H10 Salou Princess
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Boasting an enviable setting on the Spanish Golden Coast, the Costa Dorada town of Salou notches up around seven million overnight stays each year. Tourists, most of whom originate from Spain, Britain, and France, come for the 300 annual days of sunshine, the shallow blue waters, family-friendly attractions, and vibrant nightlife. Accommodation typically comes in the form of holiday homes and beach hotels, the latter offering a variety of self-catering, half-board, and all-inclusive options. Accommodation and dining here are not particularly expensive although securing one of the many late deals available may make a good price even sweeter.
Salou offers a choice of two main beaches, each one clean and easily accessible on either side of the town’s port. Playa Ponent, to the west of the port and linked to neighbouring Cambrils, is lined with al fresco eateries. The larger Playa Llevant, a Blue Flag beach on the east side of the port, features a children’s playground. Sun loungers and parasols are typically available to hire from the numerous beach peddlers. In the high season, the beaches in Salou can get fairly hectic. Those who seek a quieter experience may wish to take the 15-minute drive along the coast to Cambrils. Here you’ll find that the sheer number of beaches - nine in total - allows most people to enjoy a spot to themselves. If you want to enjoy water sports and don’t mind the crowds, the water sports centre at La Pineda, 15 minutes east of Salou, offers jet-skis and pedalos for hire.
The retail scene in Salou is much the same as you’ll find in any coastal town in Catalonia. Many shops along the seafront focus on offering tourist essentials such as towels, inflatables, and sun cream, although, as you might expect, there’s a fair number of souvenir shops too. Wider shopping opportunities can be found in the town’s many narrow side streets as well as in the Old Town area. As well as a broader selection of shops, Old Town plays hosts to the town’s once-weekly market. When it’s time for a break, you can rest up for a while in one of the town’s many eateries. Years of British visitors have left a distinctly English flavour to many of the restaurants but it’s still possible to find traditional dining spots. No matter where you choose to eat, you can reasonably expect at least some form of seafood to be on the menu.
If you’re something of a thrill seeker, you can rest assured that Salou delivers. Adrenaline Park is perhaps lesser known than parks in the wider area but is a must-visit for families nonetheless. The facilities here include a 900-metre karting circuit and an amusement arcade, not to mention highlights such as the bungee trampoline and rocket. You’ll also be ideally placed to visit the nearby PortAventura World, home to the Ferrari Land and PortAventura theme parks and the Caribe Aquatic Park. More water-based fun can be had at the Aquopolis Waterpark near La Pineda; a popular park offering interactive dolphin and sea lion experiences. All the area’s theme and water parks are easily accessible thanks to regular local bus services. Hotels in Salou, as in the rest of Spain, often have an information stand where you can pick up a map of the town’s bus stops, although, if in doubt, most routes include a stop along Jaume I Promenade.
Salou may be focussed on beach life but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to go without your culture fix. The town is home to the 1766 Church of Santa María del Mar while, just 20 minutes east of Salou, Tarragona offers up culture by the bucket load. The older part of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 and home to some of Europe’s best-preserved Roman remains, features attractions such as Aurelian Way, a 2nd-century amphitheatre, and the National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona (MNAT). A longer drive of a little over an hour brings a trip to Barcelona into play. Cultural attractions here are seemingly endless although highlights for many visitors include Las Ramblas, the Picasso and Barcelona FC Museums, and Placa Reial. You can also visit the Antonio Gaudi-designed Sagrada Familia; a basilica that is expected to remain under construction until around 2030.
While you should be able to explore the likes of Tarragona and Barcelona under your own steam, tours and excursions led by expert local guides are readily available in Salou. You could satisfy your sense of adventure by heading off to explore the Spanish countryside in a jeep convoy; destinations such as the tiny hamlet of Siurana, the old medieval village of Prades, and the hermitage of Montroig may well form part of your itinerary. For those who like to take life at a slower pace, you might choose to forego the jeeps and head off on horseback instead or perhaps set off on a luxury catamaran cruise. The options are pretty much endless and with most local tour guides offering convenient hotel pickup and drop-off, it couldn’t be easier to get involved.