Catlunya has much more to offer than only the colourful capital of Barcelona. Even though Catlunya is not very big it offers a wide variety of impressive landscapes and interesting cities that are worth visiting. The Pyrenees along the north border, the beautiful coasts of Costa Dorada and Costa Brava, as well as small rural towns in the inland invite you to rest from the noisy big city of Barcelona.
Discover Catalunya – one-day trips around Barcelona
Montserrat, about 45 min. by train from Barcelona, is an impressive sandstone massive more than 1220m high and the centre of Catalunya’s spiritual believe. The Benedictine Monastery on the edge of the mountain might not be the most beautiful one in Catalunya; nevertheless it is the aim of uncountable pilgrims per year. The reason for this is “La Moreneta” (Black Virgin), a wooden sculpture from the 12th century, which was declared the patron saint of Catalunya by the Pope in 1881. The nearby hills with small churches and spectacular views invite to discover the surroundings by foot.
Girona is a charming town about one hour by car from Barcelona. Girona’s history is very lively as it is located near the French boarder and so was occupied several times in the past. The massive city walls are remains of these days. The mighty cathedral built between the 11th and 15th century dominates the medieval heart of the city. Behind the Gothic facade you will find one of the largest naves in the world. The Banys Arabs, Arabic spas that were probably built in the 13th century by the Moors, as well as the medieval Jewish quarter Call Jueu are worth visiting.
Sitges is one of the most popular destinations for a day trip from Barcelona. The picturesque village is only half an hour journey by train or car from the centre of Barcelona. Especially during the summer months the sandy beaches, winding streets, small white houses and the exciting nightlife attract numerous visitors. Sitges is also famous for its gay scene and its cosmopolite charm. The influence of international intellectuals and artists still lies in the air; even Salvador Dalí has lived in Sitges for some time.
Figueres, about two hours by train or car from Barcelona, is the home of the second most visited museum in Spain (after the Prado in Madrid): the Teotro-Museu Dalí. The former theatre of Figueres is now run by the Fundació Gala and Salvador Dalí and exhibits numerous eccentric pieces of the famous Catalunyan artist. The museum has become a cult site, as Dalí insisted to be entombed here. Figueres reminds of cities in the south of France and invites you to stroll through the old streets.
During times of the Roman Empire Tarragona was the capital of Catalunya. The centre of Tarragona bears immense archaeological treasures that remind of these former times. The remains of the Roman amphitheatre as well as a market street and several temples are witnesses of thousand-year-old history. Next to the ruins of a Roman circus the mighty Catedral de Santa Tecla dominates the centre. The Museu Nacional Arqueològico (Archaeological Museum) demonstrates impressively the colourful history of Tarragona. UNESCO declared the old town of the city World Heritage Site in 2001. Tarragona can be reached from Barcelona in only 45 minutes by car or train.
Tossa del Mar is, about one hour by car or train from Barcelona, is an interesting example of how to combine mass tourism and monument protection effectively. Even though year-by-year thousands of tourists occupy the city during the summer, Tossa has obtained its original charm. The beautiful old centre with its small streets and stairs made of natural stone, the city wall and defence towers all stem from the 12th century. The ruins of an ancient gothic church and a lighthouse overlook the city; small restaurants beneath invite you to sit down and rest.
Besalú is a beautiful medieval village with a huge bridge from the 12th century spanning the river Fluvià. Especially during the early evening its small winding streets, the old stone houses and the two main squares evolve a special romantic atmosphere. Olot is the largest town in the area and is mostly known for the more than 30 inactive volcanoes and lava sculptures. The city itself was destroyed at the beginning of the 15th century in an earthquake, but nevertheless Olot has some impressive 18th century Modernist buildings. Both cities can be reached within two hours by car or train from Barcelona.
Catalonia is a country of contrasts: next to the coast with its magnificent beaches the Pyrenees are within a reachable distance. In only two-four hours (depending on where you want to go), you can enjoy hiking, climbing or rafting in the Pyrenees. There are also numerous caves with ancient drawings and stalactites to discover. During wintertime, the Pyrenees are a fantastic skiing-area. Andorra is a shopping paradise in the middle of the Pyrenees. Enjoy tax-free shopping in one of the numerous malls.