If you’ve ever visited Barcelona, it’s probably no shock to you that tourism numbers continue to grow at more than six per cent, year over year, with a record 8.9 million arrivals in 2015. From the architecture of Antoni Gaudí, to Mediterranean views (and flavors!), to cute neighborhoods like Barceloneta and the Gothic Quarter, Barcelona isn’t a tourist trap—it’s a tourist Mecca!
The idea of leaving Barcelona for a day might seem counterintuitive, with all there is to see and do in the city center. As soon as you take advantage of even one of these outstanding Barcelona day trip options, however, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t make the journey sooner.
A medieval city with a walled Old Quarter, Girona is a cute, charming and colorful option for a day trip from Barcelona. Whether you explore the city’s Jewish Quarter, or enjoy the ornate gardens that beautify the Passeig Arqueològic promenade, a visit to Girona provides an opportunity to see Catalonia at its most picturesque. Make sure to set aside time to visit the Catedral de Girona, whose Gothic nave is the widest in the world.
How to Get There: Hourly trains from Barcelona-Sants to Girona and take between 40-90 minutes, depending on whether you take an ordinary train or a high-speed AVE one.
Mont-Roig del Camp
Gaudí is probably the first name that comes to mind when you think of Barcelona artists, but the work of another native son, Joán Miró, is just as important and striking, from the primary-color Pla de l’Os mural on Las Ramblas, to the iconic “Woman and Bird” statue. Get an even deeper look into Miró’s art and inspiration by visiting Mont-Roig del Camp, a village in rural Catalonia that’s home to the illuminating Centre Miró Mont-Roig, and that served as a frequent summer getaway for Miró and his family.
How to Get There: Take one of the semi-frequent trains from Barcelona Gracia to Cambrils, where you can catch a twice-daily Empresa Plana bus onward to Mont-Roig del Camp.
Barcelona is famous for its beaches, but did you know that they’re all man-made, having been “built” in advance of the 1992 Olympics using imported sand? For more natural (and, frankly, better) beaches, visit Sitges, which is not only home to 17 renowned stretches of sand, but a stunning old town, delicious fresh seafood and one of the most vibrant LGBT scenes in all of Europe. Sitges also hosts an impressive spate of annual festivals, including the Sitges Film Festival every October, and the Santa Tecla Festival, which dates back to medieval times and takes place in mid-September.
How to Get There: Trains from Barcelona Gracia to Sitges take 42 minutes each way and run twice per hour.
Visiting another city (especially these other cities) near Barcelona is great, but what about another country? Wedged between France and Spain in the gorgeous Pyrenées Mountains, Andorra and its capital Andorra de la Vella boast a multitude of culture and history (go up in the Bell Tower in the ancient quarter, Barri Antic) and also a surprising draw: As a tax haven, Andorra is one of the best places in Europe to purchase duty-free goods.
How to Get There: Direct buses to Andorra leave and return every four hours, with popular options being Andorra Direct Bus and ALSA. Buy a round-trip ticket for the journey, which is just over three hours in each direction, to avoid getting stranded in another country overnight!
Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Girona_riverside_HDR.jpg