Barcelona is a vibrant city, full of life, culture, and history. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to forget that there are also plenty of amazing day trips from Barcelona.
As a family, we lived in Palamos, just 80 minutes north of Barcelona for several months as part of a home exchange. I can attest to the incredible beauty and diversity of Catalonia’s surrounding areas.
From picturesque coastal villages to medieval towns and breathtaking natural landscapes, there’s so much to explore on any of these day trips from Barcelona. We had a blast and made it a goal to discover somewhere new at least once each week.
Having had the chance to visit nearly all of these fascinating destinations, I’m excited to share my top picks for must-visit day trips from Barcelona. Whether you’re looking for stunning scenery, rich history, or surreal art, these day trips offer a perfect blend of culture, nature, and adventure.
Best day trips from Barcelona
Barcelona day trips map
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Montserrat – easy day trip from Barcelona
Montserrat is a stunning mountain range located just an hour west of Barcelona. The highlight of the range is the Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat, which is perched on a cliff 725 meters above sea level.
The monastery dates back to the 11th century. One of the most unique features of Montserrat is the Black Madonna, a statue of the Virgin Mary that is said to have healing powers.
The basilica where the Black Madonna is housed is a popular destination for pilgrims from around the world. In fact, it is one of many starting points for pilgrims heading to Santiago de Compostella.
Aside from the monastery, Montserrat offers plenty of hiking trails and breathtaking views. One of my favourite experiences was taking the funicular up to the top of the mountain for panoramic views of Catalonia. Reserve your funicular ride with museum entrance here.
The landscape is unlike anything you’ll find in Barcelona, with rugged cliffs, rocky peaks, and deep valleys. It’s the perfect place to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature.
If you don’t like to drive yourself, check out this top-rated tour to Montserrat from Barcelona that includes the funicular, a visit to the monastery, and an optional winery tour with lunch. Reserve your Montserrat tour here.
Sitges – a beach day trip from Barcelona
Sitges is a charming seaside town located just 40 minutes south of Barcelona. We liked it for its picturesque streets and its 17 different beaches to choose from, each with its own unique charm. One of my favourites is Platja de la Fragata, which is located in the heart of the town and is perfect for people-watching.
The town has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages, and you can still see remnants of its past in the form of old mansions, churches, and museums.
One cultural highlight of Sitges is the Cau Ferrat Museum, which was once the home of artist Santiago Rusiñol. The museum is filled with artwork, furniture, and antiques from the Modernist period, and it’s a fascinating glimpse into the life of a turn-of-the-century artist.
Another highlight is the church of Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla, which dates back to the 17th century and features stunning Baroque architecture.
With so many beach options, cultural attractions, and vibrant nightlife, some of our local friends (from our long-term home exchange in Palamos) regularly choose Sitges as their overnight getaway destination. For us, it was just one of many day trips from Barcelona.
Girona, the capital of the Girona province (where we had our long-term home exchange) is a medieval city located about an hour north of Barcelona.
It’s known for its ancient city walls, Gothic architecture, and colourful houses that line the Onyar River. The city has a rich history dating back over 2,000 years, and you can still see remnants of its past in the form of Roman ruins, Jewish heritage sites, and medieval cathedrals.
For us, the must-see highlights are the 11th-century Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona (a stunning example of Catalan Gothic architecture) and the 12th-century Arab Baths built by the Moors.
Aside from the cultural attractions, Girona is known for its food and food markets, such as the Mercat del Lleó,. The city is home to some of the best restaurants in Catalonia, and you can find everything from traditional Catalan cuisine to fusion dishes.
If you don’t want to drive, check out this top-rated full-day trip from Barcelona that visits beautiful Girona and other highlights in Costa Brava. Reserve your full-day tour here.
Tarragona is a coastal city located about an hour and a half south of Barcelona. The city was once the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Citerior and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tarragona is known for its ancient Roman ruins, medieval architecture, and beautiful beaches.
One of the must-see highlights in Tarragona is the Roman Amphitheater. The amphitheater dates back to the 2nd century and could hold up to 14,000 spectators.
Another highlight is the Cathedral of Tarragona, which was built in the 12th century and is a beautiful example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
And, as the city has over 15 kilometers of coastline, with plenty of sandy beaches and hidden coves to explore, it is also well known for its beaches.
Palamos – a charming fishing village where we used to live
Palamos is a small fishing town located on the Costa Brava, about an hour and a half northeast of Barcelona. While it is one of the best day trips from Barcelona for many, for us it was home.
It’s known for its beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, and quaint old town (where we lived). One of the highlights of Palamos is its long beach promenade, which we walked on most days to enjoy the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
If you are headed to Palamos, try to book a tour of the daily fish auction in advance. It was a fascinating add-on to the local fishing museum and one which we highly recommend.
For several months, we were able to live like locals and fully immerse ourselves in the culture. One of my favorite things to do was to visit the local market and buy fresh produce, breads, and seafood to cook for dinner. The town has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and I enjoyed exploring the small streets and discovering hidden gems.
Aside from the beaches and food, Palamos is also a great destination for outdoor activities. We enjoyed hiking and cycling trails in the surrounding hills, as well as water sports such as kayaking, SCUBA diving (with professionals), and boating with friends. Reserve your SCUBA Discovery session here.
Zaragoza is a city located in the northeastern region of Aragon, about three hours west of Barcelona. While it’s a bit far for a day trip from Barcelona, it is really a not to be missed destination.
The city has a rich history and is home to many historic buildings and monuments offering a unique blend of Spanish and Islamic culture and is definitely worth a visit.
One of the must-see highlights in Zaragoza is the Basilica del Pilar. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain. Another highlight is the Aljafería Palace, which was built in the 11th century and is a beautiful example of Islamic architecture.
Aside from the historic attractions, Zaragoza, like so many Spanish cities, is also known for its food and wine. The city has a thriving food scene, with plenty of local restaurants and bars serving traditional Aragonese cuisine. One of the must-try dishes is migas, a hearty dish made with stale bread chunks, meat, and sometimes vegetables. I promise it tastes a lot better than I just made it sound.
Located in the province of Girona, Besalú is a small town known for its medieval architecture and stunning views of the Pyrenees.
The town is home to a 12th-century Romanesque bridge, a Jewish quarter, and a castle that dates back to the 10th century.
Visitors can explore the town’s narrow streets, visit its museums and art galleries, or simply enjoy the beautiful scenery. Besalú is located about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Barcelona by car and west of the line of more coastal medieval cities that we visited on a different day trip from Barcelona.
Located in the heart of Catalonia, Vic is a charming town known for its historic architecture, local cuisine, and lively markets.
You’ll want to explore the town’s eclectic cathedral with sections built in Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassic architectural styles. Also, visit the Plaça Major, and sample local delicacies like fuet sausage and the delicious pastry called coca de vidre.
Vic is also home to a popular market that takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays, where visitors can browse local handicrafts, clothing, and food products. While the market was fabulous, to be completely honest, it wasn’t any better than the local big market on Tuesdays in Palamos.
Vic is located about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Barcelona by car.
Figueres – home to Salvador Dalí
Figueres is a charming town located in the province of Girona, known for its rich history and connection to the famous Spanish surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí.
Figueres is home to the Dalí Theatre-Museum, a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the life and work of this iconic artist. It’s also home to his tomb.
The museum houses an extensive collection of Dalí’s paintings, sculptures, and other works, as well as a wide range of artifacts from his personal life. Whether a fan of Dali or not, this place is fascinating, one surprise after the next. Reserve your skip-the-line entry ticket to Dalí Museum.
In addition to the museum, we visited the Salvador Dalí House, where the artist lived with his wife, Gala, from 1930 to 1982, and the church where he was baptized.
Aside from its connection to Salvador Dalí, Figueres is also home to a number of other attractions, including the Sant Ferran Castle, a large military fortress that was once one of the largest in Europe, and the Church of San Pedro, a beautiful Gothic-style church that dates back to the 14th century.
Figueres is located approximately 1.5 hours from Barcelona by car, but it is well worth the journey for anyone interested in art, history, or simply exploring new destinations. If you prefer doing it with a tour, this top-rated option from Barcelona also includes Girona. Reserve your Figueres and Girona tour here.
Tips for taking day trips from Barcelona
- Leave early in the morning to avoid traffic and make the most of your day trip from Barcelona. As a bonus, many attractions also tend to be less crowded in the morning.
- Dress for the weather, bring layers and wear comfortable walking shoes.
- If you are a foodie, plan for two-hour lunches, otherwise, consider bringing snacks. Either way, we always carry plenty of water.
- Don’t forget your camera.
- Check for events and festivals, as you will either want to attend or avoid the area on the day of the festival.
- We love hiring private guides who can customize our trip to our needs. Our go-to is always Tours by Locals. Check out these Tours By Local guides specializing in day trips from Barcelona
- Don’t forget also to take time to enjoy the city and check out some of the free things to do in Barcelona
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