Grand Tour de Catalunya - Section 2. Meeting history: from Tarragona to Lleida
The Grand Tour de Catalunya is a journey full of travels. This circular route, inspired by the great journeys that the young people of the 17th century bourgeoisie made through Europe, proposes a rediscovery of the territory beyond the main icons of our land, so that you can enjoy its purest essence through the unique landscapes that it gives us, a unique identity and cultural heritage and a gastronomy that will make your taste buds vibrate.
The Grand Tour of Catalonia, which covers more than two thousand kilometers, is not designed to be done in a single run, unless you are one of the lucky few who in our current busy world, spend almost more than a month to be able to do it. For this reason, this route offers you 5 different sections divided into several stages, where each stage is equivalent to one day. In this way, each traveler can organize the route to their liking, travel it at their own pace and at any time of the year.
418 kilometers await you in advance that will take you this time from Tarragona to Lleida. This section consists of one more stage than section 1, 7 stages in total. Are you ready?
In this section you will leave behind the capital of the Costa Dorada, the Roman Tarraco to go to the capital of the inland province, Lleida, the capital of Tierra Firme, in search of places full of magic and mysticism. Along the way, you will follow the flow of the Ebro river to its mouth in the Ebro Delta to enjoy spectacular landscapes. You will also have the opportunity to take a good dip in the local gastronomy of the vermouths of Reus or the renowned wine tourism of Priorat in authentic modernist temples dedicated to wine, the wineries, and visit the other two Cistercian monasteries of the Cistercian Route. The most adventurous and active will have the opportunity to follow the Greenway of the Zafán Valley and travel paths that run through the sea, the coastal paths.
We explain more details of this exciting section below.
You can not lose:
- Ebro Delta Natural Park
- Modernist wineries
- The Priorat
- Cistercian Route (Poblet and Vallbona de les Monges Monasteries)
Stage 1: The Roman Legacy
During the course of this stage you will travel 35 kilometers that will take you from Tarragona, the starting point to Cambrils.
Tarraco was one of the main cities of the Roman Empire in its heyday, when they came to conquer all the territories around the Mare Nostrum. In the Roman archaeological site of the city, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, we assure you that you will move back in time and immerse yourself in the history of this glorious civilization.
After the visit, the Grand Tour offers you real fun and adrenaline in one of the main theme parks in Europe: Port Aventura World. The main sign of identity of the park is that it is distributed in six thematic areas: the Mediterranean, Polynesia, China, Mexico, the Far West and the most recent of all, Sésamo Aventura, for the smallest of the house. The attractions are related to the theme of each of the areas, such as the mythical Dragon Khan in China, the Furius Baco in the Mediterranean or the Stampida in the Far West. In addition, you cannot miss any of the themed shows and performances. Excellent quality programming that changes every season. To end your experience in the park, you have to pass yes or yes through the Ferrari Land to be able to become true Formula 1 drivers, accelerating a real car from 0 to 180 kilometers per hour in just five seconds.
After this jolt of emotions, you will head to Reus, Gaudí's birthplace, to arrive on time at the time of the most precious moment of the weekend for some: vermouth time. Once there, you are morally obliged to enjoy a visit to the main producers in order to know how the Modernism Route is related to the era of splendor that vermouth brought to the city and taste this exquisite maceration.
To finish this stage, you will make your way back to the coast, specifically to Cambrils, a first-rate gastronomic destination. From there, you will not be able to leave without first tasting the traditional cuisine of fishermen, a fundamental pillar of local gastronomy, the suquet de romesco. Can you imagine a better way to end the day than to enjoy the sunset with Cambrils and Salou in the background from a catamaran sailing along the Mediterranean coast? We bet not, so you go to the nautical station of the town to get on board the boat and go out to sea.
Stage 2: in the lands of the Ebro
In this second stage you will travel 70 more kilometers that will transport you from Cambrils to Deltebre, a territory declared a Biosphere Reserve due to the great value of natural spaces and its commitment to sustainability.
Start the day in the southern lands, and it's time to head towards L'Ametlla de Mar to participate in a unique experience that you have surely never seen or participated in: swimming with tuna! Cover yourself in a neoprene, board the boat and in which they give you four instructions and basic safety instructions, you will have already arrived at the site. Believe us when we tell you that it is impressive and impressive to see the tuna emerging from the depths of the Mediterranean and passing at full speed by your side. After swimming with these majestic fish, let yourself be lost in the charms of this town that still preserves the marine essence walking through its narrow streets and intimate coves.
Now with your feet on solid ground and after a tasting of different dishes with tuna, it is time to do an activity that merges the sea and the land. So start walking enjoying the spectacular views of the coastal paths that run along the Catalan coast from north to south, following the route of the GR-92. The walkways were the old roads that the authorities used to control smuggling from the sea, but nowadays they have become great attractions to enjoy an excursion with a salty aroma and flavor. For this occasion, you will leave Cambrils and following beautiful reddish coves with crystal clear water you will reach Perelló, where you will change your clothes and sports shoes for the beekeepers' equipment to extract the honey that you will later use in the bakery workshop with honey.
Deltebre is undoubtedly a gourmet territory and the best oysters in Catalonia are collected in this area. The Grand Tour now invites you to try this seafood considered a delicatessen aboard a boat to enjoy the sunset sailing through the Bay of Fangar. Before, but we recommend you visit the flooded rice fields. We promise you that the landscape will not leave you indifferent!
Stage 3: The natural world of the Ebro Delta
The song of birds in the Ebro Delta, a changing landscape that will take you from the coast to the Lands of Sénia, Ulldecona and Tortosa until you enter Sant Joan d'Hora, from where you will return to the track in the footsteps of Picasso.
The Ebro Delta Biosphere Reserve is a unique environment. Not only for the beauty of its landscapes but for the great ecological value that this place protects, since it is home to more than 300 species of birds that nest or that stop in their wake during their migratory journeys. On foot or by bicycle along the quiet paths of rice fields and rural roads or by boat along the canals, by the river or the sea. There are many options to enjoy bird watching. Which one will you choose?
Now head towards Tortosa, a city distinguished with the brand of Cities and Villas with Character thanks to its monumental and majestic air that the castle, the cathedral and the remains of the Jewish quarter give it. Taking a guided tour you will discover the history of this surprising city, where you can taste, between the stops at the Municipal Market, one of the most typical sweets in the area, cakes filled with angel hair. Before arriving in Tortosa, however, we recommend that you take a detour to reconnect with the past of humanity and escape to visit the cave paintings that are part of the Mediterranean arch declared a World Heritage Site and thousands of olive trees. Lenarias of Sénia and Ulldecona.
To finish off a wonderful day, go to Sant Joan d'Horta. 'Everything I know I have learned in Horta' said Picasso. The Grand Tour challenges you at this point to explore each and every one of the hidden corners of the town and discover for yourself why this place fell in love with this painter prodigy.
Stage 4: Pedalante by the Greenway
The best way to start the day is with a bike tour. Thus, at the beginning of this stage, the Grand Tour invites you to discover the changing landscape of Terres de l'Ebre on two wheels. Take your way from Sant Joan de l'Horta, following the GR-99 along the Val de Zafán Greenway until you reach Bot.
To recover energy, a good glass of wine in any of the two great Wine Cathedrals of Terres de l'Ebre, the modernist wineries of Gandesa and El Pinell de Brai, will be the best remedy to catch your breath, or not, now. the beauty of the architecture is sure to blow your mind. If you are passionate about history, you are in luck, because from the wineries, you will be able to contemplate a landscape that keeps history in its memory, and it is that between the mountains right in front of you, one of the most tragic episodes of the Civil War took place. Spanish, the Battle of the Ebro.
The last activity of the stage before going up to Falset, in Priorat, will be the one that will finally take you into the waters of the Ebro river, which you have been following and following since the beginning of the section. So, fasten your life jacket, make yourself comfortable inside the kayak and go paddle! A very quiet and effortless journey will take you to the wonderful town of Miravet , with its iconic houses and the Templar castle overlooking the river.
Stage 5: A glass of wine in Priorat
Throughout this fifth stage, you will travel from Falset to Montblanc along 86 kilometers dedicated to a land as beautiful as it is hard, exploring its gastronomy and culture.
So, get ready to enjoy the gift that the Priorat lands give us in the form of wines (don't worry, you don't have to drink more than necessary to enjoy a good wine), and it is that in this region, not one but You will find two appellations of origin with both unique and singular character: the Denomination of Origin (DO) Montsant and the Denomination of Origin Qualified (DOQ) Priorat. We are not going to tell you which winery you should go to, we leave this in your hands. From Falset to the small towns of Porrera, Cabacés Gratallops among many others, you will find an infinite range of wineries, where each one of them has a charm that differentiates it from the rest.
You will then continue until you reach the first charterhouse on the Peninsula, Escaladei, located in the Montsant Natural Park, a mountain range full of symbolism and highly appreciated by climbers from all over the world, where you can make an exciting visit to discover the past monastic and hermitage of the area. Next, you cannot leave here without having gone up to Siurana first, from where you will contemplate privileged views over the reservoir and the entire Priorat region.
Finally, leaving the Montsant behind, you will continue with the course of the stage to Montblanc, the end point of the day. Before, however, we advise you to deviate a bit from the route and head towards Capafonts, where if you are a cheese lover, you can put yourself in the shoes of a shepherd for a few hours and learn how to make cheeses in an artisan way. You are sure to have some cheese left to lick your fingers!
Stage 6: Poblets and the mountains of Prades
The sixth stage of this section is short in terms of travel, only 15 kilometers, but infinite in terms of sensations and emotions!
Strolling and discovering the walled complex, the medieval towers and portals between the narrow streets of Montblanc, you will arrive at the winery that will already be waiting for you to offer you a breakfast with the best local products so that you can charge yourself well with energy to face the day that you wait ahead: salami, tomato bread, black and white sausage and olive oil cannot be missing on the table! We know it's all delicious, but watch out! Do not binge well, lest you end up with a belly too full to face the walk that follows, so put on your boots that the next activity of the stage will take you to the Poblet monastery along ten kilometers along the Cistercian Route. Declared a World Heritage Site, you cannot miss a visit to learn all the details and anecdotes accompanied by one of the monks who inhabit the monastery.
To finish the short but intense stage, you will drive to Espluga de Francolí. There, you will take a trip to history thanks to two spaces. The first of them will transport you, taking a giant step back in time, to prehistory through the Font Major cave, where you have an adventurous spirit, you can take a speleological tour. The second, in the same town, the Museum of Rural Life, an ethnographic space, will transport you back several generations to learn about the life of the traditional peasantry through objects that modernization has ended up extinguishing.
Stage 7: In the direction of Lleida
The last stage of this section will finally advance through the inland province of Catalonia to reach the capital, Lleida. Along the way you will leave behind, along the 78 kilometers of the stage, medieval villages, ponds, monasteries, the Cistercian Route and a landscape of crops and fruit trees. So let's start the day!
Before heading to Lleida, take a swerve and get off the road to detour to the town of Guimerà , a perfect example of a rural medieval enclosure in the 21st century. The town is part of the Cistercian Route, of which you have traveled part of the path on foot and visited two of the three monasteries that make up the route. So, do you know what the next Grand Tour proposal is? Right, you guessed it! A visit to the third and last Cistercian monastery, the Vallbona de les Monges monastery. Do you know what makes this monastery different from the rest? Surely you will know how to answer the question after the visit.
With the monastery on your back, passing through Les Borges Blanques, where you can stop for a tasting of olive oil with a protected designation of origin (PDO) Les Garrigues, you will head to Lake Ivars and Vila-sana, one of the most emblematic wetlands in Catalonia.
To end the stage, a good plate of llauna snails awaits you as a reward in the city of Lleida. Before dinner, you can make time in the monumental complex of La Seu Vella and the King's Castle to learn about the passionate Templar past of the city.
Encourage us to do the Grand Tour of Catalonia and enjoy the essence of our land in all its splendor like never before. For more information visit https://grandtour.catalunya.com/ca/
Text and images Grand Tour de Catalunya.