When heading to Catalonia Spain, there seems to be only one place on everyone’s minds – Barcelona. But, don’t miss out on what the rest of Barcelona Province has to offer.
I know. Barcelona is kick-ass. But, let’s just take a step back and look at the downsides of BCN.
- It’s super touristy, and you can’t move anywhere without being offered some sort of tour, or meal special. In fact you can’t really move anywhere because it’s so crowded in the summer months.
- Pickpockets and theft is a serious concern
- More ‘touristy’ mainstream restaurants are appearing. Serving generic food and running the traditional “mom & pop” restaurants out of business
- In football season – rowdy tourists are a nightmare
Now I don’t want to bash Barcelona – I love it. I just didn’t love it quite so much on my latest trip as I have some on all my previous visits. The overflowing tourism and street crime has reduced the charm of the city centre (yes we had a pickpocket attempt within minutes of arriving – even locals are getting targeted – damn good reason to have travel insurance).
But really, the original charm that I loved, is just the Catalonian way of life. The food, the cava, the old architecture. I’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s all still available. Just outside of Barcelona, in Barcelona Province it all still exists. Just as it always has. As always, we went on a mission to discover the best Food Fun & Adventure to be found in this region. And we found it – in abundance!
Getting Outside Barcelona – Food Fun Adventure in Barcelona Province
Food – Restaurant Magda Subirana in the town of Vic
Some of the best Catalonian food we tasted during our time in Costa Brava was at a small restaurant run by chef Magda. While at nighttime this restaurant might be considered quite a fancy and expensive place to enjoy a meal, during lunch chef Magda offers up a traditional and affordable set menu for € 15.35 with water & wine – score!
The set menu is a Catalonian tradition and can be found in most restaurants throughout the area. It consists of a starter (which is often the size of a main meal) a main and dessert. All is served with a choice of soft drink, water or wine and coffee at the end with dessert. The wine is often offered as an entire bottle and you won’t be charged extra for finishing the entire bottle…it’s just the Catalan way.
Generally these set meals are massive as lunch is the biggest meal of the day. You eat yourself silly, enjoy a few wines, and then head off for a little siesta somewhere nice and cool.
As we were special guests of Chef Magda’s and Costa Brava tourism we were not only treated to one starter – but a selection of starters. This included chilled pea soup, prawn with crispy noodles in a creamy cheese sauce. And Tom’s favourite – sardines served with fresh made pesto, and topped with a slice of strawberry to add unique mix of salty and sweet.
Also, this wasn’t on the set menu, but we requested to taste the cured sausage which Vic is famous for, called Salchichón. To make it they take meat and bacon from top-quality pigs and mix in white and black pepper and salt, all of it is macerated for at least 48 hours and packed in natural skins. The outcome? YUM!
After our mains and dessert, and adding to the mix a couple of bottles of wine, and we can assure you we were stuffed to the brim with some of the tastiest food we have devoured during our time in Costa Brava and the Barcelona province – actually in Spain.
Chef Magda is a wonderful host, a fantastic chef, and is very hands on in both front and back of house in her restaurant. A trip to the medieval city of Vic is worth it for the beautiful buildings, fascinating history and to eat at Magda Subirana restaurant – trust us! Vic is also where we went hot air ballooning– an amazing experience!
Fun – Segwaying
This activity was some of the most fun I’ve had in ages. You seriously couldn’t wipe the smile off my face after trying – segwaying.
It seems like a strange contraption. This 2 wheeled, upright mode of transportation. I thought it would be difficult to use. In fact it’s incredibly intuitive. It only took a very short amount of time before we had the hang of using the segways and we were off, cross country, in the beautiful Montseny nature park.
As we were a group of 11 we took turns using a mixture of segways and electric bicycles (which are also super fun to use) to explore the tracks of the oldest natural parks in Catalonia, our final destination being the local reservoir.
It is an off road rocky terrain, so you do need to take your time and make sure you can balance while manoeuvring around rocks and holes in the track. There is also a speed limiter on the segway, so you can’t actually take it too fast before it starts to slow you down automatically. This way you can never really go too fast and lose control. But due care still needs to be taken, one of our fellow bloggers managed to pile it.
Company: Daema Aventura
Price: €40 per person
Adventure – Canopying
High wire adventure at it’s most fun. Climb or zip-line through the trees, while working together as a team to ensure everyone gets through the course. A challenging, physical activity that rewards you with fun, exercise and self accomplishment.
This was a great adventure activity as it builds you up bit by bit, trying harder obstacles as you go. Until you reach the ultimate zipline course at the end. 7 different ziplines of different lengths and heights. Ziplining from tree to tree. Squealing with excitement as you pick up speed, and fly through the forest.
The guys at Activ Natura take their jobs very seriously, making sure everyone is carefully fitted with their harnesses and then taught how to use all of the equipment required to safely complete the courses. You start with a short test course where you must get every step correct to be given approval to move onto the 1st actual course, which seems so much higher off the ground then the test – because it is!
After the test there is no more babying – it’s go time. And you find yourself up in the trees, manoeuvring the different obstacles, trying not to fall. Not that it would matter, as you are securely attached the entire time – as long as you’ve followed the instructions properly.
As I said they take safety very seriously. Although it is tons of fun, you can hurt yourself if you don’t follow their instructions. That said, even though our instructor was super attentive to safety, he was also hilarious. We had a great time joking with him as we made our way through the courses, which got harder and harder – and higher and higher!
The instructor was not as amused when Tommo decided to get the safety procedure wrong on one of the high lines and jam his zipline half way down. It was a bit of a wait as the instructor pulleyed himself out to un-jam Tommo. Apparently this long wait, hanging, cause some discomfort to his between leg valuables, or so he loudly complained at the time.
Note to self – follow the instructions every time.
So, for this adventure, those with a fear of heights may prefer to stay away. As well as manoeuvring over tiny moving planks of wood, or cargo nets, while high up among the tree canopy. It is a challenge both physically and mentally – but one that is rewarding as you feel the wind rushing past you as you zip down the last line, knowing you made it!
Company: Activ Natura
Price: Exciting course & Canopying – €15 -€28 per person. From 2 to 4 hours.
Camping is usually quite low on my list of fun ways to get a night’s sleep. Fortunately Roca Grossa has bungalows. Brand new ones that have been really thoughtfully and efficiently designed to make great use of a small space.
Nestled just minutes walking distance to the sea, this place offers something for every budget level from a simple campsite to a fully equipped bungalow we stayed in. There is also a pool, tennis court and table tennis available onsite. This was certainly a place to sit back, relax and enjoy true Catalonian hospitality.
Roca Grossa – camping, bungalows
Address: Ctra. N-II, Km. 665, 08370 Calella, Barcelona, España (it is possible to get here by train as well)
For more info or to book – CLICK HERE
All of these places we visited are most easily accessible by car so if you are wishing to explore the hidden wonders of Barcelona province we recommend you hire a car for a few days. If you are looking for a good car rental site we recommend Auto Europe. They offer affordable car rental not just in Europe but all over the world.
Have you been outside of Barcelona and explored Barcelona Province? Were there any little gems of Food Fun Adventure that you discovered? Let us know in the comments
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Disclaimer: This page contains some affiliate links, which pay us a small commission if you buy or book something after clicking them. All of the above experiences were provided to us free by costa brava tourism, amongst other things. We choose only to write about the experiences that we genuinely enjoy and find to be good value. Opinions are our own.