Day Trips From Barcelona

Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres, Spain
Karoly Lorentey/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The region of Catalonia, of which Barcelona is the capital, is a rich region with the Pyrenees in the north and the Costa Blanca coast to the south-east. Most of the region is reachable on a day trip from Barcelona.

Top Day Trips

Not only are the trips below the best to take from Barcelona, but they are also the closest and easiest (in particular, the first three are).

  • For nature: The 'serrated mountain' of Montserrat is great for hiking, and there's a historic monastery to see there too.
  • For culture: The Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres is art at its most accessible.
  • For the beach: Sitges is the nearest popular beach outside of Barcelona.
  • For wine: Vilafranca del Penedes and the surrounding area is known for its red wine and cava.
  • For the bucket list: Visit three countries in one day: Spain, France, and Andorra.

Breathtaking Scenery and Outdoor Activities

If cities are cities to you and you're more interested in the Catalan countryside, you have some excellent options right on your doorstep.

  • Montserrat: There is no excuse not to visit the Montserrat mountain, close enough to the city to get to on an extension of the Barcelona Metro or take a half-day tour. 
    Where? 60km north-west of Barcelona, easily reachable by local public transport.
    Combine with? Colonia Guell is on the same train line as Montserrat.
  • Montseny: Or visit the excellent hiking territory of Montseny with ancient walls and wells to break up the walks. While a little further afield are the Pyrenees
    Where? 
    About an hour's drive north of Barcelona.
    Where? The nearest point is around two hours drive north of Barcelona.

    Day Trips by High-Speed Train

    The high-speed AVE train from Barcelona to Girona and Figueres has made some of these day trips a lot easier than they used to be.  

    • Dali Museum in Figueres: Catalonia's other gift to the world of art and architecture is Salvador Dali, whose Museum in Figueres (sometimes spelled 'Figueras') is one of the most enjoyable art museums in the world - perfect for taking kids and art philistines to. 
      Where? 150km north-east of Barcelona. The high-speed AVE train (it's the route from Barcelona to Paris), makes this trip a lot easier than it used to be. Read more about how to get from Barcelona to Figueres.
      Combine With? Girona is nearby.
    • Barcelona to Madrid: Yes, you can visit the Spanish capital from Barcelona! Though, of course, a day is not enough in Spain's biggest city, you can get a surprising amount done, especially considering the location of the train station.
      Where? Take the high-speed train from Sants station in Barcelona to Atocha in Madrid. Though you'll spend five hours on the train if you go there and back in a day, the fact that the train dropping you off across the road from the Reina Sofia Museum (home to Spain's most famous modern art, including Picasso's masterpiece, the Guernica) and minutes from the Prado Museum, Spain's most famous art gallery, means you can actually get a lot out of a day trip to Madrid.

    Wine Tours

    There are several wine-producing regions in Catalonia. You can take tours of the Penedes wine region and sample both reds and cava (Spanish sparkling white wine) or take a longer trip to visit Priorat.

    • Vilafranca del Penedes: Try both the local red wines and the internationally renowned Cava sparkling whites.
      Where? About an hour's drive or train west of Barcelona.

    Beaches Near Barcelona

    • Costa Brava: Visit the medieval town of Tossa del Mar.
      Where? The stretch of coastline north-east of Barcelona.
    • Sitges: One of the most popular beach towns close to Barcelona, Sitges is also a famous gay resort. The carnival here is among the most flamboyant in the country.
      Where? A 30-minute train ride south-west of Barcelona.  
      Guided tour? As Sitges is mainly a beach town, a full-day 'guided' tour is unnecessary.
      Combine with? Most tours include Sitges as part of another tour.

    Historic Towns and Cities Nearby

    If Madrid is too much for one day there are other cities in and around Catalonia.

    • Girona: Another popular trip is to Girona, known for its old Jewish quarter and attractive riverside buildings.
      Where? 120km north-east of Barcelona, on the way to Figueres.
      Combine with? Girona is usually visited with the Dali Museum in Figueres.
    • Tarragona: Take a trip from Barcelona to Tarragona. The city of Tarragona has some of the best Roman ruins in Spain, regular street markets and the Balcon del Mediterraneo for views out to sea. It is easy to take this trip by yourself or go on a guided tour.
      Where? 50 minutes by train south-west of Barcelona, close to Reus airport.
      Combine with? Tarragona is often visited with the beach town of Sitges.
    • Besalú, Tavertet, Rupit: A collection of small villages that date back to medieval times. Not worth visiting just one of them, but an interesting day trip when done together.

      Where? About 130km north-east of Barcelona, just past Girona, a little to the west of Figueres and close to the French border.

    Art and Architecture

    • Colonia Guell: After visiting Gaudi' Sagrada Familia, the unfinished basilica in central Barcelona, and his other works in the city complete your Gaudi experience with a visit to the Colonia Guell, the (again unfinished) Gaudi church in a suburb of Barcelona.
      Where? On the way towards Montserrat, just north-west of Barcelona. 
      Combine with? Colonia Guell is on the same train line as Montserrat.
    • Reus:  Most famous for its airport, Reus is also worth visiting for two reasons: it is the birthplace of Gaudi and the modernist art movement in general, as well as being the town that sparked the vermut (Spanish vermouth) revival.
      Where? Around 50 minutes south-west of Barcelona, near Tarragona.