Planning a trip to Barcelona and want to explore more of Catalonia? There are some incredible places to visit near Barcelona so I’ve brought together 10 ideas for fabulous day trips from Barcelona. From picturesque beaches to quaint mountain villages, check out my recommendations for the best Barcelona day trips just an hour or two from the city!
Planning your Barcelona Day Trips
When choosing which places to visit near Barcelona, you need to think about what interests you the most – do you prefer exploring historical landmarks, picturesque natural landscapes, enjoying delicious food and wine, or checking out vibrant cultural hotspots?
It’s equally important to factor in the time required to get to each destination, and how much time you will need to explore, so you can make the most of your day without feeling rushed.
Whether you opt for public transportation, your own car or hiring a car, choosing the most suitable and efficient means of getting around will ensure a smooth and enjoyable day trip from Barcelona
The train network in Catalonia can be a great way to get around and you can visit various places up and down the coast from Barcelona as well as inland – as long as everything you want to do there will be easily accessible, and the train times match what you are looking for. Buses can also be an option to travel to the Costa Brava where the train lines don’t reach.
For other destinations it might be easier to hire a car in Barcelona and drive out of the city to explore at your own pace, without worrying about missing the train on the way back! This will also give you more flexibility to stop off at places along the way.
Another option is to join a tour from Barcelona, and let someone else plan your journey and itinerary – all you have to do is enjoy it! Day tours from Barcelona can fit a lot into a day so are a great option if you don’t have long to spend in Barcelona and want to maximise your time.
While tours will usually cost more than doing everything yourself, you can see and do more in one day as the guide has planned the itinerary to perfection and will take you everywhere you need to go without wasting any time waiting for buses or trains.
Bearing all of that in mind, here are my top recommendations for the best day trips from Barcelona by train, bus or car and day tours from Barcelona for you to choose from!
The Best Day Trips from Barcelona by Train
There are some amazing places close to Barcelona that you can visit easily and cheaply by train. Most trains will depart from Sants Station, which is the main train station in Barcelona, but other regional trains might depart from other stations in the city like Plaça Catalunya, Plaça de Espanya, Passeig de Gràcia or Estació de França, so check carefully which station is best for your trip.
Girona is a charming town just 40 minutes from Barcelona by train, making it a fabulous day trip destination. You could easily spend more time here though, so consider turning a day trip into a weekend!
One of the most striking things about Girona is the blend of architectural styles and the well-preserved medieval centre with narrow cobblestone streets. The iconic Basilica of Sant Feliu, and the impressive Cathedral of Girona are both must-sees, as is meandering through the old Jewish Quarter.
Walk along the Onyar River with colourful houses overlooking the water, and take some photos of the Pont de les Peixateries Velles, a red iron bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel. A stroll around the old city walls offers more lovely views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Girona was used as a filming location for Game of Thrones so fans will be excited to spot familiar places in the Old Town as you explore! Girona is a lovely place to explore at any time of year, but the Flower Festival in May is very popular.
How to Get to Girona by Train from Barcelona
Take the high-speed train (the Avant or Ave) from Barcelona-Sants, towards Figueres Vilafant, and depart at Girona. Book tickets online in advance for the best deals and to guarantee your preferred train, or buy tickets at Sants station. Girona train station is in the centre of Girona, about 15 minutes walk from the Old Town area.
A visit to Montserrat and its Monastery is one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona by train or you can join one of the many group tours which go there. “Montserrat” literally means “serrated mountain” in Catalan and refers to the shape of the mountain range, which resembles the edge of a serrated saw.
Montserrat has lots of hiking trails to explore and stunning views of the Catalan countryside. However, most people come to Montserrat to visit the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which is home to the Virgin of Montserrat, a statue of a Black Madonna and one of the patron saints of Catalonia.
You’ll need to book tickets in advance to see the Madonna, but the train tickets can be bought on the day.
If you prefer to join a guided tour to Montserrat from Barcelona, there are various options which might include a meal and wine tasting as well as a visit to Montserrat and the Monastery. Read the tour details carefully to see what is included.
How to Get to Montserrat by Train from Barcelona
Take the R5 Line from Plaça Espanya towards Manresa-Baixador, which is operated by Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC). You can buy your ticket at the station in Plaça Espanya, including the extra journey to the top of the mountain either by cable car or rack railway.
Both options are the same price, and both have spectacular views, but you’ll need to decide which one you prefer before you buy your ticket if you want to save money on the combined ticket option. Otherwise, you can buy separate tickets when you arrive.
For the cable car, get off the train at Aeri de Montserrat, and for the rack railway, depart at Monistrol de Montserrat, which is the next stop. The train journey takes about an hour, plus the ride to the top.
Both options offer stunning views, so choose the one that suits you best. An alternative, if you’re feeling active, is to hike up the mountain from Monistrol de Montserrat, which is about an hour and a half of hiking uphill.
If you’re looking to soak up the sun and take a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean, you ought to set your sights (and flip-flops) in the direction of Sitges. This picturesque coastal town just south of Barcelona offers stunning beaches, complete with shimmering crystal-clear waters and powdery sand.
But Sitges is more than just a beach paradise – it’s also steeped in culture, art, and history. Sitges is packed with charming streets, bustling restaurants, and enough activities to keep you entertained all day long, and well into the night too!
Check what time the last train back to Barcelona is as you may want to spend the night here – Sitges has a buzzing nightlife, and is particularly welcoming to the LGBTQI community. The Carnival in February is a huge party that is well worth the trip if you visit Barcelona in February!
Whether you’re an avid sunbather, a water sports enthusiast, or a curious wanderer, Sitges has got you covered. It’s an easy train ride and a lovely day trip from Barcelona.
How to Get to Sitges by Train from Barcelona
Take the R2S train towards Sant Vicenç de Calders, which you can take from Estació de França, Passeig de Gràcia or Sants. The journey from Sants takes 35 minutes, or a bit longer from the other stations, and you don’t need to pre-book a ticket, just buy one at the station. Sitges station is close to the town centre and about 8 minutes’ walk from the beach.
If you’re interested in stepping back in time and immersing yourself in a world filled with ancient ruins, Tarragona is just the place for you. Located on the coast an hour south of Barcelona, this charming city is a treasure trove of Roman amphitheatres, centuries-old churches, and impressive monasteries.
As you wander through the winding streets, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to another era altogether. But don’t just take my word for it – come and explore Tarragona for yourself! Make sure you sit on the left-hand side of the train as you’ll be able to gaze out at the Med on your journey too.
Once you’re in Tarragona, take a stroll down the Rambla Nova, where you’ll usually find a market or festival going on. Make sure you go as far as the Monument als Castellers, a sculpture dedicated to the famous Human Towers of Catalonia.
The Roman ruins are a big attraction here, with a well-preserved Amphitheatre and an Aqueduct just two of the many highlights to explore. The Cathedral is also impressive but simply exploring the streets of the old town can happily fill a few hours. There’s a wide sandy beach here too if you fancy a dip in the sea once you’ve finished exploring!
How to Get to Tarragona by Train from Barcelona
There are various regional trains which go south from Barcelona Sants and pass through Tarragona, so check the timetables for the dates you want to make sure you get the right train. The journey takes just over an hour.
Figueres is a small city located just over an hour north of Barcelona by high-speed train, and a little longer by car. A day trip from Barcelona to Figueres is perfect for travellers who want to experience art and Catalan culture, and take in the beautiful scenery of Catalonia.
One of the most popular attractions in Figueres is the Teatre-Museu Dalí. Here, visitors can admire works by acclaimed surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and learn more about his life and career, housed in an impressive building designed by Dalí himself.
Another interesting place to visit in Figueres is the Castle of Sant Ferran, which was built in the 18th century as a defensive fortification against French occupation forces. Today, visitors can explore the castle grounds and marvel at its impressive architecture. The nearby Citadel Museum also offers an interesting look into the history of the castle and its many battles.
The city is also home to the Figueres Museum of Art, which showcases a range of modern works from local and international artists. Additionally, visitors can take in live music, theatre, and dance performances at the Figueres Municipal Theatre.
How to Get to Figueres by Train from Barcelona
There are two train stations in Figueres, Figueres-Vilafant which is the high-speed station and Figueras which is the slower regional train station. Figuras is closer to the centre of the town and to the Dali museum, but the journey can take up to an hour longer than the fast trains to Figueres-Vilafant.
If you decide to take the fast train, it’s best to book a ticket in advance on the Renfe train website.
Cava Tasting in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia
Sant Sadurni is in the heart of the Penedes Wine Region and home to some of the best Cava producers in Catalonia. Cava is the Catalan equivalent of champagne, but I actually prefer cava to champagne and love a glass of bubbles or two.
There are lots of caves or wine cellars to visit, including two of the most famous brands – Freixenet and Codorníu where you can take a wine tasting tour, and lots of smaller producers where you can go to sample some of their cava and have a meal as well. If you enjoy a barbecue, some cellars allow you to bring your own food to cook yourself on their barbecues, and you buy their cava to drink with your meal.
One of my favourites is Cava Jaume Giró i Giró where I’ve been with my friends to cook barbecues of calçots (spring onions) and botifarra (Catalan sausage) with several bottles of cava!
How to Get to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia by Train from Barcelona
Take the R4 line from Sants Station towards Sant Vicenç de Calders or Vilafranca del Penedes. The journey takes around 50 minutes, pre-booking is not required, you can buy your tickets from Sants Station.
The Best Day Trips from Barcelona by Car
An hour and a half northeast of Barcelona, this rugged coast is full of stunning beaches and cliffs. Spend the day exploring the many coves or take a boat out to view the coastline from the sea.
There are lots of places you can stop in Costa Brava, and a few where the trainline does reach, like Sant Pol de Mar and Calella. Heading further north to Blanes, a car is easier here so you can continue to follow the coast, if you’re confident with winding roads!
Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar are popular resorts just over an hour’s drive from Barcelona, both with beautiful beaches. You can also go hiking in the Massís de Cadiretes mountain preserve area nearby. One of my favourite places is Platja d’Aro, which has a long stretch of golden sand. It is quite touristy but to the north end of the beach there are quieter coves to discover, like Cala Cap Roig.
You could also combine some beach time with the city of Girona if you want to cram in as much as possible. Girona is about 40 minutes drive inland from Platja d’Aro. Most of the day tours to Girona also include some time exploring the coastal beaches.
Cadaqués is a beautiful and charming coastal town in the northern part of the Costa Brava region of Catalonia, perfect for a day trip from Barcelona by car. It’s a two-hour drive from Barcelona, so probably a bit too far to visit by public transport if you only have one day.
I’ve given Cadaqués it’s own day trip as it is a relatively long drive from Barcelona so you won’t have much time to stop off along the way unless it is a real whistle-stop tour. Cadaqués is a postcard-perfect port town, featuring winding cobbled streets lined with whitewashed buildings surrounding a stunning turquoise bay, all bathed in the warm Mediterranean sun.
It’s easy to picture yourself enjoying a leisurely stroll through the town, admiring its unique architecture and breathtaking views of the ocean. The town is especially known for its gorgeous beaches, making it the ideal spot to relax and soak up some sun.
If you’re looking for a bit more activity, there are plenty of outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking in Cadaqués that will give you a chance to explore the stunning scenery of this coastal paradise. You can also check out the town’s many art galleries, with works from some of Spain’s most renowned artists, or visit its historical monastery.
Cadaqués is also famous for being the home of Salvador Dalí, who lived in the town for many years in a waterfront house he designed and built. The house is now a museum, and a must-see when you come to Cadaqués.
Top Day Tours from Barcelona
Some things are best left to the professionals, so sit back and relax on one of these day tours from Barcelona:
Penedes Wine Region
Penedes is a great place to visit on a day trip from Barcelona, and even better with someone else driving! This famous wine region is the home of cava (Catalan sparkling wine) and you can visit some of the best wineries in Spain here to taste cava as well as red, white and rose wines.
Day tours from Barcelona to El Penedes usually include visits to a couple of wineries and a nice lunch, and Penedes is often combined with a visit to Montserrat so you can combine two of the best day trips from Barcelona into one!
You can find more wine tours from Barcelona in this article, but these are a few of my favourites:
3 Countries in One Day: Visit Andorra and France from Barcelona
This is a popular day tour from Barcelona mainly to tick off visiting Andorra and to say you’ve seen 3 countries in one day. Andorra is a long (4 hour) drive from Barcelona, and you won’t get much time in each place you visit along the way, but if you want to visit 3 countries in one day then this is the tour for you!