Barcelona to Valencia: Costa Dorada’s Natural and Historic Treasures
Barcelona sits at enviable coordinates along the Spanish Mediterranean coastline. From a Barcelona perch, options lead north to the Costa Brava, or south to the Costa Dorada. Either way, an itinerary departing Barcelona delivers a set of lovely coastal treasures with stunning beaches, ancient historic sites, and Spanish cuisine nonpareil.
This itinerary explores the southern route along Spain’s Costa Dorada, with rolling hills, history dating back to Neolithic times, and beautiful stretches of sunny beaches. Both northern and southern routes are made even more enticing with the addition of a few days navigating the Balearic Islands, yet each route stands alone as a splendid yachting experience.
Day 1: Barcelona’s ports, shopping, dining, antiquities, and interesting neighborhoods could easily take up a week of days, but the highlights are yours to explore as you embark on an exquisite voyage on board a luxurious private yacht. See artistic works by Joan Miro and Salvador Dali, whimsical architectural works by Antoni Gaudi, and exceptional chocolatiers at Enric Rovira, Johanna, or Bombones Blasi. Sip a tiger nut horchata at Sirvent, dine on burrata at Isabella’s, and shop for a trinket or two at La Boqueria market.
Day 2: Sitges is superb. Just a short ten mile cruise from Barcelona, this privileged enclave cultivates the good life with upscale dining, shops, bars, and a gorgeous beach. Its bohemian flavor comes from an influx of artists in the 1800s, but its roots are in fishing, wine, and sea commerce. A pretty set of palms fringe the street into the business district, with lovely cobbled streets and historic architecture, tucked up next to the edges of Garraf National Park, building up to a beautiful crescendo of a view.
Day 3: A nice morning heading to Tarragona allows leisurely views of the crisp coastline. The 2nd century ruins of Tarragona are astounding, with remains of an amphitheatre on the edge of the beach, Cyclopean walls, and the Cuartel de Pilatos. An interesting note, many of the houses have Latin or Phoenician inscriptions carved into them with their historic uses explained. The cuisine here is delightfully Spanish, with fresh from the sea courses enhanced by wines from nearby vineyards. Tarragona has 15 km of beaches inviting an afternoon of water play.
Day 4: San Carlos de la Rapita beckons an adventure exploring Punta del Fangar and Punta de la Banya in the Delta del Ebro, where the river meets the sea. Two of the most important wetland areas of Europe, sea birds and waterfowl of all sorts greet your arrival, along with pretty coastal views of this unusual environment.
Day 5: Tucked in between two resort cities, Park Natural de la Sierra de Irta is an opportunity to explore unspoiled bays, cays, and beaches along its 13 km of protected area. On shore walks up to Alcala Castle’s Templar fortress allow beautiful sweeping views from mountain to sea. Markets along all the coastal towns offer opportunities to bring aboard fresh seafood and produce, as well as local wines and souvenirs. Shop the Alcossobre or Benicarlo markets near the Park.
Day 6: The Islas Columbretas, part of a natural marine preserve, share their wealth of species with those who wish participate in an epic dive or snorkel in the area. Appreciating the view, and a simple swim are also great choices. Permission must be requested months in advance, and authorization must be shown prior to entering the water for a dive, but the experience is worthy of the extra preparation. Of the four islands, Illa Grossa provides the most interesting sites, with its crescent shape owing to a partially submerged ancient crater. Bird populations are plentiful, enhanced by endemic species such as Eleanor’s Falcon, and several species of endemic lizards. Beautiful and secluded, the islands provide high contrast to the coasts lined with resorts and beaches.
Day 7: Valencia welcomes you on the last day of your yachting experience, finishing the itinerary with a lovely mix of paella, local wines, herb liquors, and a mix of shopping, nightlife, and sunsets.