This beautiful and diverse region is one of 3 in the north where the people speak their own proper language, but even though Catalan is the official language in this region, the national Castilian Spanish is also taught and understood by the majority.
Barcelona is the capital and 2nd largest city in Spain. As well as being a prosperous and dynamic city, it has a marvellous medieval Gothic quarter and incredible architectural creations by Antoni Gaudí plus fantastic nightlife and good food.
Girona is only a short distance from Barcelona and the coast and has the best preserved 12th century Arab baths apart from those in Granada. Whilst Figueres, further north, is famous for the eccentric artist Salvador Dalí - so both worth visiting. Along the coast you'll find some charming seaside villages and fishing ports as well as modern hotel and apartment structures in well-known holiday resorts. Tossa de Mar is one of the prettiest towns - popular with the British since the 50's, and Sitges, a favourite with Europe's yuppies, is one of the biggest gay beach resorts on the Med, and its Corpus Christi celebrations are spectacular.
The Costa Brava to the north of Barcelona is a rugged, pretty coastline of lovely sandy coves and rocky cliffs bordering the Mediterranean sea, whilst inland the countryside is still wild and beautifully unspoilt. Remote villages dating back to the Middle Ages are dotted around the valleys and the Pyrenees offer magnificent walking and skiing. For fantastic scenery drive up and over these mountains into France - even in the spring you could leave Spain bathed in sunshine and arrive at the top to find deep snow so go prepared!
Catalans love food and you'll find some of the very best here, especially away from cosmopolitan and expensive Barcelona. Wild mushrooms are a favourite - locals go hunting for them in the forests, and the wonderful sauces accompanying meat and fish dishes may not be mentioned on menus so you could be in for a surprise when ordering! Bread rubbed with tomato, olive oil and garlic rather than spread with butter is a typical delight too.
Overall a great region with plenty to offer all tastes.