Here Are Some Top Ideas for Day Trips From Barcelona!
If you’re looking to explore more of Spain, tackling the country in smaller trips from a base like Barcelona is a great idea. This is where ideas for Barcelona day trips come in handy!
While we have both travelled to Barcelona, our knowledge of the surrounding area is more limited. So, we’ve once again turned to Barcelona resident Natalie to share her knowledge about where to go and what to see in the area. Take it away, Natalie!
Barcelona is an incredible city and you will never be bored exploring its barrios, winding streets, long avenues and breathtaking architecture. However, the rest of Catalonia is also pretty amazing and worth exploring.
Barcelona is in the heart of wine country, it is also backed by mountains and tailed by the beautiful Costa Brava coastline. You will not be short of wonderful day trips or day tours from Barcelona while staying in the city!
The train network is excellent across Catalonia, with many places easily accessible from the centre of Barcelona. However, there are some places that are easier and quicker to get to with a car.
It is easy and relatively inexpensive to rent a car in Barcelona – and the better ones can usually be collected close to the airport. The roads are also simple to navigate, making your exploring smooth and easy.
So are you ready for the best day trips from Barcelona? Let’s explore!
Distance to Montserrat from Barcelona: 61.5 km (38 miles) driving
Montserrat is a really popular day trip from Barcelona and well worth the visit. It is a great way to see the Spanish countryside and take in the heights of the mountains without actually having to hike them yourself.
When visiting Montserrat, most people assume it is the name of the monastery that sits within the rocky mountainside. Montserrat is actually the name of the mountains themselves.
The monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat, is a religious pilgrimage site due to the incredible views of watching the sunrise across Catalonia. It also contains one of the few black Madonnas in Europe.
To learn more about visiting Montserrat, read our Montserrat, Spain Guide.
How to Get to Montserrat from Barcelona
Despite it being in the mountains, it is simple and inexpensive to get to Montserrat from Barcelona.
- Take a Tour: Montserrat Tour, Monastery & Optional Wine/Lunch
- Drive: The drive is straightforward and well signposted, parking is available when you arrive.
- Train: Take the R5 from Plaza Espanya towards Aeri de Montserrat, from there take the cable car to the top.
Distance to Girona from Barcelona: 101.3 km (63 miles) driving
This gorgeous medieval city is north of Barcelona and well worth the visit for a different kind of beautiful architecture. It also has one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe.
Strolling through perfectly preserved streets – that are over 500 years old – is a great way to spend part of your day in Girona.
You really can get lost in time trailing off to walk the medieval walls and taking in the views across the city. Game of Thrones was also filmed here with little editing done, so GoT fans can stroll the streets of Braavos!
It is also well worth visiting during the annual temps de flores (flower festival). The streets are filled with colourful flower displays and many buildings have their own intricate displays. Expect heavy crowds but well worth the visit.
If you want to learn more about this beautiful city, have a look at our Things to do in Girona article.
How to Get to Girona from Barcelona
The journey to Girona is relatively easy and takes you through the beautiful countryside.
- Take a Tour: Girona and Costa Brava Tour with Hotel Pickup in Barcelona
- Drive: Driving is easy and takes around 1 hour 20 minutes
- Train: Renfe/AVE has a fast train between Barcelona Sants and Girona and takes just 38 minutes.
Figueres & Dalí Museum
Distance to Figueres from Barcelona: 138 km (85.7 miles) driving
This pretty town is filled with hidden and quirky delights due to the influences of the surrealist Salvador Dali and modernist architecture. There is also the castle of Sant Ferran, which is an 18th-century fortress and has one of the largest perimetres in Europe.
However, the main reason to take a day trip to Figueres is to visit the Dalí Museum. This red castle-like building is also the burial place of Dali himself. Figueres was his hometown so this homage to his art and life is a significant part of the town.
The museum is also a theatre and is built from the ruins of the old Figueres theatre which was damaged during the Spanish Civil War. The site holds the largest collection of Dali art in the world and is a real experience.
How to Get to Figueres from Barcelona
Another example of how easy it is to get around Catalonia! Getting to Figueres is easy and a really picturesque journey.
- Take a Tour: Salvador Dalí Small-Group Day Tour
- Drive: Takes around 1 hour 40 minutes through the beautiful Catalan countryside
- Train: Renfe/AVE has a direct train from Sants or Passeig de Gracia taking around 55 minutes
Distance to Sitges from Barcelona: 39 km (24 miles) driving
A little gem on the Costa Brava coast, Sitges is the whitewashed blue shuttered beach town of your Spanish dreams. Nestled between the surrounding mountains, this little town is the perfect place to drift away for a day outside of the city.
You can spend a day on the clean open beaches, relax in the cafes, browse the cute shops in the small streets, and climb the steps of the beachside church, Església de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla, to get views across the sea.
Sitges is also the gay capital of Europe hosting the biggest Pride festival each year. It is a welcoming and vibrant town with plenty of great food options and hidden garden restaurants.
How to Get to Sitges from Barcelona
Sitges is really simple to get to and a short journey, which makes it the perfect day destination.
- Take a Tour: This Spanish Vineyard, Beach Town, & Wine Tour combines wine tasting and an afternoon in Sitges.
- Drive: Sitges is just 39 km from the centre of Barcelona and the coastal road is a beautiful drive.
- Train: Getting the train to Sitges from Barcelona is really easy and cheap. Take the R2 Sud line which starts from Estación de Francia and stops at a couple of inner-city stations before exiting the city. A return ticket is around €9 and can be purchased at the stations.
Distance to Vilafranca de Penèdes from Barcelona: 54 km (33.5 miles) driving
Just one of the neighbouring wine regions in Catalonia is the Penèdes. A lot of white wine grapes and cava vines are growing between the hills. In fact, 95% of cava is grown and produced in the Penèdes.
Nestled in this region are many cute towns such as Vilafranca de Penèdes, which is a great starting point for cava tasting and exploring the region.
The rail network from Barcelona links most of these towns and many vineyards are close to the train stations or offer collections from their nearest one.
While there is a lot to see in the Penèdes, the main reason is cava tasting. So take the opportunity to taste cava from the professionals in the heart of the region it is made!
How to Get to Penèdes from Barcelona
The rail network is well-linked to Barcelona and is a great way to see the countryside on the way. You can also easily drive but then remember to drink responsibly, better to stick to the train so you can fully enjoy the cava!
- Take a Tour: Wine, Cava, Tapas & Vineyards 4WD Experience
- Drive: An easy drive to Vilafranca de Penèdes takes around an hour from central Barcelona
- Train: Take the train from Sants to Vilafranca in just under an hour
Tour Tip: If hiking is more your thing, check out this El Penedès Hike and Wine Tour!
Distance to Tarragona from Barcelona: 97.6 km (60.6 miles) driving
Tarragona is another beachside city in Catalonia but on a much smaller scale than Barcelona. Visit the Alta part of the city, the old town with a Roman amphitheatre and ruins of the old walls. Then spend the rest of the day indulging in paella overlooking the Mediterranean sea.
The town is easily identified by areas, some more modern, contrasted by the Roman part of the town and the old town behind the old walls. Visit the amphitheatre and take in the views of the blue sea before exploring the pretty ancient streets.
There are also some pretty beach coves that can be discovered walking the beach and cliffside, perfect for cliff diving and exploring. If Tarragona has piqued your interest, you can read our more detailed guide on things to do in Tarragona!
How to Get to Tarragona from Barcelona
The drive is fairly direct but can be prone to traffic so factor that into your time plans. As with most of Catalonia, the trains are likely the better option and give you the freedom to see the coastline and towns you pass on your journey
- Drive: Around 1 hour 20 minutes along the coast
- Train: Takes over an hour, up to 1 hour 30 minutes depending on if you take the high-speed train or the slower commuter train.
Distance to PortAventura from Barcelona: 108 km (67 miles) driving
This vast amusement park is a real highlight in the Catalan region and is a Spanish attraction that welcomes millions of visitors every year.
It is actually so huge you could easily spend a few days in the park but you won’t be disappointed with a one-day trip to PortAventura.
The amusement park is the largest in Spain and the third-largest in Europe. It is divided into regions worth exploring: the Mediterranean, Polynesia, China, Mexico, the Far West and Sésamo Aventura.
There are nine huge roller coasters to choose from, several of which can be seen from far across the region as you drive through. Check out the water park and the beach park on hot summer days and slide down Europe’s biggest water slide!
If you do decide to stay longer there are golf resorts and hotels on-site offering comfortable accommodation to rest before tackling more of the park the next day.
How to Get to PortAventura Park from Barcelona
Surprisingly easy to get to by train and by car, although maybe a car is better so you don’t have to time your start and end times by the trains.
- Take a Tour: PortAventura and Ferrari Land: Full-Day Trip from Barcelona
- Drive: Easy to access from the highway and with ample parking, drive from Barcelona in about 1 hour 20 minutes
- Train: You can take the train from Sants to Salou and then take the short walk to PortAventura, it takes around an hour and a half.
Priorat & Siurana
Distance to Siurana from Barcelona: 144 km (89 miles) driving
For wine enthusiasts, a day trip to Priorat is essential. The vineyards are mostly naturally cultivated and harvested and are set on the hillside between rising rock-faced mountains. It truly is a breathtakingly beautiful region.
The story of the region is that a monk saw a beam of light hit the ground and heard the voice of God telling him to plant vines, so he did! Now, some of the best vines in the world are grown here.
Nestled between the vineyards and mountains are small towns with friendly locals, delicious Catalan restaurants and open wineries to taste the famous red wines of the region.
One of the towns – Siurana – is set at the top of a mountain with epic views and is inhabited by just a few historic families.
It is tiny and they have kept the town perfectly preserved. Absolutely worth a trip here, maybe even book a night in a small guesthouse to indulge in more wines!
How to Get to Priorat & Siurana from Barcelona
This is the one area recommended that isn’t particularly suitable for public transport. You can take trains and buses but there are a lot of changes and sporadic service.
The best way if you are just coming for the day is to drive, that way you can explore with ease
- Drive: Driving takes a little over 2 hours, prepare for winding roads as you hit the region and even steeper roads to Siurana. All are totally worth the nail-biting!
Renting a Car in Barcelona
Most of the options are preferable to access by train, other than Priorat which you absolutely need a car for.
Driving in the region is easy as the highway network is well maintained and direct. You don’t often hit major traffic jams outside the city unless there has been an accident.
Some of the highways do have tolls so prepare for those, you can pay by card at the toll booths so there’s no need to bring cash.
You can avoid the toll roads in some cases, Google Maps will show you the toll-free options which do add extra time to your journey.
A few of the routes do go through more minor mountain roads so be aware as you reach these and keep in mind any signs warning of rockfalls and oncoming wildlife traffic.
Driving Tips: Driving in Spain can be a little hairy but not as bad as in some European countries. Most car rentals will be manual transmission so if you can only drive automatic make sure to specify when you book. The best deals can be found by collecting from agencies near the airport.
And there you are – a selection of amazing day trips from Barcelona to help you discover more of the varied Catalan culture and the beautiful countryside of the region. There are many other places you can explore, this is just a small selection, so feel free to get creative!
As always, Happy Waddlin’!
If you’re travelling to Spain and want to know more, check out these other related articles on Barcelona and Spain in general:
- How to Spend on Day in Barcelona
- Top Places to Visit in Barcelona
- Plan the Perfect Spain Itinerary (+suggested routes)
- Beautiful Cities Around Spain to Explore
After leaving England in 2017, Natalie lived in a surfer town in Morocco for a few years before settling in Barcelona with her foundling street dog Zina. She is a writer and affiliate manager, and co-manages a surf brand in the UK. Her travel style is slow travel, exploring cute European towns and quiet beaches, and indulging in the culture of local food and wine.