Barcelona is a vibrant city with endless attractions and activities. However, if you confine yourself to the city limits, you’ll miss out on the diverse experiences Catalonia has to offer. Just a short drive from Barcelona, you’ll find picturesque seaside villages, charming hillside hamlets, hidden beaches, historic towns, cultural landmarks, natural wonders, and even massive theme parks!
To fully immerse yourself in this remarkable region of Spain, it’s worth setting aside a few extra days for day trips from Barcelona. Here are some of the best options that will take you on unforgettable adventures beyond the city limits.
Planning Your Day Trips from Barcelona
When planning your day trips from Barcelona, it’s best to consider the geographical locations and group some destinations together for a full day of exploration. To make the process easier, we’ve plotted all our day trip suggestions on the map below. While public transportation can take you to many nearby destinations, it’s recommended to rent a car in Barcelona for maximum flexibility and the opportunity to visit multiple places in a single day.
Whether you choose to embark on a one-day excursion up north to coastal towns like Girona and Figueres, explore Montserrat and La Colònia Güell, or head south to Tarragona, Sitges, or PortAventura with your family, these Barcelona day trips promise unforgettable experiences. So let’s start exploring!
Montserrat – Majestic Mountain and Spiritual Retreat
Montserrat mountain, with its jagged rock formations resembling a saw, stands proudly at 1,236 meters and is one of the most famous day trips from Barcelona on can take. This distinctive mountain has been sculpted by wind and water over time, resulting in its unique appearance. Montserrat is a paradise for hikers, offering trails suitable for all fitness levels. Take the funicular and explore the mountain at your own pace, and don’t miss the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, a sacred place home to the revered Virgin Mary of Montserrat.
Top Tours of Montserrat
Ruins of Empuries – A Journey into the Past
When we first discovered the Ruins of Empuries, it felt like stepping back in time to the ancient city of Knossos in Crete. These lesser-known Greek and Roman ruins are located near the charming beachside village of L’Escala. The entrance may be unassuming, but the treasures within are awe-inspiring.
Founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC and later occupied by the Romans, the ancient town was abandoned in the 3rd century AD. It was hidden under layers of sand until its excavation in 1908. Walking amidst the old walls and columns is a poignant experience, offering a glimpse into life in ancient times. Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the Roman mosaic floors and soak in the ambiance of the grand amphitheater. While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the Alt Emporda wine region, named after Empuries.
Tossa de Mar – Seaside Charm and Medieval Splendor
The breathtaking seaside town of Tossa de Mar is a must-visit day trip from Barcelona. Get lost in its charming cobbled streets until you reach the stunning Platja Gran, a vast sandy beach where visitors can bask in the sun. Explore the medieval walled town of Vila Vella on foot, walking along the old city walls and relishing the panoramic view from the top. For a convenient way to explore the town, hop on the tourist train that offers a delightful tour.
Premià de Mar – A Convenient Beachside Escape
Just a short train ride from Barcelona, the beachside. The town of Premià de Mar offers a convenient escape from the bustling city. With its long sandy beach and calm Mediterranean waters, it’s a perfect spot for relaxation and sunbathing. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, lined with palm trees, and enjoy the pleasant coastal atmosphere. If you’re feeling active, you can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the coastline from the water. After a day of beach fun, indulge in some delicious seafood at one of the local restaurants overlooking the sea.
Girona – History, Culture, and Culinary Delights
Girona is a captivating city that seamlessly blends its rich history with a vibrant contemporary atmosphere. It’s one of the best day trips from Barcelona for History and food enthusiasts! The ancient walls that encircle the city offer a glimpse into its past, while the colorful houses along the Onyar River create a picturesque scene. Take a walk across the iconic Eiffel Bridge, explore the well-preserved Jewish Quarter, and visit the imposing Girona Cathedral with its 90 steps leading to the entrance.
Girona is also a paradise for food lovers. It boasts a thriving culinary scene, including Michelin-starred restaurants, traditional tapas bars, and charming cafes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try local specialties like “xuixo” (a sweet pastry) and “coca de vidre” (a thin, crispy bread). If you’re a fan of the TV series “Game of Thrones,” you’ll be excited to know that Girona served as a filming location for several iconic scenes.
Top Tours of Girona
Sitges – Beaches, Festivals, and Artistic Vibes
Located just a short distance south of Barcelona, Sitges is a vibrant coastal town known for its beautiful beaches, lively festivals, and artistic heritage. The town’s picturesque waterfront promenade, lined with palm trees, invites you to take a leisurely stroll. The beaches of Sitges are renowned for their cleanliness and crystal-clear waters, making it an ideal destination for sun seekers and water sports enthusiasts.
Sitges is also famous for its annual events, such as the Sitges Carnival and the Sitges Film Festival, which attract visitors from around the world. Art lovers will appreciate the town’s artistic atmosphere, with numerous galleries and museums showcasing contemporary and modern art.
Costa Brava – Beaches, Coves, and Natural Beauty
The Costa Brava region, stretching along the northeastern coast of Catalonia, is a treasure trove of stunning beaches, hidden coves, and natural beauty. From rugged cliffs to turquoise waters, this coastal paradise offers something for every beach lover and nature enthusiast.
Calella de Palafrugell and Tamariu are two charming coastal villages that showcase the idyllic beauty of the Costa Brava. Explore their narrow streets, relax on their sandy beaches, and savor fresh seafood in the local restaurants. For a more adventurous experience, venture to Cap de Creus Natural Park, where you can hike along scenic trails and discover hidden coves with crystal-clear waters.
Top Tours of Sitges
Figueres – Surrealism and Salvador Dalí
Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to Figueres, the birthplace of renowned surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. The Dalí Theatre-Museum is a must-see attraction, showcasing an extensive collection of Dalí’s works in a building designed by the artist himself. Immerse yourself in the surreal world of Dalí as you explore the museum’s unique exhibits and installations.
Beyond the museum, Figueres also boasts a charming old town with narrow streets, historic buildings, and cozy cafes. Take a stroll through the streets and soak in the artistic ambiance of the city.
Embarking on day trips from Barcelona allows you to discover the incredible diversity of Catalonia. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, cultural immersion, or natural beauty, the surrounding towns and regions offer a wealth of experiences. From the tranquil beaches of Premià de Mar to the historic charm of Girona, the artistic vibes of Sitges, the coastal beauty of Costa Brava, and the surrealism of Figueres, each destination promises a unique adventure. So, pack your bags, venture beyond Barcelona, and explore the captivating wonders that await you in Catalonia.