raising the profile of the cuisine of the fishermen of the area, the food they eat on their fishing boats, such as fideus rossejats (a dish of toasted noodles cooked with fish stock), or less well-known species of fish such as the European flying squid. Take the opportunity to visit the fish market auction when the boats return to port.
Stage 3: Along the Costa Brava coast
Look forward to relaxed rides in our environmentally friendly and sustainable vehicles such as the elegant BMW 745 hybrid, which you can get at numerous SIXT branches in Barcelona and Girona thanks to SIXT´s premium service. For example, you can start from the SIXT branch Barceloneta or Paral.lel Port directly by the sea or downtown from the SIXT stations Centro Eixample, Rambla Catalunya or Fira Hospitalet. The SIXT stations Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia, Diagonal Hilton and Barcelona Francesc Macià also offer a premium selection of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar and Blanes are the next stops along the way, where you will discover even more of the Costa Brava in their beaches, gardens and landscapes.
Then leave the Mediterranean coast behind and drive inland to Girona. As well as visiting its architectural heritage sites such as the cathedral, the Jewish quarter and the colourful houses along the river, don’t forget to sample some of the local cuisine. Xuixos de crema (deep-fried pastries filled with custard), bunyols (fritters) and the ice cream produced by one of the Roca brothers. As the day ends, you can relax in the Garrotxa volcanic zone.
Stage 4: Hiking on the Montseny Massif
The day begins with an unmissable visit to Rupit and Tavertet, two villages with spectacular landscapes and views. Continue along the route to Vic. As well as visiting the impressive porticoed square, the cathedral, and the Roman Temple, you must try the famous Vic charcuterie. Visit one of the sausage makers in the area to see how they make llonganissa and fuet sausage.
In the afternoon, we suggest spending some time in nature. Discover El Montseny Natural Park, including the information centre in Viladrau. This natural space is considered a biosphere reserve and includes beech, fir and oak forests. You can experience comfortable rides in mountainous terrain, for example, in a Jeep Compass hybrid or a BMW X1 hybrid from SIXT.
Stage 5: Modernisme in the Maresme region
The coastline of Costa Barcelona still awaits. Along it, you will find villages such as Calella, Sant Pol de Mar, Canet de Mar and Arenys de Mar. These fishing villages house some excellent examples of Catalan modernista architecture. Canet is home to the Domènech i Montaner House-Museum, and Sinera cemetery can be found in Arenys de Mar. Other examples of Catalan modernista architecture are the Coll i Regàs house and the Nau Gaudí warehouse in Mataró.
On the way to Barcelona, stop off in the home of the Alella Protected Designation of Origin, which is on the coast less than half an hour from Barcelona. It is worth stopping to visit a winery or two to learn about the characteristic white wines made from the “pansa blanca” grape. Combine your wine with strawberries from Sant Cebrià de Vallalta, which are prized for their sweetness, aroma and refreshing taste. We kindly ask you to not drink and drive.
Stage 6: An appointment with Gaudí
The Grand Tour of Catalonia ends in Barcelona, where it began. Spend your first day in Barcelona on Modernisme and the stars of the movement, Gaudí and Domènech i Montaner. The Barcelona Modernisme Route visits up to 120 buildings in this style to be found in the city, such as the Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, and the Palau de la Música Catalana concert hall.
You can also do a cookery workshop right in the heart of the city. You will learn to make dishes such as esqueixada, a typical salad using cod and tomato, among other ingredients, and a delicious crema catalana or crème brûlée.
Stage 7: The sea around Barcelona
Dedicate your second day in Barcelona, which is also the last day of this section, to the sea and some of the products that are typical of the city. To do this, start the day with a long walk through the Barceloneta area, a typical seafaring neighbourhood.
After that, visit one of the 43 municipal markets scattered around the city. Head for the Moll dels Pescadors, the quay where fishing boats still bring their wares to the Catalan capital, and go to the auction.
End the day on a high, on a catamaran trip along the coast of the city, and go for a dip in the Mediterranean with the Barcelona skyline as your backdrop.
At the end of the Grand Tour, simply return your hire car at one of the numerous SIXT branches in Barcelona and Girona.
To find out more about the Grand Tour of Catalonia, take a look at Section 1, from Barcelona to Tarragona, Section 2, which takes you from Tarragona to Lleida, Section 3, which goes from Lleida to La Seu d’Urgell, and Section 4. Remember, the Grand Tour of Catalonia website has a planner that will help you organise your journey and control your budget. You can also download the track for Section 5 to your browser and listen to the playlist we have put together to liven up your journey.
Ready to set off?