Don't wait for people to tell you about it: you need to experience the charms of La Devesa de Tor for yourself. Visit the small Empordà village of Tor and immerse yourself in this restored 16th-century 'masia' (Catalan country house). The atmosphere will take you to a limitless place and time, exotic and sensual, from where you won't want to return. Go into any of the rooms, each with their own suggestive name (the Cove, the Intimate, the Clandestine, the Sky...), and if you're in good company, prepare for a romantic evening with chill-out music and candlelight. Enjoy the variety of drinks on offer such as Elixir of the Caribbean, Exotic Bubbles, the Cupid and the Marilyn, as well as the selection of sophisticated gin and tonics, beers and alcohol-free options. And if the experience gets your appetite going, you can accompany your drinks with a selection of Iberian cured meats ('embotits'), local cheeses and foies. It's a place you'll never forget.
Enter La Terra and you'll instantly feel like getting out your Moleskine notebook and drawing sketches, writing poetry or jotting down some chords of that song you've been composing. Stories bloom in bars like this one on C/Ballesteries, a place full of creativity and charm. Sit down on the cushions by the windowsill and look at the houses that back on to the river Onyar. If the day's not great, take your time, enjoy a tea, a fresh juice (check out their juice of the day, you might be surprised by a new combination), a craft beer or a home-made hamburger. Even for just walking on the mosaic floor and checking out the decor, it's worth spending some time there.
Despite the shelves full of 'National Geographic' magazines, at Ca La Pilar Dumingu, they can't hide their origins – the soda siphons of Casa Negra and the ceramic basin in the bathroom clearly reveal them. The authenticity of this bar-café in Plaça Major de La Bisbal is undeniable. It's located in a historical grocery shop with mosaic floors and high ceilings, and has the charm of a place that acknowledges the past as a way of living contentedly in the present and future. The long tables create a family atmosphere for everyone who heads there for a vermouth, a beer (they have a selection of craft beers) or one of the herbal infusions that are stored in apothecary pots (it's worth trying the 'ratafia' one or the red tea with orange flower variety). If hunger bites try a gourmet 'botifarra' (Catalan sausage) sandwich with caramelised onion, or one of aubergine with blue cheese and almonds. Sounds good, right?
You'll soon appreciate how close Girona is to the town of Canet d'Adri. Because once you've ventured inside Pati de Calamontse there, you'll want to go back again and again... It might be because of the green surroundings, or the carefully created decoration, or maybe because the place and its people make you feel right at home. When the weather is good, it's a great spot for a vermouth, but not just with some olives and the ubiquitous soda siphon but rather the full monty with workshops and a variety of themed talks. In the evening, seek out a free seat, get chatting with friends, or simply disconnect with the concerts, monologues and other events that they schedule. And when you go, whether it's during the day or at night, check out 'Little Montse' ('Petita montse'), the trailer from where they serve drinks and vermouths.
Witih more than 20 years experience of mixing drinks, Mariona Vilanova has become a true expert in the art of the cocktail. Her passion comes from her family, and in 2013 she created a temple to her passion: Nykteri's Cocktail Bar. In an intimate space, you'll use all your senses to experience the classic and signature cocktails, gin and tonics (with more than 50 gin types on offer), vermouth and glasses of wine accompanied by small bites to eat. On the menu you'll find house creations such as the Temps de Flor (the name of a floral-based festival that takes place each May in Girona), and a line of cocktails that use ratafia Terrània ('ratafia' is a local liquor traditionally made with a variety of herbs). If your weekend usually starts on a Thursday, you should head to Nykteri's for their 'afterwork' event – this is a themed activity that changes each week, and which lets you try three different drinks and enjoy a snack, all from 7pm. This bar is a place where care, precision and passion make each drink into a real work of art – seduction made cocktail.
In the middle of the road that crosses Banyoles – and only five minutes from the town's famous lake – you'll find a charming spot: the Pati de Ca La Flora. This former dairy, which dates from 1914, has been transformed into a bar-café and bed and breakfast, where great attention is paid to the details. The lush plants that stand ouside, the traditional decor with wooden furniture and the beams in the ceiling all make this place a haven for anyone looking to have breakfast, enjoy a beer or have a snack. From time to time, they organise special activities, such as wine, beer and gin-and-tonic tastings, discussions and presentations. It's a must-visit!
Bebop, free jazz, Dixieland, ragtime... Follow the rhythm and choose whatever genres you like, because at some point or other, you're bound to hear them at the Sunset Jazz Club, a landmark venue in Girona for all jazz lovers. Whether you like improvising or prefer to stick to the sheet music, whether your thing is big band, trio or solos, this Barri Vell club has a great programme of concerts by both national and international musicians, as well as an excellent range of background tunes. To get you really in the mood for the music, take a look at their cocktail menu (featuring both classics and house creations) as well as their selection of Irish whiskies and Scottish whisky, gins and vodkas. Nice!
If anyone thinks that going around in tight shorts and top doesn't meet with the rules of urban style, then they should give the café of La Fàbrica a wide berth. This place was set up by professional Canadian cyclist Christian Meier and his wife, and has become the mecca for many of the region's serious cyclists. Its secret? Authenticity. With a philosophy based on fair trade and sustainable agriculture, you'll find any number of sweet treats to accompany your cup of coffee (don't worry, all the calories will be burnt up once you're back on your bike). As well as breakfast or having a snack on the terrace, you can watch stages of events such as the Tour de France or try a language exchange with fellow café-goers.
The last big cove ('cala') in Lloret de Mar before you get into Tossa de Mar terriority is also one of the most chic beaches in the town, and the 'xiringuito' that opens there in the summer more than rises to the standard of its surrounds. A small port full of lesiure and pleasure boats sets the atmosphere, and the large houses that surround the beach (owned in large part by Russian tourists) have raised the caché of this mini Saint-Tropez even further. In the port you'll find a limited range of places to eat that are open year-round, but it's from Sant Joan (Jun 23) that this particular beach bar opens. They excel in fresh salads, smoothies and fresh fruit juices. As you might imagine in a place full of beautiful people, they also make excellent café frappés.