A one-hour train journey from Barcelona, Tarragona offers much of what Barcelona does without the tourists. Tarragona is also located on the coast and features local seafood and historical attractions in a sunny setting. You can easily hop on a train and spend a day or two in this Spanish coastal city, but before you go, make sure to read about the three things not to miss in Tarragona.
1. A Party for Everyone: Santa Tecla
Spain is known for its fiestas. There’s the running of the bulls in Pamplona and the tomato-throwing festival in Buñol, but have you heard of Santa Tecla? Santa Tecla is a ten-day extravaganza in which Tarragona shows its wild side, and it’s a party not to be missed.
Celebrating the patron saint of the city, the festival kicks off with an impressive fireworks display featuring mythical creatures and continues the celebration with live music, traditional dances, and an exhibition of human towers. Yes, you read that correctly: human towers.
Found only in Catalonia, the building of human towers is based on folklore and is an incredible display of strength, teamwork, and engineering. When you’re not taking in the sights and sounds of the fiesta, also be sure to take advantage of food and drink specials offered only during this mid-September festival.
2. Hike along Costa Daurada
Stretching from Barcelona to Tarragona, Costa Daurada, or “the golden coast,” truly lives up to its name. Costa Daurada is lined with several expansive beaches and friendly towns that will happily serve up delicious tapas and beer as you look out at the Mediterranean Sea or sunbathe in the Spanish sun.
For more adventurous travelers, you can mix fun and exercise by hiking along the coastal cliffs to some of the best beaches around. Start from Platja del Miracle in Tarragona and head north along the coast. You’ll encounter rocky cliffs, small forests, and chatty locals as you proceed on this easy hike.
Along the way, you’ll pass by Altafulla and Torredembarra, two seaside towns, and many inviting beaches including Platja Larga and Platja dels Capellans. All of these places are within 15 kilometers of the city and are the perfect spaces in which to hike, eat, and relax. When you’ve hiked all you can, turn around and go back the way you came or hop on a bus headed for Tarragona.
3. Visit Roman Ruins
Originally named Tarraco, Tarragona was the Roman capital of the province and served as an important military settlement because of its seaside location. In fact, Emperor Augustus stayed in Tarragona briefly during one of his campaigns. After the Romans departed, they left behind impressive ruins for us to explore.
The treasures that remain have been named UNESCO Heritage Sites and include an amphitheater, walls, and aqueduct. Many of these sites are easily accessible by strolling through the city. Before you start your tour, stop by the tourist office to pick up a map with a helpful route already printed for you. If you’d like to learn more, check out the National Archeological Museum of Tarragona for exhibits and artifacts.
A day by the sea
The most comfortable way to reach Tarragona is by train from Barcelona, and national and regional trains are available almost every hour. For more information, consult the train company websites. Treat yourself to a day trip and enjoy the history and beauty of Tarragona!
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