Priorat, in Tarragona Province probably produces the most exciting red wines in the whole of Spain. Yet an excursion to this scarcely populated corner of Catalonia brings further delights in addition to the fantastic bodega/ wine tasting visits.
You can visit the spectacular village of Siurana, the last place the Moors were expelled from in Catalonia, where the sheer rock faces were a natural defence.
Another option is Scala Dei, the fascinating remains of a Carthusian Monastery, at the foot of the imposing Montsant Natural Park.
Or if you fancy experiencing one of Catalonia's many festivals, visit the village of Prades, where once a year the baroque fountain spurts cava rather than for a day, for one and all to drink their fill during their yearly Festa Major.
This natural park south of Valencia is a secluded peninsular of lagoons, rice fields and beaches, packed full with birds, tranquility and a wonderful sense of space. As a delta, the area is flat and perfect for cyclists of any ability. Many people visit in spring and autumn for the bird migrations, but there are plenty of resident birds to see in summer and winter too.
With the king of city break destinations and capital of Catalonia, Barcelona, just an hour north, Tarragona gets very little coverage and unjustly in my opinion as this city, though tiny in comparison to its big brother, is well worth a visit and easy to do in a quick weekend trip. Furthermore, with Reus airport (served by Ryanair as Barcelona-Reus) just 15 minutes away, you'll be strolling the Ramblas before you know it.
The old town or Parte Alta (high part) is the most beautiful area and is home to the 12th century Cathedral and much of the Roman remains that make this a UNESCO world heritage site. There's the Plac de la Font which is a big square in front of the town hall and a great place to have a coffee and watch the world go by. The new town has a great Rambla (Rambla Nova) and leads up to a viewpoint (El Balco del Mediterrani) overlooking the Mediterranean and the amazing remains of the Roman amphitheatre.
Tarragona has also seen the recent re-development of its marina area with the aim of attracting super-yachts to the city – it makes for an enjoyable walk and it’s also where to find some of the best places to eat.
It's easy to see everything in Tarragona in a day or two and if you have longer then hire a car and make your way out into some spectacular countryside and wine country of the Priorat.
Sleeping on the beach all day, great music all night. There really is little more to say about this hugely enjoyable experience - it has the best of a relaxing summer holiday and a good old-fashioned festival, plus it's significantly cheaper than most British festivals. Highly recommended.
Benicassim (near Tarragona)
Nearest airport: Barcelona Reus
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