For me, the idea of going to another country and not checking out as many food, culture and history spots as time would allow is completely out of the question. This is why I was a bit shocked when I visited the Costa Daurada with the Spain UK Tourism team, to find that’s exactly what many tourists do when they go to the area.
I was flabbergasted! “What about all the great places we’re visiting today and tomorrow? Surely people don’t come here and not see them?” I asked. My travelling companions assured me that I didn’t misunderstand – many visitors to the region purchase all-inclusive holidays, which often means they hang around at the pool and sometimes visit the local theme park. Outside of that, holidays don’t always include a trip to the local sights.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good relax by the pool with drink and book in hand, but I can’t help but think that people are missing out! I don’t know if I can change people’s minds en masse, but I hope I can convince tourists to leave the confines of their resorts to see some of the Costa Daurada’s gorgeous places.
About the Costa Daurada
The Costa Daurada is made up of more than 80 kilometres of coastline and is billed as one of the best beach destinations on the Mediterranean (I can vouch for this, because the beaches we visited were tranquil and pristine). However, that’s not all it has. It was an ancient Roman hub, it’s home to some of the best food in the region, and its stunning natural beauty brings people from far and wide to visit.
Here’s a few of the spots I really enjoyed during my visit…
The town of Reus is located about 10 minutes from Reus airport and I guess you’d probably consider it an average European city from first glance. Don’t let that fool you. Reus is the birthplace of the famous modernist architect Antoni Gaudí, and while there are no buildings in Reus designed by Gaudí (most are concentrated in nearby Barcelona), many of his contemporaries did design gorgeous buildings in the town. That’s why you should definitely take some time to wander the streets and take in the stunning art and architecture.
Once you’re done wandering, it’s worth visiting the Gaudí Centre. It’s an interactive look at Gaudí’s work, including video, hands-on examples and close-ups of some of his most famous works. I really enjoyed seeing how Gaudí used practical elements within his often very bizarre-looking designs.
Make sure you have a glass or two of vermouth
While you’re in Reus, you should most definitely try the vermouth (or vermuts)! I’d never really considered vermouth a drink on its own, but I was pleasantly surprised and found myself buying a bottle to take home (and I now enjoy it semi-regularly). We were given a large glass of vermouth with ice, olives and orange slices, to be enjoyed slowly with some salty snacks. As a sweet aperitif, vermouth works perfectly with olives and some ready salted crisps. Some well-known vermouths are produced in Reus, but I encourage you to ask for Miro.
Cambrils – culinary capital of Costa Daurada
Cambrils is a picturesque little seaside town and is considered the culinary centre of the area. As you walk around, you’ll have more choice than you can poke a stick at as to where you’ll eat, and you’ll find it very easy to just sit by the beach with an ice cream in hand.
They’re so dedicated to their gourmet reputation here that they have regular food festivals which many of the town’s restaurants participate in. For obvious reasons, many of the festivals focus on local food like fresh seafood, wines and tapas dishes.
While I was there it was the ‘Fideus Rossos’ Festival and we were strongly encouraged to try this traditional local dish. Fideus Rossos is a noodle dish that you could compare to a paella – a lot of flavour and plenty of seafood. The only difference is the rice has been replaced with what looks like chopped up spaghetti. Personally, I found it very salty, but because it’s a traditional dish I think it’s important to try it.
What’s a trip to another country without trying their take on one of the world’s favourite beverages – wine. In Australia (where I come from), Spanish wine isn’t all that common, but I know it’s easily found here in the UK. I can’t really call myself a wine snob, but I’ve spent a lot time with people who are, so I like to think I’ve picked up a few things over the years. This meant I was really looking forward to trying local wines.
There are plenty of wineries to choose from near Reus, but I can highly recommend a drive through the mountains to the La Conreria d’Scala Dei in Priorat country. Not only will you enjoy a scenic drive, you’ll get to try some very nice wines.
We were very lucky to receive a personal guided tour by the winemaker, Jordi. He started the winery with two friends and has the oldest vinyard in the area. When you see the landscape – steep cliffs and a lot of rock – you’ll be really impressed with the quality of wines they produce. We tried wines straight from their barrels at varying points in the fermentation process, which set us up well for the finale – a tasting of the finished wines. If I had room in my bag on the way home, I would have brought more than one bottle!
Obviously I have to make mention of PortAventura World and its very new Ferrari Land extension, which opened in April 2017. You can spend a day in both parts of the park for 55 euros, which I thought was a good price.
If you like rollercoasters, PortAventura World and Ferrari Land are for you. We managed to get on three and I was done for rollercoasters for a while after that. Thankfully, there are rides for those that don’t enjoy that head-pounding nauseated feeling that some rollercoasters leave you with.
Ferrari Land is a car lovers’ delight and has one of the fastest rollercoasters in Europe as its star attraction – Red Force – which goes so quickly you don’t even have time to register your fear. It also has an absolutely brilliant 3D ride – Flying Dreams – that’s hard to describe, but absolutely worth the wait. Importantly, it’s perfect for those who don’t enjoy rollercoasters, but love a little rush.
PortAventura World is a brilliant day out and I wish we had more time there to explore.
How much time do you need in Reus?
Give yourself two to three days to see these sights, especially if you plan to spend time at PortAventura World (because that’s definitely a full day). However, if you’re more into historical sights, stay tuned because I’ve got more recommendations coming soon!
For more information on Costa Daurada, take a look at the tourism board’s website.
Karis, from But first, we eat! , is an honorary Ladies What Travel, kindly covering this trip to Spain on our behalf when we couldn’t make it!