Montserrat is only some 50kms from Barcelona and yet feels like a different world. Forget the Ramblas and Mediterranean casual seaside lethargy, this is a combination of the Grand Canyon crossed with Saint Marks Square and it is amazing!
La Sagrada Familia is one of Barcelonas iconic buildings and well worth a visit, in fact I have probably visited dozens of times and the nice thing is that because of the on-going building works it always looks different!
In the area between Santa Pau and Olot is the Garrotxa Volcanic Natural Park and well worth a visit it is too, especially if you are looking for a contrast from the beach or city. How many places do you know where you can you walk into a volcano and see what the resulting geology looks like? There are plenty of easy, well marked paths through the park but one of my favourites is to the Croscat volcano (extinct I hasten to add) where mining activity over many years has basically revealed the interior in cross-section.
Besalú is worth a trip just for the bridge but add in the narrow cobbled streets, the two churches and a rare Jewish micvah and you have the perfect day trip destination.There are cafes and restaurants where you can sit outside watching life passing by or wandering around the shops full of local specialities like cured sausages or chocolate pastries.
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