Sightseeing around Barcelona

In Barcelona, whether you stay for a long weekend, a week or even a month, you won’t be bored for a moment. But outside the Catalan capital, there are also plenty of highlights to discover.

Art lovers, nature lovers, beach lovers and wine lovers take note: the wide area offers something for everyone. Perfect for one or more day trips during your city break to Barcelona. I have listed the most popular highlights, but also the lesser-known sights outside Barcelona for you. So make your choice and have fun during your day trip!

1. Climb the surreal mountain of Montserrat

the mountain of Montserrat

About fifty kilometers inland from Barcelona is the spectacular rock formation Montserrat. Here you can visit the monastery and do some fantastic hiking and/or climbing. Definitely recommended for a day trip.

Read here everything you need to know about Montserrat, how to get there and what there is to do.

2. Visit burgundian Girona

The city of Girona

About an hour’s drive from Barcelona lies the town of Girona, known to most only for its nearby low-cost airport, but more than worth a visit. Girona is small but fine, thoroughly Catalan and is sure to delight day-trippers. A medieval center with a historic Jewish quarter, the hanging houses over the Onyar River that earned the town the nickname “Catalan Florence,” views as far as the Pyrenees and a good film museum. Reachable by train from Barcelona or by car. A visit to Girona is also great to combine with the Dalí Museum. Tickets including transportation from Barcelona for a tour of the Dalí Museum and through Girona can be booked.

3. Get a breath of fresh air in the charming seaside town of Sitges

Sitges town at beach near Barcelona

Just half an hour by train south of Barcelona lies the delightful seaside resort of Sitges, truly a must for those who want to get out of the city for a day to get a breath of fresh air by the sea. Charming, small and cozy, that’s Sitges in a nutshell. And for fans of the alcoholic beverage rum, the Casa Bacardí is also located here.

4. Admire the fantastic Teatre-Museu Dalí

Dali museum Figueres day trip Barcelona

In 1974, the theater that Salvador Dalí himself transformed into a museum opened to the public. Both inside and out, it is a must-visit for art-seekers. The Teatre-Museu Dalí is one of the most popular attractions in all of Spain.

5. Admire Gaudí’s crypt at Colònia Güell

Gaudí’s crypte in Colònia Güell Barcelona

Antoni Gaudí designed the crypt in the former workers’ colony of Colònia Güell. By train from Plaça Espanya, it takes about twenty minutes to get here. The beautiful crypt is a modernist gem, but the rest of the former colony is also well worth seeing.

6. Meet the world of a genius: Gaudí Centre

Gaudí enthusiasts can indulge in Barcelona, but they really should not skip a visit to the birthplace of Barcelona’s house architect. Modernism also had a chance to flourish in the town of Reus due to the strong economic growth at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.

Like Barcelona, Reus has a modernist route along a fascinating set of modernist buildings, most of which are by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The central plaza, Plaça del Mercadal, is home to the Gaudí Centre. This modern museum with an interactive cinema and tactile replicas gives you a glimpse into the genius mind of the innovative architect.

Accessible by train or by car from Barcelona.

Click here for more information or to book directly

7. Wine tasting in Vilafranca del Penedès

wine tasting barcelona romantic

For a charming town in the Catalan hinterland, you’re in the wrong place. But those who love wine will feel like a fish in water. Vilafranca del Penedès is surrounded by rolling hills full of vineyards. Vilafranca is the capital of the Penedès wine region, one of the most important wine regions in all of Spain. The region has more than four thousand vineyards and is home to the Catalan version of French champagne: cava. The very first vineyards in the region were established by the Romans. Native grape varieties you may encounter are xarel-lo, macabeo, parellada, tempranillo, garnacha, cariñena and monastrell.

What is special are the modernist bodegas found in the area. In the nineteenth century, winegrowers put their heads together and had imposing bodegas built by modernist master builders.

Visit the Museu de les Cultures del Vi de Catalunya wine, where you will learn about Catalan wine culture. Or visit the world-famous bodegas of winemaker Torres, one of the area’s most famous wine producers. Several times Torres was named the best bodega in all of Spain. During a tour of the company you will learn all about the producer. Of course, the tour ends with a wine tasting.

Small-scale is also possible: the organic bodega Parés Baltà is definitely worth a visit. Here you do need to make reservations in advance. Unfortunately it is difficult to reach by public transport. But in and around Vilafranca del Penedès there are also dozens of smaller bodegas you can visit.

8. Bubbles in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

The Penedès wine region is also home to the cava capital of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. About 90 percent of all cava from Spain comes from here. During a visit to the modern museum La Fassina, you will learn more about Catalan champagne. Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is also home to the well-known cava producers Freixenet and Codorníu. The most famous producer for years has been Freixenet, with a little train you visit the stored bottles of cava underground. Less commercial and mass tourism is the bodega of Codorníu, also a well-known producer, which has a modernist look. Unfortunately it is poorly accessible by public transport.

You can travel by train the Rodalies to the town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, but that won’t get you to the bodegas. For a day trip, it is advisable to rent a car or book a special wine tour to the area.

9. Go on an adventure at PortAventura

port andura roller cost Barcelona

The best-visited water park in Spain is PortAventura, over an hour away by train south. The number of attractions is so large that it is impossible to do everything in one day. The park consists of six themed areas: the Mediterranean, the Far East, Mexico, China, Polynesia and Sesame Street. For swimming, head to the Costa Caribe Aquatic Park. Also get on Europe’s tallest roller coaster and the superfast hypercoaster.

By train (Renfe towards Tortosa) you can get off at Portaventura station. You can buy a combined train/access ticket at the Barcelona station.

10. Visit Catalonia in miniature: Catalunya en Miniatura

In Torrelles de Llobregat you will find the Madurodam of Catalonia. All the most important Catalan structures, from the Sagrada Família to the Camp Nou soccer stadium, as well as the sights outside Barcelona, are found here on a scale of 1:25.

It is the only place in the world where all the works of architect Antoni Gaudí can be found in miniature form. You start the route in the province of Girona and end in the province of Lleida. Along the way, you will pass 150 different scale models, blended into the Catalan landscape.

Those who are adventurous can combine their visit to the park with one of the circuits in the so-called Bosc Animat, where you can rope bridge, climb and abseil. The forest is part of the miniature park. There are courses for toddlers as well as for adults.

11. Shopping at La Roca Village

la roca village Gucci store Barcelona

Shop till you drop. It’s possible in La Roca Village, about an hour’s drive from town. Here you’ll find stores from more than a hundred different Spanish and international brands offering prices with discounts of up to 60 percent. The shops are housed in a Catalan-style village inspired by late 19th century modernism.

12. The Salt Mountain of Cardona – Cardona

Salt Mountain of Cardona

The Salt Mountain in Cardona is a unique natural phenomenon a good hour’s drive from Barcelona. At 86 meters deep here you will enjoy a labyrinth of galleries with stalagmites and stalagtites in whimsical shapes and beautiful colors.

13. Masia Freixa – Terrassa

Masia Freixa - Terrassa barcelona

Masia Freixa is the modernist jewel of Terrassa, not far from Barcelona. The building dates from the early 20th century and was designed by Lluís Muncunill who was inspired by Gaudí. By the way, it is not the only modernist work in town. Ask at the tourism office (located in Masia Freixa) for directions.

Also in Terrassa is the spectacular MNACTEC science and technology museum, housed in an old textile factory. It was also designed by Lluís Muncunill.

14. Congost de Mont-Rebei

Congost de Mont-Rebei barcelona hike

This fantastic hike is located a few hours drive from Barcelona in the province of Lleída. You will walk through a beautiful gorge while enjoying spectacular views.

15. Banyoles

Banyoles barcelona largest lake

Lake Banyoles, not far from Girona, is the largest lake in Catalonia, with a circumference of 6 kilometers. Around the lake are unusual bathing houses and fishermen’s huts. You can boat, bike or take a walk there.

16. Monastery of Poblet (and that of Sant Cugat)

Monastery of Poblet (and that of Sant Cugat) barcelona monastery catalonia

The Monasterio de Santa María de Poblet is perhaps the most beautiful monastery preserved in Catalonia. Founded in the 12th century, it was for a time the largest inhabited Cistercian complex in Europe. Visitable only on a guided tour, as it is still inhabited.

Closer to home in Sant Cugat is also a beautiful monastery, which has been here since at least the 9th century (but perhaps even earlier). The former Benedictine monastery today houses the municipal museum.

17. Camí de Ronda

camins de ronda barcelona

The so-called camins de ronda (caminos de ronda) were once the paths used to keep an eye on the sea and the coast. The hiking trails can be found all along the coast of Catalonia. For a day trip, for example, choose the route between Lloret de Mar and Blanes.

18. Vic and the Sau reservoir

Vic is also called the ‘navel of Catalonia’. Explore its cozy center, go to the market and combine your visit with the Sau reservoir. From the parador of Vic-Sau you have a fantastic view of this lake.

19. Sant Joan Despí

So close to Barcelona and yet still relatively unknown: if you know modernist Barcelona by now, go to Sant Joan Despí. Here you can walk a beautiful route along the works of Jujol, who also collaborated with Antoni Gaudí.

20. Buddhist monastery Sakya Tashi Ling

Buddhist monastery Sakya Tashi Ling barcelona Garraf nature reserve

In the middle of the beautiful Garraf nature reserve south of Barcelona, there is a Buddhist monastery where you can take a guided tour or stay overnight during a retreat. An extraordinary experience.

21. Caves Can Riera – Torrellas de Llobregat

Less than a half-hour drive from Barcelona you will find this spectacular cave landscape. Unfortunately, these caves are closed, because it became too crowded partly due to attention on social media. But hopefully this will change in the future, because this is so cool. Keep an eye on it!

22. Tarragona

Tarragona second largest city in catalonia

Tarragona is the second largest city in Catalonia and, like Barcelona, is located on the Mediterranean Sea, but a bit further south. The city is known for its rich Roman history and historic center. Definitely recommended for a day trip.