On a short visit to Barcelona there’s a lot to keep you busy as you take a wander around the amazing Gaudi buildings such as the Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Park Güell. There’s also a wealth of museums and art galleries, the hugely popular FC Barcelona stadium tour and plenty more to see and do in Montjuïc and Port Vell. Once you’ve seen the top attractions you might consider taking some day trips from Barcelona to some of the exciting destinations which lie within close proximity of the Catalan capital.
The most economical way of arranging excursins to the likes of Montserrat, Girona and Figueres is by train from Barcelona. Alternatively, you can book organised group tours by bus or private excursions to your chosen destination.
Day Trips from Barcelona to Montserrat
The most popular day trip from Barcelona is to the sacred site of Montserrat which lies just 65km north-west of of the city. Independent travellers can take the train to the mountain village of Monistrol de Montserrat then take the 5km long Cremallera de Montserrat (Montserrat Rack Railway) which leads to the Monastery of Montserrat which is dramatically perched on the mountainside. More adventurous visitors might like to hike one of the mountain trails which lead to the monastery amid surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Montserrat mountains.
On arrival, visitors can explore the Benedictine abbey and view the famous 12th century Romanesque sculpture of the Black Virgin, the patron saint of Catalonia. Other highlights include the basilica and museum showcasing art and archeological artefacts together with a recital by the Escolania boys’ choir which sing hymns daily at 1pm.
Visitors can then take the Sant Joan Funicular to the highest point of the Montserrat Rack Railway at 1,200m. There are spectacular views from this point and a number of well marked walking trails. After enjoying your visit to what is Catalonia’s most religious site, you can take the train back to Barcelona. Alternatively, you can make the most of limited time by choosing one of the organized day tours from Barcelona to Montserrat.
Excursions to Figueres and the Dalí Theatre-Museum
Surrealist art lovers should head north from Barcelona to the town of Figueres which is where Salvador Dalí, Catalonia’s most famous surrealist artist, was born. It is home to the world-renowned Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres which is housed in the old municipal theatre where Dalí held his first public exhibition. There are frequent train services from Barcelona to Figueres which take around an hour and a half or you can opt for an organized day trip from Barcelona.
At the museum visitors can wander through its corridors and uniquely designed spaces, filled with the artist’s oil paintings, sculptures and other masterpieces. Highlights include the famous Mae West room and Dalí’s crypt where the artist is buried. After visiting the Dalí Museum you can explore the quaint town of Figueres and enjoy a typical Catalan lunch at one of its lively cafés or tapas bars. Other important Salvador Dalí sights in Figueres include his childhood home and the Church of Sant Pere where he was baptized.
Day Trips from Barcelona to Girona
Just an hour’s train ride north of Barcelona lies the charming medieval city of Girona. This walled historic town built on a hillside overlooking the Onyar River makes for an easy and rewarding day trip from Barcelona. Start your visit in the Old Town, wandering past colorful row houses perched over the river. Cross the picturesque pedestrian bridges to explore the Jewish Quarter’s labyrinth of narrow cobblestone lanes. Don’t miss visiting the grand Gothic Cathderal of Saint Mary, climbing its immense staircase for panoramic views. The Arabic Baths and the Museum of Jewish History offer a look into Girona’s multicultural past.
For Game of Thrones fans, tour the medieval walls, towers and arched walkways that served as a backdrop for the show. Foodies will enjoy sampling Catalan cuisine at cozy cafes and riverside restaurants. Before returning to Barcelona, stroll through the lovely gardens and along the Onyar River promenade.
High-speed and regular trains make getting to Girona simple, taking just under an hour from Barcelona’s Sants or Passeig de Gracia stations. Or opt for a guided small group day tour from Barcelona to maximize your limited time.
Wine Tours from Barcelona to Penedès
The acclaimed vineyards of the Penedès wine region lie about an hour south-west of Barcelona. This area is home to world-famous cava wines from bodegas such as Codorníu and Freixenet which attract many day-trippers from Barcelona to their wine tours and tastings.
The town to head for is Vilafranca del Penedès which is accessible by regular train services from Barcelona. There are many other wineries close to Vilafranca which are open tothe public and produce excellent wines under the label of the Penedès Denominación de Origen. Visitors who prefer not to rely on trains and taxis to get around can book small group wine tours to Penedès from Barcelona.
Day Trips from Barcelona to Tarragona
For a taste of Roman history just an hour south of Barcelona, the seaside city of Tarragona makes for an engaging day trip. With its wealth of ancient Roman ruins, Tarragona has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Frequent train services take just an hour from Barcelona to Tarragona or you can book a guided tour for hassle-free transportation and tours of the top sites.
Begin exploring Tarragona’s extensive Roman forum, amphitheatre, circus, walls and necropolis, some dating back over 2,000 years. Stand inside the well-preserved amphitheatre with its stunning coastal views and see where gladiators once fought. Stroll along the ancient walls encircling the city centre for striking views of the Mediterranean Sea. After uncovering Tarragona’s Roman past you should wander around the medieval old town with its labyrinth of narrow streets and visit the 12th century Romanesque cathedral and its cloisters.
Day Trips from Barcelona to Sitges
For a quick beach getaway from Barcelona, you can head just 45 minutes south to the lovely seaside resort town of Sitges. With its beautiful coastline, buzzing nightlife and quaint old quarter, Sitges makes for an ideal day trip escape from the city. Frequent direct train service makes getting to Sitges from Barcelona quick and convenient. Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour to maximize the time available for sightseeing.
Sitges has an attractive seaside promenade overlooking its serene beaches and is home to a charming historic centre filled with whitewashed narrow streets. Here you can visit attractive boutiques, galleries and shops housed in traditional 19th century buildings. A particular highlight is the Modernista style Cau Ferrat museum which is well worth a visit.
With numerous outdoor cafes and restaurants offering fresh local seafood and paella, Sitges is a great choice for lunch. The resort is a popular destination amongst the LGBTQ community with a lively nightlife and an engaging cultural scene with events and festivals held throughout the year.
Day Trip to the Beaches of the Costa Brava
A more extensive beach area close to Barcelona is the Costa Brava which is located to the north of the city. The coastal towns of Tossa de Mar and Cadaques make for excellent day trips. In Tossa de Mar you can wander through the charming old quarter, spend time on the main beach then enjoy lunch at a waterside cafe. Further up the coast is the town of Cadaques with its whitewashed buildings and tranquil beaches with the stunning Cap de Creus mountains as a backdrop. Not surprisingly the Catalan artist Salvador Dali made this beautiful town his home and day trippers can visit his house which is open to the public.