The top 5 Medieval Villages in Catalunya
Visiting Catalunya out of season is always a good idea if you want to avoid the crowds and heat of July and August, but with such a short beach holiday season in this part of Spain, that gives you ample opportunity to visit with warm weather, no crowds and significantly lower prices. Here are our top 5 medieval villages in Catalunya....
In the Empordá region where Casa Cal Domino is located, you'll find Pals, Peretallada, Monells, and Besalú and in the region of Osona in the low Pyrenees, Rupit.
Pals is situated on a hill surrounded by rice fields with a medieval Romanesque tower built between the 11th and 13th centuries, known as the Torre de les Hores (Tower of the Hours). This area is famous for its "Bomba" rice which is traditionally used in making Paella. You'll also find the naturist beach of Illa Roja and if you prefer to keep your bikini on, the long beach of Pals next to the Pals golf club.
Close by, you'll find the charming little village of Monells. This village is pretty much undiscovered by the tourist industry and will be refreshingly empty all through the year. There are a couple of bars and a fairly decent restaurant with terrace at Restaurant Bar El Roura Blanch
Close by, you'll find the village of Peretallada. Pretty much the opposite of Monells and annoyingly overrun by visitors during the summer months. It is definitely well worth a visit out of season and is packed with bars and restaurants. We think that you will pay a premium for a meal in Peretallada due to its popularity so we highly recommend driving the 3km to another medieval village of Palau Sator and eating at Mas Pou. Even out of season, we recommend reserving a table. They serve typical catalan cuisine with attention to detail, superbly cooked and presented. Amazingly, a basic chicken and chips for the children (or adults) cooked over an open fire will set you back about €15. We think that the cargols (snails roasted over an open fire and served with a tomato sauce and Alioli) is the best in Catalunya. It is superb value for money and highly recommended.
Slightly further afield is the town of Besalú. It's about an hour from Casa Cal Domino and well worth a visit. It's a little bit of a tourist trap with lots of wooden swords and bows and arrows for sale aimed at the parents with children, but it also has some really nice locally made souvenirs and some lovely restaurants overlooking the river or medieval plaças. However, again, we think that you will pay a premium for lunch here and suggest that you drive to the town of Banyoles and eat at the Banys Vells
There is a nice short walk around the lake which is the largest natural lake in Catalunya. Based in a natural tectonic depression, the water here is filtered through miles of rock from the high Pyrenees and takes hundreds of thousands of years to arrive at the lake. It is a protected area due to the purity of the water and no motors are allowed. Banyoles was the location for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics rowing events and the 2004 World Rowing Championships.
A very short walk away and you'll find the Estunes Banyoles, a small wooded area with weathered limestone rocks crevices and hollows which the kids will love to run around and explore.
Even further afield, about 90 minutes from Cal Domino, You'll find the charming little village of Rupit. This is your classic "chocolate box" village and is over-run with visitors in the summer months and sometimes at the weekends if there is a national holiday (or Puente). It is worth a visit, but mainly because it has a short 15 minute walk through the forests to the highest waterfall in Catalunya and some of the most stunning scenery in the Osona region. This area is a Mecca for hikers all through the year and one of our favourite places to visit in the Autumn when the leaves are all on the turn.
This whole region close to the town of Vic, which has its own impressive medieval square at the centre of the town, has the most iconic scenery in this region and well worth a day out exploring. Notable walks are from the Sau Lake (Panta de Sau) up the cliffs (Cingles) to the plateau for some stunning views over the lake.