When visiting Barcelona keep in mind that the Catalan capital is full of many more amazing places besides Barcelona. From stunning beaches to lovely Mediterranean cost towns and medieval cities near Barcelona worth visiting. There are many Catalonia destinations that deserve much more attention.
I asked some of my fellow travel bloggers about their favorite Catalonia point of interest. In the following, you find their great recommendations on the 19 best places in Catalonia that make for memorable day trips from Barcelona.
What to find out in this post
- 1 Best Places in Catalonia Map
- 2 Best Catalonia Destinations – Day Trips from Barcelona
- 3 Sitges
- 4 Rupit
- 5 Cap de Creus
- 6 Costa Brava Beaches
- 7 Puigcerdà
- 8 Sant Cugat del Vallès
- 9 Girona
- 10 Salvador Dalí Triangle
- 11 The Pyrenees
- 12 Cadaqués
- 13 Santa Clotilde Gardens
- 14 Penedés Wine Region
- 15 Colonia Güell
- 16 Lleida
- 17 Besalú
- 18 Montserrat
- 19 DO Empordà Wine Region
- 20 Banyoles
- 21 Ferrari Land
Best Places in Catalonia Map
Best Catalonia Destinations – Day Trips from Barcelona
Sitges is probably one of the most popular day trips around Barcelona. Since it’s just around 35 km from Barcelona it is easily accessible.
Sitges is especially popular as a beach destination. In total, it offers 17 wonderful beaches to relax and refresh from the strong Spanish sun.
But the town itself is absolutely worth it as well! It offers several historical buildings, such as a bunch of museums. But for us, the true highlight is just getting lost on the narrow streets of this Mediterranean gem.
Each year for Carnival (February/March), people from all over Spain come here to have a big Fiesta. But also the Film Festival of Sitges (usually on October) which is one of the most important film festivals for Horror and Fantasy Movies, attracts people from all over the world.
The easiest option to get to Sitges is to take the train R2S (in direction of Vilanova) from Sants estación.
About 100 km from Barcelona, you can find the small medieval village of Rupit. The village center is full of stone houses which have been built in the 16th and 17th century. You can spend some time just walking around and looking at those old buildings. Another attraction of Rupit is the suspension bridge, Puente Colgante de Rupit, which leads over the Riera de Rupit, a small river that runs through this little Catalan village.
When walking around the area, you can as well see the Església de Santa Magdalena (Santa Magdalena Church) which is a little bit outside the walls of Rupit. (About a 10-minutes walk) From here, you have an amazing view over the medieval constructions of Rupit.
But not only this little place itself makes for great day trips out of Barcelona. You can as well go hiking along the stunning nature of the area. You could, for instance, visit the waterfall Salt de Sallent, which is about 30 minutes walking away from Rupit.
You can get to Rupit easiest by car. But it’s also possible to get there by public transport.
If you want to know more about Rupit make sure to check our Ultimate Rupit Guide.
Cap de Creus
Located in the most Eastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, in the province of Girona, Cap de Creus is a Natural Park consisting of rocky cliffs which have been shaped by the impact of waves due to the Tramontana, a very strong northern wind which is characteristic from Alt Empordà region.
Attracting tourists from all over Western Europe but, controversially, many locals from Barcelona and Girona, Cap de Creus is one of the most breathtaking places in the country, to the extent that it has been a real source of inspiration for many artists, including the worldwide famous Salvador Dalí, originally from Figueres, but who had a summer house here in Cap de Creus.
Cap de Creus is a place to enjoy in his many empty cales (small beaches with stones which are not easily accessible), trekking over the cliffs and eat at its famous restaurant, which serves best arròs caldós (kind of juicy paella) I have ever tasted.
How to get there: If you want to go by public transportation, the best is to take a train from Barcelona Sants or Passeig de Gràcia to Figueres (45 min to 2h) and then take a Sarfa bus to Cadaqués (1h). Cap de Creus is a few kilometers after the Cadaqués. Alternatively, you may also find a direct bus from Barcelona to Cadaqués, leaving from Estació del Nord.
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Costa Brava Beaches
The Costa Brava, literally the Rough Coast, is located in Northeast of Spain. The secluded coves and hidden beaches in the Costa Brava are a dreamy destination, and not only in summer. Some of the most popular beaches can become somewhat crowded in summer, but without too much effort you can find lots of small coves with transparent water, where you can enjoy solitude even in the high season.
Aiguablava with white sandy beaches can remind you of the Carribean, whereas the coves between Cadaqués and Cap de Creus are famous for being an awesome destination for snorkelers and divers. As mentioned, the Costa Brava is also a favorite destination for hikers, since you can follow the “Camino de Ronda”, a lovely trail that follows the 150 km long coastline.
The main towns of the Costa Brava area are easily accessible by public transport from Barcelona, but in order to get to the more remote and pristine beaches, renting a car is highly recommended.
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Puigcerdà is a town up in the Spanish Pyrenees and is the regional capital of the Baix Cerdanya region. Founded in 1178, the town occupies a commanding position atop a hill, with stunning views of the surrounding valley and Pyrenees mountains.
In the town, there are a number of attractions, including the old bell tower (worth the climb to the top for amazing views), and the medieval town center. This has a number of churches and other ancient buildings, and if you pop into the tourist office (found at the base of the bell tower), you can pick up a walking map to get around. The town lake is also a lovely spot for a walk.
If you have a bit more time, there are numerous attractions a short drive from Puigcerda, including in Winter the ski slopes of La Molina and La Masella, as well as a number of lovely old medieval villages. Hiking is also a popular activity in the area, as well as cycling – although the high altitude and hilly terrain means you’ll want to be quite fit!
For more sightseeing ideas, take a look at our guide to what to in La Cerdanya, which has information on Puigcerda as well as other highlights of this wonderful region.
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Sant Cugat del Vallès
Located only 20 minutes by train from Barcelona, Sant Cugat del Vallès is a charming small town that has a lot to offer to the day-tripper – history, nature and vintage shopping.
It is most famous for its 9thcentury monastery, the Royal Monastery of Sant Cugat. It is one of the finest examples of medieval art and architecture in Catalonia. It has an impressive church, a magnificent cloister, and the abbot’s residence. You can still feel the power and splendour this monastery had throughout the complex. The cloister is the highlight here, an impressive arcaded open patio area at the centre of the monastery, where monastic life took place.
But my favourite thing to do in Sant Cugat del Vallès is to visit Mercantic Vintage Market, a permanent furniture, antiques, and curiosities market that has become a European hotspot for collectors and interior decorators. It has almost 200 shops and stalls, so you could easily spend a whole day here! Don’t miss out on visiting El Siglo, Spain’s largest second-hand bookshop, with over 100,000 books for sale. It also has a little theatre inside where they hold concerts and all sorts of cultural activities.
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Catalonia’s largest city, Girona, is located 40 minutes from Barcelona by train and just under an hour and a half from Barcelona by car. Made up of beautiful gothic churches, cobbled streets, Roman ruins, and a stunning canal, it’s an absolute must-visit if you’re staying in nearby Barcelona.
There’s plenty to see and do here, certainly more than enough to make a day trip out of it. The Jewish Quarter (El Call), in particular, is incredibly photogenic. It’s a fun maze of clandestine gardens and narrow passages, and it was once home to the Kabbalistic School which housed some of Europe’s greatest scholars and thinkers.Jumping onto other religions that have left their footprints on this city, the Arab Baths are also worth a visit along with Girona Cathedral.
Both are open daily, and entrance costs €2 and €7 respectively.Finally, before it’s time to head back to Barcelona, spend some time exploring the old Roman walls that mark the former boundaries. You can actually walk along these, and it’s a fantastic place to take some all-important snapshots of the city.
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Salvador Dalí Triangle
Salvador Dalí was born in Catalonia and spent most of his life and created most of his work here. There are three main sites related to Salvador Dalí that have become popular tourist attractions and these 3 places make up the so-called Dali Triangle.
The most popular place is Figueres which is Dalí birthplace and the place where he is buried. Here’s you find the Dalí Theatre and Museum which contains the largest collection of Dalí’s artwork. The museum itself is a piece of art and you navigate this maze-like museum without much direction which is part of the intended experience.
The next stop is the home of Dalí’s wife Gala, Púbol Castle. Here you can tour the castle, learn more about Gala, see exhibitions, and see where Gala is buried. The third stop is Dalí’s home in Portligat where he and Gala lived. This is the only place that you can really see what Dalí’s home life was like and it includes many of the original furnishings from their home and some pieces of art.
But you can also find a number of other Salvador Dalí attractions near Barcelona and you may want to take the time to visit some of these lesser-known attractions if you are a fan of the artist. All places can be visited by car or via a guided tour. Some can also be reached by train or public bus.
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Though it’s not ranked among the world’s tallest mountain ranges, the Pyrenees is arguably one of its most picturesque. Spanning approximately 260 miles, with quite a few summits towering over 11,000 feet, these peaks in northern Catalonia divide the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe.
The Pyrenees are very accessible from Barcelona and other major cities in Catalonia. Several tour operators offer a full-day experience that stops in the charming medieval town of Vic before heading to the stone-built village of Queralbs. There, travelers can catch the train takes them over 6,500 feet up into the mountains, to the verdant valley of Vall de Núria.
The Pyrenees are easily among western Europe’s most awesome ecotourism attractions. The gorgeous foothills, which feature numerous waterfalls and hot springs, reach almost to the Mediterranean coast. There are some hiking trails that traverse the entire length of the range, while four national parks (3 in Spain, one in France) offer shorter trails. The area is extremely popular in winter: Dozens of ski resorts can be found on both sides of the range.
Though not quite as rich with wildlife as mountain ranges in Asia and the Americas, the Pyrenees do boast some weird endemic animals. These include the shrew-like Pyrenean desman, the salamander-like Pyrenean euprocte, and the Pyrenean brown bear, which is slowly making a comeback after reintroduction.
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Cadaqués is a quaint coastal village in Costa Brava, on the Northeastern coast of Spain. It’s famous for surrealist artist Salvador Dalí as his haven where he spent his summer vacations. Unlike the modern surrounding towns of Catalonia, Cadaqués has maintained its old-world village character: small whitewashed homes with boldly painted doors and colorful flowers draping the walls.
Other artists like Pablo Picasso and Henry Matisse also spent much time here to admire the serene sea and landscape. If you go here, meander the narrow cobblestone streets and peep through the arches and see the fishing boats floating in the Mediterranean Sea. Or spend time in one of the tranquil, rocky coves, decorated with brightly-colored boats and soak up the sun.
To get here, driving is most convenient (although you’ll have to endure a dizzy, winding road) and takes over 2 hours. To take a bus, head to Estació del Nord. The bus ride takes 2 hours and 45 minutes.
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Santa Clotilde Gardens
People visit Costa Brava for the beaches but when you need an escape the Santa Clotilde Gardens in Lloret De Mar are a welcome oasis from the heat. Designed in the Renaissance style and named after his first wife, the gardens are evergreen rather than botanic which means they can be enjoyed at any time of the year. The gardens can be found on the cliffs above the sea, so there are many beautiful views of the coast as you walk around and also access to a beach that can only be reached through the gardens.
Around Santa Clotilde you’ll find sculptured gardens, water features, and unique statues like the mermaids that gaze down towards the sea below. Take some time out from your beach break in the Costa Brava to immerse yourself in the peaceful gardens that were once only available to the family but are not open for everyone to enjoy.
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Penedés Wine Region
Since my girlfriend has been living in Barcelona for over two years now, I have been traveling back and forth to the capital of Catalonia. I absolutely love Barcelona and the great tapas restaurants but whenever we have the chance, we try to leave the city over the weekend. From all the short trips we took from Barcelona, the Penedés wine region was my favorite place. The wine region is located just a short 1-hour drive northeast of the city limits. Several smaller and larger wineries are welcoming visitors to their premises and offer tours of the wine cellars and the wineries.
One of the most famous producers in the region is the Freixenet Winery, famous for its sparkling wines that are available worldwide. The massive scale of the production facilities are impressive and absolutely worth a visit. However, if you are looking for a less famous winery, with fewer visitors, head to the Parés Baltá Winery. The produce their fantastic wines in an organic way and every visit to the winery ends with a tasting of several wines.
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Colonia Güell is a UNESCO heritage colony town, a working example of Antoni Gaudí’s architecture and Catalan Modernism design. Eusebio Güell was a Catalonian industrialist who first met Gaudí at the Paris World Fair in 1878. He became Gaudí’s patron and in return for financial support, Gaudí created buildings and designs for him, including Park Güell, Palacio Güell and the crypt at the Church of Colonia Güell. All three are UNESCO World Heritage listed sites but Colonia Güell, on the outskirts of Barcelona is arguably the most fascinating.
Modelled on the British industrial towns of the great industrialists, colony towns provided a complete living environment for employees and their families. Eusebio Güell moved his textile factory to one of his properties in Santa Coloma, on the outskirts of Barcelona, in 1890. He set about creating a complete town and social infrastructure to provide for his employees and their families.
With about a thousand factory and estate management staff, he planned a town to provide homes for everyone. Something of a visionary, Güell also built a school (designed by Gaudí), one of the pinnacle buildings in the town. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Güell believed that educated workers would only enhance his business.
Only a 20 minute drive from Barcelona centre, or 6 minutes on the train, I cannot recommend Colonia Güell enough as a place to understand the context of Gaudí’s work.
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Lleida is a beautiful and ancient city in Catalonia region and has more to offer in the way of history and culture than I had expected. It was a bright sunny day when I reached Lleida by train. After checking into my hotel, I started exploring the city on foot.
Lleida is a small town so it can be covered on foot. Strolling on perhaps the longest shopping street in Europe, you can see many inviting shops of international brands and little cafes on both sides. The old town is surrounded by some of Lleida’s most striking and symbolic buildings. The River Segre flows parallel to it which can also be seen from the castle of Suda.
This Catalan town has attractive parks and botanical gardens, perfect for an evening stroll. There are several cathedrals and interesting museums with ongoing exhibitions relating to the city’s past. One of the museums, Museu de Lleida, has special arrangements for people who can’t visit Lleida. Some of the artifacts of this museum travel to other cities occasionally.
But what stole my heart was the Castle of Suda. It is undoubtedly the most distinctive landmark of the city. It also has an old cathedral. Towering over the city, it offers splendid views of the city below, the river and countryside surroundings. To go up the castle you can either use the elevator from old town or go by road.
The beauty and history of this wonderful city along with some traditional Catalonian cuisine are to be enjoyed before you plan to leave.
Tip: There are many trains from Barcelona daily, the time taken is around 1 and 20 minutes.
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Besalú is a cute small town in the province of Barcelona, with a fabulous medieval heritage. Located at an important and traditional crossing of paths in the east of the Garrotxa, Besalú was in the middle ages the seat of the important county of Besalú. From that period the town still keeps most of its medieval layout of winding and narrow streets and parts of its fortified walls. Also, there is a beautiful architecture, with many interesting Romanesque buildings from the XIIth century.
During the middle ages, the town counted with an important Jewish community. In the Jewish quarter, you will want to visit their unique Miqvé (Jewish purification baths), one of the two only Miqvés found in the Iberian Peninsula. However, Besalú’s jewel is without any doubt the medieval bridge crossing the river Fluviá, built during the XII – XIV centuries. This unique bridge, made of 8 arches on pillars and 2 defensive towers, is also the emblem of the town.
Besalú is one of my favorite day trips from Barcelona. Located at only 130km from Barcelona, it is very easy to reach by car but you can also reach it by bus (Teisa 1920 bus, line Barcelona – Olot – Banyoles).
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If you are already visiting Catalonia, you absolutely have to make a day trip over to Montserrat. It’s just a 45-minute train ride away and its a totally affordable trip. There is so much to do in Montserrat and its vicinity to Barcelona is why it’s one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona. You’ll get a chance to bask in the Spanish countryside and take in all the breathtaking views from the monastery. One of the highlights is a Benedictine monastery called the Santa Maria de Montserrat which features a statue of one of the few black madonnas in Europe.
There is much to do once you arrive, you can hike up to the highest peak of Montserrat: Sant Jeroni or take a beautiful cable car ride up to the top. Catalonia is a total foodie destination and Montserrat features a national dish called goat water, which is a hearty goat stew served with hot, fresh bread rolls. There are also many fruits that are unique to this region and they are best enjoyed in juice drinks. It’s definitely a must-visit destination!
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DO Empordà Wine Region
The DO Empordà is the oldest wine region in Spain. The wine itself takes on the characteristics of the Costa Brava — the sea, the mountains, and the winds. But the people behind this Costa Brava wine region offer some great opportunities for exploration by wine lovers and visitors to Barcelona.
There are over 400 wine growers in Empordà, and about 50 DO Empordà wineries, which together produce almost 4 million bottles of wine a year. Approximately 30 of these wineries are specifically dedicated to preserving the history of the region by forming the DO Empordà Wine Route.
Some of the closest wineries to Barcelona are in the Baix Empordà, or lower Empordà, around the area of Palamós. Two of the easiest wineries to visit are Celler Mas Oller and Celler d’en Marc. They offer tastings and tours in English that can be booked on their website.
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I’ve visited Catalunya several times, and the last time was in October when we went hiking in the Pyrenees. One of the places we liked best in the region was Banyoles, a small town located close to the foothills of the Pyrenees, and a perfect departure point for many day hikes such as the one to Besalu, a stunning medieval town.
However, even if you don’t hike, Banyoles is a great day trip from Barcelona – it’s only about one hour and a half away, there are four daily buses and prices are only €12 each way.Most people come to Banyoles to see the wonderful Estany, a lake right in the centre of town, where you can swim, kayak, run around or relax and enjoy nature, looking at the sunset while the cool transparent water changes colour.
The town itself is also very nice – you can spend a few hours wandering around the historic centre and explore plazas, churches and even a remaining section of the medieval city walls. If you’re visiting in October, don’t miss the Medieval Festival, when the whole town fills with performers, visitors and a medieval market spread all over town, reenacting the Middle Ages. We saw a falconry performance, watched a street parade and even tried some medieval snacks. It was great – a reason to love Banyoles even more!
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In Ferrari Land, it is possible to live an authentic Ferrari experience in its more than 70,000 m2 of excitement, adrenaline, and fun for the whole family.
Get ready to accelerate your emotions and passion for Formula 1 and the amusement parks at Ferrari Land Port Aventura. Let the speed invade you, while you go from 0 to 180Km / h in just 5 seconds. This park is located in Salou-Tarragona, a touristy town one hour away from Barcelona and accessible by public transport from Barcelona.
Along with the Ferrari World of Abu Dhabi, is one of the ones the famous Italian brand has for the enjoyment of its fans across the world. It was opened in 2017 to commemorate the brand’s 70th anniversary. That’s why, on top of the attractions and the thematic areas, in the Ferrari Experience building, it is possible to visit the Ferrari Land Gallery and learn about the mythical founder of Ferrari: Enzo Ferrari; today’s brand, its past, and of course the future of Ferrari, formula 1 and the GT world. Ferrari Land most epic rides are Red Force, The Thrill Towers, Maranello Grand Race and Kid’s Podium.
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