Interested in a temporary change of pace from Barcelona’s bustling atmosphere?
Want to see what else the lovely region of Catalonia has to offer?
Embark on an adventure to any of these top 10 spots!
These beautiful locales are just a short trip away from the city and are easy to get to by car or public transportation. Whether you prefer to be one with nature in the picturesque mountains or would rather relax the day away on the warm sands of a quaint little beach town, Catalonia has something for everyone to enjoy!
If you love beaches encompassed by picturesque cliff sides and unique rock formations, then Cadaqués is the place for you! Located in the Costa Brava region of Spain, this town offers miles of mountains and coves for adventurers to explore.
The beaches offer a relaxing nature-friendly atmosphere for visitors to enjoy. While here, take time to admire the unusual-looking rocks that have been formed through centuries of wind and erosion. This natural feature has served as inspiration for artistic greats such as Salvador Dalí and Antonio Pitxot.
How to get there: Due to the fact that most trains stop in Girona, your best bet is to take a bus with Sarfa from Barcelona Estació del Nord straight to Cadaqués (approximate trip duration: 3 hours).
Sitges is a beautiful beach town nestled in the Garraf mountains that features 17 beaches to choose from, offering a variety of activities such as water sports and fitness classes. The main center beaches can get busy, but they are perfect if you’re looking for a fun party atmosphere. For a quieter locale, we recommend Garraf beach.
This beach is decorated with quaint little bath houses and offers 380 meters of warm, golden sand and clear blue waters, making it one of our top 10 beaches in Catalonia. Sitges is known for its gay-friendly atmosphere, fun family activities, and vibrant nightlife, so there is something for everyone to enjoy!
How to get there: Take the R2S train from Passeig de Gràcia, Sants, or Estació de França stations towards Sant Vicenç de Calders, exiting at the Sitges station (approximate trip duration: 45 minutes).
For Lovers of the Great Outdoors
Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain located just outside of Barcelona. Its name derives from the Catalan word for “saw” due to its unusual rock formations that make the mountain appear as though it was cut and sculpted. Its tallest peak, Sant Jeroni, stands at 1,236 meters high and offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding areas.
A hike to the top is very accessible and can be done in under two hours, however if you’re not much of a hiker, you can take a funicular train for less than 10€. A landmark of its history, Montserrat also features a Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, with a renowned boys’ choir that performs on certain days.
How to get there: Take the FGC R5 train from Plaça Espanya in the direction of Manresa, exiting at Monistrol de Montserrat station. From here you can take the cable car or rack railway up to the Monastery (approximate trip duration: 1-1 and a half hours).
4. Collserola Mountain Range
If you don’t feel like traveling out as far as Montserrat, the Collserola mountains are a wonderful alternative. Part of the Catalan Coastal Range, these mountains offer a beautiful view of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea and are great to go on a leisurely hike or even mountain biking.
Parc de Collserola is open 7 days a week from 9:30am-3:00pm. Some recommended sites within the area are: the Torre de Collserola, a communications tower built for the 1992 Olympics that is now open for visitors to experience a wide view of the city, and Tibidabo, the mountain range’s highest point that features the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Tibidabo Amusement Park.
How to get there: Take the Metro L3 train from Plaça Catalunya towards Terrassa or S2 towards Trinitat Nova, exiting at Valladura. Head east on Passeig de Valladura, turn left Carrer de Scala Dei, and turn right on Ctra. Horta a Cerdanyola. Continue until you begin to see signage guiding you to the mountains (approximate trip duration: 45 minutes).
For City Enthusiasts
Tarragona offers a plethora of Roman architecture, from ancient aqueducts to an ampitheatre that was used to house gladiator battles. Also within the ancient walls are a Gothic cathedral, which was constructed between the 12th and 15th centuries, and a medieval castle that once housed kings such as Jaume II and Pere III.
How to get there: Take the R. Expres train from Barcelona-Sants or Passeig de Gràcia, heading towards Tortosa or Reus, exiting at Tarragona (approximate trip duration: 1 and a half hours).
Girona is regarded as a small town with a big city vibe. This site is a haven for those who enjoy admiring historic buildings and works of art from various periods of Catalan history. Some recommended sites are the Jewish Quarter, a labyrinth of narrow medieval streets that is considered one of the most well-preserved Jewish sites in existence today, and the city walls, which were built by the Romans and offer spectacular views of Girona.
How to get there: Take the MD or Renfe train from Barcelona-Sants or Passeig de Gràcia, exiting at Girona (approximate trip duration 1 hour, 20 minutes).
For Cultural Connoisseurs
7. Dalí Museum in Figueres
Within the small town of Figueres, in the province of Girona, is the Dalí Museum, home of the works of art by the great surrealist painter, Salvador Dalí. The museum itself is constructed in a surrealist style as an homage to the talented artist himself. Some additional recommended sites to visit in Figueres are the Sant Ferran Castle, built in the 18th century, and the popular Toy Museum of Catalonia for the young and young-at-heart.
How to get there: Take the MD or Renfe train from Barcelona-Sants or Passeig de Gràcia, exiting at Figueres. From there, the Dalí Museum is a 15-minute week (approximate trip duration: 2 hours).
8. Catalan Wine Tours
Believe it or not, the Catalan countryside is home to vast, lush rows of vineyards where some of the world’s best wines are made. It is also the birthplace of Cava, Spanish sparkling wine. Here, the wines here are just as rich as the country’s history. Take a tour of the popular Penedès region and visit their traditional wineries. Admire the wonderful country landscape and enjoy a traditional Catalan lunch or dinner. Whether you claim to be a foodie or wine connoisseur, you will certainly not be disappointed!
How to get there: Take a Wines of Catalunya tour with Spanish Trails, which includes a bus direct from Barcelona to the Penedès region.
For Adrenaline Junkies
9. Illa Fantasia
This fun-filled waterpark consists of 22 attractions and three large pools. Illa Fantasia’s cool waterslides are designed with different ages in mind, making it a fun day trip for the whole family in the warmer months. There are nine restaurants on site, but if you prefer to bring your own food and refreshments, the park offers several shaded picnic areas to eat in.
How to get there: Take the R1 train from Barcelona-Sants or Passeig de Gràcia toward Blanes, exiting at Premià de Mar. From here you can take a short 10-minute taxi ride to the park (approximate trip duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes).
Located near Tarragona, this all-in-one theme park and water park is perfect for thrill seekers of all different types. The park is divided into areas that pertain to certain themes and geographical regions such as Polynesia and the American Wild West, so you will definitely be entertained all throughout the day.
How to get there: Take the R. Expres train from Barcelona-Sants or Passeig de Gràcia towards Tortosa or PortAventura, exiting at PortAventura (approximate trip duration: 1 hour and 45 minutes).
Travel tip shared by Apartment Barcelona
Photo Credits: Flickr – Xavier, Noelia Ruiz, marimbajlamesa, Angela Llop, Simon & Vicki