Amazing museums, sandy beaches and delicious tapas. I think most people would agree that Barcelona is an fantastic city to visit and it’s one of my favourite big cities in Europe. Even though it can be hard to leave the capital of Catalonia, there are some great day trips from Barcelona which shouldn’t be ignored.
Day Trips from Barcelona
Girona inspires me with love. That’s the motto of Girona and it suits the city perfectly. It was love at first sight for me and for many visitors to the medieval city. Girona is known for its colourful riverfront houses which are built right on the water’s edge and are best viewed from one of the many pedestrian only bridges.
The narrow streets of the old town are fun to explore and the hidden away patios are evidence of the rich Jewish history dating back to the 12th century. You can also visit the ancient cathedral which was once a mosque and walk along the old city walls. Girona is only an hour by car from Barcelona and is one of the most popular day trips from the city.
Foodie Tip: Stop for a meal at the incredible Divinum restaurant in the old town.
The inland town of Besalu was an important city back in the Middle Ages but today is a sleepy little town popular with tourists. The most notable attraction is the 12th century Romanesque bridge but the town is also known for the remains of a medieval synagogue and a Jewish purification bath hidden below ground. This bath, known as a mikveh, is one of only a few medieval Jewish bathhouses in Europe.
The adorable old town in Besalu has many little cafes and shops selling locally produced goods and for something a little different visit the Museum of Miniatures on the centre square. I never imagined that kind of museum would be interesting but the artwork you need a microscope to see was incredible.
Banyoles is only 20 minutes from Besalu so you could possibly visit both in the same day trip although it’s worth spending a little extra time in Banyoles to explore the lake area. You can hire a bike to ride around the lake which takes an hour or so or go kayaking or swimming in the warmer months. Fishing is also allowed on the lake although you can’t kill the fish, only catch and release. I would have thought the point of fishing was to eat what you catch but I guess not…
There are a few restaurants in the old town but I think the best eating option in Banyoles is to buy some bread, cheese and jamon and have a picnic by the water.
Montserrat is a stunning mountain destination just inland from Barcelona. Montserrat means ‘jagged mountain’ in Catalan and its an unusual rock formation that you won’t see elsewhere in the region. It’s great for hiking or if you prefer cultural activities you can visit Montserrat Abbey or the museum with works from Spanish artists including Picasso and Dali. If you don’t have a car, Montserrat is an easy day trip from Barcelona using public transport. Michael from Easy Hiker has a detailed post on visiting Montserrat including how to get there.
Cadaques is a quiet seaside village known for it’s famous resident, Salvador Dali. A highlight of Cadaques is visiting Dali’s nearby house which is packed with fun surrealist artworks. The town itself is made up of narrow, hilly streets which lead to the waterfront area with its picturesque white washed houses. Cadaques is a 2 hour drive from Barcelona but if you have time and are a fan of Salvador Dali, stop by Figueres to visit the Dali Museum which houses some of his most important works.
Foodie Tip: Buy a box of taps sweets from the bakery on the waterfront. They are amazing little sugar topped cakes perfect for an afternoon snack.
Fifteen minutes from Cadaques is the wonderful, wild coastline of Cap de Creus and one of the most spectacular locations on the Costa Brava.
Of course there are many other day trips from Barcelona and it’s worth renting an apartment or villa in Barcelona if you plan on spending a while to explore the region.