Top Things to Do in Tarragona, Spain [+ Tips]

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Here are Some Must-Do Things to Do in Tarragona, Spain!

Natalie here: Most people think of the larger cities in Catalonia, such as Barcelona and Girona – but the compact city of Tarragona is a perfect alternative.

Tarragona is also less hectic than Barcelona and better placed for local attractions and the beach than Girona. If you don’t get the chance to spend a few days in Tarragona, the city also makes for a great day trip from Barcelona.

Situated on the Costa Dorada, Tarragona is really well placed to easily get into the incredible surrounding mountains or down the coast to PortAventura. The coastline is littered with cute beaches, tiny resort towns and hidden gems.

There are also several wonderful beaches close to the city, some accessible by a short walk, others a car journey. Several excellent seafood restaurants can be found near the port if you are looking to enjoy typical seafood cuisine direct from the source. 

No matter where you stand in Tarragona you are surrounded by over 2000 years of history with well-preserved Roman ruins visible all over the city. So, here’s our list of things to do in Tarragona – with a few additional tips and recommendations along the way!

Tarragona Quick Guide

Best Time to Visit: Aim for late spring or early fall/autumn to avoid rain and enjoy the perfect temperatures for exploring outdoor attractions.

Getting Around: The bus around the city is perfectly usable. Tarragona is also a very walkable city – renting a car is a great idea for exploring further afield. 

Top Things to Do: Tarragona Cathedral, The Early Christian Museum and Necropolis, PortAventura + Ferrari Land

Where to Stay: Plaça De La Font in Part Alta and close to the museum, Espectacular Tarragona Corsini Apartment close to Playa del Miracle with parking, Hostal 977 has rooms like a hotel and is close to the beach.

Explore the Roman Walls and Amphitheatre

Navigation Address for Amphitheatre: Parc de l’amfiteatre, s/n, 43003 Tarragona, Spain

The most important and obvious thing to do in Tarragona is to explore the Roman heritage sites in the city. The city was founded by the Iberians in the 5th century BC and was taken over by the Romans in 218 BC as a military base and port named “Tarraco”.

Tarragona was originally formed at the peak of the cliffs which now makes for spectacular views from the monuments. 

old roman amphitheatre with city buildings and blue ocean shoreline in background.
The Roman Amphitheatre is just one historic site to explore!

The Amphitheatre was built in the late-100s and held up to 15,000 spectators who came to see gladiator battles and high-profile public executions – such as the burning of the Bishop Fructoso during the 3rd century. 

Head to the west of Part Alta (Old Town) to find the original Roman walls which have been on the site since the 3rd century BC when the area was a base for Roman armies during the Second Punic War.

Our Tip: You can learn more about these sites on a Roman Heritage Guided Walking Tour!

Walk alongside the towering ramparts, 18th-century gun points, medieval coats of arms, and alongside Roman stones with 2000-year-old carvings and inscriptions. 

The views here are also awe-inspiring looking out over the rugged coastline.

Visit Tarragona Cathedral + Diocesan Museum

Navigation Address: Pla de la Seu, 1, 43003 Tarragona, Spain

Continuing through the oldest part of the city, you can stroll around the small streets and alleys with hidden antique shops, local wares and restaurants. From here, it is then easy to stumble across the Gothic Tarragona Cathedral. 

The site has been a place of worship since Roman times but this construction dates to the 12th century in the traditional imposing Gothic style. 

Inside the Cathedral are several chapels housing important artefacts, renaissance tapestries and artefacts dating back to the Romans.

The Diocesan Museum inside is a great source of history and worth taking the time to explore to enjoy the history and peace of the building. 

You can get a skip-the-line ticket here with an audio guide so you don’t miss anything.

Stroll the Mediterranean Balcony

Navigation Location: 41°06’49.3″N 1°15’22.8″E

If you arrive by train and climb the steps to the main part of Tarragona, you will reach the iconic lookout point: The Mediterranean Balcony.

Set at the end of Rambla Nova, this point offers uninterrupted views of the sea and the coastline and is one of the best free things to do in Tarragona, Spain.

Touch the iron railings for good luck and take the all-important photo opportunity – you’ll be sure to see lots of others doing the same! It is also a great spot to catch the fireworks displays during many of the Spanish festivities during the summer. 

Visit the Early Christian Museum and Necropolis

Navigation Address: Av. de Ramón y Cajal, 84, 43005 Tarragona, Spain

If you are already exploring Part Alta and need more places to visit in Tarragona, you should also check out the Paleochristian or Early Christian Museum of Tarragona. This unique museum houses items uncovered throughout the city.

It was only in the 19th century that historians discovered the importance of the city and started the digs that unveiled items. These items now form the richest collection of paleochristian archaeology and art on the peninsula.

As well as an impressive mosaic room with arrangements of Medusa and Euterpe, the museum also holds a collection of Roman sculptures, ceramics, coins and even a preserved 2,000-year-old peacock fresco which was found while excavating the Amphitheatre.

The entrance to the museum also gives you access to the Necropolis next door which is a site of ancient burials. It now forms part of a research centre for the rituals and ceremonies of death throughout history.

It’s all a bit macabre but incredibly fascinating to see such an ancient part of history and culture.

Swim in the Crystal Waters of Cala Calafato

Navigation Address: Urb. Calafat al, 2D, 43860 Calafat, Tarragona, Spain

Tarragona itself does have amazing beaches such as Playa del Miracle and Cala Fonda (Waikiki Beach).

However, if you travel just a little out of town to the small town of Calafat near L’Ametlla de Mar you will find what seems to be a tropical beach – if not for the pine trees rather than palm trees! 

You will need a car to get to this beach but it is well worth the 35-minute drive along the coastline, which itself has a beautiful view along the way. Park the car in Calafat for easy access to the beach.

This tiny bay can get a little crowded on weekends during peak seasons – which is to be expected. That said, it does not distract from the beauty of the crystal clear water and tropical golden sands. It is easy to access from Calafat, just a short walk down through rocks and into the bay. 

The clear waters are also alive with biodiversity and it is a known popular haven for snorkelers looking to swim with the Mediterranean sea life.

Due to the cliff surroundings, it is also well protected from strong winds and weather changes, should you visit in the off-season. 

Tarragona Tip: Speaking of the sea and coastline, you might want to get out on the water on a Costa Daurada Catamaran & Snorkel Tour!

There are few facilities at this beach to preserve its wild nature so prepare accordingly. Back in the town of Calafat, there are a few small restaurants to fuel up after a busy day snorkelling and lazing in this little haven. 

Visit PortAventura and Ferrari World

Navigation Address: Av. Pere Molas, Tarragona, Spain

As the largest amusement park in Spain (and one of Spain’s top attractions), PortAventura lives up to the hype.

Welcoming millions of visitors of all ages, some stay close by on the neighbouring golf resorts and hotels so they can visit for several days and try out as many attractions as possible. 

The park is separated into different regions: Mediterranean, Polynesia, China, Mexico, the Far West and Sésamo Aventura. There are 9 huge roller coasters to choose from, several of which can be seen from far across the region. 

During the warmer months, you can also visit the water park and the beach park to experience Europe’s biggest water slide. 

Tip: In the busier months, there can be queues so book tickets in advance for both PortAventura and Ferrari Land.

Next to PortAventura is Ferrari Land, a second amusement park dedicated to the iconic car brand. With rides themed around the workings of racing cars – and a gallery showing the history of the car and its Italian creator Enzo Ferrari – it’s worth exploring, too!

While these parks are outside Tarragona itself it is very easy to get to. Just take the train to Salou and take a short walk to the park. Alternatively, if you have hired a car it is easy to drive to with ample parking. 

Priorat Wine Tasting, Siurana, Lake and Villages

Navigation Location: Priorat Region, Spain

Wine enthusiasts should take a drive inland to the breathtaking Priorat region and the tiny villages nestled between the mountains.

The region is famous for incredible red wine and many wineries are niche and create boutique wine using age-old techniques and materials. 

Explore the small towns and hidden villages, and climb steep hills to take in the scenery. One of the most famous is Siurana, perched on top of a mountain and looking down into deep ravines.

Stop at traditional Catalan restaurants to indulge in the local cuisine, visit open wineries and stop off at the marshlands for a refreshing swim in the fresh lakes. 

If you don’t have a car – or just prefer a guide to this region – take a tour to discover the area with an expert in a 4×4. This is a great way to navigate the winding mountain roads without the driving responsibility! 

Things to Consider When Visiting Tarragona

Looking to visit Tarragona? There are a few things to consider like where you should stay in Tarragona and when you should take your trip. 

Best Time to Visit Tarragona

The coastline and climate of the Costa Daurada is fairly temperate year-round. Winters can be colder than you may expect but mostly just for late December and through January.

The summer, however, can be incredibly hot and humid. It is also the peak holiday season so expect everything to be packed. 

Aim for late spring to avoid the showers in April and early May or visit in autumn when things have calmed down after summer and the temperatures are perfect for exploring.

Read More: Plan for different seasons & areas with our Europe Packing List!

Getting Around Tarragona

There is a good bus service running throughout the city. For some towns along the coast, there are regular and efficient trains

For some attractions and areas, a car is recommended but you won’t experience the traffic associated with the larger cities in Spain. So you can easily rent a car to explore more of the region.

Tarragona makes for a really nice day trip from Barcelona – and a great excuse to get out of the bigger city!

Where to Stay in Tarragona

For a relatively small city, there are a lot of accommodation options in and around the city centre.

For ease of access to the top sights, it is better to base yourself in the city and then travel or drive to the areas around the city that you want to visit.

Part Alta is by far the most iconic part to stay and is very beautiful. You can step out of your hotel into a tiny winding street and enjoy getting lost in history.

Check for hotels and other accommodations in Tarragona here.

Another great part is staying on or close to Rambla Nova. You won’t experience the noise of most other cities so it is a nice and convenient place to stay, too.

Rambla Nova has restaurants and cafes on your doorstep and typical high street shopping. You’d also be very close to the beach. The Mediterranean Balcony is also at the end of Rambla Nova, perfect for those sunset moments.

A traditional and beautiful hotel option in Part Alta is Plaça De La Font. It is close to the Paleochristian Museum and is situated in a charming part of the Old Town.

If you prefer a private place, the ​​Espectacular Tarragona Corsini Apartment is close to Playa del Miracle and has parking should you choose to rent a car. The apartment is bright and sunny, and having parking will save a lot of rental car stress!

A great hostel option is Hostal 977. The rooms are equipped like a hotel and the location is close to the beach and the main part of the city. No hostel dorm room party style here!

Related Articles

If you are travelling to Spain (and planning an awesome Spain itinerary) here are some posts that you may find helpful:

And there you have it – some great things to do in Tarragona, Spain! In the end, there’s something for everyone in Tarragona – whether that be beach relaxing, history exploring, or adrenaline chasing!

As always, Happy Waddlin’,
-Natalie

Booking Your Trip Soon? This Is How We Do It:
  • Compare flights on Skyscanner
  • Check for Hotel Deals or Book A Hostel
  • Get A Rental Car (depending on the destination)
  • Look Into Travel Insurance
  • Research plug types and possibly get a travel adapter
  • Go over our packing list
  • About Natalie

    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.

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