A glorious autumnal holiday to the three locations where Salvador Dali lived is a (sur)real treat
There’s nothing like a road trip to re kids’ imaginations. Taking to the open road gives everyone a sense of freedom. Barcelona and its Catalan environs is one of the best regions in the world to explore by hire car, especially if you want to combine city, beach and countryside. Setting off in the autumn after the intense summer heat has gone is an inspired time to go. Barcelona makes a great base for exploring the three points of the Dalí Triangle (Figueres, Cadaqués and Púbol) with plenty to keep all ages entertained along the way from flamboyant art to sea kayaking and more.
The Catalan capital is riot of culture for families. Surprise your kids with a trip to a cathedral that’s far from boring when you explore the famous Sagrada Familia. Incredibly, this Gaudí masterpiece is still under construction, with its crazy turrets and intense attention to detail. Art courses through this city, with the Picasso Museum and the Joan Miro Foundation offering the kind of colourful paintings and sculpture that children can really relate to. Don’t miss a stroll down La Rambla, with its flower sellers, painters, human statues and street performers and into the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter, where kids will be in awe of the huge hams hanging in the tiny tapas bars where they’re sure to get a taste for patatas bravas and stuffed olives.
Barcelona is also one of those cities blessed with its own beachfront. The sun continues to shine in the autumn when the crowds have gone, and it’s not too late to don a wetsuit and go surfing.
Kids will love the drive to Figueres, the birthplace of Dalí to explore the Dalí Theatre Museum. Designed by the man himself, you can’t fail to be amused by its bold design, including gargantuan golden eggs of the roof (inset)! Inside, discover melting clocks and the Dalí Jewels, an assortment of sculptural gold and gem-encrusted objects, such as a pair of lips.
The town also has a Toys Museum and the imposing 18th-century Sant Ferran Castle. A short drive from Figueres along the Costa Brava is Empuriabrava. Known as the Venice of Spain, the town is made up of canals, waterways and beaches. Next door is Marismas del Ampurdán natural park, boasting phenomenal bird life.
Drive down the winding coastal road to the small fishing village of Portlligat by the town of Cadaqués. Explore Dalí’s home workshop at the Dalí House Museum, a maze of rooms filled with eccentricities, such as taxidermy beasts covered in jewels.
Families can take a guided sea-kayaking tour along the Cap de Creus coast from the beach at Portlligat, exploring the coves and caves before driving back to Cadaqués for a late lunch beside the harbour, with its whitewashed buildings and fishing boats.
The medieval town of Púbol is home to Gala Dalí Castle House, a 14th-century castle Dalí gave to his wife and muse Gala, where she lived during the 1970s. Children can explore the lush gardens, with Gothic- Renaissance fountains and statues like something out of a fairytale.
Not far from Púbol, Girona is a lovely end to your drive, with its walled Old Quarter and Parc de les Ribes del Ter, where kids can immerse themselves in nature. It’s also conveniently located near the airport for easy car drop-o when it’s time to head home.