Barcelona is one of the best destinations in Spain and a top destination for worldwide travelers of every type. From gap year backpackers to retirees, families, singles, art lovers, food lovers – there’s something for everyone. The city is clean, the public transport is great and it’s easy to navigate. There are so many Barcelona attractions, but to top them off, you should consider a day trip from Barcelona. Day trips are a great way to enhance your itinerary, so we always include an extra day for nearby attractions. And there are so many great day trips from Barcelona.
From beaches to mountains to roman ruins, the city serves up day trip options like papas fritas at a tapas bar. We have our favorites, but wanted to get travel tips from other travel influencers in the form of Barcelona day trip ideas. We worked together to bring you a menu of the hottest day trips from Barcelona that you just can’t skip!
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How to plan day trips from Barcelona
Before we jump into the awesome list of Barcelona day trips – think about how you want to visit these locations, for how long, how you’ll get there and of course, the costs.
Some day trip destinations can be done in a half day while others will be full day trips or could be better suited for an overnight stay added to your trip. However long you’ll need, planning ahead will serve you well.
Half and Full day tours from Barcelona
There are a ton of half and full day tour options from Barcelona. While you may not need 4 or 8 hours in each location, some may require a decent amount of travel time. Be conscious of that as you plan your schedule.
Some half and full day tour can be organized and ran for you to make things easy and convenient. A group or private tour eliminates any fear of having to navigate a foreign country. Many even pick you up at your hotel and drop you off after the tour.
If you’re wary of exploring an unfamiliar environment and having to fend for yourself (possibly in another language) than this is a good option for you – especially if you have the budget to pay for a group or private tour.
We book these types of tours when it’s not a simple day trip, English isn’t widely spoken or we just want the luxury of having a guide to give us details about the destination.
Our go-to booking platform is GetYourGuide. One reason is that they use local travel and touring companies, but you have the benefits and service of dealing with a large company. If you need to reach their service department from anywhere in the world, it’s a simple phone call and you’re connected (even outside the hours of the local agency).
With GYG you also get an instant booking confirmation online and can use your phone to download and display your tickets.
They also have a no-charge cancellation policy on ALL of their tours if you change your mind and cancel up to 24 hours in advance. We love this because it lets us plan an itinerary, make our tour, attraction and excursion bookings and we can decide the day before if we want to carry out our plan or make a change.
Planning your own day trip from Barcelona
For the unafraid traveler, there are tons of Barcelona day trips that you can plan for yourself!
As mentioned, Barcelona public transport is world-class and it’s super easy to navigate using Google maps or any other travel navigation tool.
Your options for public transportation are usually simple and signs in Barcelona and the region are almost always in multiple languages which makes self-guided day trips a breeze.
You can also plan ahead and book a car hire (rental car). You’ll find the highways in Spain are well-maintained and driving is easy. For American travelers, be aware that you may have trouble finding an automatic vehicle and be prepared to pay extra.
Overnight trips from Barcelona
Sometimes day turns into night – okay, I guess that happens everyday – but you know what we mean. Sometimes you go someplace outside of Barcelona, have a few glasses of sangria and miss the train back to the city or just shouldn’t drive. Plan ahead and make your Barcelona day trip a Barcelona overnight trip.
It’s relatively inexpensive to find lodging in Spain compared to many other destinations in Europe – take advantage. You’ll probably even find a better rate in many of these destinations near Barcelona, but outside of the city.
Search for great hotels in the cities you plan to visit and enjoy the destination stress-free.
Top Day Trips from Barcelona
Now for the fun stuff – the reason you clicked on this link to begin with. Our list of the top day trips from Barcelona!!! Browse these great selections and make your trip even better by seeing what lies beyond the city.
Andorra is one of the coolest day trips I have even been on. I visited Barcelona last summer with a friend and we took a bus to the tiny micro-nation for a day.
It’s located in the mountains between Spain and France and the drive alone is reason to visit the quaint hamlet. High in the Pyrenees Mountains, the location is stunning. There are peaks in every direction and the skiing is fantastic in the winter. We visited in August, but still loved the trip.
Andorra has tax-free shopping, so we stocked up on retail items that would have included VAT elsewhere. We spent the day in the capital, Andorra la Vella and browsed the streets of boutiques.
We also walked around the old quarter of the city, Barri Antic. There we ate lunch and checked out the Santa Coloma Church, built in the 8th century. We also took in the beautiful views from Casa de la Vall, the headquarters of Andorra’s governing council.
All in all, the trip from Barcelona is about 2.5 hours using public transport. The ride is picturesque and so is the city. Be careful to turn off your phone data, even if you have an EU-based carrier. You will be on roaming in Andorra and that can cost you.
It is easy to explore Baga in a day and add it to an existing Barcelona itinerary. Barcelona to Baga is only 1.25 hours one way, making it perfect for a day trip.
In Baga, wander through the old lanes of Placa Galceran de Pinos. These lanes are nowhere close to the Gothic quarter or Gaudi’s architecture. Baga presents a different side of Spain.
Founded in the 9th century, Baga sits 785 meters above sea level, thus welcoming you to amazing mountain views, rivers, fields and more.
St. Esteve de Baga is a popular stop in Baga, which is a 14th-century church.
Baga’s history can be traced back to the Knights Templar, and its central square pays homage to its leader and its alliance with the French. The French Pyrenees can be reached within an hour from Baga.
Baga is home to 2200 residents, but this little town explodes during winters, as tourists hit the Pyrenees and Parc Naturel de Cadi-Moixero for winter sports. Baga is an affordable spot for a night’s stay. Winter Solstice is also celebrated in a grand way on Christmas Eve in Baga.
If you are heading to Baga in other months, you will be mesmerized by the natural landscape and small-town charm.
The romantic coastal town of Cadaqués sits on the rugged Costa Brava, about 170 kilometers north of Barcelona. Its whitewashed homes, brightly-colored doors, and labyrinthine lanes give visitors a delightful surprise at every street corner. It’s also a former fishing town that’s attracted famous artists like Dali, Matisse, and Picasso, who’ve retreated here to relax near the calm blue waters.
The old quarter is small, so Cadaques is best explored on foot. Its most picturesque feature is the Gothic church, Església de Santa María, which sits atop a small hill overlooking the Bay of Cadaques. The boardwalk along the waterfront also makes for a pleasant stroll, or to have a meal or drink at one of the restaurant terraces. Near Cadaques is Dali’s old home in the neighboring village of Portlligat, where he lived until the death of his wife, Gala, in 1982. The Salvador Dali House-Museum is about a 15-minute walk from Cadaques. Be sure to make reservations in advance.
The quickest and easiest way to get to Cadaques from Barcelona is via car, which takes about two hours and 15 minutes. However, you can catch a bus from the Barcelona Nord station directly to Cadaques Estació, which takes about three hours.
Cardona is a cute small town located 90km north-west of Barcelona, not far from the city of Manresa. Cardona makes a nice day trip from Barcelona to visit its medieval center, with its stone architecture, and winding alleys. However, Cardona is best known for its salt mountains, 120m high but 2 km deep which once hosted one of the most important salt mines in the world. The salt mines are not working anymore but they can be visited by the public through a guided visit.
From outside, the salt mountains are surprising, plunging the visitor into a winter setting whilst the rest of the decoration is bright and warm. But the real show happens deep down in the salt mines, a unique chance to see the different stages of salt formation only possible in three mountains in the whole world.
The trail reserved for tourists sinks only at 86 meters but there are other galleries that go down to 1000 meters deep. On the way, salt walls, grottoes, stalactites and stalagmites which sometimes design beautiful forms. Wearing a helmet is compulsory to avoid accidents in case some stalactites fall.
Back to the surface don’t miss to visit Cardona’s imposing castle, which was in the Middle Ages home to the Lords of Cardona, and the Collegiate Church of Sant Vicenç, a jewel of Catalan Lombard Romanesque architecture.
The best way to get to Cardona from Barcelona is by car. There’s also a public bus leaving from Barcelona Sants (2 hrs) four times a day.
Elisa from France Bucket List
A popular tourist destination, there is more to Barcelona than its iconic gothic, medieval, and modernist architecture. It is also the gateway to the coastline of Costa Brava which stretches between Barcelona and France. Filled with spectacular mountain ranges, charming old towns, and stunning beaches, this region is one of the most romantic places in Spain.
Costa Brava is a large area. One day is not enough to explore the entire coast, so perhaps the best option for a day trip from Barcelona is Girona with its serene coves white powdery beach and azure water. Take a walk along the stretch of Playas Calella or explore the small town of Calella de Palafrugell, a small region of Bajo Ampurdián, that provides a magical experience to all its visitors. Do not miss the botanical garden and the castle of Cap Roig. If you time your visit, during the Girona Flower Festival which usually takes place in May, then you will be walking through a fairytale town decorated with colorful blooms.
The best way to explore Costa Brava is by private transport as public bus routes do not really cover all areas and tend to make journeys longer than it should be. It would also be great to discover new attractions along the way. From Barcelona, one can also take the metro to Sants Station, where one can catch a train to Girona for less than 9EU.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya
Situated next to the town of Montmeló, approximately 15 miles northwest of central Barcelona, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is one of the best-known motor racing circuits in Europe. The circuit has been hosting the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix since 1991 and is also the home of the Catalan MotoGP and several other major motorsport events.
A natural amphitheater, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya offers excellent spectating on race weekends (check the calendar here) and reasonable ticket prices. You can also take a guided tour of the circuit on most Sundays throughout the year. Tours cost around €10 and take approximately 1 hour, including visits to the pit garages, media centre, podium, paddock, race control and the briefing room. For a truly unforgettable experience, you can also get behind the wheel of select high-performance cars at the circuit, including models from Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini, for as little as €99 per lap.
Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has ample parking and is situated close to several motorways; the drive from downtown Barcelona normally takes around 30 minutes. You can also take the Renfe R2 train from Barcelona to Montmeló, which is close to the track.
If you’re an art lover, there’s a lot to see in Barcelona, but one of the best museums is found outside of the city. Include a day trip from Barcelona to Figueres to see the Dali Museum.
Figueres is located about 90 minutes from Barcelona by train or bus. It’s the hometown of Salvador Dalí and filled with his spirit. You can visit his home and the museum of his works, which is probably the most unique museum I have ever toured. Just like the Gaudi houses in Barcelona, the museum itself is a work of art.
I highly recommend pre-booking your tickets to reserve a time slot. If you just show up, you run a chance of not even getting inside or waiting hours to be admitted. Also consider getting a guided tour. While there is a good English audio guide, we booked a human guide who was able to help us navigate the crowds and offer background on the art, artist and history behind the exhibits. It really made a difference and tied the art together with our experience in Spain.
Besides the Salvador Dalí Museum, there is a cute strip of shops and restaurants on the street that leads you from the train station to the Dali House. Make sure to do some window shopping or take your time and stop for a bite to eat or coffee.
Montserrat is one of the most popular say trips from Barcelona and you’ll know why once you see it for yourself. The views from Montserrat are stunning and the trip there gives you a chance to peer into the Spanish countryside.
Montserrat translates to ”saw mountain” in Catalan and it’s a fitting name for the jagged terrain. The mountain peaks are truly beautiful and so is the Benedictine abbey that you can visit there. Highlights of Montserrat also include riding the cable car up the majestic mountains.
There is a local market where villagers sell handmade items and foods. This natural wonder is a fantastic addition to a trip to Barcelona, especially if you’re into hiking and nature. It takes about 90 minutes to reach Montserrat by bus or train and a little less if you drive yourself. Using public transportation or a tour is the best way to get there though. That’s because you can get the best views without having to watch the road.
Sant Cugat del Vallès
Sitges is the kind of day trip where you’ll want to book a room and spend the night. In fact, it’s great for a destination all on it’s own.
Sitges is a beautiful coastal town about 45 minutes south of Barcelona. It’s easily reached by train or bus from downtown Barcelona or the airport.
The food scene is simply delicious with local tapas restaurants serving up the freshest seafood you can find. Sitges is known for the gorgeous ocean front cathedral and stunning beaches. It also has a lively LGBT nightlife and is a popular gay beach holiday destination. There are streets of vibrant bars and restaurants and great nightclubs and drag shows.
Whether this is your destination or one of your day trips from Barcelona – pay a visit to Sitges for beautiful beaches, friendly locals, delicious food and a great nightlife scene.
Situated just along the coast from Barcelona and around an hour and 15 minutes journey by train is Tarragona.
Brimming with plenty of history from its time as a roman colony back in the early 2nd century, this city blends Roman and Gothic architecture in a way that I’ve never experienced before.
One of the main attractions of the town has to be the ancient Amphitheatre which backs onto the sea and has been preserved incredibly given its age.
If Roman history isn’t really your thing then Tarragona offers plenty of other things to do, including some great eateries, local shopping and some beautiful beaches.
We luckily timed our visit at the time of one of the biggest events in the local calendar, the fireworks display.
Held in the first week of July, this is one of the most unique events that I’ve ever attended and has firework displays from six handpicked companies competing for the coveted prize of being chosen for the display to be shown at the biggest festival in the year, the Santa Tecla Festival.
We would highly recommend Tarragona for a great day out and some beautiful scenery on the train journey along the coast if you’re thinking of escaping the bustle of Barcelona.
Oh and don’t forget to check out the Castell (human tower) monument in the centre of the main shopping area which pays homage to the history of the competition that originated in Tarragona over 300 years ago.
by Peter and Lauren of MySoCalledLife.co.uk
Tossa de Mar
- Check out the panoramic view at the Far de Tossa
- Walk on the medieval walls of the Tossa de Mar Castle (Castell de Tossa de Mar)
- Go back in history by visiting the many monuments in the city: Torre de Can Magi, the Villa romana dels Ametllers
- Spend the afternoon on the many beaches and jaw-dropping caves on the coast
- 1h30 by car: take the C-32 along the Costa Brava
- 2h15 by bus: get a bus from Barcelona Airport to Tossa de Mar for $35 roundtrip