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12 Unforgettable Day Trips from Barcelona, Curated by a Local

Calella sunrise on the beach

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Barcelona is an amazing destination, not just for all its incredible buildings, monuments, and unique things to see, but also for some unique towns and magic spots surrounding it. I consider these some of the best places in Spain and Europe and, believe me, all of them are definitely worth at least a day trip from Barcelona.

12 Absolute Best Day Trips from Barcelona, By a Local

These are my favorite day trips from Barcelona that I always recommend to travelers and expats who ask me what are some charming places you can visit in just one day.

1. Tarragona

Tarragona Roman amphitheater
Photo by Sira Mas

Tarragona is one of my favorite places in Catalunya and I always recommend a day trip there. This city not only has a beautiful beach, but it also has plenty of interesting places to visit. And it’s less than two hours away from Barcelona.

In Tarragona, you will find both Roman ruins and medieval architecture. Some of the places I recommend to see are:

  • the Roman circus, 
  • the Roman amphitheater, 
  • the Historic Museum of the Port, 
  • the Roman city walls,
  • the Roman aqueduct.
Tarragona Roman ruins
Photo by Sira Mas

You can easily get here by train or car. If you go by train you can get the R15 from Passeig de Gracia or from Sants. However, if you go by car, you’ll be able to explore the area better. Not to mention, if you travel by car you can combine the trip with other charming towns nearby like Sitges, Garraf, Reus, and Altafulla.

If you don’t want or don’t have time to plan your trip to Tarragona, you can book this organized day trip here. It also includes Sitges.

Insider Tips: Avoid going to Tarragona on a Monday, since both the Roman circus and the amphitheater are closed. Also, you can easily combine this day trip with Reus, even if you don’t have a car. Reus is just 20 minutes away by train.

Place: Tarragona
Distance from Barcelona: 98 km – 60 miles
Trip Duration: 1 hr 15

📍 Google Maps

2. Andorra la Vella

Stone Houses – Andorra

Andorra is a small country and hidden gem in the Pyrenees, between Spain and France. Its capital is Andorra la Vella.

The trip to Andorra la Vella lasts 3 hours, so you may want to take one of the first buses in the morning. There’s a bus leaving from Sants at 6:15 a.m. and another one at 8:15 a.m. If you don’t want to wake up that early, there’s another bus at 11:45 a.m., but you’ll get there at 3 p.m. You can check the timetable here

If you want, you can also book a private transfer from Barcelona to Andorra for up to 3 people. (Please note that this is only a one-way ticket).

Important: If you’re an EU citizen, you can enter the country just by showing your ID card. Citizens of countries that do not need a Schengen visa will just need a valid passport. If you’re not a European citizen, and you’re from a country that needs a Schengen visa you should bring your passport with you and have a two or multiple-entry Schengen visa on it. For more information, make sure to check their official website.

Place: Andorra la Vella
Distance from Barcelona: 197 km – 122 miles
Trip Duration: 2 hr 40 by car – 3 hr 15 by bus

📍 Andorra La Vella on Google Maps

3. Reus

Plaça del Mercadal, Reus, Gaudi Museum and Casa Navas
Plaça del Mercadal, Reus – Photo by Sira Mas

Reus is, in my opinion, underrated. Many know this small town just because it has an airport. But it’s a hidden gem in Catalonia everyone should visit, especially Gaudì’s fans. In fact, this is the town where Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852.

If you go to Reus, you’ll see the house where Gaudì was born and you’ll also have the opportunity to visit his museum.

Gaudì Birthplace in Reus, Spain
Gaudì’s Birthplace

Another thing I loved to see in Reus was the impressive number of modernist buildings you can find just by walking in the town. The best example of this is Casa Navas, a modernist house designed by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The building is just a few meters away from Gaudì’s museum.

Casa Navas – Photo by Sira Mas

You can find another beautiful modernist building, Casa Vendrell, close to the train station, in Carrer Ample 46.

Casa Vendrell, Reus
Casa Vendrell, Reus – Photo by Sira Mas
Place: Reus
Distance from Barcelona: 108 km – 67 miles
Trip Duration: 1 hr 20

📍 Reus on Google Maps

4. Vic

Me in Vic

This list wouldn’t be complete without Vic. I visited this town last year and I absolutely loved its unique combination of Gothic architecture and Roman ruins. A few things you can’t miss are:

  • The Roman temple,
  • The Queralt Bridge,
  • Plaça Major de Vic,
  • Sant Pere de Vic Cathedral,
  • (If you’re feeling adventurous) The hot air balloon tour.

The trip from Barcelona takes a little less than two hours by train (R3). If you go by car, it takes approximately one hour – by taking the C-17.

Important: If you want to go by train, keep in mind that, due to some work in progress until mid-January 2024, the R3 won’t take you to Vic. But there’s a direct bus (e12) from Via Meridiana – next to La Sagrera metro station – that will take you there in one hour. You can check the bus schedule here.

Place: Vic
Distance from Barcelona: 71 km – 44 miles
Trip Duration: 1 hr 10 by car – 1 h by bus

📍 Vic on Google Maps

5. Girona

Girona, Spain, Pont de les Peixateries Velles (Eiffel Bridge)
Eiffel Bridge (Pont de les Peixateries Velles), Girona, Spain

One of my favorite day trips from Barcelona is to the city of Girona (also known as Gerona in Spanish), in northeastern Catalonia, Spain. It’s the capital of the Girona province and it’s situated on the confluence of the Ter, Onyar, Galligants, and Güell rivers.

The city has a rich history, which is evident in its charming medieval streets and buildings. A few things you can’t miss in this city are:

  • The Cathedral,
  • The Jewish Quarter,
  • The Medieval Walls,
  • The Arab Baths,
  • The Eiffel Bridge (Pont de les Peixateries Velles),
  • If you’re a fan of the series, the Game of Thrones Tour is an experience you can’t miss (you can book your spot here).

Tip: The quickest way to get to Girona is by train. There’s a train from the Sants train station approximately every 30 minutes. You can either take a regional train – which takes 1 hr 30 – or an AVE (fast) train – in this case, the trip lasts 40 minutes. If you also want to explore the towns nearby, I recommend going by car (keep in mind that renting a car in Barcelona is pretty cheap). This way you you can also visit Begur, Besalú, Banyoles, Palafrugell, and Palamos.

Place: Girona
Distance from Barcelona: 101 km – 62 miles
Trip Duration: 1 hr 20 by car – 39 min by train

📍 Girona on Google Maps

6. Calella

Calella at Sunset
Sunset in Calella – Photo by Sira Mas

Calella is one of my favorite day trips from Barcelona. I go there at least twice a year.

If you’re looking for a nice place on the coast that you can easily reach by train, this small town is your best bet. You can get here in just 1 hour and 10 minutes with the R1 train from Sants, Plaza Catalunya, Arc de Trionf, or El Clot station.

Calella doesn’t only have a beautiful beach, but it also has a charming city center and some great places to eat. One of the things I recommend to do either early in the morning or in the afternoon is to take a walk in the center and then enjoy a coffee – or any other drink you like) in Plaça de l’Esglesia.

Another place you shouldn’t miss is definitely the Calella lighthouse. Just keep in mind the place is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

And if you’re interested in eating some delicious seafood on the beach, the restaurant I always go to is Xiri 9. My favorite plate is Calamares a la Andaluza (fried squid).

Calamares a la Andaluza, Xiri 9, Calella
Calamares a la Andaluza, Xiri 9, Calella – Photo by Sira Mas

Although this is a perfect place for a day trip, you may fall in love with this town and decide to stay for the night. It happened to me… more than once. So, in case you’re there and decide to stay, I’ve tried several hotels. My favorite ones are:

  • the Kaktus Hotel (it’s a 5-star hotel, it’s a bit expensive, but it’s so worth the experience. Also, they have rooms with a private jacuzzi on the balcony and their breakfast is the best I’ve ever tried),
  • the Internacional Hotel (this is a more affordable hotel and they have a nice buffet breakfast too).
Sunset view from the Kaktus hotel rooftop
Sunset view from the Kaktus Hotel rooftop – Photo by Sira Mas
Place: Calella
Distance from Barcelona: 56 km – 35 miles
Trip Duration: 45 minutes by car – 1 hr 10 by train

📍 Calella on Google Maps

7. Figueres

Dalí Museum, Figueres, Spain
Dalí Museum, Figueres, Spain

Figueres (pronounced “Fee-gue-ras”) is a small town not too far from the border between Spain and France. The reason why I’ve been here and I highly recommend this place is that you can visit the Dalí Museum. If you love surrealism and are a Dalí fan, this is definitely a place you want to visit.

Something I love about this day trip is that it’s pretty easy to get here from Barcelona. In particular, there are two trains:

  • The regional train (R11), which will take you here in a little less than 2 hours, and
  • The fast train (AVE), which will take you here in approximately 1 hour 10 minutes – just keep in mind that in this case you’ll arrive at a different station and you’ll have to walk more.

Tip: Another interesting and lesser-known place to visit in Figueres is the Castell de Sant Ferran, a 18th-century military fortress.

Place: Figueres
Distance from Barcelona: 141 km – 87 miles
Trip Duration: 1 hr 32 minutes by car – 1 hr 10 by train

📍 Figueres on Google Maps

8. Cadaqués

Cadaques – Town

Cadaqués is a unique, charming village on the Catalonian coast, and it’s very close to the French border. What I love about this small town is you can do plenty of different things like enjoying a sunny day on the beach, exploring the old town, visiting the Dali House, and hiking.

The easiest way to reach Cadaqués is by car. However, you can also get there by bus (number 12) from the Figueres bus station – this trip lasts approximately one hour. Of course, you will have to reach Figueres by train first, so overall the trip from Barcelona with public transportation takes a bit more than 2 hours.

There are also buses every day from the Barcelona Estación del Norte that will take you there in around 3 hours. For more information, you can check the bus line’s official website.

Place: Cadaqués
Distance from Barcelona: 167 km – 103 miles
Trip Duration: 2 hr 10 by car – 3 hr by bus

📍 Cadaqués on Google Maps

9. Montserrat

Montserrat Mountains and Monestir view from the rack railway station entrance
Montserrat Abbey and Mountains – Photo by Sira Mas

This is one of those places that make you feel in another dimension. Montserrat is a place that you can visit in just one day. However, if you want to see everything, I recommend to spend a whole day here. Here are the things you should see:

  • All the space around the Basilica
  • The Basilica
  • The Black Madonna
  • The top of the Montserrat mountains (you can reach this point with the Sant Joan Funicular Railway)
  • The Santa Cova (you can reach it with the Santa Cova Funicular).
The Black Madonna in the Montserrat Abbey
The Black Madonna

Interesting fact: Did you know that the Black Madonna is made of wood? Also, as you can see in the picture, the statue is behind a piece of glass. However, there’s a small hole in the glass and the hand of the Black Madonna is outside and you can touch it. There is a tradition among Christian believers that says that, if you touch her hand with one of your hands and keep your other hand free so that God can touch it, you can make a special prayer or ask for a miracle.

Practical information

You can easily reach Montserrat from Barcelona by train (R5). The train departs from Plaza d’Espanya roughly every 30 minutes. You can check the exact schedule on Google Maps. There are two train stations where you can get off:

  • Aeri de Montserrat (you can get off here if you want to reach the Sanctuary with the cable car, also called “Aeri”);
  • Monistrol de Montserrat (you can get off here if you want to take the rack railway – also called “Cremallera”).

Important: Don’t make my same mistake. If you take the rack railway, keep in mind that, once your visit ends and you want to go back down to the train station, you have to take the rack railway that says “Monistrol de Montserrat”. This will make two stops, “Monistrol Vila” and “Monistrol de Montserrat” (where you can take the R5 train back to Barcelona). Make sure not to take the railway that says “Monistrol Vila” because this one will make just one stop and won’t take you to the train station – it will go back up to the Sanctuary.

Here’s the timetable of the rack railways from the Sanctuary to the Montserrat train station. As you can see, there’s only one every hour.

Prices: Getting to Montserrat by train will cost you €5.75 (one-way only) and €11.50 for the return trip. Once you get to Montserrat, if you take the cable car, the return ticket will cost €13. There’s approximately one cable car every 15 minutes. If you take the rack railway, instead, the return ticket costs €13.50. Just keep in mind that this second option is a bit slower and there’s only one rack railway every hour.

Place: Montserrat
Distance from Barcelona: 53 km – 33 miles
Trip Duration: 54 minutes by car – 1 hr 30 min by train + railway/cablecar

📍 Montserrat (Abbey) on Google Maps

10. Sitges

Sitges during the day
Photo by author

Sitges is one of my favourite ones. The first time I went there, it was in 2015 and it was to celebrate Carnival. In fact, one of the things Sitges is known for is its Carnival, which is one of the best ones in the world.

This small charming town on the coast is a perfect place for a day trip from Barcelona, especially in the spring and in the fall. In the winter it’s a bit cold and windy, and in the summer it’s too crowded.

Another thing I love about Sitges is that it’s so easy to get there. There’s a train from Sants that takes you there in just 35 minutes. And you can take the same train from Passeig de Gracia – in this case, the trip would last just 5 minutes more. If you want, you can go by car as well, which would take approximately 45 minutes.

In case you decide to spend the night here, I’ve done that once and I stayed at the Sunway Playa Golf & Spa; it’s a 4-star hotel with amazing views on the sea and they have a delicious buffet breakfast.

Sitges, sunrise view from the Sunway Playa Hotel room balcony
Sunrise view from the Sunway Playa Hotel room balcony
Place: Sitges
Distance from Barcelona: 44 km – 27 miles
Trip Duration: 45 minutes by car – 35-40 min by train depending on the station

📍 Sitges on Google Maps

11. Playa de Garraf

Garraf Beach, sunset
Photo by author

Playa de Garraf, also known as Playa de las Casetas, is a hidden gem in Catalonia. It’s a small, charming beach on the coast just 12 km (7.5 miles) away from Sitges. And from Barcelona, you can get here by train (R2S) in just 30 minutes.

I always recommend combining this place with Sitges, since they’re so close. This beach is usually not crowded, especially during the week, and you can take a walk from the beach to the port to see all the small houses in the area. I was In Garraf Beach twice and I simply loved how quiet and relaxing this place is.

Good to know: If you’re a Soho House member, they have a club here, Little Beach House, which is open only during the spring and the summer.

Place: Garraf
Distance from Barcelona: 32 km – 20 miles
Trip Duration: 32 minutes by car – 33 min by train (R2S)

📍 Garraf on Google Maps

12. Besalù

Besalú bridge

Ah, Besalú, a beautiful hidden gem in the heart of Catalonia.

This small town captivated my heart from the moment I set foot upon its ancient streets. When I first crossed the iconic medieval bridge, which arches over the Fluvià river, it felt like stepping back in time.

Besalú’s charm lies not just in its beauty, but also in the palpable sense of history it exudes and the warmth of its local people. Each interaction in this town—from the friendly greeting of a shopkeeper to the lively stories recounted by a local guide—adds layers of richness to visiting this beautiful town.

The only disadvantage of this particular day trip is that you can’t reach Besalú by train or bus, so you’ll either have to rent a car or join a private tour. For example, this guided tour from Barcelona includes Rupit and Travertet as well.

Place: Besalú
Distance from Barcelona: 137 km – 85 miles
Trip Duration: 1 hr 30 minutes by car

📍 Find Besalú on Google Maps

Featured image: Calella sunrise on the beach – Photo by Sira Mas

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