Author: Anna MacDonald
Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in Europe and this is not suprising as it has a vast array of sights and attractions to offer tourists! From Gaudi’s famous buildings and architecture to the beaches and big shopping streets, you could easily spend weeks exploring Barcelona. However there are many worthwhile places to visit outside of the city. Let Stay U-nique show you the best day trips out of Barcelona!
Situated only one hour north west of Barcelona by train, this awe-inspiring mountain makes for an unmissable day trip or perhaps even a tranquil overnight break from the liveliness of the city. You can take a funicular to the top, where the views are unbelievable but be sure to pack a picnic as there aren’t any restaurants or shops. There is a Benedictine monastery that is made up of 80 monks who follow the Rule of Saint Benedict, devoting their lives to prayer, welcoming pilgrims and visitors, and working. The name Montserrat literally means ‘serrated mountain’ and when you see how the rock of the mountain is formed you can understand why!
Thanks to the new high speed AVE rail service, Girona can now be reached in 35 minutes from Barcelona! The beautiful city has an old town which is a mixture of ancient Roman walls, museums, galleries, cobbled lanes and Gothic churches. The cathedral is stunning and has the widest Gothic nave in Europe. You can stroll along the River Onyar to look at the colourful houses that line it, or to reach the more modern part of town. Here you can find some excellent tapas bars. Girona is also home to El Celler de Can Roca, a restaurant which was voted as being the best in the world by the Diners Club World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy in 2013 and 2015.
Of a similar size and scale to Girona, Tarragona is a fascinating city known for its Roman remains which are all UNESCO world heritage sites. The city is a blend of history and culture, complimented by gorgeous beaches and excellent cuisine. The Roman amphitheatre is well worth visiting and was built in the 2nd century and used as a venue for numerous popular events, including gladiatorial games. The Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona gives a useful overview of the city’s grand Roman past. After visiting Tarragona’s beaches and historical sights, the fishing neighbourhood of El Serrallo would be the perfect place to refuel with some fresh seafood as here you will find many fine seafood restaurants.
The picturesque town of Sitges, situated only a 35 minute train ride away, is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a change in pace from busy Barcelona. The town is made up of pretty, narrow streets that host many small cafes and boutique shops. There are also several beaches in Sitges, perfect for wandering down the promenade or choosing a spot to sunbathe. The most famous church of Sitges, located on the beach, is Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu I Santa Tecla. The baroque style church was built during the 14th century. Parc del Garraf (which is 12,820 hectares of Mediterranean scrub land) is nearby and is a great trip for anyone looking to get in touch with nature. There is something for everyone in Sitges, making it a very popular day trip from Barcelona!
The beautiful scenery, villages and beaches of the famous Costa Brava coastline start just one hour north of Barcelona. The Costa Brava stretches 60km from Blanes through to the French border. Some of the most popular towns on the Costa Brava such as Blanes, Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar can all be reached in just over an hour. You are spoiled for choice in terms of the beaches which the Costa Brava has to offer, and whilst they are plentiful they are also beautiful. Generally the further north you go from Barcelona, the more unspoiled the towns become. Diving fans will be appreciate The Medes Islands. They are an archipelago of several islets just off the coastline of L’Estartit, and they offer some of the best scuba diving in Spain. This is due to the marine reserve protection which was put in place in 1990 and has allowed the sea life here to flourish.
Port Aventura is a very popular amusement theme park and water park that welcomes 3.8 million visitors a year. The park is located only one hour south of Barcelona near Tarragona. Home to Shambhala, Europe’s tallest roller coaster measuring a massive 76 metres high! There are six ‘worlds’ at this park, each with a different theme: Polynesia, México, Far West, China, Mediterránia and SésamoAventura. Renfe offer a package deal for admission and a return train ticket from Barcelona for 45 euros. You cannot buy this ticket online though, it must be bought from a train station (not metro). There is also four four-star hotels, a beach club, a convention centre for 4,000 people and a golf club.This is the perfect day out for thrill seekers!
Here is a map showing how far these excellent day trips are from Barcelona: