Barcelona is the capitol city of Spain’s Catalonia region. If you’ve yet to visit, you probably know it from it’s extremely unique architecture. Many landmarks, including the Sagrada Família church, were designed by Antoni Gaudí ,and you can spot them from a mile away. There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona but if you can make it out of the city, I highly recommend one of these five day trips from Barcelona.
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Barcelona Day Trips
The following day trips from Barcelona are all possible by both train and car. Take your time cruising through Spain at your own pace or hop on a fast paced train to get you to your destination as soon as possible. Both options are perfect for those looking to satiate their wanderlust.
Valencia is a city on the southeastern coast of Spain. It can take as little as 3 hours to reach Valencia by high speed train, and 3.5 hours by regular train or car. If you’re willing to hop on a flight to the third largest Spanish city, then it takes only an hour.
This is definitely one of the longer trips from Barcelona but it’s definitely worth it.
Valencia was founded by the Romans in 138 BC, occupied by the Moroccan and Arab Moors in 714, and conquered by the Christians in 1238. This intriguing history only adds to the appeal.
Things to Do in Valencia
Roam the Old Town
When visiting any city with an “old town” I make sure that I stop there at some point during my travels. You can take a tour of Valencia’s old town complete with food tastings. Also on the itinerary is the opportunity to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is always on my list of things to do.
Visit the Bioparc
If you’ve ever wanted to explore four different African ecosystems, all while in Europe, then snag a ticket to Valencia’s Bioparc. This park includes many species, from elephants, to aardvarks, to giraffes. It may take some time to fully enjoy all the park has to offer, so be sure to plan your time wisely.
See Ocean Life at the Oceanogràfic
The Oceanogràfic in Valencia is Europes biggest sea life center. This four hour ticket gets you access to the 500 species and 45,000 creatures inside this underwater city. Here you get the opportunity to see everything from penguins to walruses.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
If you like to see the hot spots of a city, especially when you only have a day there, then I highly recommend purchasing a hop-on hop-off bus pass. This ticket is less than 20 bucks and valid for 24-48 hours. You can visit various landmarks and points of interest while learning about them as well. Hop off whenever you want to explore the areas a little more in depth.
Located in the Northeastern Catalonian region of Spain is Girona. This city happens to be known for its medieval architecture, aka one of my favorite architectural styles.
Girona is less than a 1.5 hour drive from Barcelona and it can take less than 40 minutes to get there via train. Here’s a great day tour that takes you from Barcelona to visit Girona and other cities. The close proximity to Barcelona gives you ample time to explore, so be sure to take full advantage of it.
Things to Do in Girona
Take Girona’s Game of Thrones Tour
If you’re a GoT junkie like me, then you’ll jump at the chance to explore the cities of Braavos and King’s Landing in real life. This Game of Thrones tour around Girona allows you to do just that. The best part about it is that it’s only 2.5 hours, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your level of fandom. In addition to seeing filming locations, you can learn the history of the city.
If you’re looking for a more relaxing day trip from Barcelona, this catamaran cruise along the coast to Cap Norfeu is perfect. You get stunning views of Costa Brava all while relaxing. Take the opportunity to snorkel along the way.
Small Group Walking Tour
I’m an introvert and dread large crowds, especially when taking tours. This small group walking tour is the perfect way to roam Girona on foot without having to awkwardly interact with dozens of strangers. You get to walk along the old walls of the city in addition to visiting the Cathedral of Girona.
The drive to Tarragona, Spain from Barcelona is just a little over an hour while the train ride is just under an hour. This port city in the northeastern region of Catalonia is a must visit. It contains ancient ruins, Roman tombs, and you guessed it, a medieval old town.
Things to Do in Tarragona
PortAventura World Theme Park
While there are plenty of tours that allow you to roam the city of Tarragona and learn its history, there are just as many options to have fun! The PortAventura Theme Park is an escape to the traditional museum filled itineraries we tend to partake in while traveling. This park has themed areas resembling regions such as Aztec Mexico and Polynesia. It’s sure to be a good time.
Catamaran & Snorkeling Tour
If you’re interested in exploring the Costa Durada, then book a catamaran and snorkeling tour. You can swim and snorkel in clear blue water while enjoying food and drinks. It can last 3 to 5 hours so you still have time to roam the city when you’re done.
Caribe Aquatic Park
For those of you that skip the roller coasters and head straight to the water slides, Caribe Aquatic Park should be your first stop in Tarragona. Parents can relax on lounges indefinitely while the kids practice rafting or thrust themselves down a freewill waterslide.
Montserrat is perfect for the adventure travelers. If you’re down for a road trip, this mountain range can be reached in just an hour from Barcelona. The train can take a little longer at about an hour and forty-five minutes.
What to Do in Montserrat
Wine & Tapas Tour
For those of you that prefer not to navigate your own way to Montserrat from Barcelona, this full day tour will make it easy for you. You get to take the cogwheel train to the top of Montserrat while also visiting a winery located in a 10th century castle. There’s also ample opportunity to enjoy plenty of wine and tapas if you just came for the food and drinks.
Visit the Montserrat Monastery
People flock to Montserrat on a daily basis specifically to view this breathtaking monastery. Santa Maria de Montserrat is located in the actual mountain and is a sight to behold. It was founded in the 11th century but there are still over 70 monks there, making it a fully functioning monastery. Grab your ticket and audio guide here.
I could not write this list without adding Figueres. You may know this gorgeous town, located in the province of Girona, as the birthplace of none other than Salvador Dalí. One point of interest is the Sant Ferran Castle which was built in 1753. Both the train and car ride to Figueres can take around 1.5 hours, give or take a few minutes.
Things to Do in Figueres
Go to the Dalí Museum
The most popular thing to do in Figueres, outside of exploring the city and possibly partaking in a walking tour, is visiting the beautiful Dalí Museum. There are several day tours leaving from Barcelona that will take you to this museum. You can travel by train and check out the many works of the artist while learning more about him and his life.
Museu De L’Empordà
This particular museum dates back to 1885 and is more than worth a visit if you go to the town of Figueres. Its contents originally came from the Prado Museum. Within its walls you can now find archaeological works, medieval art, and even Baroque paintings. This is definitely the type of museum I’d wander into whether or not I had other things to do in a city.
Barcelona is definitely a favorite Spanish city of many people, but it doesn’t hurt to check out it’s surrounding areas. Like Italy, Spain is filled with many cities with varying architecture, landscapes, and foods. Even cultures will change depending on the region. No two places are alike. From the cathedrals of Barcelona to the mountains of Montserrat, there is much to see, do, and explore. Let me know what cities you would add to this list. What did you love about them?
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