Central Catalonia, a top destination for Easter holidays
Region expects accommodation to be more than 80% booked up
Catalonia, albeit a small country, is a nature lover’s paradise. The diversity of its landscapes can leave even the most intrepid of travellers in awe of its natural beauty. Within its 32,000 km² territory, from the mountains to the Mediterranean sea and everything in between, there is something for anyone and everyone looking to escape their routines and head to the countryside.
As Semana Santa draws near, the Catalan wilderness is calling, as people plan their getaways from everyday life, and why not? Rural tourism in Catalonia continues to be a popular option for tourists wanting to explore the nature beyond the cities and towns.
The tourist sector in central Catalonia is especially optimistic about this year’s holiday, with accomodation in the region expected to be booked up from between 80% and 100%, especially on the long Easter weekend.
One good thing about the country’s size is that a breathtaking landscape is never too far away. Some of the main attractions for those who opt for open spaces over city breaks include the surrealistic rock formation that is the mountain of Montserrat, just one train ride away from the Catalan capital.
A bit of everything
Other highlights in the central Catalan countryside include Vic, known for its Mercat de Ram (Ram Market,) a traditional festival involving animals, food, and much more. There is even a Roman temple in this old town with a rich and colourful history.
For those who like to hit the slopes, there is also the option of the ski resort Port del Comte, just over a two hour drive from Barcelona. Recent snow in the country has meant that the ski season has been extended to as late as Easter weekend.
With its variety of activities, from visiting medieval towns to hiking and snow sports, central Catalonia is especially popular with families from the Barcelona area looking to get in touch with nature and leave the concrete rhythms of the rat race behind.
A house in the country
Many urban dwellers the world over dream of one day having a house in the country, the grass always being greener outside the cities. Although buying one may not be a feasible option, in Catalonia there are plenty of country houses to spend a few days or more.
And this year, many people are more eager than usual to get away. In Berguedà, for example, reservations for country houses have been made earlier than usual. “Most of them were made between January and the beginning of February,” explained the Berguedà Rural Tourism Association, Jordi Pellicer, in an interview with the Catalan News Agency.
In fact, 95% of the houses are already booked up between Maundy Thursday and Easter Monday. Pellicer, however, is confident there are more bookings to come. “With last minute bookings, we fill up,” he said. With its spectacular surrounding scenery, it is no wonder why rooms in the Berguedà have filled up fast.
A religious holiday
Catalonia has many destinations for those who wish to celebrate the Christian side of what was once, many centuries ago, a pagan festival coinciding with the Spring equinox celebrating the new season as nature blooms. A rebirth after the cold winter months, so to speak, not too dissimilar to that ancient biblical story of resurrection, a recurring theme throughout many of the world’s cultures.
Religious highlights in Catalonia include la Cova de Sant Ignasi (The Cave of Saint Ignasi,) part of the country’s architectural cultural heritage. The International Centre of Spirituality there has nearly all its rooms full.
Montserrat, mentioned earlier, home to a monastery and part of a historical pilgrimage route that continues to this day (with atheists joining in as well,) is also a top spot for all kinds of holidaymakers, religious or not. In fact, only 25% of the rooms at the Abat Cisneros Hotel there, with views of the monastery and the spectacular landscape beyond, are still available over the Easter weekend.
Taking a stroll along along the mountain paths, one can find hidden hermitages along the way and ponder the lives of those who once upon a time chose to remove themselves from society in pursuit of spirituality. For the culturally-inclined, there is even a museum there featuring paintings from some of the greats such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. A worthwhile trip, even for non-believers.