13 best sights of Salou – description and photos

Salou

Salou is a city in the Spanish province of Tarragona, the unofficial center of the Costa Dorada. It is not rich in historical sights, but this disadvantage is more than offset by mild climate, awarded the “blue flag” beaches with rocky bays, miles of promenades, and countless sports fields. On the territory of Salou is located the largest in Europe in terms of the number of visitors to the theme park “PortAventura” with hotels, restaurants, water and theme rides, racing circuits.

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Video: Salou

Salou Weather

Salou is warm in winter and hot in summer. There is not much rain, the most rain falls in the fall, after the bathing season is over. Tourists who can not stand the heat, prefer to come to Salou in late September or early October, when the water is still warm, you can sunbathe, but the crowds of tourists wiped out. Until February and March in the city is empty. Salou begins to come alive in the spring, especially after mid-May, when the water gets warmer.

The waterfront of Salou Screw from the ship Anchor

The history of Salou

Settlers from Phokida, a region in Middle Greece, arrived in the comfortable Mediterranean harbor in the 6th century B.C. Under the Romans Salouris became one of the most important centers of the province of Spain. With the arrival of the Moors the prosperous coast was deserted. Life in Salou revived in the XIII century, when the city became the starting point for the maritime campaigns to the Balearic Islands, led by King Jaime I of Aragon. This period of triumph was short-lived, as Majorca became a haven for the pirates who regularly raided the mainland, before being joined by brigands from North Africa. In the sixteenth century, the administration of the surviving coastal settlements decided that something had to be done about the constant threat and built a series of fortifications. This measure had no effect on the pirates: only the Castilians, who conquered Catalonia in the XVII century, stopped them. The towers were torn down so that the Catalans would not be tempted to rebel.

The most important harbor of the region Salou remained until the XIX century, then it could not withstand the competition with its neighbors and fell into decline. The city was revived after the appearance of the railroad in 1865. Since then, the development of the city was redirected to the tourists. In 20s of XX century the coast was built up with luxurious chalets, but the real tourist boom began in the 60s. In the 70-80-ies in Salou was a wave of local struggles for independence: the city was decided to join the municipality of Vila-Seca, but activists managed to defend it.

One of the most popular tourist centers of Catalonia, the center of the Costa Dorada, Salou became about 20 years ago, when he opened a giant amusement park “PortAventura”. In 2012, a project was approved to build a family entertainment complex Barcelona-World, which will be 4 times larger than PortAventura and will absorb it. To implement the project there were found investments of billions of dollars, were bought out the municipal land, but so far it remains on paper, and PortAventura thrives, annually presenting guests with new themed areas and attractions.

Salou attractions

There are only a few monuments of historical architecture in Salou. From the Roman period remains Villa Barenis from the first century BC on the outskirts of the city. It is the ruins of a building in which ceramics were made for building and everyday life with the remains of a kiln with an aqueduct connected to it. During the time of Tiberius they made gigantic pots as high as a man, in which they stored olive oil, wine and grain, placing the pots in barns or partly buried them in the ground. Free guided tours of the villa are offered from May to September in the evenings, from 6 to 8 p.m., in Spanish and English.

Church of Santa Maria del Mar

A 15-minute walk southeast of the pottery workshops, in the historic center of Salou, next to the train station, is the fortress of Torre Vella, built for defense against pirates in 1530. Around her a small park with a sculptural group of dancing naked girls, joined hands raised to the sky, inside the building – a two-story art gallery, part of the local history museum. View the works of contemporary Spanish and foreign artists and collections of enamel and smalt for free from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Church of Santa Maria del Mar, north of the Monument to King Jaime I on the promenade of the same name, was built in 1766 especially for the sailors of ships entering the harbour. In the early twentieth century it was renovated, adding elements of constructivism. The restoration is still going on, but even today you can admire the frescoes inside the building and listen to the bells, which chime every half hour from 8 to 23 hours.

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Salou parks and boulevards

Next to the station there is a miniature children’s park with areas for three ages – from toddlers to teens. While the kids frolic on the slides and swings, parents can sit quietly on the benches or in the nearby cafes. Nearby is an authentic steam train with a 150-year old train car – a symbol of the development of modern Salou. Noteworthy and city park with a pond with carp, creeks, paths and a playground with simulators. It is not very big, but very well maintained, on Fridays and Saturdays, it organizes concerts and dances.

The main place for walks of Salou citizens and visitors is the promenade Jaime I. In the western part of the promenade is a singing fountain with a half-hour light and music program, starting at 22 hours daily. In the middle is a monument to the conqueror of the Balearic Islands, after whom the boulevard is named. During the day because of the heat the promenade is deserted, but in the evening a crowd of strollers gathers here.

Steamer Monument Fountains on the Promenade

PortAventura Amusement Park

Opened in 1995 in the north of Salou, PortAventura has surpassed Disneyland in attractiveness, variety, originality and technical complexity of the attractions. Meals, accommodation, water activities, shopping, theatrical performances and festivals are all found in the dozens of hectares of the park. Accommodation in PortAventura includes free admission to the rides, but you can also stay outside the park and buy tickets separately. The cost of admission depends on the length of stay and season. Tickets start at 49 euros per day in the amusement park for adults and 41 euros for children. In comparison, 3 days in all three parks cost only 85 and 70 euros respectively. Discounts are available for children up to 10 years old, disabled and senior citizens from 60 years old; online ticket purchases and hot deals for night sessions from 7pm to midnight are usually 10-20% cheaper.

Theme Park

The Mediterranean zone begins at the entrance to the park – it is a traditional fishing village. The Catapult standing here reaches speeds of 135 km/h in 3 seconds. From here there is a waterway to Ancient China and a railroad to the Wild West. The route by water goes through Polynesia, the train with a separate easy entrance for wheelchair users – through the whole park. In China, guests will have dizzying adventures and relax in the children’s area with balloon and kite carousels, dragon slides with obstacle course. In Angkor armed with water pistols tourists boat through the jungle and fight off the forest creatures. It’s a realm of extreme Shambhala and Dragon Khan rides and the tranquil whirling of giant tea cups from the traditional Chinese service.

In the Polynesian zone, daredevils are swept up by volcanic eruptions on Tutuki Splash, hurricanes on Kontiki swings, and relaxing only during a fun canoe trip through the jungle. Mexico has a 175-meter labyrinth with special effects, guests will be offered a trip to a silver mine and a free fall from a hundred-meter tower, horses and funny armadillos are waiting for the kids. The Far West has the most rides, including a rodeo, a log ride through a sawmill, a Tomahawk and Stampoda roller coaster, cars, and a barrel-shaped carousel. Finally, the fabulous Sesame Street will bring kids’ dreams to life – intricate slides, flying butterflies and chairs, fish and dragons.

PortAventura theme park

Aqua Caribe Aquatic Park

The picturesque 50,000 square meters of Caribe Water Park is filled with rides and relaxation areas. The “Bermuda Triangle” pool with its unpredictable waves and the serene Bahama Beach with loungers by the still azure water are preferred by adult tourists. The little ones will find a giant paddling pool and a water fortress in the inner area under the roof. Outdoors, kids relax in the “Lagoon” and “Pirate Galleon”, the family pool “Paradise Beach” and the shallow “Sesame”.

Mambo Limbo is a tall but perfectly safe kids’ slide with breathtaking turns and gentle descents, while the 15-meter Tiphon with two steep slides is a bigger challenge. The most terrifying option is King Khaiuna with a 31m drop. “Crazy River offers a fun ride downstream under the waterfalls. A step forward in the conquest of the water element is the descent on inflatable circles from El Torrente slide and steep “Barracuda”. Without turns, but with waves – that’s what a Rapid Race mat ride is like.

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Aqua Caribe Aquatic Park

Ferrari Land Park

The latest innovation of PortAventura is the Ferrari Park, dedicated to the history of the famous racing brand, a hybrid of a museum and an extreme amusement park. The main building tells all about the cars, and there are simulators that simulate going around a Formula 1 track. In the open air is built extreme ride Red Force, 55-meter tower with a freefall and instant takeoff to the sky, a half-kilometer long race track. Children ride the Junior Championship cars and compete on the Children’s Podium slides for the youngest kids. All rides and simulators are decorated in the team’s distinctive red colors.

The beaches of Salou

All 34 beaches of Salou are clean, well-maintained, covered with fine yellow sand, but some of them are difficult to descend because of the steep coastal cliffs. The most compact beach with a rocky descent with railings is Llenguades, the longest is Lievant, stretching along the promenade of Jaime I. There are no jellyfish and no waves, you can rent a variety of sports equipment. Ljargu is characterized by a gentle descent into the water, though it is difficult to get to it because of the steep shore.

Locals prefer the beach of Ponient, located near the residential area, away from the hotels. Ponyent’s strip of sand stretches to Cambrils, it is shallow – optimal for bathing small children. A very picturesque, but inaccessible and deprived of entertainment beach is Cala Crank. To go down to Cala Font, next to the lighthouse, by the stairs between the thickets of rosemary and thyme, you will need good shoes. All beaches are free, renting a sun lounger will cost an average of 5 euros, an umbrella 7 euros. If you vacation a week or longer, it is cheaper to buy in shops Salou beach towels, mats and folding umbrella.

Events in Salou

Like everywhere else in Spain, Salou celebrates many holidays – national, regional and local. In January, the Cavalcade of the Three Kings, dedicated to the three wise men who welcomed the infant Jesus, walks through the streets of the city. In June Salou holds a festival of children, from June 23 to 24, the eve of St. John’s Day, in the Russian folklore tradition – Ivan Kupala, arranging a grand fireworks display and night entertainment. King Jaime I is commemorated on September 7, and September 11 is Catalonia Day.

Of the events of the world scale it is worth noting the May championship in international a checkers. Since 1998, he won six times the representatives of Russia, another 12 times they were among the winners. Since 2005 Salou has become the capital of the Rally of Catalonia, the most popular section of the World Rally for TV viewers. The autumn sporting event was moved from the Costa Brava to the outskirts of Salou due to the developed infrastructure of the city and the excellent quality of roads.

Fireworks in the sky over Salou International chess tournament in Salou

Salou activities

The neighboring towns to Salou have firmly established a niche for year-round family and youth recreation. Not limited to the opening of the park “PortAventura” to attract tourists in the low season, it was decided to develop a sports destination. In the capital of the Costa Dorada has already managed to open 6 soccer fields with locker rooms and bars, including 2 fields with natural turf.

If the walk along Boulevard Jaime I is accessible to everyone, Paseo Maritima will especially appeal to athletes. This 7-kilometer promenade, which in some places turns into a mountain path, stretches to neighboring Cambrils. There are basketball and volleyball courts along the way. Along the coast there are bicycle paths, ordinary bikes cost about 10 euros a day for rent, you can also rent electric bikes. Water skiing costs about 70 euros for half an hour for two, a bonus – free videos and photos. From Salou experienced guides accompany groups of tourists into the mountains. Routes cost about 40 euros per person pass by mountain lakes in which you can swim, caves, abandoned villages.

The rope park, located near the eastern end of the promenade, offers several routes for 9-35 €, minigolf for 4-5 €, paintball for 15-20 €, archery for 12-20 €. Children’s and adult go-kart tracks are laid out on the northern edge of Salou. The fee for an 8-minute ride is €15. There is a cycle track leading to the karting track and a free bus goes there once an hour from Plaça Europa. Accompanying riders are waiting in a covered room with a bar and billiards.

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Bike rentals at Salou Hotels Kayak tours along the coast

Golf Club Salou

Lumine Golf Club, formerly known as Port Aventura, was renamed after the opening of the same name amusement park. It has three courses – south, north and central. The last two were designed by Greg Norman, the famous Australian golfer. Lumine has two clubhouses, a restaurant, an equipment store, with plans to build nearby 5-star hotels, cottage quarters and an international golf school designed to accommodate 1,200 students at a time. The club is visited not only by golfers: its pine park has 8 swimming pools with sun loungers. A ticket to Lumine costs from 15 euros.

Transport in Salou

For close distances to La Pineda, Cambrils, Reus, Tarragona, the most convenient and cheapest way to travel on a strict schedule bus company Bus Plana. The same company organizes tours with Russian-speaking guides cheaper than tour operators. Blue kiosks are open throughout Salou.

Where to stay

PortAventura has themed 4-5-star hotels with excellent restaurants. The Wild West is realized in Gold River and Mansion de Lucy, the Mediterranean in PortAventura, luxury islands in Caribe, and Mexico in El Paso. In high season lodging costs from 150 euros per person for two, a room should be booked in advance due to high demand. In addition to PortAventura Park, many hotels are open along the coast of Salou. Staying during the season will cost from 60 euros per night.

Cafes and Restaurants

In PortAventura there are many self-service cafes with cuisines of the world, but also restaurants with a full menu: Mediterranean cuisine is presented in Port Regata near the main fountain, Mexican cuisine is in Hacienda el Charro, American home cooking is in “The Iron Horse”. In Salou itself, popular are La Morera with a Michelin star, Xantar with excellent fish dishes and dozens of inexpensive bars and cafes found at every turn, especially near the train station and on the promenade Jaime I.

Shopping in Salou

Do not shop in Salou – Barcelona is the best place for that – but you can find good clothes and accessories in Salou. The main stores are located along the promenade and perpendicular to the musical fountain, they close late at night. The Mercadona department store with a large selection of branded goods at average prices is open 5 minutes walk east of Torre Vella, on the level of the dancing fountain. Of local produce, you can buy jamon from 20 euros and sangria from 10-15 euros per bottle.

Mercadona Supermarket Jamón for sale in the Mercadona supermarket

How to get there

Foreign tourists prefer air transport. A 20-minute drive north of Salou is Reus airport, which receives direct charter flights by the lowcoster Ryanair, mostly local and Irish-British destinations – from Glasgow, London, Dublin, and the Dutch Eindhoven. Most tourists arrive via Barcelona International Airport by regular routes, including direct flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The best way to get from Barcelona to Salou is to take the Bus Plana, which leaves from the airport, or the train. In the latter case, take the subway to Central Station and get on the high-speed train TALGO, which leaves for Salou every two hours. Tickets start at 14 euros. The capital of the province, the city of Tarragona, is only 12 km from Salou. There are 5 buses a day from Tarragona to Salou, the fare is up to 5 euros; train rides cost 2-10 euros.

13 main tourist attractions in Salou

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Salou is a large resort town on the Costa Dorada (translated as “Gold Coast”) in southern Catalonia. It’s the perfect place for a family vacation – sun, sand, wide beach areas with all amenities and quiet beaches in hidden little coves. Add to that the city’s well-developed infrastructure, all sorts of entertainment and a whole list of interesting attractions in Salou, Spain.

It really is everything that this colorful country has to offer. Nearby there is a theme park, the best in Spain; a wonderful golf course and a world-class water park. For fans of historical sites – historical and cultural monuments of Tarragona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is only 10 minutes from Salou by train. So what can you see on your own in and around Salou?

Port Aventura theme park

PortAventura theme park

Port Aventura theme park.

PortAventura World is the most visited theme park in Spain, which is one of the ten best parks in Europe. This is a great vacation spot for the whole family. The youngest visitors will enjoy the dance shows, playgrounds, rides and the new area of the park, SésamoAventura, where the little ones will meet the characters of “Sesame Street”.

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Older children and adults will not be left indifferent by the roller coaster. Every year something new comes to PortAventura World. The entire park area is divided into five thematic zones: the Far West, the Mediterranean, Mexico, China and Polynesia. If you are a thrill-seeker, visit the Hurakan Condor attraction. It is a 100 metre tower from which you can take a freefall that is visible from several kilometers away.

Address: PortAventura World, Avinguda del Batlle Pere Molas, km 2, 43840 Vila-seca, Tarragona, Spain.

PortAventura Aquatic Park

PortAventura Aquatic Park

PortAventura Aquatic Park.

As with all Portaventura attractions the Caribe Aquatic Park is one step above any of the traditional water parks of the Mediterranean. There are pools, high-speed water slides and slides on an area of 34,000 square meters, planted with palm trees and tropical vegetation.

The youngest members of the family can have fun in the Zona Indoor with shallow pools and safe obstacles that are easy to climb over. Fans of high speed – adults and older children – can visit the King Khajuna ride to make a dizzying descent from a height of 31 m down a 55-degree slope.

Address: PortAventura Caribe Aquatic Park, Avinguda del Batlle Pere Molas, Km. 2, 43480, Tarragona, Spain.

Beach Llewant.

Llevant Beach

Beach Llevant.

Playa Llevant is the most popular beach of Salou where you can spend your summer days relaxing in the sun. A wide strip of beach with fine golden sand stretches along the coastline for more than a kilometer. The proximity of the beach to the resort hotels and apartments makes it a great place for families.

Along the beach area is equipped with playgrounds for children. The surf is moderate and the beach is partially sheltered from the strong currents to the east by Cape Salou.

Address: Salou Beach, Passeig de Jaume I, Salou, Spain.

Dancing Fountain of Salou

The Dancing Fountain of Salou

Dancing Fountain of Salou | Photo: Ruben M / Flickr.

The famous fountains in Salou began with the Font Lluminosa, a luminous fountain built in 1973 by the architect Carles Buigas, creator of the world-famous Magic Fountain in Barcelona. During the period from Easter to November, evening light and sound shows are held here.

During the shows the 100 water jets of the fountain create a real extravaganza of many combinations, all in harmony with the music. In recent years, there is another fountain – it is called the Cybernetic fountain for its complexity of design. It has a thousand jets and in the middle is a real maze, which many people try to overcome.

Address: Fuente Cibernetica Salou, Passeig de Jaume I, 1, 43840 Salou, Tarragona, Spain.

Boulevard of King Jaime I

King Jaime I Boulevard

Boulevard of King Jaume I.

Avenida Jaume I stretches for a kilometer along the central city beach of Llewant. This picturesque marble tiled promenade is popular with locals and tourists. Here you can look at the people and show yourself off.

On the upper side of the lively boulevard are stores, restaurants and bars, above which you can see the apartments of the Mediterranean resort.

There are palm trees planted on both sides of the promenade, and in the center is a monumental monument to the famed Jaime I the Conqueror. This king, who ruled in the 13th century, is a national hero of Catalonia who is credited with liberating Barcelona from the French and several cities from the Moors.

Address: Passeig de Jaume I, Salou, Tarragona 43840, Spain.

Coves of Cap Salou

Cala Crans Cove

Cala Crans Cove.

If you are not a fan of the lively beach areas of the resort, you will enjoy the picturesque small beaches near the promontory to the east. There are five in total: Cala Vigna, Cala Crans, Cala Morisca, Cala Font and Cala Peña Tallada. All can be reached by car or on foot if you are not afraid of long walks.

There are minimal buildings on the cape, so the beaches in the coves are practically sandy stretches of coast surrounded by limestone cliffs with lush coniferous vegetation – fragrant Aleppo pines.

Address: Cala Crancs, Carrer dels Pins del Cintet, s/n, 43840 Salou, Tarragona, Spain.

Beach Capellanç Salou

View of Salou Chaplain's Beach

View of the beach of Capellans Salou.

Playa Capellans is the golden mean between the headland and Llewant beach. This lovely little beach is in a quieter area of the resort, framed by two rocky ledges. Compared to Llewant beach, there are fewer waves and shallower depths, so Capellas is ideal for those who are not very good swimmers.

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Although it is not the longest resort beach, its sandy coastline is quite wide, so even at the height of the summer season, it is not as crowded as the neighboring Llewant beach.

Address: Beach Capellans Salou, Carrer de Brussel-les, 30, 43840 Salou, Tarragona, Spain.

The ancient city of Tarragona

Roman Amphitheater in Taragonna

The Roman Amphitheater in Taragonna.| Photo: Manel Zaera / Flickr.

In just 10 minutes you can take the train from Salou to one of the most prosperous cities of its time in the western region of the Roman Empire. Earlier this ancient city had the name Tarracon and was the first major settlement and capital of the province of Tarraconensis, which covered most of what is now Spain.

Tarragon is striking in its wealth of Roman buildings and defensive structures. Not far from the sea there is an amphitheater and a little higher is the provincial forum, above which rises the Praetorian Tower. There is also a museum with a rich collection of artifacts. Just outside the city you can see the amazing Roman aqueduct, burial tower, ancient Roman quarry and the Arch of Triumph.

Address: Roman Amphitheatre in Tarragona, Parc de l’amfiteatre, s/n, 43003 Tarragona, Spain.

Roman Walls and ancient quarter in Tarragona

Ancient Roman Walls

Ancient Roman Walls | Photo: wikimedia.

The walls of Tarragona were one of the first projects of the famous Roman general Spicion who landed on the Iberian Peninsula in the 3rd century B.C. Tarragona served as a base for the Romans during the Punic War. Over 22 centuries the walls have been subjected to destruction, but from the well preserved lower part of the fortifications you can say with certainty that it is a Roman structure.

In addition to the ancient walls, the medieval Archbishop’s Tower can be seen in Taraggon. The ancient walls surround the most elevated part of Tarragona – the ancient quarter Part Alta. It is a beautiful network of streets with steep descents and ascents where the best local restaurants are located.

Everything here hints at Tarragona’s Roman past, including a number of buildings surrounded by authentic Roman walls.

Address: Muralles Romanes de Tarragona, Via de l’Imperi Romà, Tarragona, Spain.

Cathedral of Tarragona

Cathedral of Tarragona

Cathedral of Tarragona.

On the highest point of the city rises the graceful Gothic Cathedral. For centuries this hill has been an illuminated place. During the reign of Emperor Tiberius there was a Roman temple (fragments of which were found in the foundations of the cathedral only at the turn of the 21st century) and later on the same place was occupied by an Arab mosque.

The peculiarity of the Cathedral is a mixture of architectural styles – Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque – which is clearly visible in the 19 different chapels inside the structure. Walk through the cloister of the cathedral, a real oasis of tranquility with Gothic arcades and fountains in the center.

On the east side you’ll find a small inscription in Arabic dating back to the 10th century, the time when the Moors had a mosque here.

Address: Catedral de Tarragona, Pla de la Seu, S/N, 43003 Tarragona, Spain.

Wine region of the province of Tarragona

Wine region of Tarragona province

Wine region of the province of Tarragona. | Photo: Angela Llop / Flickr.

Tarragona can be called the province of cava. About 70% of all grapes grown here are white varieties, such as Macabeo. They are used to produce Catalonia’s favorite cava wine, the sparkling white wine of the D.O. category. (Denominación de origen) .

If you travel through the countryside, in every village you can find a cooperative farm store selling the best local products, including wines. This is where you can buy authentic, locally produced wine such as cava, muscat or Chartreuse liqueur.

You will also find award-winning olive oil, dried fruit and nuts from the gardens of the coastal plain around Reus and Tarragona.

Address: El Pla de Manlleu, 43714 El Pla de Manlleu, Tarragona, Spain.

Small town Reus.

City of Reus

Small town Reus. | Photo: Jorge Franganillo / Flickr.

From Salou you can reach this thriving business town in less than 15 minutes. Reus was formed at the turn of the century, which is why there is so much beautiful Catalan Art Nouveau architecture here. One of the most beautiful buildings is the Casa Navàs.

It was built by the architect Luis Domènech i Montaner, author of another famous project, the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Reus is the birthplace of the world-famous architect Antonio Gaudi. In the city museum, dedicated to the brightest representative of Catalan modernism, there are some of his personal belongings and a number of sketches.

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