Best day trips from Barcelona
December 4, 2014 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Going to Barcelona in March for just over a week, looking for ideas on day trips from the city. Especially interested in art, ancient ruins, hiking, and wine-tasting.

I'll be traveling along on my SO's business trip and want to be prepared for ideas of things to do both on my own and with his co-workers (and their SO's that will also be tagging along on this trip). I'm looking forward to meeting them all and hanging out of course, but don't want to miss out on site-seeing if the group is all about going out and partying (they work in the music industry and can be a rowdy bunch)...so I can easily be like, "Well I'm taking the train to [cool nearby Spanish town] today if anyone wants to come. Otherwise see you later tonight for tapas!"

Since I'll have a free place to stay in Barcelona, I'm mostly looking for trips that don't require an overnight stay outside the city (Maybe thinking of doing one to Madrid though). My first thought is to see ALLLL THE ART, but after awhile that can get overwhelming so I want to break it up with hiking, vineyards and shopping. I don't speak much Spanish (but working on it) and have never been to Spain before.

These nearby towns have piqued my interest:
- Girona (the "Spanish Venice"? Yes, please!)
- Tarragona (Roman ruins!)
- Montserrat
- Figueres for the Dali museum

If anyone's been the above places and could let me know what you thought or any suggestions for other day trips that meet the above criteria, I'd greatly appreciate it! (Also any tips for tagging along on business trips for introverts :-)
posted by Shadow Boxer to Travel & Transportation around Barcelona, Spain (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Tarragona is wonderful and an easy train ride from Barcelona. I basically spent all my free days there when studying in Barcelona for a few weeks, at the expense of seeing anything else, because I loved it that much. Just stop by the visitor's center and they'll set you up with maps and tickets for the places that require them (there's a multi-pass available.) Have fun!
posted by asperity at 11:21 AM on December 4, 2014


Best answer: Montserrat is lovely, and great for walking/hiking (says someone who got the train up!) I think there are often quite big crowds but not overwhelming. The trip from central Barcelona is really straightforward as well, and not too expensive if that's a concern.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:25 AM on December 4, 2014


Just a general suggestion: if you are going at the end of March make sure to factor Semana Santa into your travel plans.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:50 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Montjuic. Though it is in Barcelona, it is definitely a day trip -- particularly if you want to go to the truly wonderful Miro museum -- and has plenty of wonderful walking opportunities as well as art. We didn't find much in the way of good food options so I'd suggest bringing some along.
posted by bearwife at 11:59 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Montserrat is amazing. Highly recommended. A highlight of my Barcelona trip. Be sure to wear hiking shoes and hike the mountains a bit while you're up there.
posted by sockermom at 12:31 PM on December 4, 2014


Best answer: We were in Spain last March. We took a day trip to Figueres. It's a LONG day trip. Two hours on the train each way, IIRC. The Dali museum is pretty cool, but there is not that much else to see in the town. (And we walked through a lot of the town trying to find the Dali museum.)

Unless you are really into Dali / surrealism, I don't know that I would use a whole day for it.
posted by smackfu at 12:44 PM on December 4, 2014


Sitges would be another spot to look into.
posted by kylej at 1:08 PM on December 4, 2014


Best answer: I liked Montserrat a lot. It was a nice break from the crowded cities on my trip. I don't speak Spanish and the train to take to Montserrat was not extremely obvious but you'll be fine if you just leave a little extra time or are more prepared than I was. The train ride was 1 hour. I didn't know until I got there that the cable cars don't start until 10am that day, so I had to kill half an hour at the station. I did "12km" hike detailed here and thoroughly enjoyed it, but there were a few tricky junctions where the route was not clear, so depending on your hiking experience this may or may not be a good option. I saw very few people on that route, since almost everyone takes the funicular. I ran part of it so the round trip took 4 hours, but I think 6 hours is reasonable for hiking it. After checking out the monastery I got back to the city around 5pm.

I walked up to the top of Montjuic also. The view is great from up there, but not much to see along the way -- I just like walking. Most people take the funicular.

You sound like you know the art stuff already, so I'll just point out that the City Museum is great if you like that kind of thing.
posted by bread-eater at 1:19 PM on December 4, 2014


I was also going to say Sitges, we had a pleasant day there, some good art, but nice beaches also. Its only 40k from Barcelona so you can be there in under an hour by train or bus.

You probably already have the Fundacio Juan Miro on your list, I am not as art inclined as you but really enjoyed it.
posted by biffa at 2:10 PM on December 4, 2014


nthing Montserrat. It's gorgeous! Bring sunscreen.
posted by elerina at 11:00 PM on December 4, 2014


Best answer: There's a certain amount of driving involved, but consider visiting the Vall de BoĆ­ if you want to see early Romanesque churches.

Girona is also cool and more easily accessible. Tarragona has an interesting Roman museum.
posted by sukeban at 12:03 AM on December 5, 2014


Oh, and the monastery of Santes Creus is a lot closer to Barcelona.
posted by sukeban at 12:06 AM on December 5, 2014


Best answer: One other tip for Montserrat: the funiculars at the top don't run very late in March. Like the last one is a bit after 4 PM. We took our time getting there, and then first looked at the monastery and had lunch... and then the funiculars were closed.
posted by smackfu at 7:22 AM on December 5, 2014


Best answer: It's been ~10 years since we were there, but Momma jshort and I took the day trip to Figueres and the Dali museum and LOVED it. Be sure to do the jewelry museum as well. I guess it was a long day, but totally worth it.

We did find that my barely adequate Spanish-speaking abilities were not very useful in Catalonia when we were outside Barcelona. Most people spoke Catalan so we had to rely on pointing and gesturing a lot, but people were nice and we got along just fine.
posted by jshort at 9:32 AM on December 5, 2014


Response by poster: Thanks everyone - I appreciate you all weighing in!
posted by Shadow Boxer at 11:08 AM on December 5, 2014


Caldes de Montbui is a fab little town with hot springs. And here's the important part: it has a spa that is not uber expensive but is gorgeously art nouveau. There are other spas there, too, but I've been to that one.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:09 PM on December 5, 2014


Response by poster: I just wanted to follow up since we just got back from the trip. We ended up doing a weekend trip to Granada and day trips to Montserrat and Tarragona. Granada was obviously not a day trip but we loved it and would recommend it. Montserrat was breathtaking - it was cool how high you can get with comparatively minimal hiking thanks to the train and funicular, and the art museum was surprisingly good. I went to Tarragona by myself and it was fine with my basically nonexistent Spanish...and I absolutely fell in love with it - the Mediterranean + Roman ruins and a bonus Dixieland Jazz fest the weekend I was there. So cool!

I decided not to go to the Dali museum in Figueres since they had an exhibit called "Picasso/Dali. Dali/Picasso" at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona so I got to see a bunch of his work there.

Thanks so much for your suggestions!
posted by Shadow Boxer at 6:20 AM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


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