15 Best Day Trips from Barcelona, Spain – History, Architecture and the Beaches!

(Last Updated On: July 25, 2018)

Barcelona is one of the top cities to visit in Spain and offers a varied range of unique and fascinating sightseeing attractions. Traveling to Barcelona with kids or solo there is something for everyone. While you can easily explore the top Barcelona landmarks and attractions over the weekend it is highly recommended that you spend another day and head to one of the places around Barcelona. Some of these places are rich in history and heritage and other with beautiful coastline are a great respite from the bustling city of Barcelona. Well-connected with Barcelona by public transport and not more than a couple of hours away these are amongst the best day trips from Barcelona.

Barcelona is the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region which is known for remarkable architecture, medieval towns, scenic vistas and gorgeous coastline. Relax on the beaches all day or enjoy some water activities like snorkeling or kayaking or head into the cities and explore its amazing history and architecture, there is something to suit everyone’s taste and interest.

Montserrat

Montserrat is one of the easy and popular one day trips from Barcelona. Montserrat means jagged or serrated mountain in Catalan. The massif looks like its made up of numerous carved rock pillars knit together which looks spectacular. The major point of interest in Montserrat is the Santa Maria de Montserrat popularly known as the Montserrat Monastery located on top of Montserrat mountain. It is a revered Catalonian Pilgrimage Destination in Barcelona.

To reach Montserrat one to board a train on R5 Line from Placa d’Espanya or Espanya rail station in Barcelona towards Manresa. The trains run every hour takes about an hour to reach Montserrat.

You can buy tickets to Montserrat from the R5 platform manually or through the machine, there are people to assist. Tickets are available in combinations. The first ticket includes return train fare of Barcelona to Montserrat, funicular rides to other parts of Montserrat mountains (Sant Joan and Santa Cova Cave Montserrat) and 2 free metro rides called Trans Montserrat ticket. The other ticket called ToT Montserrat ticket includes benefits of Trans Montserrat ticket together with entrance to the audiovisual exhibition and a lunch at Montserrat restaurant.

Note that there are two ways to reach the summit of Montserrat to the monastery, either by cable car (Disembark at Montserrat Aeri station) or rack railway (Disembark at Monistrol de Montserrat station) which has to be specified when buying the tickets you cannot change your mind after buying the tickets.

The Stairway to Heaven is another interesting point of interest in Montserrat. The stair sculpture was amongst the most instagrammable spots in Barcelona until it was fenced and closed to the public.

Read More: Things to do on a Day Trip to Montserrat from Barcelona

Garraf

You’re visiting Barcelona and you want to hit the beach? Make sense! Barcelona’s beach is crazy crowded tho. What to do? Escape the city to find some peace at the beautiful fisherman village of Garraf, one of the Barcelona’s best-kept secrets!

What makes this place even better is that it’s surrounded by the area of the Garraf Natural Park – so picturesque! The beach of Garraf is a great escape from the city but if you’re not in a mood for a beach, you can always visit one of the traditional restaurants with the view of the sea. A walk around the village will take you about an hour, so you can combine all those 3 things in a single day trip from Barcelona.

Garraf is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Bilyana from Owl Over The World

Note that during the peak of the summer, Garraf beach is also full of people but is far less crowded than the beach in the city of Barcelona and it’s visited mainly by locals.

Garraf is only half an hour train ride from Barcelona. To get there, you need to take the R2 train line. You need a ticket that is valid for outside of the city.

Rupit

Rupit is a small medieval village in Catalonia, about 98 km from Barcelona. You can have a nice walk through the narrow streets of Rupit. The center of the village is full of houses that were built in the 16th and 17th century. The highlight of Rupit is a suspension bridge, the Puente Colgante de Rupit, which leads over the Riera de Rupit, a small river that runs through the little village.

Another highlight of Rupit is the Església de Santa Magdalena (Santa Magdalena Church) which is in front of Rupit. (About 10 minutes walk) From here, you have an amazing view over the medieval buildings of this little place.

Rupit is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Vicki from Vicki Viaja

After visiting the village itself, you can walk around the stunning surrounding nature as there are many opportunities for great walks or hikes around. You should visit the waterfall Salt de Sallent, which is about 30 minutes walking away from Rupit.

The easiest way to get to Rupit is to go by car. To get there, simply take the highway from Barcelona to Vic and then follow the signs from there. But you also have the option to go to Vic by train and take a bus from Vic to Rupit afterward.

Cadaques

The quaint fishing town of Cadaques is located in the mesmerizing region of Costa Brava near the French border. The drive takes roughly two hours from Barcelona along the AP-7 freeway than on a cliffside road. Hikers and those looking to relax will appreciate this less crowded coastal town the most. Unlike other areas in Costa Brava, there are no resort style hotels or tourist traps here.

Within the town, walk up the hill to the Església de Santa Maria for sweeping views overlooking the shore and a great photo opportunity. Then walk back down to the coastal path and look back on the iconic white houses with brown roofs that create a picture perfect landscape.

Cadaques is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Kalena from Lost and Abroad

Visitors often book a boat tour to see the impressive clear blue water below Cap de Creus Natural Park. It’s also possible to hike there from Cadaqués (roughly an hour and a half) on the Camino de Ronda to see the cliffs and interesting rock formations the park is famous for.

Art lovers will enjoy exploring Salvador Dalí’s house, which overlooks the beautiful cove and beach of Portlligat, all within walking distance of Cadaques. If you’re looking for some solitude, just head away from the main beach and it’ll be easy to find a place to lay out and tan or go snorkeling with hardly anyone in sight.

Calella de Palafrugell

While there are many options for a day trip from Barcelona, our favorite was a day trip to the Spanish Riviera. Although there’s no such thing as the Spanish Riviera, travel websites usually use the term when they talk about Spain’s magnificent beaches, and the Iberian country is blessed with plenty of them. So, if there would be a Spanish Riviera, this would probably include most of the country’s seashores, as Spain is almost entirely surrounded by beautiful coasts kissed by the Mediterranean and the Southern Atlantic.

Calella de Palafrugell is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Priya from Outside Suburbia

Based on some research and talking to friends we decided on spending our day at Calella de Palafrugell, – a glorious afternoon basking in the sun and enjoying some Sangria and Paella on one of the beautiful beach villages of the Costa Brava. While it can busy in summer Calella de Palafrugell has a number of beautiful small coves if you want to find a secluded area, there are beautiful boats docked and children playing on the rocks and families having some fun in the sun.

We booked our trip through a small group operator and stopped at Pals and Girona before getting to Palafrugell. We could have easily driven there ourselves or taken the train. The nearest railway station to Palafrugell is in Flaçà, 25 km away. From here there are Sarfa buses to Palafrugell.

Lloret De Mar

Lloret De Mar is a coastal town in the region of Costa Brave about 1 hour 30 minutes by bus and couple of hours by train from Barcelona.

Lloret De Mar is popular as the party town with plenty of nightclubs and bars and of course the gorgeous beaches. For adventure seekers, there are several hiking trails which offer scenic vistas of the surrounding mountains. There are numerous water sports activities like jet skiing, kayaking, water tubing and banana boating organized at the beach.

Lloret De Mar is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

But the town also draws visitors to explore its rich history and heritage. The 11th century Sant Joan is a medieval fortress which houses a museum on Catalan culture and the 16th-century Church Sant Roma is a fine example of Catalan Art Nouveau decorated with colorful tiles on the roof. The Modernist Cemetery is also something not to miss. The cemetery is full of unique sculptures, artworks consisting of cupids, and gargoyles. Other attractions are the Maritime Museum, MOLL- Lloret Open Museum and the Santa Clotilde garden decorated with fountains and ponds offering great views of the sea.

Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is a seaside town located on the Costa Brava couple of hours bus ride from Barcelona.

The major points of interest in Tossa de Mar are the picturesque old town and some beautiful sandy beaches. The cobblestone alleys of the old town are lined with cafes, restaurants and ancient houses and dominated by a 12th-century medieval castle. The walls of the old town overlook the Platja Gran beach and its blue waters.

Tossa de Mar is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

The castle located in the fortified medieval town is fun to explore. Walk along the walls with a breathtaking view of the sea. Explore the historic sites of the old town. The Capella de la Mare de Déu del Socors (Chapel of Our Lady of Socorro) and the 18th-century Esglesia Parroquial de Sant Vicenc (Church of Saint Vicent) are two beautiful churches you should miss. The Municipal Museum displaying a collection of paintings and sculptures by renowned artists and archaeological findings.

Besalu

Besalú is a very cute medieval city in the province of Girona, in Northern Catalonia. Its relatively small size and location, at only 130 km from Barcelona, makes of Besalú a fantastic day trip from Barcelona.

Besalú, located at an important and traditional crossing of paths in the east of the Garrotxa, was in the middle ages the seat of an important and independent county. Today, its fantastic medieval heritage is considered one of the best preserved in Catalonia and it will be the main reason for your visit. In Besalú there are many interesting Romanesque buildings from the XIIth century, like the Church of Saint Vicenç or Saint Pere Monastery.

Besalu is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Elisa from World in Paris

However, Besalú’s star and its most photographed monument is the medieval bridge over the river Fluvià, both for its beauty and historical-artistic value. The best thing to do in Besalú is to wander around its narrow and cobbled streets and soak up its particular atmosphere: it is like a step back in time! When visiting Besalú don’t miss its Jewish quarter and in particular the Miqvé. The Miqvé or Jewish ritual bathhouse is together with Girona’s Miqvé the only Jewish bathing enclosure discovered in the Iberian Peninsula so far. Besalú is also a great place to taste the Catalan cuisine, much more traditional than in cities like Barcelona.

The best way to reach Besalú is by car (a 1 hour 30 min drive) because there are many interesting sites along the way which deserve a shortstop. Also, Teisa 1920 bus has 4 daily buses going from Barcelona (Pau Claris street) to Besalú (bus line Barcelona – Olot – Banyoles).

Tarragona

Tarragona, on the Costa Dorada, is an easy day trip from Barcelona and a must-visit for anyone interested in history.

Tarraco, as the city was known by in the days of the Roman empire, still boasts Roman ruins in the thousands. The ruins include a stunning 2nd-century amphitheater, a necropolis, partial ruins of a Roman forum and tombs. Most of the historical sites are in the city center so you can easily walk between them. Passes can be purchased for €11.05 from the tourism office which covers entry to all of the important sites.

Tarragona is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Emma from Money Can Buy Me Happiness

If ruins aren’t your scene, Tarragona is still a great place to visit. The beautiful Rambla Nova (similar to Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, minus the millions of tourists) is the ideal place for a stroll. Stop and admire the Monumento a Los Castellers, a striking monument to the human towers that originate in Tarragona.

Cafes and restaurants line the periphery of the Rambla Nova, all the way to the Mediterranean Balcony (Balco De Mediterrani) where you can enjoy stunning views over the Mediterranean.

If you don’t have a rental car, Tarragona is best-accessed by train from Barcelona. The high-speed Avant service takes around 40 minutes from Barcelona Sants or the slower service takes just over an hour.

Ferrari Land, Salou-Tarragona

If you are a fan of Formula 1 and the theme parks, the visit to Ferrari Land (in Salou – Tarragona, and next to the well-known PortAventura amusement park) is an essential visit that will make you enjoy as a child.

This unique park in Europe is, along with the Ferrari World of Abu Dhabi, one of those that the Italian brand has for the enjoyment of its fans. It was inaugurated last year when the brand celebrated its 70th anniversary and has 70K m2 of fun for the whole family. Book a combined tour of Ferrari Land and PortAventura from Barcelona here.

Ferrari Land, Salou-Tarragona is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Inma from A World to Travel

In addition to the attractions and the thematic areas, in the Ferrari Experience building, it is possible to visit the Ferrari Land Gallery and learn about the mythical founder of Ferrari: Enzo Ferrari; the presence of the brand, the past, and of course future of Ferrari, formula 1 and the GT world. Its best-known attractions are Red Force, The Thrill Towers, Maranello Grand Race and Kid’s Podium. Enjoy!

Sant Cugat del Valles

Located a short train ride from Barcelona, Sant Cugat del Vallés is a town that has a lot to offer and is a great choice for a day trip from the city. It offers something for every type of traveler.

Its most famous sight is the Monastery of Sant Cugat, built in the 9th century but you really couldn’t guess it as it is in fabulous condition. It’s definitely worth a visit inside, where you can admire the grandiosity of its cloisters, an arcaded open patio area at the center of the monastery. One curiosity about this Christian monastery is that it has a minaret tower, built by the Moors during their short invasion.

Sant Cugat del Valles is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Teresa from Brogan Abroad

For those interested in a bit of retro shopping, the Mercantic Vintage Village is a great place to while away the hours, browsing over 250 stalls. It is one of Catalonia’s largest antique and vintage markets.

But my favorite thing to do in Sant Cugat del Vallés has to be visiting the El Siglo bookshop. It is located within the Mercantic Vintage Village, and it is enormous, with over 100,000 books (old and new) for sale. It also has a little theater inside where they hold all sorts of cultural activities.

These are just some of a few things to do in Sant Cugat del Vallés. There are many, many more, including a quirky museum dedicated to Marilyn Monroe!

Girona

The largest city in Northern Catalonia, Girona is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and it’s just an hour away from Barcelona by car. It is made up of quaint cobbled streets, Gothic churches, Roman ruins, and a beautiful canal that’s lined with colorful houses. Girona is continually picturesque, and you’ll find yourself constantly reaching for your phone or camera everywhere you turn.

Although it’s much smaller than Barcelona, there’s plenty to see and do in Girona. The small city is lined by old Roman walls, which you can walk along and take in Girona’s skyline. Join a walking tour of Roman Heritage Walk and explore the history of the city from the Roman times.

Girona is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By James from This Travel Guide

Another picturesque and Instagram-worthy part of the city is the old Jewish quarter: El Call. This area is made up of narrow passageways and secret gardens, and it’s incredibly fun to walk around and explore.

At one point in history, it was one of the largest Jewish quarters in the whole of Europe and attracted hundreds of great scholars and thinkers to its Kabbalistic school. The Museum of Jewish History, one of Girona’s many museums, is the best place to read up on this period of Girona’s history.

Judaism isn’t the only religion to leave its mark on Girona and other attractions, like the Arab baths and Girona Cathedral, show just how multicultural this city’s history is. Both of these attractions are worth visiting and are open to viewers daily.

Figueres

Figueres is an intimate town most famously known for the birthplace and hometown of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. It’s here that lives the second-most visited museum in Spain, the Dalí Theater-Museum. It shows off the flamboyant artist’s utter genius, an egg-topped building with over 1.500 exuberant pieces of art. You’ll wonder how Dalí even conjured up shocking images manifested through sculptures, drawings, holograms, and stereoscopes. Expect to spend a few hours staring at melting clocks, a hidden Abraham Lincoln, and the nude backside of his muse, Gala.

Figueres and Dali Museum is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Justine from Latitude 41

Meander around the Rambla Figueres, a small square where local adolescents and grandparents shoot the breeze on a bench or enjoy a drink on one of the cafe terraces. This is where you’ll also find a curious art installment of a contorted Dali’s face on the ground, then reflected on a mirrored pole. For kids, don’t miss the Toy Museum (Museu del Joguet de Catalunya), a fantastic collection of traditional and fascinating 4,500 toys. Just on the outside of Figueres, you’ll also find the largest castle in Spain, the 18th-century Castell de Sant Ferran, which is also the largest castle in Europe.

For dining, head to Granada Vin for authentic tapas. Try the gazpacho or the local Fideua amb Allioli (like paella, but with short noodles). To get to Figures from Barcelona, take the high-speed regional train called the AVE. It leaves from the Passeig de Gracia station. Find times from the official railway website, RENFE.

Andorra

This may come to you as a surprise but you can have a day trip to Andorra from Barcelona. Sure, Andorra is one the smallest countries in Europe but it’s still very worth the visit! Moreover, being so small means that you can get to know it in only one day.

Andorra is the perfect escape from big, cosmopolitan and artsy Barcelona. The town of Andorra is so small you can walk everywhere. There are a few interesting buildings but the town of Andorra isn’t the most charming one. It is, however, a well known tax-free haven and a shoppers paradise, particularly the ones looking for cheap electronic goods, clothes, and jewelry.

Andorra is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

By Jorge from Travel Drafts

The country of Andorra is also famous for its ski resorts during winter, but that won’t be a good idea if your only doing a day trip. You just don’t have the time. We suggest you enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery, maybe doing a small trail and mountain biking (only in Summer).

The easiest and fastest way to visit Andorra from Barcelona would be driving yourself, which takes a little more than 2 hours. However, you can take an early bus from Barcelona and return on the same day! It’ll be a long day, but perfectly doable.

Zaragoza

Zaragoza also known as Saragossa is a historic city in the Aragon region of Spain. The city has several historic sites, museums, and magnificent churches. One of the famous buildings in Zaragoza is the magnificent Basilica de Nuestra Senore del Pilar (Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar). A climb to the top of one of the towers offers a wonderful panoramic view of the city and the Ebro River.

The Cathedral of the Savior of Zaragoza featuring Aragon Mudejar, Romanesque, Gothic & Baroque elements and the UNESCO World Heritage Site San Pablo Church a fine example of the Aragon Mudejar style which features exceptional architecture are also amongst the top city Zaragoza attractions. There is also a tapestry museum inside the Cathedral of the Savior of Zaragoza which displays Flemish tapestries dating from the 15th to 18th Century.

Zaragoza is one of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona

Aljaferia Palace is a fortified Moorish castle dating back to 11th-century. The interior has beautiful courtyards, opulent coffered ceilings and intricately carvings. The palace serves as the headquarters of the Aragonese Parliament. Guided tours are available for the palace building.

There are several museums in the city the Goya Museum displays paintings from the 15th to the 20th Century. Pablo Gargallo Museum is dedicated to the works of Pablo Gargallo, a renowned Sculptor of Aragon region. Museum of the Roman Forum and Museo del Teatro de Caesaraugusta displays archeological remains of an ancient Rome.

Zaragoza has some of the great tapas bars serving the best tapas in Spain. So make sure you visit a few of them and enjoy delicious tapas over a glass of wine.

Aren’t these some amazing destinations to visit on a day trip from Barcelona. How many of these have you already been to and which one accordingly to you is a must visit? Do share with us in comments.

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