There's a reason why Barcelona is one of the top holiday destinations in all of Europe. The incredible and unique Gaudi architecture, fun beaches, a vibrant cultural scene and amazing food make it a no-brainer for many people looking for an affordable stint in the Spanish sun. But did you know Barcelona isn't the only touristic jewel in Catalonia's crown? There are many, many interesting locations to explore a short journey away from Barcelona that are well worth the voyage if you're planning an extended stay. This is a handy list of our favorite off-the-beaten-path day trips from Barcelona, for you adventurous souls looking for new experiences to write home about.
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A throwback to the 19th-century industrial revolution, Colonia Guell was built as living accommodations for the large community of factory workers that lived there at the turn of the century. As such, Guell might be of interest to history buffs and tourists looking for a glimpse into Spanish life during that time period. Go to the official Colonia Guell website for information on its industrial museum.
Of course, our man Gaudi was also on hand in Guell, and more of his breathtaking architecture is on display there. You can even visit a Gaudi crypt!
Colonia Guell is easily accessible from Barcelona by train. It leaves from the Espanya metro stop, in the same direction as Montserrat, so look for FGC trains leaving in that direction. You can book a rail journey in advance here.
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Most travelers have only heard of the tiny town of Reus because of its Barcelona satellite airport, but it has so much more to offer than a shuttle commute to its bigger neighboring city. First of all, it's the birthplace of Antoni Gaudi, the famous modernist architect that gives Barcelona much of its unique cityscape. You can view more modernist buildings in Reus without succumbing to the throngs of tourists at many of the Barcelona sites.
If you fancy a drink or three, there's a Vermouth Museum, but if you're traveling with your family, check out the PortAventura theme park!
Since Reus has its own airport, you can easily just fly directly and call it a day. Transportation to and from Barcelona can be a little tricky, as buses (run by Hispanico Igualadina) take two hours and may be infrequent. We recommend spending the night in Reus to get the full experience before heading back to Barcelona.
Of course, you can always rent a car and be the master of your own destiny.
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Montseny is a small (and we mean small—population 332) village located in Catalonia's Vallès Oriental. Surrounded by mountains and lush greenery, its known for its hiking trails. You can book a private tour of the landscape, or the more outdoorsy of you can grab a rucksack, lace up your boots and hit the trail.
Did we mention Montseny was small? The only way to get there is by car.
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Besalú, Tavertet and Rupit
Besalú, Tavertet and Rupit are a collection of small villages that date back to medieval times. Might not be worth visiting just one of them, so take an interesting day trip and do them all together. You can take a Medieval Villages Tour from Barcelona if you feel so inclined.
About 130km north-east of Barcelona, just past Girona, a little to the west of Figueres and close to the French border.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Olot & Banyoles
Olot's biggest lure is its volcanic craters, which are among the best preserved in Europe. There is a church in one of the craters, from which there is a beautiful view (you can see as far as Andorra!).
There is a direct bus from Barcelona but it takes over two hours, so you're better off going via Girona. There is a bus from the Girona bus station that goes to Olot via Banyoles and Besalú, two towns which are also worth seeing while you're at it. For the bus timetable, see Teisa Bus website (click on "Horaris" to bring up a list of timetables).
Driving from the center of Barcelona takes two hours, so feel free to rent a car as well.