View of Cadaqués. Girona

Plans for discovering Catalonia from Barcelona

These are ideas for lucky people. Lucky because they travel to Barcelona and they can also spend a few days visiting other destinations in Catalonia, discovering its added attractions. Are you one of them? Then take note and make the most of your holidays by taking one of these day trips.

  • 1 Mountain and monastery of Montserrat
  • 2 Tarragona and the Roman era
  • 3 PortAventura, a day of adrenalin and fun
  • 4 The Cistercian monastery route
  • 5 Dalí's Triangle
  • 6 Mediterranean beaches and coves
  • 7 Romanesque sites in the Vall de Boí

Mountain and monastery of Montserrat

Minimum recommended duration: one day. Distance from Barcelona: 60 kilometres. How to get there: about one hour by car on the A-2 motorway. There’s also a train service from Plaça Espanya station in Barcelona. To get to the monastery from Montserrat, we recommend either the cogwheel railway or the cable car to get the most out of the spectacular views to the max.

What you’ll see: a nature reserve of extraordinary beauty. You’ll be especially surprised by the unique shapes of the mountains and the massifs that shape it. It’s also home to one of the best-known pilgrimage sites in Catalonia, the Monastery of Montserrat.Worth knowing: there are various options for visiting the nature reserve and monastery, with tickets including a guided tour, the cable car ride or entry to the museum.Interesting fact: the monastery is home to 'La Moreneta', the patron saint of Catalonia. It’s a beautiful 12th century sculpture of the Virgin of Montserrat, famous for its dark skin.

Tarragona and the Roman era

Minimum recommended duration: one day. Distance from Barcelona: 100 kilometres. Reus airport is less than 10 kilometres from Tarragona.How to get there: just over an hour by car on the AP-7 toll motorway. The high-speed train connects Barcelona with Camp Tarragona station in just 31 minutes. This station is 10 kilometres from Tarragona. The regional trains connect Barcelona with Tarragona in journeys of about one hour.

What you’ll see: an archaeological site that reveals one of the most important capitals of Roman Hispania in Imperial times: Tarraco. Its features include a Roman amphitheatre, a Roman circus and an aqueduct. Its Cathedral, Archaeological Museum and Roman and paleo-Christian necropolis are also interesting. By the way, there’s a combined entry ticket for most of the monuments.Worth knowing: every May the ancient Roman capital comes back to life with the Tárraco Vivafestival, which fills the city with Roman gladiators, soldiers and merchants.Interesting fact: the Tarragona archaeological site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

PortAventura World, a day of adrenalin and fun

Minimum recommended duration: one day. Distance from Barcelona: about 115 kilometres. How to get there:: less than an hour and a half by car on the AP-7 toll motorway. The R-16 train from Barcelona takes about an hour and a quarter to reach the park. There’s a ticket option that includes the train journey too.

What you’ll see: a fun-packed theme park with more than 40 attractions and plenty of shows every day for all the family, a refreshing water park and, since April 2017, the first theme park in Europe devoted to Ferrari, the icon of speed.Worth knowing: the park varies its opening hours during the year and doesn’t normally open continuously in January, February or March. When organising your trip, remember that you can stay at various themed hotels in the complex.Interesting fact: there is also a wellness centre and golf club with massage and beauty treatment services and three golf courses.

The Cistercian monastery route

Minimum recommended duration: one day. Distance from Barcelona: the route takes in the monasteries of Santa María de Vallbona de Les Monges (Lleida), Santes Creus and Poblet (both in Tarragona). They’re at a distance of between 100 and 150 kilometres from Barcelona. How to get there: about an hour and a half away by car on the A-2 motorway or the AP-2 toll motorway.

What you’ll see: three important monasteries of the Cistercian order that make up one of the Catalonia’s most traditional tours. They’re famous for their attractiveness as monasteries and for the spirituality they permeate. Visiting them is a good way to find yourself and enjoy nature, far from the fast pace of everyday life.Worth knowing: the monasteries offer guided tours. In turn, that of Santa María de Vallbona allows you to stay there during certain times of year. Interesting facts: one cultural and one for sports fans. The first is that the Poblet Monastery has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The second is that the GR175 trail connects the three monasteries on a route of about 100 kilometres that you can do by bike or on foot.

Dalí's Triangle

Minimum recommended duration: two days. Distance from Barcelona: Púbol, about 125 kilometres; Figueres, about 140 kilometres; Cadaqués, about 170 kilometres. How to get there: we recommend going by car to travel more conveniently between the towns. From Barcelona you’ll reach the farthest point, Cadaqués, in just over two hours.

What you’ll see: Mediterranean towns that inspired the artist Salvador Dalí and three of the cultural locations that best describe the surrealist painter: the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres; the Salvador Dalí House-Museum, in Portlligat (Cadaqués); and the Gala Dalí Castle-Museum in Púbol.Worth knowing: these towns and villages are on the Costa Brava, surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean scenery.Interesting fact: the Dalí House-Museum in Figueres is considered the largest surrealist object in the world and was designed by the artist himself.

Mediterranean beaches and coves

Minimum recommended duration: two days. Distance from Barcelona: this region is 100% Mediterranean Sea and in the town itself and its surroundings you can spend days enjoying the beach. When you’re going there, there are two especially popular areas: the Costa Brava, in the province of Girona, with towns such as Sant Feliu Guíxols, Tossa del Mar, Begur or Palafrugell (between 75 and 150 kilometres from Barcelona going north); and the Costa Dorada, in the province of Tarragona with locations like Salou, Cambrils or Calafell (between 70 and 130 kilometres from Barcelona going south). How to get there: they’re easily accessed from the AP-7 toll motorway. Also, the regional train lines that leave from Barcelona usually have connections with the most popular tourist locations.

What you’ll see: many of the most beautiful postcards of the Mediterranean in real life. You’ll visit fishing villages like L’Ametlla de Mar or Sant Carles de la Ràpita, landscapes that inspired artists such as Picasso or Gaudí on the Costa Dorada, or major tourist hotspots like Sitges or Lloret de Mar.Worth knowing: you can enjoy thousands of seaside activities like fishing boat trips, a day of sailing, diving to seabeds brimming with life, etc.Interesting fact: if you visit Tossa del Mar and you look out from one of its spectacular vantage points over the Mediterranean, you’ll probably come across one of the myths of American cinema: Ava Gardner. A sculpture with which the town pays tribute to the actress who starred in 'Pandora and the Flying Dutchman'.

Romanesque sites in the Vall de Boí

Minimum recommended duration: three days. Distance from Barcelona: about 300 kilometres. By car, it takes about three and a half hours to get to the towns of Taüll or Boí. How to get there: by car, on the A-2 motorway or the AP-2 toll motorway. There are also regular bus services from Barcelona and Lleida. Don’t forget that the high-speed train connects Barcelona with Lleida in less than an hour. Lleida is about 140 kilometres from the Vall de Boí.

What you’ll see: one of the finest artistic heritage sites in Europe, a UNESCO World Heritage site consisting of eight Romanesque churches and a chapel. They’re right in the heart of the Pyrenees, in spectacular natural surroundings which we recommend you to discover by visiting the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park.Worth knowing: you can visit all the churches, but some of them aren’t open all year round. Before travelling, check the Vall de Boí Romanesque Centre. Remember that there’s a combined entry ticket that includes the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona, where original Romanesque paintings from the churches are kept for conservation reasons.Interesting fact: every day, the church of Sant Climent de Taüll reproduces its original paintings in its interior in a striking video mapping that definitely should not be missed.

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