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Spanish v Catalan

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I'm aware that there are 5 different versions of Spanish but when in Spain, what is the more versatile and most understood? I'm guessing that Madrid would be more Castillian Spanish but other big cities/regions such as Barcelona and Andorra speak Catalan. It would also be useful to know which is the easier to study.

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Actually, Catalan is not a type of Spanish, but a different Romance language also spoken in Spain.  It's actually more closely related to French.  (In the same way, Galician is more closely related to Portuguese than it is to Spanish.)  Catalan and Galician are not really mutually intelligible with Spanish.

Most people who speak Catalan or Galician will also speak Spanish (Castellano).  Spanish is, by far, the most useful language to learn; it will enable you to speak with people all across Spain, as well as in Latin America.  Whereas if you learned Catalan, you could only speak to people in the northeast corner of Spain, most of whom are bilingual in Spanish anyway.

Of course, Galician and Catalan are interesting languages.  But if you're looking for the language with the most utility to a tourist, learning Spanish is the way to go.

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Catalan is a language on it's own. In medieval times it used to be very close to Provencal, the literary language of Southern France and the renowned troubadours.

In the last century or so, the various regional languages in Spain especially Catalan and Galician or Gallego have come under strong Castillian influence and many among the young only know Castillian Spanish, especially in major cities.

Speaking Spanish would be the best option, as almost everyone will understand you. In areas like Valencia, which happens to be officially bilingual, Spanish seems to have become the main language and even native Valencian children speak more Spanish than Valencian (a dialect of Catalan, but claimed by Valencian purists to be a separate language).

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