Tarragona, Spain is a beautiful Mediterranean city in Catalonia and is also known as the capital of the Costa Dorada. With its good connection and relative proximity, Tarragona can also be visited as a day trip from Barcelona. However, we recommend that you take a little more time in the city than just a Tarragona Day trip to admire all the wonderful things to see in Tarragona.
Many of the attractions in Tarragona go back to ancient times when the city was still known as the important Roman settlement of Tarraco. Therefore, the old town of Tarragona is a real must-see for anyone interested in history. But this historic city also has a lot to offer everyone else. Tarragona’s beaches, for example, are considered some of the most beautiful on the Costa Dorada.
In addition to its impressive Roman buildings and ruins, you can also discover specular architecture from the Middle Ages, modernist buildings, and great beaches in Tarragona. In this article, we want to check what to do in Tarragona, our comprehensive Tarragona Itinerary, how to get (from Barcelona) to Tarragona, transport, and everything else you should know for your Day trip to Tarragona.
What to find out in this post
- 1 Tarragona, Spain Facts
- 2 Where is Tarragona – Map
- 3 How to get to Tarragona
- 4 How to get around Tarragona – Transport
- 5 The best things to see in Tarragona during a Tarragona Day Trip
- 6 The balcony to the Mediterranean – Balcó de Mediterrani
- 7 Amphitheater de Tarraco
- 8 Roman Circus – Circo Romano de Tarraco & Torre de Pretorio
- 9 Plaça del Rei
- 10 Plaça del Pallol
- 11 Maqueta Tarraco
- 12 The City Wall – Passeig Arqueològic
- 13 Catedral de Tarragona
- 14 Provincial forum – Plaça del Fòrum
- 15 Plaça dels Sedassos
- 16 Plaça de la Font
- 17 Rambla Nova
- 18 Mercado Central de Tarragona
- 19 Option: Aqüeducte de Les Ferreres – Devil’s Bridge
- 20 Local forum – Foro Romà
- 21 Teatro Romà de Tarragona
- 22 More time in Tarragona? – More things to see in Tarragona and the surrounding area
- 23 Where to stay in Tarragona
Tarragona, Spain Facts
- Since 128 BC known as the Roman city of Tarraco
- In the Roman Empire capital of Hispania Citerior
- Part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 2000
- One of the most important ports in the Mediterranean
- Capital of the province of Tarragona and Comarca Tarragonés
Where is Tarragona – Map
Tarragona is located on the Mediterranean coast in Catalonia, about 100 km south of Barcelona.
How to get to Tarragona
Whether you are visiting Tarragona as a day trip from Barcelona or stay in the city, here are the best Tarragona transportation options. From Barcelona, the easiest and fastest way is by train.
Getting (from Barcelona) to Tarragona by train
As one of the most important port cities in the country, Tarragona has good train connections to the main cities in the country. It’s particularly easy to get from Barcelona to Tarragona. Tarragona has two major train stations. The regional train station inside the city has connections to major cities nearby such as Barcelona, Reus, Lleida, and Valencia.
The high-speed train station, located just outside the city, also offers connections to more distant cities such as Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Zaragoza, and Seville.
Getting to Tarragona by Bus
While train tickets, especially at short notice, can sometimes be a little more expensive in Spain, you also have the option of taking the long-distance bus to Tarragona. Popular bus companies such as Alsa, Eurolines, and Hife operate daily between Tarragona and other Spanish cities.
Getting to Tarragona by car
If you prefer to travel on your own or Tarragona is a part of your Spain itinerary, you can, of course, also drive to Tarragona. From the main cities nearby (Barcelona, Valencia, Lleida, and Madrid) Tarragona can be easily reached via the motorway.
If you want to rent a car in Spain, we recommend rental cars.
Getting to Tarragona by plane
Those who travel to Tarragona from distant places or from abroad can also travel by plane. The nearest airport is in Reus, just 7 km from Tarragona. Other airports in the vicinity are Girona Airport and El Prat Airport in Barcelona.
As always, we recommend Skyscanner to find the best flight deals.
How to get around Tarragona – Transport
The main sights of Tarragona’s city center can easily be reached on foot. This is not only the simplest but of course the cheapest option.
In order to visit the sights that are a little bit further away, e.g. the aqueduct, can easily by reached by city bus. The bus runs several times an hour. It is best to find out about the departure times on-site or on Google Maps.
Hop-on hop-off train
While hop-on-hop-off buses are a popular option in other cities to discover the city’s top attractions, a small tourist train takes you around Tarragona in order to get from tourist attraction to another. However, the principle remains the same as with the tourist bus.
Tickets can either be purchased on-site at one of the tourist information offices or online in advance here.
The best things to see in Tarragona during a Tarragona Day Trip
The balcony to the Mediterranean – Balcó de Mediterrani
From the city’s train station, the first sight on our list is within easy walking distance. In our eyes, the wonderful view you have from the balcony to the Mediterranean is the perfect start for a day in Tarragona.
Because from this vantage point you can get a great first impression of Tarragona. Also, take a look at the city’s impressive amphitheater and El Miracle Beach. You can also discover the port from here, which is one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean.
Fun fact: there is a legend that touching the iron railing will bring luck.
Amphitheater de Tarraco
Opening Hours Amphitheater: Tue – Fri: 9 am – 9 pm; Saturdays: 9.30 am – 9 pm; Sundays: 9.30 am – 3 pm; closed on Monday
Entrance fee Amphitheater: € 3.30 single ticket / € 7.40 admission to all of Tarragona’s Roman attractions
Update: The amphitheater is currently being renovated. Therefore, the inside cannot be entered. Entry to the lookout point on the amphitheater is, therefore, free of charge (as of 2020)
The amphitheater is simply part of a visit to Tarragona. After all, it is probably the most extraordinary sight of the former Roman city. This impressive building, believed to have been built around 200 BC, was once able to accommodate around 15,000 guests.
It is believed that the amphitheater had been used for several centuries. Like other buildings of its kind, the amphitheater was used for all kinds of events, such as Gladiatorial fights used. It became particularly famous as the place where some important martyrs were burned due to their Christian beliefs. For this reason, a church was built here many years later. However, this was demolished again in the early 20th century in order to later reveal the amphitheater.
Roman Circus – Circo Romano de Tarraco & Torre de Pretorio
Opening Hours Roman Circus: Summer: Tue – Fri: 9 am – 9 pm; Sa: 9.30 am – 9 pm; Sun: 9.30 am – 3 pm; Closed on Mondays // Winter: Tue – Fri: 9 am – 7 pm; Sa: 9.30 am – 6.30 pm; Sun: 9.30 am – 2 pm; closed on Monday
Entrance fee Roman circus: € 3.30 single ticket / € 7.40 to all Roman attractions in Tarragona
The Tarragonas Roman Circus is the city’s former racecourse. In ancient times, up to 30,000 people had space here to watch the events. The special thing about this Tarragona attractions is that the circus is considered one of the best-preserved in the Western World.
It is really impressive to walk through the old tunnels of the circus and to be aware of how huge this Roman race track must have been.
A visit to the Praetorium (Torre del Pretorio) is also included in the admission price. This is an ancient tower connected to the ancient racecourse by underground tunnels. In the tower, you can get an overview of the various aspects of the circus and other important ancient sights of Tarragona through information boards (most of the boards also have information in English).
From the roof of the tower, you have a wonderful view of the city. A view of the sea over the amphitheater or of the impressive Tarragon Cathedral is particularly worthwhile.
Plaça del Rei
Plaça del Rei is one of the city’s ancient squares. There used to be many decorated walls and lots of impressive statues. Today you can still take a look at the former circus from here.
Plaça del Pallol
Also in this beautiful square, you can discover the remains of ancient buildings. It’s definitely impressive to walk through the classical arches and see the antique stones of the buildings.
Opening Hours Maqueta Tarraco: Mon – Fri: 9 am – 9 pm; Sa: 10 am – 5.30 pm; Sun: 10 am – 1.30 pm
Entrance fee Maqueta Tarraco: free of charge
There is a building directly on the Plaça del Pallol where you can discover a miniature view (Maqueta) of the ancient Roman city of Tarraco (as Tarragona was called during ancient times). We were impressed to see the structure and, above all, the proportions in which Tarraco was once built.
The City Wall – Passeig Arqueològic
Opening Hours City Wall: Summer: Tue – Fri: 9 am – 9 pm; Sa: 9.30 am – 9 pm; Sun: 9.30 am – 3 pm; Closed on Mondays // Winter: Tue – Fri: 9 am – 7 pm; Sa: 9.30 am – 6.30 pm; Sun: 9.30 am – 2 pm; closed on Monday
Entrance fee City wall: € 3.30 single ticket / € 7.40 to all Roman attractions in Tarragona
Another attraction from Roman times is the ancient city wall. This impressive structure was once more than 3 km long and enclosed the Roman city of Tarraco. Today, more than 1 km of the imposing wall has been preserved. The wall itself is one of the oldest surviving Roman structures outside of Italy and is therefore a real highlight for those interested in history.
In this part of the city, you can walk along the city walls and get an idea of what Tarragona used to look like in ancient times. But also some parts of the wall from the Middle Ages can be seen here. Indeed, it’s truly interesting to see how the architectural style of the wall has changed over the years.
But even those who are not really interested in architecture will love this walk. With flowers and trees along the way, the path invites you into an absolutely picturesque landscape.
Catedral de Tarragona
Opening Hours Cathedral: Mon-Sat: 10 am – 8 pm (Opening times may vary depending on the season. Check out the current opening times here)
Entrance fee cathedral: 5 €
Let’s talk about another important sight in Tarragona. Unlike most of the things to see in Tarragona on this list, it’s a sight not dating back to the times of the Roman Empire: the cathedral of Tarragona. Once there was a mosque and previously a Roman temple, from which a few columns can still be found the cathedral grounds.
Despite everything, the cathedral was built in the early Gothic style in the early 14th century. But the cathedral is not only a real highlight from the outside. The inside doesn’t have to hide either. In addition to a beautiful monastery garden with its impressive statues, the Diocesan Museum, which is included in the admission price, is a popular attraction.
Provincial forum – Plaça del Fòrum
The Provincial Forum is another square in the city that takes you back in times when the Romans were still walking through the streets of Tarragona. Because also in this square, you can discover the ruins of ancient Roman buildings. Strictly speaking, the ruins can hardly be overlooked here, because the old wall is right in the middle of the square.
Nowadays, this square is mainly used to enjoy a cool drink in one of the bar terraces.
Plaça dels Sedassos
Are you interested in street art? Then you will love this square. On Plaça dels Sedassos, you will find a large building that is painted from top to bottom. The work of art comes from the artist Carles Arola and is typically Catalan.
This unique painting is definitely a real eye-catcher and worth a short stop for a photo.
Plaça de la Font
The Plaça de la Font is probably one of the most visited squares in the city. Hardly surprising, because there are plenty of bars and restaurants here that are just waiting for your visit. So this is a great place for lunch or a little refreshment in between.
Moreover, this square is also home to the city’s town hall (Ayuntamiento de Tarragona).
Now you can follow the Rambla Nova towards the city center. Rambla Nova is probably the most important street in the city today. Much of Tarragona’s shops, markets, and stores are here, as is the Via T Tarragona shopping area.
The Castellers Monument is also located on this shopping street. The Castellers is a special tradition in Catalonia, in which groups build human towers. This spectacle can be admired in the form of competitions or events all over Catalonia, especially in summer.
Mercado Central de Tarragona
The perfect place for lunch or a little snack in between. Protected from the sun and a bit chilled, you can have lunch or some refreshment here. The central market building itself was designed by the Catalan architect Josep M. Pujol and was inaugurated in 1915. In addition to typical Catalan dishes, you will find a lot of fresh fish and seafood as well as international dishes.
Extra tip: We can highly recommend the fresh fish and noodle boxes from the Japanese stand. There are also vegetarian options.
Option: Aqüeducte de Les Ferreres – Devil’s Bridge
The Tarragona Aqueduct, also known as the Devil’s Bridge, is truly fascinating. Anyway, if you only spend a day in Tarragona, you might not be able to marvel at this spectacular building. This is because the aqueduct is not located directly in the city center, but almost 4 km from the city gates. However, if, like us, you can walk quickly and walk long distances in one day, you can even incorporate the Ferreres Aqueduct into your day trip.
The aqueduct, like so many of the region’s ancient buildings, dates from the time of the Romans. The 217-long structure was used to transport water from the Francolí river into the city.
A small forest path leads to the aqueduct and it is truly impressive how it stands out in the middle of nature. You can even walk around on the aqueduct and enjoy the view of the surrounding forest.
Extra tip: Be sure to bring something to drink as there are no opportunities to buy anything here. There are picnic tables in the forest if you feel like bringing some food with you. There is a supermarket (Supercor Exprés) directly at the bus stop in Tarragona’s center, in case you want to buy something to snack on.
How to get there: The easiest way to get there is by car via the N-240. Otherwise, the aqueduct can also be reached on foot (approx. 4 km away) or by bus (No. 5 or 85). The city bus stop is on Rambla Nova and is marked on the top of our interactive Tarragona map. There is a bus every 15 – 20 minutes. It will cost you € 1.20 per ride.
The bus stop at the aqueduct is on the expressway. Since the bus is a roundtrip bus, you get on at the same stop at which you got off previously. The outward journey takes just under 5 minutes, while the return journey takes around 20 minutes.
Local forum – Foro Romà
Opening Hours: Tue – Sat: 9 am – 8.30 pm; Sun: 9 am – 2.30 pm; closed on Monday
Entrance Fee: € 3.30 single ticket / € 7.40 admission to all Roman attractions in Tarragona
In a typical Roman city, of course, a forum should not be missing. At the local forum, or forum of the colony, which was built around 30 BC there was always something happening. In addition to temples, important statues, and other premises, the basilica in particular was an important meeting point for the residents in times of the Roman Empire.
Even if the forum itself is no longer preserved in its entirety, you can see the remains of this once so important place to get an idea of what it must have looked like here. Above all, the remains of the huge columns let you see how impressive this place must once have been.
Teatro Romà de Tarragona
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 2 pm; 5 – 8 pm; Closed on Sundays
Entrance Fee: free of charge
Update: The Teatro Romà is currently closed for renovation work (as of 2020)
In addition to the amphitheater, there is another Roman theater in Tarragona to admire: The Roman Theater. This also dates from ancient times but was badly damaged during the 20th century.
Despite everything, you can still clearly see the remains and structures of the ancient theater.
More time in Tarragona? – More things to see in Tarragona and the surrounding area
Beaches in Tarragona
If you visit Tarragona during the warm season, you should definitely plan one or more days for a beach visit. As the capital of the Costa Dorada, Tarragona definitely has a lot to offer in terms of beach. In addition to the city beach El Miracle, which we could already discover from the balcony to the Mediterranean, the family-friendly beach L’Arrabassada and the beaches of La Savinosa and Platja Llarga are the most popular beaches in the city.
A Day Trip to Barcelona
If you stay in Tarragona for a long time, you should not miss my beautiful hometown Barcelona. Whether you want to spend several days or just one day in Barcelona is of course entirely up to you.
In any case, you should visit Gaudí’s masterpieces, especially Sagrada Família, and enjoy the exuberant atmosphere of the Catalan capital.
This day trip from Tarragona is a must for all fans of amusement parks. PortAventura World is considered one of the most important parks in the whole country. With a total of 3 theme parks, there is something for everyone. Whether you prefer to visit Ferrari Land, the Caribe Aquatic water park or the conventional amusement park PortAventura Park is entirely up to you.
PortAventura World theme parks are just a short car/train ride from Tarragona and can, therefore, be reached quickly and easily.
More Day Trips in Catalonia
Catalonia is definitely one of the most beautiful regions in the world and I am so happy to call this Spanish region my home. You can choose from so many wonderful places to visit in Catalonia.
Whether it’s a beach excursion, culture, medieval architecture, modernism buildings, spectacular nature, hiking in the mountains, or a party excursion – you will surely find the perfect place to visit in Catalonia for you personally. Be sure to take a look at these great destinations in Catalonia. But be aware that choosing a destination is probably not going to be that easy – there are simply too many wonderful places in the region.
Where to stay in Tarragona
Tarragona is a perfect day trip from Barcelona. However, if you have more time, we definitely recommend staying in this great city a little longer. Since a wonderful stay naturally also includes great accommodation, here you will find our three favorites divided by budget.
Best budget accommodation in Tarragona
Distance from the beach: 200 meters
Distance from city center: 1.1 km
Double rooms, triple rooms or family rooms with private bathrooms
Best mid-range accommodation in Tarragona
Distance from the beach: 200 meters
Distance from city center: 1.2 km
3-star accommodation; Double rooms with city or pool view, triple rooms, quadruple rooms or family rooms
Best luxury accommodation in Tarragona
Distance from the beach: 200 meters
Distance from city center: In the city center, right by the amphitheater
4-star accommodation; Double room, double room with sea view, double room deluxe, junior suite
What is your favorite place to visit in Tarragona? Or maybe you even have an insider tip for us? Let us know in the comments below!