This post may contain affiliate links. At no cost to you, purchases made through these links may result in a small commission for The Migrant Yogi, keeping the website up and running – thank you!
Barcelona is a city unlike any other. It feels, to me, distinctively different from the rest of other major European cities. Incredibly vibrant, intense, teeming with culture, with the remnants of its dark history still prevalent, Barcelona is one of those places you can’t possibly feel neutral about. And, if I’m being completely honest, it is not my favorite place in the world. That’s not to say there aren’t a ton of great things to do and beautiful things to see in Barcelona – there are. Still, imagine how monotonous life would be if we all shared the same passions?! Regardless of your feelings for Barcelona, sometimes it’s nice to explore lesser-known treasures outside of busy, touristic cities. Why not enjoy one of the best day trips from Barcelona as a reprieve from the always-bustling Catalan capital?
Before making any travel reservations, be sure to check the COVID restrictions currently implemented in Spain. Be aware that things are subject to change with no notice and that most travel insurance companies do not cover COVID-19 for cancellations or treatment. Travel safely, wear a mask, socially distance, and follow all local regulations.
in a rush? pin it for later
Table of contents
- day trips from barcelona < 1 hour
- day trips from barcelona < 2 hours
- day trips from barcelona < 3 hours
- day trips from barcelona > 3 hours
- reading list
- pin it !
day trips from barcelona < 1 hour
begur / sa tuna
Contribution: Lauren, The Expat Chronicle
Once visitors of Barcelona have had their share of Sagrada Familia tours and flamenco shows on La Rambla, the perfect and quiet escape is only a short drive away.
Under two hours north from the bustling city, you’ll find a most picturesque and tranquil scene in the medieval village of Begur neighbored by the rocky seaside town of Sa Tuna. The two towns are so closely linked to one another that visitors would be remiss to not spend time at both in the same day. And each offers something a little different but equally special!
Begur/Sa Tuna is known as one of the gems of the Costa Brava region and it’s easy to see why! Visitors will be swept away by the picturesque natural beauty of Sa Tuna’s rocky coves, sea glass scattered beaches and coastline hiking trails such as Camí de Ronda.
And the nearby village of Begur, with its hilltop castle, is an ideal spot for capturing the history and culture of the surrounding area. Quaint little boutiques and a labyrinth of impressive restaurants leaves nothing to the imagination during a trip to Begur. After a delicious meal and some shopping be sure to stop at the hilltop castle ruins for jaw-dropping views of the coast ahead.
While Begur/Sa Tuna boasts 40,000 visitors in summertime, it does not get overrun with tourists in the same way that other Costa Brava towns such as Lloret de Mar. It tends to attract more locals than tourists, which preserves the authenticity of its character.
Contribution: Derek & Mike, Robe-Trotters
One of the best day trips from Barcelona is the enchanting seaside city of Sitges. The stunning city is located about 40 minutes south of Barcelona along the Costa Brava. You can reach Sitges by car or train and once there you’ll be delighted by the golden beaches, delicious tapas and endless coastline.
The best thing to do in Sitges is to relax on the beach. The soft sand beaches and turquoise Balearic waters are unforgettable. Even if the temperatures cool in the winter months, you’ll still find the sun in Sitges an average of 310 days each year. Platja de la Ribera is a great spot for sunbathers and after enjoying the beach you can take a walk on Passeig Maritim, the oceanside promenade with great views and seaside restaurants.
Continue your walk on the shoreline until you reach Iglesia de San Bartolomé y Santa Tecla. It’s a stunning seaside church that’s the feature of many postcards from Sitges. Part of the beauty is that the church stands at the water’s edge during high tide. Even if you don’t stay over for the nightlife, lunch or dinner of local tapas is a great way to cap off the day trip. Try the award-winning El Cabel for a laid back authentic tapas experience.
Heading toward the Pyrenees mountains, you’ll come to the Catalan town of Vic, a culturally rich place of historical significance.
Plaça Majos is the main square in town and where you will find most activities. There are vaulted arcades that house a number of shops, cafes, and tapas bars. The area is ideal for people-watching or just to sit and enjoy some cured meats (embutidos), one of the area’s specialties. There are a number of buildings in the square from the 14th century to admire as well.
One of the best ways to see Vic is to take a hot air balloon ride, so long as you’re not too afraid of heights! The town is surrounded by mountains, so a hot air balloon ride gives unparalleled views of the Catalan countryside as well as some of the town’s most important monuments.
sant sadurní d’anoia
Photo & Contribution: Thea, Zen Travellers
For those seeking an exciting day trip from Barcelona that’s less than an hour away by train, they need look no further than the charming small city of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. Founded in 1080, the city features historical architecture and plenty of old world charms, including a weekly fresh food market, cobblestone streets, and elegant ancient cathedrals.
Nestled in Spain’s Penedès region, the city is the cava production capital with notable producers such as Freixenet and Codorníu calling the region home. In addition, there are many small cava vineyards that will gladly offer a tasting and a tour. If visiting the cava capital of Spain isn’t enticing enough, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia also hosts the expansive Simón Coll chocolate factory that fills the city with a pleasant cocoa aroma.
The best way to visit Sant Sadurní d’Anoia and the surrounding Penedès region is by bicycle which can be rented in Barcelona and taken by train to tour the area. The ride takes under an hour. Indeed, cycling in Penedès is a delightful way to enjoy the scenery, visit multiple wineries, and earn some chocolate at the end of the day.
Contribution: Claudia, My Adventures Across the World
Girona is easily one of the most charming places to visit in Costa Brava, and an easy day trip from Barcelona – you can get there in less than 40 minutes by train!
Beautifully set between the peaks of the Pyrenees, the Volcanic Region of Garrotxa and the lovely coves of Costa Brava, this smaller town is blessed with a lovely atmosphere and has managed to retain its local vibe despite becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination.
You won’t have shortages of things to do in Girona. The best thing to do is certainly taking a walk along the perfectly kept walls: this way, you will get a good introduction to the city and excellent views. The walls will take you all the way to the Cathedral, which is another must-see.
Once you come down from the staircase that connects the Cathedral to the city, you can cross one or all the bridges across the river, connecting the main parts of town. The one you should not miss is the Eiffel Bridge – built by the very same Eiffel who designed the Parisian Eiffel Tower.
The Jewish Quarter and the Arab Baths are other must-sees; along with the museums and art galleries.
Often overlooked in favor of Costa Brava, Calella is a city on the Maresme Coast, just north of Barcelona. A train ride takes just about an hour, or, alternatively, is easily connected by highway. Its close proximity makes it one of the best day trips from Barcelona.
Popular things to do in Calella include visiting the art museum, the Museum of Tourism, El Faro, the Museum Flak – Shelter of the Civil War, and of course, a multitude of beach activities. There are a healthy amount of water sports such as kayaking, snorkeling, and diving, among others. If you prefer to stay dry, beach volleyball and beach soccer fields are prevalent along the local beaches.
Some of the most popular blue flag beaches include Beach Garbi, Big Beach, and Rocks Beach. Be sure to enjoy some fresh seafood delicacies while you’re there!
Given its super-close proximity to Barcelona, one of the best places to escape the city for a few hours is Tibidabo. Tibidabo is the tallest peak within Barcelona’s limits, so if you’re looking for unimpeded views of the city and the nearby Balearic, look no further. You can also see inland toward Montserrat and the other peaks of the area.
Tibidabo is famed for its amusement park, which has been around since the late 1800’s! The amusement park has a number of rides for the family to enjoy, particularly the Ferris Wheel.
If you take the elevator further up you’ll reach the viewing platform. If heights don’t bother you, you can continue your ascent until you reach the bronze Jesus statue.
day trips from barcelona < 2 hours
Besalú is a marvelous stop in the Costa Brava region. Filled with vibrant character, cobbled streets, and an iconic medieval bridge, Besalú is a historic gem.
Besalú’s most well-known attraction is certainly its Romanesque bridge that spans the Fluviá river. In addition to the bridge, Besalú is famous for its medieval Old Town and narrow cobbled streets that have been present for thousands of years. The town’s impressive architecture lends a feeling of time travel as you walk in the footsteps of thousands of years worth of travelers. It’s a relatively peaceful, small town, especially when compared with Barcelona. It makes for the perfect quiet reprieve from the noise, smells, and crowds of the Catalan capital.
The most popular attractions, aside from the bridge, are the Mikveh (Jewish baths and Synagogue), the Church of Sant Vicenc, and Sant Pau Monastery.
If you have a car, the journey takes just about an hour and a half. Without a car, however, the bus is a better option than train – a bus ride takes about an hour and forty five minutes while the (indirect) train journey takes about three hours.
Montserrat is among the most popular day trips from Barcelona. Its monumental beauty coupled with its close proximity to Barcelona makes it a favorite among tourists and locals alike. So… what exactly is Montserrat? Simply stated, it’s a stunningly picturesque Benedictine monk mountain monastery. Located just about an hour from Barcelona by train, many people from all over the world visit Montserrat for its religious significance and breathtaking natural beauty.
Aside from visiting the monastery, there are many walking paths through the mountains that offer unimpeded views of all of Catalonia. There is a funicular that you can ride straight to the top, from where many walking routes originate.
If you’re musically inclined, you might like to stay for a free concert by the famous Basilica choir boys, who perform Gregorian chants and other religious songs. These performances are held daily except for the month of July and on Christmas holidays.
Contribution: Lauren, Always Find Adventure
Figueres, located near Girona, is the birthplace of famous artist Salvador Dalí and this town is dedicated to him. This town in Northern Spain is where the Dalí Theater Museum is located, which is the second most visited museum in Spain. The museum itself mimics the works of Dali – there’s no order and lots of different spaces within the museum. It’s a funhouse and it’s quite different from many other art museums. Next door is the Dalí Jewelry museum or “Dalí Joyas”.
Figueres is also home to a few other museums such as the Catalonian Toy Museum. After walking through the museums and having lunch in town, stop and try “Flaona” a special pastry from Figueres, very much like a sweet cheese turnover.
Getting here from Barcelona: Travelers have many options- rent a car and drive north to Figueres in just under 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train from Barcelona Sants or Passeig de Gracia stations to Figueres. There are also organized trips from many online tour companies that arrange everything for you.
Heading south from Barcelona along the coast, the first seaside town you’ll encounter is Tarragona. In addition to the beautiful Balearic coastline, you’ll also enjoy a myriad of historical sites of interest. There are many churches from different periods throughout history as well as a Roman Colosseum, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Explore the many plazas, all fringed with cafes and bars to enjoy the usual selection of tapas, bocadillos, or local seafood dishes. Or relax on one of the five main beaches in Tarragona. The town also has a Museum of Archaeology with relics and items of geographical significance as well as a beautiful Old Town (Casac Antic) in which to lose yourself.
By train, the journey will take you just over an hour, while you can make it in just under an hour by car.
day trips from barcelona < 3 hours
Photo & Contribution: Erika, Erika’s Travels
The tiny country of Andorra lies sandwiched between France and Spain, in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains. A popular day trip from Barcelona, it is a tax-free shopping mecca with incredible natural surroundings and a deep-rooted history.
In the 13th century, Charlemagne established Andorra as a buffer state to protect France from Moorish invasion. Today, it remains one of the world’s smallest independent countries.
The country’s capital, Andorra la Vella, is a modern metropolis that lies amid soaring peaks. The city’s top attractions include Salvador Dali’s melting clock sculpture, the pedestrian shopping mall and the Barri Antic.
The Barri Antic is the oldest and most charming area in Andorra la Vella. It boasts a winding layout, cobbled streets and a cluster of attractive stone houses that date back to the Middle Ages.
Public transportation between Barcelona and Andorra la Vella is relatively limited. However, by car, the drive is only 2.5 hours each way. In addition, organized Andorra day trip excursions are a popular way of experiencing the tiny city-state.
While some might say that Andorra lacks charm, the tiny country offers a plethora of attractions. In summer months, Andorra lures day trippers with its favorable prices, plentiful hiking and luxurious escapes. In winter months, its picturesque mountains double as some of the best ski slopes in Europe.
Cadaqués is one of the most magnificent coastal towns in the region of Costa Brava. With its whitewashed buildings and steep, narrow labyrinth of cobbled streets, there are few places more picture-perfect than Cadaqués.
Its biggest claim-to-fame is as the primary residence of surrealist artist Salvador Dali. Here, you can visit his summer home that now houses a museum dedicated to the late painter. Given its size, only ten people are allowed per ten minutes, so book in advance if you’d like to visit. Dali’s house is roughly a 15-20 minute walk outside the center of town.
There aren’t any direct routes from Barcelona, but if you want to go to the Dali museum in Figueres, you can hop on a bus from here. The buses leave frequently from Figueres to Cadaqués and take about an hour to wind up the Catalonia hills and back down into the quaint seaside town. Total travel time is about two and a half hours.
vall de núria
Contribution: Renee, Dream Plan Experience
Why not escape the hustle and bustle of Barcelona for the day and go hiking in Vall de Núria. Located in the valley of the Pyrenees mountains, you will be surrounded by peaks of almost 3,000 meters. Perfect for nature lovers as it offers the most incredible views of deep narrow gorges, rock, rivers and trees. Also, adventuresome travelers are drawn to this area due to the amazing hiking and skiing. Set off on one of the many hiking trails. Clear descriptions of distance, altitude, estimated walking time and experience level are clearly marked.
Vall de Núria is just over 100 kilometres from Barcelona. The best way to get there is by car or train to reach the tiny village of Queralbs. From there, you have to take a rack railway that takes you up an incline of over 1,000 metres through unspoiled mountain landscape views.
Vall de Núria has a long, fascinating history that dates back to 700 AD. Today, a large complex that houses a hotel, restaurant, and information centre can be found here. Visitors can learn about the legendary tale about this sacred place, and visit the original church and pilgrim hostel from centuries long ago.
Want to feel on tapas the world? Sorry, but who doesn’t appreciate a good pun? Perched high upon a rock is the medieval town of Peratallada, showcasing a stunningly preserved castle (complete with defense walls and a moat) as well as a fortress.
One of the best (if not the best) thing to do in this tiny corner of the world is head to Gelat Artesà de Peratallada for what will certainly be the most unique gelato experience of your life – if you’re daring. With flavors such as Roquefort cheese and l’Escala anchovies, you’re sure to give your tastebuds a shock to the system. It’s an artisan gelato shop with a high emphasis on quality ingredients and originality, sure to delight.
There are two main squares in Peratallada, Plaça de Les Voltes and Plaça del Castell, which are both surrounded by narrow, winding streets and beautifully preserved stone houses. There are a number of cafes and tapas bars to sit and people watch in both squares.
From Barcelona, Peratallada is a mere hour and a half by train, faster if you’ve got access to a car.
day trips from barcelona > 3 hours
delta de l’ebre
If you’re looking for a nature-lovers escape, one of the best day trips from Barcelona is by far the Delta de l’Ebre natural park, with its abundance of wildlife and never-ending natural beauty. It’s been declared a European Destination of Excellence due to its ethos of sustainability and conservation.
The area is the largest wetland in Catalonia, and is a great place to spot purple heron and flamingos, if you know where to go. If you head to the southern perimeter, you’ll come to l’Encanyissada, the largest lagoon in the Delta. This is where you can see a number of different species of heron and egrets. The other noteworthy lagoon to visit is Tancada, where you’ll find the picturesque imagery of flamingos as far as the eye can see.