Located in northeast Spain, Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Without a doubt, there are plenty of things to do here. There’s the legendary nightlife and amazing culinary scene and then the museums and art galleries scattered all over the city. Independent businesses, markets, and bazaars are the go-to for retail therapy and, of course, there’s football, with FC Barcelona based here. But in case you’ve already had your fill of Barcelona, we know just where you need to go. Here are the top weekend trips from Barcelona, Spain.
High up in the Pyrenees and sandwiched between Spain and France, Andorra is a melting pot of cultures and a popular ski destination in the region. It’s nearly three hours away from Barcelona by car, which is your only option, as there are no airports or train stations serving Andorra. That’s fine – the road trip is immensely beautiful. There are four ski resorts here so take your pick, not to mention plenty of outdoor activities during both summer and winter. Andorra is its own country (and one of the smallest in the world), but folks here speak Catalan – it’s their official language.
If you decided to go to Andorra and are traveling back to Barcelona after a weekend of skiing, why not drop by Montserrat on the way? Nestled on the Catalan Pre-Coastal range, the landscape here is truly breathtaking. In between the jagged peaks are beautiful buildings, such as the Montserrat Monastery. For many religious folks, Montserrat is also a part of a pilgrimage itinerary.
Things you can do here include taking a cable car ride, hike up Sant Jeroni (the highest point), and visit the Holy Grotto where the Virgin Mary was reportedly sighted. Montserrat is about an hour away from Barcelona.
From the mountains, let’s head out to the lowlands and to the coast. In these parts of Spain, the Costa Brava is unmatched and Tossa de Mar is its crowning jewel. Approximately an hour’s drive away from Barcelona, Tossa de Mar started out as an artist’s colony. It’s the reason why it’s one of the first places in Costa Brava to become a tourist destination. It’s especially crowded in the height of summer (July to August), so we suggest going some other time, especially if it’s not the beach but its cultural offerings you’re after.
Approximately two hours by car from Barcelona is the small mountain village of Bagà, located at the foothills of the Cadi mountain range. It traces its history all the way to the ninth century and, since its founding, served as the “capital” of the Alt Bergueda area. One of its many attractions is its Christmas Eve celebration called Fia-faia, which is when a huge bonfire is lit and kids jump over smaller fires singing (it sounds so much dangerous than it looks). There’s also the town church, built between the 14th and 15th centuries, and the central square, which is even older.
Wine makes the world go around, especially in the county of Priorat in Tarragona province, about two hours southwest of Barcelona. This is prime wine country – the bottles you’ll see and taste here are DOQ Priorat certified. To make things even better, Priorat is only one of the two regions that are DOCa qualified – that’s the highest level of certification wineries can get in Spain. Besides tasting wines, what else can you do? There’s a monastery (Escaladei) that’s been around since the 13th century you should check out, not to mention dreamy villages, the famed Tarragona coastline, and beaches.
6. The Pyrenees
Since you’re already in Catalonia, you should definitely not check miss out on the Pyrenees (also known as Pirineus in Catalan). Stretching over 430 miles or nearly 700 kilometers, this snow-capped mountain range forms a natural border between Spain and France. It’s not only a popular hiking and skiing destination – it can also be the place where you’ll get to see or encounter rare wildlife, such as the griffon vulture, soaring in the skies.
When visiting, your jump-off point will be the Parc National des Pyrenees. Points of interest include the Pic du Midi and Grotte de Niaux. Barcelona is approximately a five-hour drive away.
Once upon a time, a part of Spain was conquered by the Umayyads. One of the places they conquered was La Seviririana, which eventually became Xibrana. It’s the last Muslim stronghold to fall in the 12th century after 800 years of reign! This, along with many others of Siurana’s stories, make this Tarragona village quite a magical and historical place to be. Cobblestone streets ribbon in and around this ancient village, with Christian and Saracen influences seen all throughout the place. The cliffs surrounding Siurana make this a go-to destination for hikers and climbers.
Past the borders of the province of Barcelona is the neighboring giant Tarragona, where you can find the sleepy fairytale village of Siurana and, of course, Priori wine country. At the heart of the province is the port city Tarragona, which is only an hour away from Barcelona by car or train.
Here, you can find some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in all of Spain, such as a Roman amphitheater built in the second century. Meanwhile, Roman treasures and artifacts found in the area are stored and put on display at the Tarragona National Archaeological Museum. Seafood is exquisite here, thanks to its coastal location, and the beaches are also quite spectacular. Your weekend getaway here will surely be one to remember.
Located north of Barcelona, about an hour’s drive away, is the city of Girona, one of the major urban centers in Catalonia. This is another old city (with its origins dating back to 79 BC) and, as such, it has plenty of stories to tell through its large and beautiful collection of old historic buildings, museums, grand mansions, and Gothic churches, all of which reflect Girona’s might back in the medieval period.
Don’t worry – all you need is a weekend to explore everything Girona has to offer, but, of course, you’re welcome to stay as long as you like. And since Girona is part of Costa Brava, you need to visit the beaches, too!
Ending our list of road trips and weekend getaways you can take from Barcelona is Besalú, located in the province of Girona. Full of interesting stories from the early Middle Ages, this is a true melting pot of cultures. There are Roman, Jewish, Visigothic, and Muslim influences found all over this small village that looks like it jumped out of a storybook. It’s only an hour and half drive from Barcelona and an even shorter drive from Girona, making it one of the more popular weekend getaways in Catalonia.
Now you know where to go
Weekend getaways are easy to do from Barcelona. You can take the train if you’re going to the nearer ones, such as Girona and Tarragona, and then rent a car to explore the farther ones (and go on a road trip all the way to the Pyrenees). For more of Barcelona and the entire Catalonia community, browse our website for travel guides on where to go, what to eat, and where to stay.
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