· Things to do ·
Balaguer is the capital of La Noguera region in the province of Lleida, and as such it has all the advantages of a large town: historically interesting buildings, museums, exhibition spaces, shops, a courthouse, local government offices, chemists, garages, a health centre and a wide range of restaurants.
Suitable for art enthusiasts, walkers and sportsmen/women alike, Balaguer offers a surprising variety of attractions without being overrun by tourists. With Tourism Rental Montsec you can enjoy the heart of the Montsec from its renowned Market Square (the largest porticoed square Catalonia) with its marvellous views and close proximity to the tourist office (200m).
* La Noguera Museum. Besides being the local tourist information centre, you can also learn about the history of Balaguer from its 8th century beginnings as an Arabic military settlement, and visit the various temporary exhibitions that the museum organises.
* Centro de interpretación del Oro (Gold interpretation Centre). In a specially designed hands on space, youngsters can discover how people used to search for gold in the River Segre. Regularly holds workshops for all the family.
* Visit the old town and discover some of the original shops that have survived the exodus of the population to the new part of town.
* Walk along the town walls.
* See the Modernist style buildings throughout the town.
* Discover the Gothic interior of the cathedral-like Santa Maria Church (information point in the Mudejar-Remaissance sacristy), with its surprising long haired statue that presides over the Sanctuary of Sant Crist. Meditate in the relaxing cloisters of Sant Domènec or walk to the ruins of the Les Franqueses convent on the banks of the River Segre.
* Avant-garde art is also present in Balaguer, at the (Proyecto Planta de la Fundación Sorigué) where you can visit buildings devoted to Juan Muñoz and the Kiefer Pavilion. A must for contemporary art lovers.
* (The Fundación Marguerida de Montferrato) in the town centre is an exhibition space for photography, sculpture, drawing, installations and audiovisual works.
Balaguer is a great place to enjoy long and refreshing walks in the park.
*Parc de la Transegre. The path along the left bank of the river is an easy route suitable for everyone.
*Jardins del Sant Crist. Watch the sunsets from the watchtower.
*Parque del Real. A green area suitable for cycling, jogging or having a picnic.
*Parque de Les Franqueses. A green area in what was once the lands of a Cistercian convent. Perfect for walks and meditation.
Gastronomy and Wine
A few of our favourite restaurants:
Cal Xirricló. Signature dishes and tasting menus. Excellent daily lunchtime menú.
D4. A good option for both its daily lunchtime menu (less than 20€, wine included) and interesting a la carte dishes.
Tastet del Reng. Good value for money, with gourmet touches.
Les Roquetes. Excellent choice with original menus. A good option for evenings and bank holidays. The terrace in a small square makes it suitable for children.
Niu Cup. One of the most authentic places in the Plaza Mercadal. You must try the ‘patatas bravas’.
Les 3 Bruixes. . Moderate prices in a privileged setting. A tasty assortment of ‘montaditos’ and ‘tortillas’.
La Vermuteria. A friendly local bar with a good selection of vermouths and beers.
Bar Rúbies. Good music, great atmosphere anddelicious tapas in an excellent location in the Plaza del Pou.
La Sal. A young and informal bar/restaurant with excellent service. Vegan options available. Good wine and tapas.
Cal Carles. Wonderful pizzas with lots of cheese.
El racó ibèric. Hand crafted flavoured beers and excellent wines accompany their selections of ham and cheeses.
La Garrafeta. Cooked with love, this restaurant is named after the old steam train connecting Lleida with La Pobla de Segur.
Costers del Segre is the DO (denomination of origin) of the area, and the Costers del Sió winery is located in the municipality of Balaguer. They began planting the vines in 1998 and now produce 10 different award winning wines, including the prestigious Alto Siós. Guided tours and wine tastings available. Prior reservation necessary.
Wine lovers must also visit the underground cellar of Delsams coffee and gourmet shop (Carrer d’Avall,17).
THINGS TO DO IN THE SURROUNDING AREA
Within a few kilometres from Balaguer, you can find a wide variety of cultural activities and adventure sports to try, including walking, climbing, paragliding/parapenting, kayaking, mountain biking and balloon rides.
* Congost de Montrebei. A uniquely spectacular gorge. Very busy at weekends and holidays. We recommend you visit during the week.
* Congost de Mu. Smaller and closer to town, this is where the Segre and Noguera Pallaresa rivers join. It has walkways, suspension bridges and spectacular views. You can have a picnic in Alòs de Balaguer (at the end of the gorge) or eat at the traditional and highly recommended El Molí D’Alós.
* Sant Llorenç de Montgai. A spectacular enclave on the banks of the reservoir. Hike up to the Mare de Deu Castell hermitage, visit the Roca del Bous archeological site or head towards the damn when the gates open. This climbers paradise offers routes for all levels, from the easy ‘Topi del Conill’ to the difficult ‘Cágate Lorito’.
* Vilanova de la Sal. A day trip where you can visit the old salt mines (dating from the 11th century) or climb up to the Montalegre hermitage.
* Ós de Balaguer. The castle and its Bell Museum are a must (especially for children). Regular guided tours on Saturday and Sunday, though other times are available on request. While you’re in the area you can take a 4X4 to la Cova del Vilars, a UNESCO world heritage site.
* Santa Linya. Climb up to Balconet de Santa Linya for spectacular views of the Noguera Pallaresa gorge, Montsec, Terradets and the Sierra de Sant Mamet. Visit the Cova Gran (big cave) and get an idea of how the first homo sapiens lived. Wonderful for archeologists, geologists and climbers.
* Penelles. This small village (less than 500 inhabitants), only 15km away, is worth a visit for various reasons: The streets are full of murals by urban artists who come together from all over the country to take part in the annual Gar Gar Festival; the old cinema has been restored and offers low price double sessions at the weekend, and very close by is the Castell de Remei Winery, famous for its Gotim Bru and Oda. Highly recommended.
* Áger. The valley is the gateway to to Congost de Montrebei (we recommend that you enter from Corçá), and the picturesque village with its narrow streets, church and castle is a beautiful place, though the most spectacular part is the view from the Coll d’Ares, where you watch paragliders take off and enjoy the views of the valley on your right and the Pyrenees on your left.