The Best Day Trips from Barcelona: 7 Destinations For Your Itinerary
Barcelona isn’t the only place worth visiting in Catalunya. If you’re looking for more destinations to add to your itinerary, here is a list of the 7 best day trips from Barcelona. These towns and cities are much less touristy than Barcelona so you can get a more authentic feel of what life is like in Catalunya. You’ll find everything from Roman ruins to sandy beaches (that are much better than those in Barcelona!) This is your complete guide to the best day trips from Barcelona.
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Spain’s national train system, Renfe, will take you to almost all of these destinations. The Renfe Ave trains are high-speed trains that I’d recommend you take. They can get you to any of these locations in two hours or less. Book your ticket as earlier as possible to get the best price. Train ticket prices increase a lot the longer you wait.
In no particular order, here are the best day trips from Barcelona to add to your itinerary.
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Girona is a colorful, historical city located about 60 miles north of Barcelona. This city looks a bit like the area in Florence surrounding the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. It’s one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona and is only a 45 minute-1 hour train ride away. Girona is known for its rivers, bridges, perfectly-preserved Roman walls, and brightly-colored houses. Some of the must-see sites include:
These Moorish baths, built back in the 1100s, are a beautiful site to take in a great place to go for a few hours of relaxation. They are among the few Moorish baths outside of Andalucia.
Address: Carrer de Ferran el Catòlic, Girona, Spain
This is a Gothic Cathedral is arguably the most famous building in the entire city. It took almost 800 years to build! This front of the Cathedral was used as the starting point of Cersei Lannister’s walk of shame in Game of Thrones.
Address: Plaça de la Catedral, Girona, Spain
Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants
This is a small but extravagant monastery and another Game of Thrones filming location. The details and layout are just mesmerizing.
Address: Carrer de Santa Llúcia, 8, Girona, Spain
Zaragoza is definitely one of the most underrated cities in Spain. While virtually unheard of among tourists, the city is famous for the Fiesta del Pilar, which takes place every October. For a week, there are nonstop fireworks, parades, concerts, and performances to pay tribute to the Virgin of Pilar, the patron saint of the city. Zaragoza is located in the community of Aragon, just a 1.5-hour train ride from Barcelona. Here are the most interesting things to do in Zaragoza:
Basilica of Our of Lady of Pilar
This grand church overlooking the Ebro River gives La Sagrada Familia a run for its money. Take the elevator to the roof for a 360 view of the city.
Address: Plaza del Pilar, s/n, 50003 Zaragoza, Spain
This fortified Moorish palace was home to an Islamic dynasty that ruled Aragon for centuries. The details on the walls alone are awe-inspiring!
Address: Calle de Los Diputados, s/n, 50003 Zaragoza, Spain
Francisco Goya is one of Spain’s most celebrated painters, and this museum houses many of his works. The style and layout of the museum itself are quite impressive.
Address: Calle Espoz y Mina, 23, 50003 Zaragoza, Spain
Montserrat is a mountains town about 22 mountains from Barcelona. It’s home to a couple of famous tourist attractions that you can see all in one day.
First up is Santa Maria de Montserrat, a monastery and pilgrimage site for Catholics. Visitors from all over the world come here to see the legendary Black Madonna or La Moreneta. Walk inside the monastery and your eyes will instantly light up in awe. This place is truly a work of art, especially the altar that’s made of pure gold!
Montserrat Stairway To Heaven
Another must-see attraction within the Montserrat Monastery are the Montserrat Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven. This iconic structure, which has 8 stairs, is a monument devoted to the Catalan philosopher, Roman Llull. The 8 stairs represent Llull’s 8 stages of awareness: stone, flame, plant, animal, man, heaven, angel, and God. Note that tourists are actually not allowed to climb the stairs, although you’ve probably seen a ton of Instagram photos of travelers posing at the top. There’s usually not a police presence there so climbers normally get away with it. The choice is up to you.
Address: Carretera BP-1121 s/n, 08199 Montserrat, Spain
The area surrounding the Montserrat Monastery has lots of attractions, too. Going to see the sunset from the highest peak at Montserrat is a right a passage among people from Catalunya. You can also get a bird’s eye view of all of Catalunya. To get to the highest point, known as Sant Jeroni, you can hike (if you’re feeling brave) or take the cable cars (my preferred choice.)
Address: Sant Jeroni 08691, Barcelona, Spain
Did you know there’s another country on the Iberian peninsula besides Spain and Portugal? Yes, it’s a tiny little country called Andorra, and it’s located high up in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. Andorra is mainly known for its ski resorts and outdoor activities, but many people actually go there to shop. About a third of the people who live there are of Catalan ancestry so you’ll hear the language quite a bit. Most of the people, though, are of Spanish descent, and there is a small French population.
Andorra la Vella is the capital of the country, where you’ll find a lot of the attractions. You actually can’t take a train to Andorra de Vella because of the rough terrain so you have to join a group tour or find a private shuttle. Here are some of the best things to do in Andorra de Vella.
Casa de la Vall
This historic site used to be the headquarters of Andorra’s parliament and offers a glimpse into the country’s past. You take a tour of the interior, which has some tasteful decor belonging to Andorra’s noble families.
Address: C/ de la Vall, 9-11, Andorra la Vella AD500, Andorra
La Noblesse du Temps
This structure in the middle of the city center pays homage to Salvador Dali’s famous melting clock painting. It’s a great place to stop for a photo op.
Address: Placa de la rotonda, Andorra la Vella AD500, Andorra
Tarragona is a coastal city about 50 miles south of Barcelona. There are basically two words that describe this city – Roman ruins. Visiting Tarragona is like going back to the Roman times; the entire city is a museum. Like in Girona, the ancient city walls are well preserved. One unique thing about Tarragona is that you’ll find Latin and Phoenician writings on homes throughout the city. With so many iconic Roman ruins to see in this city, it’s hard to narrow down which ones to see on a day trip. I managed to narrow it down to five.
his UNESCO World Heritage Site is a decently-preserved Roman amphitheater overlooking the beach. This amphitheater was a site of gruesome murders and sacrifices. The history isn’t pleasant but the ruins are nonetheless an impressive site.
Address: Parc de l’amfiteatre, s/n, 43003 Tarragona, Spain
The Romans weren’t the only ones to leave a mark in Tarragona. The Visigoths also occupied the city for centuries and influenced the architecture. Although the Romans originally built the cathedral, the Visigoths later restructured it and added Gothic elements.
Address: Pla de la Seu, S/N, 43003 Tarragona, T, Spain
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Roman City Walls
Built between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the Roman city walls are a must for any history lovers. They are well-preserved and wrap around the entire city. For $3, you can take a stroll around the city walls and take a journey back in time.
Address: Via de l’Imperi Romà, 13B, 43003 Tarragona, Spain
Casco Antiguo de Tarragona (Old Town)
Every Spanish city has an old town, but Tarragona’s is truly something special. You can meander through the alleys, explore the shops, and have a bite at one of the many open air restaurants in the plazas.
Barcelona’s beaches are mediocre at best. If you’re looking for the best beaches to visit in Catalunya, head further out to the coast. One of the best beach destinations in Catalunya is Sitges. This resort town is about 20 miles south of Barcelona. It’s home to almost 20 white sand beaches. That said, Sitges is a major tourist resort so it may not the place to go if you’re looking to escape the crowds in Barcelona. You’ll find some secluded beaches, but those will require more travel time. Besides beaches, Sitges is famous for its local sweet wine, known as Malvasia. Here’s a quick breakdown of the best beaches to visit in Sitges:
Platja de la Barra
This beach is located within a small cove at one end of the town. That makes it less crowded than the other beaches towards the center. It’s relatively nice and quiet here.
Address: Passeig Marítim, 43-47, 08870 Sitges, Barcelona, Spain
Platja de l’Home Mort
It’s a bit difficult to get to this beach, which is also located on a cove. But once you get there you’ll be glad you made the journey. Both the sand and water are pristine, and the little beach restaurant offers some delicious bites! There are also some caves and rock formations that provide a great backdrop for photos. Just a heads up: you’ll find some nudists here.
Address: Massís del Garraf, s/n, Sitges, Barcelona, Spain
Figueres was the hometown of the famous painter Salvador Dali. There, you’ll find Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí (Dali Theatre and Museum), a museum dedicated to the painter. It was built on the same spot as a government building that was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. The museum is also Dali’s place of burial; his tomb is in the basement. Within the museum, you’ll find Dali’s famous paintings as well as never-before-seen personal items.
Address: Teatre – Plaça Gala I Salvador Dalí, 5, 17600 Figueres, Girona, Spain
You can get to Figueres from Barcelona in less than an hour so it’s a really convenient day trip. Besides the museum, you can explore cute coffee shops, the Old Town, and the Ferran Castle.
There you have it – the 7 best day trips from Barcelona! Which of these destinations will you add to your itinerary? Comment below.
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