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Top 6 best day trips from Barcelona

Top 6 best day trips from Barcelona

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Barcelona is certainly a great city and it feels like a crime if you want to leave. However, Catalonia is much more than Barcelona and if you want to explore the surroundinds, I promise you won't regret it.

From the closest to the furthest, whether you choose to go north or south, you will find charming towns, overflowing with history beaches and good food and what's not to like?
Whichever you choose, here are the best day trips from Barcelona.

1. Sitges

  • Distance from Barcelona: Approximately 35 km southwest.
  • Why Go: Known for its Mediterranean beaches, Sitges boasts a vibrant atmosphere, historical sites, and a bustling nightlife. It's also a haven for the LGBTQ+ community.

A stroll through the town reveals architectural marvels in modernista mansions and museums, vibrant street cafés, and enticing leisure spots.

The allure of Sitges’ radiant light and scenic beaches enchanted Santiago Rusiñol, a renowned painter and writer, drawing him to relocate here in 1891. His residence, Cau Ferrat, now a museum, emerged as a sanctuary for the creative souls of the modernista and avant-garde movements, transforming Sitges from a humble village into a bohemian haven through their festive and artistic endeavors.

The town’s silhouette is dominated by the majestic Church of San Bartolomé and Santa Tecla, its bell tower a frequent subject of artistic admiration. Originally erected in the 17th century and later reconstructed, it gained recognition as a Monument of Historic and Artistic Interest in 1962. The steep, winding streets of the colina de Baluard lead to the tranquil "racó de la calma," home to the museu Cau Ferrat—showcasing works by Rusiñol, Casas, Nonell, Picasso, and El Greco—the Palau Maricel, and the museu Maricel, each telling tales of medieval grandeur and the artistic vanguard.

The town’s enduring artistic spirit, celebrated through festivals like Carnival and the International Film Festival of Catalonia, and its welcoming atmosphere, make Sitges an inexhaustible source of inspiration just a whisper away from Barcelona.

2. Montserrat

  • Distance from Barcelona: About 60 km northwest.
  • Why Go: Montserrat is famous for its rugged mountain peaks, the Benedictine abbey, and the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary. You can hike various trails for breathtaking views or visit the Montserrat Museum.

Despite Catalonia's modest religious fervor compared to other regions in southern Europe, Montserrat's sacred mountains carve a deep spiritual significance for locals. The breathtaking, jagged rock formations of this natural wonder, distinct from any other in the area, are sure to captivate any visitor. Within this natural park, a Benedictine Monastery dating back to the 10th century pays homage to the Black Virgin of Montserrat, Catalonia’s patron saint. Devotees often visit to honor the 12th-century statue of the Virgin, although it might require a bit of waiting to see it up close.

Access to Montserrat is straightforward, with options to drive or take a train to Monistrol de Montserrat at the mountain's base. From there, a zip train or cable car ascends to the monastery. Visitors can also explore the Montserrat Museum and, if traveling by car, the restored Romanesque church of Santa Cecilia de Montserrat, just a short drive away, featuring works by Sean Scully. Additionally, culinary enthusiasts will enjoy the local 'mató', a fresh cheese delightfully paired with honey for dessert.

3. Girona

  • Distance from Barcelona: Roughly 100 km northeast.
  • Why Go: Girona charms visitors with its medieval architecture, ancient city walls, and the colorful houses along the Onyar River. It's a city steeped in history, featuring Jewish heritage sites and the Cathedral of Girona.

No better to keep in touch with nature than explore the Girona region and go to Costa Brava. The Costa Brava region is a diverse paradise that appeals to beach lovers and mountain adventurers alike. From the dreamy beaches and historic fishing villages like Calella and Cadaqués, to the rich biodiversity of the Aiguamolls de l'Empordà and the archaeological treasures of Empúries, the coast is a vibrant celebration of Mediterranean life. Inland, the volcanic landscapes of the Garrotxa, the ski resorts of La Molina, Masella, and Vall de Núria, which doubles as a spiritual retreat, offer a stark yet beautiful contrast. Culture thrives here too, with Figueres serving as the heart of surrealism through Salvador Dalí's Teatre-Museu, and Girona offering historical insights with its Gothic cathedral and the well-preserved Jewish quarter, the Call. This region is a tapestry of natural beauty, history, and art, providing a rich palette of experiences for every traveler

Check our latest blog about Girona here .

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4. Tarragona

  • Distance from Barcelona: About 100 km southwest.
  • Why Go: Explore the rich Roman heritage of Tarragona, including the well-preserved amphitheater, Roman walls, and circus. The city also offers beautiful beaches and a charming old town

The city is a treasure trove of Roman architectural marvels, proudly stamped as a World Heritage site. From the ancient walls to the amphitheater, the theater, the circus, the towering Praetorium, the Paleochristian necropolis, and the buzzing local and provincial fora—all nestled in the heart of the city. And just when you think you've seen it all, the outskirts surprise you with the Mèdol quarry, the awe-inspiring Devil's bridge aqueduct, and the majestic Scipios' mausoleum.
But there's more! Don't skip on the Santa María cathedral or the historical Canals and Castellarnau houses for a peek into the past. And for beach bums, Tarragona's 19 kilometers of coastline offer pristine spots like la Llarga, la Rabassada, and l'Arboçar, not to mention the natural beauty of the Gaià river mouth and the Tamarit-Punta de la Mora area, home to the Tamarit castle and la Mora tower.

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5. Figueres and the Dalí Theatre-Museum

  • Distance from Barcelona: Approximately 140 km northeast.
  • Why Go: Figueres is the birthplace of Salvador Dalí and home to the Dalí Theatre-Museum, a surrealism-infused museum designed by the artist himself. It's a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Salvador Dalí, a global wanderer, was both birthed and took his final bow in Figueres, resting since January 25, 1989, in his Theatre-Museum's crypt where he concluded his vibrant journey. This venue, originally the mid-19th-century Teatre Municipal de Figueres and a casualty of the Spanish Civil War's flames, was reborn through Dalí's vision in 1961 as not just a museum but the world's most surreal exhibit—boasting giant eggs, bread-adorned facades, and a clear dome. It's a treasure trove of Dalí's eclectic phases, unique pieces, a sparkling jewellery ensemble, and tributes to artists Dalí revered. Exploring the Dalí Theatre-Museum offers a rare glimpse into the extraordinary mind and legacy of the 20th century's avant-garde maestro.

Figueres doesn't stop there—it's home to the original Museu de la Joguina de Catalunya, housing over 4,000 toys, and the Museu de l'Empordà's rich collections. For a leisurely day, the Rambla awaits, a showcase of Baroque, Neoclassical, and Modernista elegance, alive with fairs and markets throughout the year. And from its vantage point, the Sant Ferran castle keeps a watchful eye over the city, adding to Figueres' allure.

6. Lleida

  • Distance from Barcelona: Approximately 150 km west.
  • Why Go: The Seu Vella (old cathedral), historic architecture, museums, and the serene riverside of the Segre.
    If you came this far in the reading you have no problems is visiting Lleida, that even though it is the furtherst it is remarkable city and seen significant development in recent years.

The Seu Vella de Lleida cathedral, with its foundations laid in the 13th century atop the remains of an earlier mosque, stands as the city's proud emblem, visible from afar due to its elevated position. During the same era, the Knights Templar erected the Castell de Gardeny, which transitioned from a medieval architectural gem to a military stronghold in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Castell del Rei (La Suda), rooted in Arab history, transports visitors to the era of Jaume I in the 13th century. A wander through Lleida's historic city center reveals well-preserved modernist buildings, including the Palace of La Paeria, now serving as the city hall. For a serene escape, the riverbank pathways of La Mitjana park offer a peaceful retreat amidst the bustling city.

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