Barcelona is one of Spain's most popular tourist traps that's heaving with culture, food, art, and history. And even when it's been explored in full, visitors to this stunning Calatan city will find even more beauty, adventure, and fun when they escape to its nearby road trip retreats.
The surrounding region has even more incredible sights and activities, and a decent number of them are easily reached by road from Barcelona on the very same day. From captivating coastal towns with postcard-perfect beaches to wide-open nature-laden spots and medieval historic cities overflowing with stories and remnants of the past, the following Catalonian gems are among the top contending road trip destinations set across this enriching and exciting part of Spain.
Montblanc is a stunning medieval town about an hour and a half west of Barcelona, and a striking spot that's home to the Prades Mountains and a host of historic attractions. Most interestingly, visitors can learn about the area's old ties to its cooperating followers of different Abrahamic faiths, which was not a common occurrence in ancient European history. Naturally, amongst the town's most remarkable points of interest are its churches, one of which is the striking Roman-Gothic convent of Sant Francesc, which dates back as far as the thirteenth century.
About 40 minutes southwest of Barcelona is the pretty coastal town of Sitges - a place of lavish luxury and exuberant nightlife. Home to beautiful beaches, exciting nightclubs, and even the Sitges Film Festival that attracts a global audience, this town is an all-rounder for travelers in need of a thrilling day or two in the Catalonia region.
But it's not solely the roster of glitz and glamor that Sitges beckons its visitors for; it's also an amazing spot for exploring rich historical sites and fascinating museums. Throw in its superb restaurant offerings, and this town truly is one of this list's most perfect for discerning road trippers and day visitors. And for those that come to Sitges for the grub: don't forget to try the town's famous signature dish - Xató.
8 Tossa De Mar
For folks keen on sampling some of Catalonia's pristine beaches plush with soft sands and calm water, Tossa de Mar just an hour and a quarter from Barcelona is a no-brainer choice. Conveniently, beach-goers will also find no shortage of shops and restaurants near its shores, so they'll be kept well-fed with delicious delights throughout their chillaxing day of sun, sand, and sea. What's more, Tossa de Mar also offers a handful of lovely historical sites, including its fortified medieval town - one that's reminiscent of a Game of Thrones set that could rival the ancient strongholds of Croatia's Dubrovnik at that.
Sticking out on the horizon and visible from many miles away, Montserrat is a majestic Catalan mountain range dotted with lots of historic sites and spectacles of natural beauty. It's a favored region near Barcelona for adrenaline junkies and adventure lovers, and with its highest peak of Sant Jeroni rising to 1,236 meters above sea level, it's easy to see why. If mountaineering is a little too adventurous, then the more leisurely thrill-seekers will enjoy Montserrat's gorgeous hiking trails that take them to the mountain tops, as well as the area's other trekking routes, which are less-taxing alternatives for those who can't stomach such heights.
6 Costa Brava
Looking for paradise beaches away from the crowds? Then search no more, for Costa Brava is the place to be if sun and fun out of sight of the masses of tourists is the order of the vacay. The seasides here are notably less crowded than the more popular city beach counterparts, and although there are seemingly far fewer people, visitors can still find a number of beaches well-equipped with modern facilities and amenities.
In addition, this beautiful town's natural splendor has subsequently produced a prolific arts scene; home to a handful of fascinating museums containing masterpieces from Picasso, Miró, and Dalí - prominent artists who were inspired by the impeccable scenery - Costa Brava is as much of an art aficionado's heaven as it is a beach bunny's paradise.
Dating back to ancient eras, Tarragona an hour and a quarter southwest of Barcelona is a historically significant Roman city teeming with incredible sites to explore, including several well-preserved Roman ruins that have achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status. As the former capital of Hispania Tarraconensis was one of the most important metropolises in the entire Roman Empire, visitors have so many enchanting historical gems to discover. Other old-world treasures in the city to seduce history buffs include the cultural artifacts of the city's dedicated archeological museum, where folks can learn about all the various cultures that carved Tarragona into what it is today.
Situated in Northern Catalonia around an hour and a half away from Barcelona, Girona is full of fun for visitors who hold history high in their hearts. Home to lots of historic buildings and a well-preserved, centuries-old quarter, it's a place that attracts the most enthusiastic of history fanatics and photographers. In fact, it's so photogenic that the historic district and local cathedral have even appeared in a number of films set in ancient times. Overall, Girona is in no short supply of historic wonders to marvel at that could be considered some of Spain's most striking, including ancient roman structures, old religious buildings, and possibly one of the most well-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe.
Visitors of Figueres usually descend for this particular reason: it's the birthplace of the globally famed artist, Salvador Dalí - an intriguing fact that, when combined with its plethora of historic attractions and entertaining activities, makes it a town worthy of any Spain-bound road tripper's bucket list whether they're an art-and-history-fan or not.
Taking center stage is of course the Dalí Museum - a bizarre yet fascinating building in which visitors can observe a diverse collection of his equally bizarre and fascinating works. Also on the must-see list in Figures is an interesting technology museum that takes visitors on a technological journey throughout the decades, as well as a scenic castle stemming back to the eighteenth century. All this at just an hour and a half or so from Barcelona makes the drive worth every mile.
After all that adventure and excitement elsewhere in Catalonia, it's only normal to crave some peace and quiet - and that's exactly what Begur entices its visitors with when they drive the hour and a half from Barcelona to its doorstep. A tranquil coastal town in Catalonia's east, visitors who choose to add breathtaking Begur to their itinerary will not be disappointed; it's a peaceful place with quiet beaches unlike those in Barcelona, with a few lovely historic sites thrown in for good measure. One of its beautiful, hundreds-of-years-old sites is the imposing local castle, which does look a little out of place given Begur's unpretentious town center.
Bottles up, for it's time to venture to Catalonia's epicenter of viticulture. Nestled just under an hour west of Barcelona, the sprawling Penedès wine region produces some of Catalonia's highest abundances of wines, as well as some of its most diverse. From rich reds, fragrant rosés, and crisp white wines to their sweet, sparkling, and dry variations, those who can't resist a glass of wine (or ten) will be in their element when touring the numerous vineyards and wineries dotted about this sensational region's verdant landscapes.