15 Perfect Day Trips from Barcelona by Train and Car

Nadia Nadia

Written by Nadia

Barcelona
Barcelona Day Trips

Barcelona is the second most populous Spanish city east-south from Madrid in Costa Brava coastal region. 

It is an excellent starting point for numerous day trips as the country’s most touristic city with all its hustle and bustle. There are many well-connected cities around Barcelona, with beaches, mountains, cathedrals, aqueducts, castles, medieval walls, and other scenic sights.

So, get on the train or bus, and explore the beauty of Catalonia.

Best Day Trips from Barcelona

  • Montserrat
  • Sitges
  • Segovia
  • Girona
  • Tarragona
  • Tossa de Mar
  • Colonia Güell
  • Vall de Núria
  • Sant Sadurní d’Anoia
  • Figueres
  • Port Aventura

Montserrat

Montserrat

The mountain and the monastery of Montserrat are one of the top day trips for anyone visiting Barcelona. The mountain is truly impressive with its unending amount of peaks and jagged rocks that decorate the mountain. It is a real must-see when going to Barcelona. On top of its breathtaking views, Montserrat has symbolic importance for Catalans.

Montserrat travel tips

Montserrat views
Photo by Alex Williams on Unsplash

Montserrat (“serrated mountain”) is just an hour outside Barcelona. Its proximity and all it offers make it one of the best day trips from Barcelona.

The first thing to understand about Montserrat is how you will get there. The fastest way is to go in a car or take a private vehicle if you have that option. Don’t worry, there is a train to Montserrat, and then you take a cogwheel train or a cable car to get on the mountain. The only downside of traveling on a train is that you have fewer chances to skip the big rush. 

Tip You really do want to get to Montserrat before 10 am, which is achievable in a car. You can also get there from Plaça d’Espanya by train, which arrives a bit later, so the sightseeing may be more crowded.

You can also get some travel information on the official website.

What to do in Montserrat

If you dedicate an entire day to Montserrat, you will have plenty of time to get to know the area.

If you’re into hiking, Montserrat offers all sorts of different trails with amazing views. No wonder over 2 million people make the trip to Montserrat every year.

Montserrat is also a place for pilgrimage and deep religious meaning. Many people visit the mountain for a thousand-year-old Monastery’s Basilica to see the Virgin of Montserrat. 

Tip If you plan to see the Virgin, make sure you beat the rush and arrive around 9 am.

Apart from the cultural visit, Montserrat offers incredible views and picture opportunities. You can also move further to the top of the mountain with Sant Joan Funicular and save some time for your walks. It will cost around €14 round trip.

Tip Check the sculpture of a stairway to heaven.

How to get to Montserrat from Barcelona:

Train (operated by FGC)

  • Departs: Plaça d’Espanya in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Monistrol de Montserrat
    + cogwheel train or cable car to Montserrat
  • Shortest travel time: 90 minutes

Bus (operated by Autocares Julia)

  • Departs: Barcelona Sants station
  • Arrives: Monistrol de Montserrat
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour

Sitges

Sitges
Photo by Antonio Ramón Cuerva Magán

Sitges is a picturesque seaside city just 40 minutes south of Barcelona. 

Surprisingly, there is a lot to see in Sitges. You can explore its historical center with many side streets to walk through. 

There are lovely little squares, the town hall, the famous Sitges’ church, and many beautiful modernist buildings. I would also recommend visiting the Cau Ferrat Museum.

Walk down to the beach and take these iconic photos of the city’s coastline.

There are some specific things about Sitges, like gay and nudist beaches (3 out of 17). I would say Sitges is a gay-friendly city.

Tip Make sure you head to Sitges on a sunny day so you can spend a glorious day on the beach.

I mentioned Sitges as one of the best Spanish cities to live by the sea.

Train (operated by Renfe)

  • Departs: Sants station in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Sitges train station
  • Shortest travel time: 30 minutes

Bus (operated by Monbus)

  • Departs: several addresses in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Sitges bus station
  • Shortest travel time: 40 minutes

Girona

Girona
Photo by Evgeniya Kuzmina

People come to see Girona because of its beautiful and well-preserved historic center. The Jewish heritage in the old town of Girona is fascinating. Actually, it is one of my favorite Spanish cities that I’ve ever visited.

The best and the fastest way to get to Girona is by high-speed train, it will take you there for around 40 minutes, and another 10-15 minutes walk to the city center.

See the small red Eiffel bridge, which crosses the Onyar river in a colorful historic district. Check out the old town, Cathedral, Roman walls, Jewish quarter El Call, Arab baths, numerous alleyways, and other hidden gems.

Set aside an entire day for Girona.

Girona alleways
Photo by Kulbir

Train (operated by Renfe)

  • Departs: Sants station in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Girona train station
  • Shortest travel time: 40 minutes
  • Tickets: from €16

Bus (operated by Alsa)

  • Departs: Estación del Nord in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Girona bus station
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Tarragona

Tarragona Roman amphitheater
Photo by Santiago Boada

Tarragona is one of the best day trips you can take outside of the city of Barcelona. It’s one of the 15 cities in all of Spain that Patrimony of Humanity by Unesco. You definitely have to check it out!

5 things to do in Tarragona on a day trip

See Tarraco, an old Roman city of Tarragona. It is the real gem of the city and was one of the most important establishments in the Roman Empire. The ancient remnants of the Roman era are scattered all over the city, granting Tarragona its World Heritage site status. 

If you’re coming to the Cathedral, it’s worth it to go inside (the fee is €5), and for an extra €10-15, you will have the guided tour, and they’ll take you to the bell tower. The bell tower offers the best views of Tarragona. 

Another spot you must come over to is La Rambla Nova, the new Rambla, much like Barcelona. It’s a big walkway with a bunch of different shops, ending at the Mediterranean sea with a balcony. On this balcony, you will have some other beautiful city views out to each side.

Tarragona streets
Photo by Alex Teixeira on Unsplash

The other thing you have to see is the circus with praetorium. This is one of the city’s four most important Roman parts that you need to see on this day trip. Get inside and explore many hidden tunnels underneath the praetorium.

Tip Buy a €7,40 ticket which includes the visit to all four Roman sites of the city you need to see.

Subsequently, see the beautiful Roman amphitheater right next to the praetorium. If you’ve seen “Gladiator,” it will also bring you back to those memories of that movie.

Next, walk along the Roman walls. You will see a lot of reminiscences of Roman history and learn how big the city was.

Make sure you dedicate an entire day to Tarragona. There is plenty to go for in this ancient city!

Train (operated by Renfe)

  • Departs: Sants station in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Tarragona train station
  • Shortest travel time: 52 minutes

Bus (operated by Alsa)

  • Departs: Estación del Nord in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Tarragona bus station
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar

Tossa de Mar is a small and cozy seaside resort with a walled medieval center and a seaside tower. It’s one of Costa Brava’s remarkable locations, easiest to reach from Barcelona on a day trip. Set aside at least half a day for your Tossa de Mar itinerary.

Bus (operated by Sarfa)

  • Departs: Estación del Nord in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Tossa de Mar bus station
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Colonia Güell

Colonia Guell

Colonia Güell was a purpose-built mill village, dating back to the end of the 19th century. Its church, designed by Antonio Gaudi, is documented on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Set aside at least half a day for your Colonia Güell day trip.

Train (operated by FGC)

  • Departs: Plaça d’Espanya in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Colonia Güell train station
  • Shortest travel time: 22 minutes

Vall de Núria

Vall de Núria

Vall de Núria is a beautiful mountain destination in the Pyrenees mountains. It’s lovely during the summer, but many people also flock to Vall de Núria during the winter. Assuming the traveling distance, you will need an entire day to make the most of Vall de Núria. 

Train (operated by Renfe)

  • Departs: several stations in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Ribes de Freser + Rack railway to Vall de Núria
  • Shortest travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Sant Sadurní d'Anoia

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is a small town in the very center of the cava (Spanish sparkling wine) production region in Catalonia. You will find the headquarters of famous cava producers such as Corodrníu and Freixenet.

You will spend half a day at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, visiting the old little town and a couple of cellars.

Train (operated by Renfe)

  • Departs: Sants station in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Sant Sadurní train station
  • Shortest travel time: 42 minutes

Bus (operated by Hillsa)

  • Departs: Calle Urgell in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Sant Sadurní bus station
  • Shortest travel time: 45 minutes

Figueres (Dalí Museum)

Dali Museum Figueres

The Dalí Museum in the city of Figueres is the largest collection of art created by Dalí. The museum provides an incredible trip into the artist’s mind. You will need at least half a day for the museum. 

Dali Museum official website.

Train (operated by Renfe)

  • Departs: Sants station in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Figueres-Vilafant train station
  • Shortest travel time: 55 minutes

Bus 

The bus travel time to Figueres is 2 hours and 30 minutes, making the bus inconvenient for a day trip.

Port Aventura

Port Aventura, Salou, Barcelona

Port Aventura is the largest amusement park in Spain. It’s so big that can be seen from many nearby towns. Actually, it is a complex formed by three separate parks, including Ferrari Land and a water park.

You will need a full day to make the most of this amusement park.

Train (operated by Renfe)

  • Departs: Sants station in Barcelona
  • Arrives: Port Aventura train station
  • Shortest travel time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Tickets: from €10

What is the main train station in Barcelona?

The largest train station in Barcelona is Sants station, in the Sants-Montjuïc district. From this station, you can travel both nationally and internationally.

Each year, around 30 million passengers pass through this station in Barcelona, surpassed only by Madrid-Atocha station. You will find long or medium-distance routes and high-speed trains, such as AVE, Avant, or Alvia. All trains stop at Sants, making it the best-connected train station in Barcelona.

What is the main bus station in Barcelona?

The main bus station in Barcelona is the Estación del Nord, and you will find it a few steps from the Arc de Triomphe. Buses leave to almost all Catalan and Spanish cities and to the most important capitals of Europe. 

It has 47 platforms, air-conditioned waiting rooms, a shopping arcade, bars and restaurants, luggage storage, parking, tourist information, and delivery service. Among the 25 companies that operate in this station, the most important and with the most frequencies are Alsa, Eurolines, Flixbus, and Sarfa. You can take the urban bus line 54 or the L1 metro to the Arc de Triomf station to get to Estación del Nord.

Close cities and sights for a day trip from Barcelona

Here is a short comparison table for some noticeable spots if you’re going by train or bus/car.

Distance, kmBy TrainBy Bus
Colonia Güell1522m
Sant Cugat del Vallès2550m25m
Garraf3233m40m
Sitges4030m40m
Sant Sadurní d’Anoia4442m45m
Maresme451h (in a car)
Montserrat571h30m1h
Girona10440m1h35m
Tossa de Mar1051h20m
Tarragona10752m1h10m
Port Aventura1181h15m
Besalú1311h25m (in a car)
Figueres14155m>2h30m
Cadaqués1702h
Vall de Núria1782h30m

Final thoughts

So, that was my selection of the perfect day trips from Barcelona. You may ask, what would you do if you only had time for a couple of these day trips? 

The choice is yours, but I suggest including the Montserrat mountain. It is not only a beautiful destination but also it is a sacred location for Catalans. Girona and Tarragona will be solid choices if you are into the historic cities. 

If you want to have fun in the snow, go for Vall de Nuria or straight to Andorra. Remember, both of them are as beautiful in the winter as in the summer (you can go hiking instead of winter sports). 

If you’re looking for a shorter day trip including the beach, head to Tossa de Mar or Sitges.

If you have any questions or suggestions, leave your comment below!

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