Subirats, Gelida, Vilafranca del Penedès and Sant Sadurní d'Anoia are four places where you'll be stopping on this 48-hour trip around the Alt Penedès region. Hopefully you're up for a bit of exercise, because right from the start you'll go cycling, and later we'll recommend some walking routes. Of course, most of the activities will centre around the region's main source of life: vineyards, wine and cava production.
On your arrival in the region, head to Lavern Subirats train station and pick up an electric bike, which you'll need to have booked in advance. Book yours by calling the Tourism Office in Subirats (93 899 34 99) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. This way you'll be able to enjoy the Penedès region at your own pace, cycle through endless vineyards and, if you fancy, visit one of the wineries open to the public, which offer guided tours – we highly recommend that you do.
Bike rental is for up to four hours, so you'll have plenty of time to spend a lovely afternoon, and included are a helmet, a map of the area, and a GPS system so you don't get lost.
Farmhouses and vineyards make up the typical landscape in this area. The Ruta de les Masies de Gelida (Gelida Farmhouses Route) is an initiative set up by the Associació d'Amics del Castell de Gelida (Friends of Gelida Castle Association), which you can either do on your own, following a published guide, or by booking a guided tour, which you'll need to book in advance (Tel. 93 779 01 46). If you choose the latter, please note that you'll need to be part of a group of at least eight people. It's an easy route, which you can do with kids, and during which you'll discover the areas around Gelida and the Serres d'Ordal mountain range. Many of the houses you'll pass through are centuries old, and today still maintain the same purpose for which they were constructed as well as sell home-made products.
After lunch, we suggest you choose one of the many experiences offered by Vitiexperiencias that you can do in the region. These are activities that in one way or another are all related to wine and vineyards, and are varied according to your tastes and level of fitness, so you're bound to find the perfect one for you. For example, you can try your hand at rock climbing with expert instructors, and after reaching the top you'll take in landscapes filled with vine leaves. After the climb, it's time for a delicious wine and food pairing with products from the Penedès region. Or take part in a pottery workshop and create an amphora or wine glass – all this among vineyards – and afterwards visit some dry stone cabins, or learn how to prune a vine, or go on a jeep tour...
On your last day in Penedès, you'll visit the capital, Vilafranca. Head over to Vinseum, the Museum of Wine Culture of Catalonia, which boasts an extraordinary and diverse collection that includes around 17,000 works that bring to light how this area has been and still is devoted to wine production and viticulture. Old and new tools and utensils, artisanal pieces, amphoras, a collection of 'porrons', and even various dioramas of wineries and taverns from Egypt and Rome, as well as of Poblet Monastery, fill the rooms of this museum experience that deserves a thorough visit, and which is located in a palace that once belonged to the Crown of Aragon.
To wrap up your trip, you'll go straight from the capital of wine to the capital of cava: Sant Sadurní d'Anoia. You'll do this by visiting a few of many modernista style mansions around the town, from Casa de la Vila to the more well-known Freixenet and Codorniu cava wineries, or Escoles Noves and Ateneu Agrícola. Of course, you can go on this route on your own, but you also have the option of booking a guided tour in advance, which includes a visit around Sant Sadurní, entry to Codorniu and a cava tasting, the perfect activity before heading home.
One hundred percent Penedès: that’s how the restaurant Cal Padrí pitches itself, and we can tell you that they're completely justified in that claim. Both the views and the food, the ingredients for which come from their own vegetable patch, have the special aroma of this land of vines. From the Catalan cuisine dishes on offer we recommend a local speciality: the stewed duck dishes.
This spectacular 16th-century country house has five dining areas and even a heliport. It specialises in traditional, top-quality cuisine with highlights that include snails, grilled meats, and calçots when they're in season. It’s the ideal place in the region for celebrating special occasions big groups.
This excellent restaurant is located in the centre of the capital of cava, and serves up top-quality, Mediterranean-style dishes featuring local ingredients, as well as an exceptional wine list. A sense of humour is not lacking here either, which you can see in the names of their selection of small dishes ('platticus') and menus (one of which is the untranslatable 'Al tantu que va de cantu'). All of the dishes are recommendable, and you can order everything from oysters to rice with salted cod and artichokes, and even 'zarzuela' (fish stew).
Modern cuisine with traditional roots using locally sourced products is what you’ll find here. And since you’re in the Alt Penedès, the wine list is top-class, with the accent on wines and cavas from the region, complemented by products from other wine regions. We (and the restaurant management) recommend the cannelloni of rabbit meat with truffle-flavoured béchamel.
Surrounded by vineyards, this typical Catalan country house is nowadays a hotel with a very recommendable restaurant serving signature surf-and-turf–style cuisine. Try the soupy rice with lobster if you prefer maritime flavours, or the mute duck cooked Catalan style with prunes if you’re more partial to meat and fancy trying a regional speciality. There is also a wide variety of fixed-price menus that are suitable for all budgets.
This quiet farmhouse is surrounded by vines and offers accommodation for up to ten adults (with supplementary beds for children). In front, there's a barn that functions as a games room, and if you’re interested in sunbathing, there’s also a solarium. Walkers will be pleased to learn that there are plenty of footpaths and routes to complete near the farmhouse.
El Molí de Pontons is a small country hotel located in the centre of the village of Pontons in Alt Penedès and is ideal for couples. It offers elegant suites with a romantic atmosphere, equipped with Jacuzzi spas, and guests can enjoy a variety of spa treatments and massages. The hotel also has an outbuilding with apartments for four to six guests each. The hotel restaurant is recommended and serves good seafood.
This four-star establishment located in the capital of cava country is equipped with a magnificent swimming pool and garden and serves generous breakfasts. Its comfortable bedrooms are cool in summer and warm in winter, and service is friendly. It has a total of 59 rooms and offers parking facilities.
The two-star Hostal Sant Sadurní may not offer great luxuries, but it is very welcoming and cosy, with only ten rooms, all of which have street frontage in the centre of town. It opened in 2006, and all of the rooms are equipped with flat-screen TV and en-suite bathrooms. There is WiFi throughout the property.
This country hotel has nine single and double rooms and is located in the village of Subirats, an ideal base for exploring the land of wine and cava. The owners also run a restaurant with the same name in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia which specialises in grilled meat, cold cuts, 'escalivades' and calçots when in season.
The mountain of Olèrdola has been a strategic enclave with different degrees of settlement since the Bronze Age (a little over 4,000 years ago). You can visit both the archaeological site and the study centre, which stands in a modern building. The museum offers visitors guided and dramatized visits that allow you to discover, among other things, anthropomorphic tombs and the medieval city, which was when the castle and the walled city were built.
This is actually a group of buildings made up of the former fortified Penyafort manor, a convent and a church. The castle was built around the 11th century. Tradition says it's the birthplace of Sant Raimon of Penyafort (1185–1275), a Dominican monk and canon lawyer and councillor to King Jaume I who was canonized in 1601. Guided tours are conducted on the second Sunday of every month, and you must register in advance for them. The castle is also the start of the visit to the bomb shelters route, which takes place on the fourth Sunday of each month, since this site is also part of a group of exhibition spaces related to aviation and the Spanish Civil War.
Also known as the Conjunt Monumental de la Roca, this complex of buildings includes the Romanesque church of Santa Maria, dating from the 12th century, the Castell de Sant Martí, which was built in the 10th century, and the museum, which houses a number of archeological and ethnographical collections that include an Iberian funerary monument (third to second century BC); a woman’s head in stone (first century BC) known as the Venus of Pendedès; Roman tombstones; and a 15th-century Moorish soup bowl from Manisses, a piece that's considered unique, decorated both on the inside and outside and discovered during the restoration of the church.
Vilafranca’s wine museum has an extraordinary collection of diverse items relating to the history of wine making. These 17,000 items are fundamental to reaching a complete understanding of a territory that has always been marked by wine and vines. The museum’s different exhibitions and audiovisual presentations will help you to understand how wine is made and its historical and economic impact on the territory.
Located in a distillery dating from 1814, the Cava Interpretation Centre consists of 1,200 square metres that allow you to explore the world of cava from its origins and history to the manufacturing process and its role in culture and celebrations. On your visit you’ll enjoy Sant Sadurní d'Anoia in 3D, get to know the town's architectural heritage in an interactive way and experience the phylloxera festival in large format, among other proposals.