6 must-do day trips outside Barcelona
In a city as vibrant as Barcelona, it would be difficult to run out of things to see and visit or simply to experience. Catalonia, the area surrounding Barcelona is just as rich in culture and sights and offers a welcome alternative to the tourist-thronged streets of the city in high season. We’ve made a list of some of the must-do day trips for those looking to get away or explore the surrounding area.
Montserrat is one of the first and best options for a day trip if you’re visiting the city and have seen most of the typical sights. The mountain is easily accessible from Barcelona: you can get there by bus, train or car and it won’t take more than an hour. After your arrival, different hiking paths are at your disposal. You can either take advantage of the mountain’s funicular and explore the peak at a leisurely pace with the family or, if you’re in good physical condition, take the longest path (about a 2-3 hours hike up) and take in the spectacular view from the top of the Sant Jeroni peak which stands at 1,236m. One feature of the mountain that is definitely worth a see on this day trip is the Sanctuary and Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat. Visiting Montserrat is the perfect option to escape the metropolis and get in touch with Catalonia’s nature.
This gay-friendly beach town is only 42 kilometres from Barcelona and a quick 40-minute train ride away. Sitges is home to the International Fantastic Film Festival in October which unveils both fantasy and horror films, and hosts one of the biggest Carnival parties in all of Spain. The Saint Barolomé Church is one of the iconic structures that is visible from anywhere along the waterfront. As Sitges is considered a gay town, don’t be surprised by the number of friendly people you encounter. In fact, its said that the town boasts the first gay beach in the world!
Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is located 100km from Barcelona on the famous “Costa Brava”. Tossa has become a popular tourist destination not only for its turquoise Mediterranean waters but also for the walled enclosure and the ruins of the city called “Vila Vella” where the remains of a Roman castle can be found. This little town has adapted through time and now welcomes many tourists a year, offering narrow, antique streets and many small restaurants that present tasty dishes rich in the seafood that is abundant in the area. Don’t miss the ruins of Saint Vincent church, an example of Spanish Gothic art that shouldn’t be skipped.
Tarragona has lately become one of the sites that you cannot avoid if you’re visiting Barcelona. Located at 100km South of Barcelona, Tarragona’s Roman heritage has become a must-see for tourists from all over the world. Tarragona is the perfect example of Catalonia’s richness of coastal cities which offers s a unique mix of warm, sunny beaches, and historic ruins from medieval times. The archeological ensemble of Tarraco, built between the 1st and 4th centuries in Tarragona, is one of the 40 cultural UNESCO world heritage sites located in Spain.
Girona is a medieval town around an hour and a half away from Barcelona. It has recently gained more popularity by being featured as the city of Bravos on HBO’s Game of Thrones. The city is located on the Onyar River and the small, colourful buildings that line it are iconically recognizable. It was originally a walled city and the enclosure still stands. Take a walk along the medieval wall and visit the famous Girona Cathedral and Esglesia de Sant Feliu (an enormous church with various architectural styles). The old centre town and Jewish quarter are charming and well worth a wander on this day trip.
Figueres is a quaint little town about 140 km away from Barcelona. The best way to arrive is either by train or by car. The quickest ways are usually more expensive so you can arrive in about 1.5 hours by taking the toll routes or the fastest trains. The main attraction in Figueres is the Dalí Theatre Museum, which houses works curated by Dalí himself and is where the artist is buried. This place is an experience before you even step foot inside and is worth the visit. The town also has a toy museum, technology museum and an 18th-century fortress called Castell de Sant Ferran, making it the perfect sight for a day trip.