Day trips from Barcelona
Barcelona is one of the most popular cities to visit in Spain. The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is known for its history, art, beaches, and great food. However, as the biggest city in this region of Spain, you will also find that there are a lot of elements in Barcelona that are the same as other big cities. In order to see more of what Catalan life is like, we recommend getting outside the city if you have an extra day or two in the area. These are some of our favorite places to visit if you want to see some different Catalan culture, more history of the area, or get out into nature.
The locations listed below are easily accessible by train, a way of transport that we truly love (and wrote a whole post about here). To get to some of the places, you will be able to take local buses. Another option is to rent a car and drive to your destination or, if you are up for it, share a ride by using Bla Bla Car.
When flying into Barcelona (main airport, El Prat), it is possible that you accidentally book a flight to Girona, one of two smaller airports in the area. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Girona is not that far from Barcelona and it might even give you a good excuse to spend an extra day/night in this lovely city. If you don’t happen to fly into Girona, we still think it is worth taking a day to visit. And, if you happen to like Game of Thrones, you will find that you recognize more of the city than you would have initially imagined as it is the city of Braavos in Season 6.
If you do not watch Game of Thrones, we think you will find this city charming in other ways as the city has a rich history. You can read more about the history of Catalonia in this article, but Girona played a role in the region going back into Roman times. Today, you can see these marks around the city in the form of walls going around the city and defensive fortifications to protect the citizens. In addition, we can see how the city has changed hands over the years in the different marks that these groups have left on the city, such as the Arab baths and the old Jewish neighborhood.
One of the biggest things this city is known for is its world-famous restaurant, El Cellar de Can Roca, that has been voted the best restaurant in the world three times. Don’t worry if they are fully booked (or slightly out of your price range), as you will find many other wonderful dining experiences in Girona. We love shopping at markets, so we would recommend trying out the local Mercat del Lleó, or the local market for some flavors of Girona.
How to get there: Unlike the other places on this list, you can fly into Girona airport directly from different international locations. Before you fly, we recommend checking with the new norms due to the current situation. You can also reach Girona from Barcelona via bus or train. We highly recommend the trains in this region of Spain and you will find reasonably priced trips that make the trip regularly. Finally, you can always get there by car or car sharing such as BlaBlaCar.
Another city known for its history, Tarragona is especially recognized on the Iberian peninsula for the role it played in Roman history. If you are interested in Roman relics, we highly recommend going to spend a day in this sea-side town. You can get a ticket to visit all of the different elements that bring together Roman history in Tarragona here. We find that the 11.05€ (and less for students, unemployed, etc.) is a very reasonable price as you will be able to wander all over town learning about the local history.
Once you have finished with the ruins in the city center, you can also head to the aqueduct that used to channel water to the city. If you have extra time, we really like walking along the beaches in Tarragona as they are often long stretches of warm sand. During the summer they will be packed with locals and tourists alike trying to cool down from the summer sun, but if you go in the spring or fall (or even in the winter), you will find them mostly empty.
How to get there: To get to Tarragona we recommend taking the train from Barcelona as it will be faster than most car trips, depending on the traffic. This journey is reasonably priced and will leave you in the city center. If you are planning on traveling around the area a bit more, you can also make the journey by car. If you prefer to travel by bus, you can also find regular buses making this journey.
Not far from the center of Barcelona, only about 45 minutes by train, you will find one of the most famous beach towns—Sitges. Spend the day if you want to enjoy the lovely beaches and wander around a lovely Spanish coastal town as you will find 17 beaches (some of them nudist friendly as well), several museums, and a beautiful old town. If you stay the night, you will find that people in Sitges like to party. There are all sorts of establishments, including many gay friendly places.
The good thing about this town is that it is quite close to Barcelona, which means you can easily get here for the day. However, that is also a downside as locals will also escape here from the city. Like many places, expect it to get a bit packed on nice days and during the summer. There will be enough space for everyone though as long as you don’t mind packing together a bit. And, if you go off-season, you will also get all of the charm of a small beach town, close to the city center of Barcelona, without all the crowds.
How to get there: Like the options above, it is relatively easy and reasonably priced to get to this destination by train. You can also travel here by car if you prefer.
Another day trip or weekend getaway that locals enjoy is Castelldefels, a town that is also a close train ride from Barcelona center. This town is located between the mountains and the Mediterranean and has a long stretch of beach, a medieval castle, and many places to eat. We recommend visiting Castelldefels if you have a long day or you want to get a bit further away from the city life. It is also a good stop before or after your day trip to Garraf (see next section) if you want to wander around a historic city.
How to get there: Like many of the above locations, the best way to reach Castelldefels on public transportation from Barcelona is by train. However, if you are planning on traveling around the area a bit more, you can also make the journey by car and if you prefer to travel by bus, you can also find a couple of daily buses making the journey.
Castelldefels is the bigger town that is on the way from Barcelona to Garraf, a smaller town that has a small beach but is more visited for parks there. Luckily, if you are visiting the town for the beach, it is likely that they are less crowded than other beaches you could visit in the area, such as in Sitges, because it is smaller so beachgoers tend to hit places with more beach potential. In addition, these beaches are quite shallow and a good place to go with families or if you just want to wade out into the sea for a bit.
This town is also known by climbers in Barcelona as a good day trip out of the city because it is located right on the edge of the Garraf Natural Park. The whole region of Catalonia is much greener than more southern regions of Spain like Andalusia, but Natural Parks are a good place to go for hikes and get away for a day of climbing. There are a couple of different routes you can do, ranging from pretty easy to a bit more advanced. Check out this page for more.
How to get there: The best way to reach Garraf on public transportation from Barcelona is by train. However, you should know that you will have to buy a round-trip ticket before leaving Barcelona as you will not be able to buy a ticket there. Going by car will give you more flexibility when checking out the Natural Park but won’t be necessary for most travelers.
This sacred mountain range in Catalonia is a must see for many people, religious and non-religious alike. Here, you will find many Catholic relics important to the history of the region in the local Abby. In addition, the mountains themselves are beautiful with strange rock formations made of stone that sort of glows a light pink in the setting sun. If you like nature, while visiting Montserrat, we highly recommend hiking up the mountain instead of taking the cable car up for a view of the area. The landscape is amazing and there is no better way to explore it.
How to get there: You can easily reach Monserrat by train or bus. You can also go by car if that is your preference.
A quaint town in the outskirts of Girona, this town’s claim to fame is the Salvador Dali museum that was designed by Dali himself. The museum opened in 1974 and is considered to be one of the largest (if not the largest) collection of Dali’s surrealist art in the world. The museum is housed in what was originally a theater and the renovation, carried out by Dali himself, is meant to take you into his world of surrealism.
This museum is quite well known and one of the main places artist lovers like to visit in the Barcelona region. Therefore, be aware that tickets may be booked during high season and try to get your tickets before you go. If you are in the area, you can also see other sites related to Dali, such as the house where he was born. If you want to go beyond Dali’s contribution to the area, check out the other museums in the area (there are a lot, ranging from more art to toys and technology).
While this small town is mainly known for Dali, if museums are not your thing, do not worry because you can also come to Figueres to check out the quaint town. Like many other towns in the area, you will find historical elements such as churches and a castle that date back centuries. In addition, like anywhere in the region, you can grab a bite to eat or a drink are you are surely not to be disappointed.
How to get there: The best way to reach Figueres from Barcelona is by train (either the slower, regional train or the high-speed AVE train) or by car. It is not very practical to go by bus.
What is your favorite place to visit on a day trip from Barcelona?