11 Best Places to Visit in Catalonia near Barcelona


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While the city of Barcelona is certainly the main draw to those visiting the diverse and interesting region of Catalonia, there are countless places to visit in Catalonia within easy reach of the capital that are worth checking out.

If you’re keen to get a good feel for this region and want to experience some smaller cities and towns away from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, then this is the list for you.

While it’s certainly worth visiting Barcelona and spending a few days in the city, it’s equally worthwhile to site your sites further afield and to head to some of the other places in Catalonia that are near Barcelona. Catalonia has a culture, history and language that is unique to the rest of Spain and you can experience that even more if you venture a bit further from its largest city.

Whether you’re simply looking for some day trip options from Barcelona or would like to spend a few nights somewhere else, these are some of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Catalonia.

Best Places to Visit in Catalonia near Barcelona

Girona

Girona is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Catalonia. Located about 100 kilometres north of Barcelona, you can reach the city via train or car in about an hour from the Catalonian capital and it makes for a great destination for either a day trip or for a longer stay.

Girona is absolutely beautiful and it’s worth the visit for the beauty alone, however, there are also a lot of great things to do in the city itself. For instance, there are the city walls, the Arab Baths, the Jewish Museum and the Archaeological Museum.

There are also incredible landmarks like the Girona Cathedral, the countless bridges over the Onyar and the unique homes hanging over the river.

Girona also boasts a number of wonderful restaurants where you can indulge in a fine dining establishment or enjoy a local tapas bar cooking up classic Catalonian fare. All in all, Girona is one hundred per cent one of the most beautiful places to visit in Catalonia.

Want to go on a day trip to Girona? Check out this small-group tour from Barcelona!

Girona Cathedral
Girona Cathedral

Montserrat

As one of the most popular day trip destinations from Barcelona, no list of places to visit in Catalonia would be complete without including Montserrat. This dramatic mountain just a bit outside of Barcelona is beautiful in its own right, however, it is also home to a historic monastery that is open to visitors.

Take the cable car up the mountain and take in the beautiful scenery. Visit the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, head to the Montserrat Museum to learn about the historical significance of this place or even take a hike to St Michael’s Cross.

If you’re looking for the perfect day out, then a day trip to Montserrat from Barcelona is never a bad idea and it is a great choice if you’re looking for a more natural escape from the bustling nature of the city.

Want to go on a day trip to Montserrat? Check out this half-day tour from Barcelona!

Santa Maria Monastery in Montserrat
Santa Maria Monastery

Figueres

Another of the most popular places to visit in Catalonia from Barcelona is the city of Figueres. Located close to the French border in the northern part of the region, Figueres is most well-known for being the birthplace and home of famous surrealist Salvador Dalí.

If you are at all interested in Dalí, his art or his life, then Figueres makes for an excellent place to visit. The main draw of the city is the fascinating Dalí Theatre-Museum where you can view countless pieces of his thought-provoking artwork.

And if you’d like to do something that isn’t Dalí-focused, make sure to visit the Castell de Sant Ferran, an 18th-Century fortification located just a bit outside of the city centre. All in all, Figueres is an interesting destination and a great place to have on your Catalonia itinerary.

Want to go on a day trip to Figueres? Check out this full-day tour to Figueres and Cadaqués!

Outside the Dali Museum in Figueres
Outside the Dali Museum in Figueres

Cadaqués

If you’re interested in the Costa Brava and also want to take in another place that was significant to Salvador Dalí, then the small coastal town of Cadaqués is sure to interest you.

This whitewashed seaside town is definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Catalonia and was a source of inspiration for Salvador Dalí, as well.

Cadaqués is quite small and doesn’t have a lot of traditional sites to see, but it is worth visiting if you want to experience a small seaside town on the Costa Brava that hasn’t been taken over by high rises and hordes of sunbathers.

Though it can certainly get popular in the warmer months, it definitely retains its charm.

Cadaques
Cadaques

Besalú

Another excellent day trip destination in the north of Catalonia is the striking town of Besalú. Perfect for those who are more interested in mountain towns over seaside towns, Besalú is perhaps best known for it imposing bridge into the old part of the town.

The town itself is very small, but it is packed with historic sites that are well-marked — make sure to pick up a map with detailed descriptions at the visitors centre — and it is stunningly beautiful. For some reason, however, this gorgeous town rarely makes it onto lists of the best places to visit in Catalonia.

So if you’re looking for a beautifully-preserved old town with few tourist crowds, then you cannot go wrong with making a visit to Besalú.

Beautiful Besalu
Beautiful Besalu

Tarragona

If you’ve got your sites set on the Mediterranean coast of Catalonia and are looking for a bustling and historic city to visit as an alternative to massive Barcelona, then make sure Tarragona is on your list.

Located about 100 kilometres south of Barcelona, this coastal city is known for its myriad ancient Roman ruins — including a striking Roman amphitheatre, a Roman circus, imposing Roman walls and even a Roman aqueduct that lies just a bit outside of the city.

Tarragona also has a wonderful central market in the centre of the city and is packed with fantastic restaurants serving delicious Catalonian seafood dishes. There are also some wonderful beaches for those who are interested in getting some sunbathing in if the weather allows for it.

All in all, Tarragona is a great option if you’re on the hunt for cities to visit near Barcelona.

Want to go on a day trip to Tarragona? Check out this full-day guided tour from Barcelona!

Historical City of Tarragona
Historical City of Tarragona

Sitges

If you’re looking for another beautiful coastal town in Catalonia, then Sitges is an excellent option.

Located only a bit south of Barcelona, this town is a lot smaller than, say, Tarragona, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting.

It actually can be worth heading to Sitges over Tarragona if you’re looking for a place that is a bit smaller and not as packed with a ton of sites – especially if you’re simply looking to chill on the seaside.

Sitges boasts a number of lovely beaches and its whitewashed buildings and winding alleyways are simply a joy to wander through.

Because of its proximity to Barcelona, the town can get very busy in the warmer months and there are some aspects that are very tourist-centric, but you can also get some very local experiences, as well.

Want to go on a day trip to Sitges? This small-group tour from Barcelona includes stops in Sitges and Tarragona!

The town of Sitges
The town of Sitges

Blanes

Known as the gateway to the Costa Brava, the lovely seaside town of Blanes is an excellent place to visit in Catalonia if you’re looking for a beautiful town on the Mediterranean.

Located about 70 kilometres north of Barcelona, this town is a great place to visit if you are driving along the Costa Brava or simply want to experience a larger coastal town that hasn’t been completely taken over by high rises.

There is a nice town to wander through, a beautiful seaside promenade and plenty of gorgeous beaches to enjoy the sunshine.

Blanes is also known for its botanical garden which is a great place to visit if you’re interested in exploring flora that is native to this region.

Town of Blanes
Town of Blanes

Tossa de Mar

If you’re looking for somewhere on the Costa Brava that is just stunningly gorgeous, then make sure to head to Tossa de Mar. Located only about 15 kilometres north of Blanes and about 85 kilometres north of Barcelona, this town is certainly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Catalonia.

Tossa de Mar is perhaps most well known for its imposing castle that dramatically protrudes over the sea. Dating to the 12th century, there are a couple of towers, fortification walls and grounds to explore at this castle while also being able to take in the beautiful sea views.

Tossa de Mar also has plenty of gorgeous seaside vistas with beautiful rock formations to enjoy, as well, along with some lovely beaches.

Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar

Vic

Located in inland Catalonia, Vic is a great destination for those looking for some cities to visit near Barcelona. Vic is a very popular day trip destination and its beautiful old town will take you back to medieval times.

Perhaps the biggest draw of this small city is its Saturday Market which takes place in the vast main square each Saturday. Here you can find culinary offerings along with local handicrafts and other things of interest – it is a great place to pick up some souvenirs from your trip to Catalonia.

Even if you don’t happen to be able to visit on a Saturday, the city of Vic has a number of interesting historic sites and museums to enjoy that it is a great destination to visit on any day of the week.

Plaza Mayor in Vic
Plaza Mayor in Vic

Lake of Banyoles

If you’re looking for a more natural escape in Catalonia, then consider adding Banyoles Lake onto your list of great places to visit in the region. This is Catalonia’s largest freshwater lake and it is fed by natural channels.

Located in the Girona province about 130 kilometres north of Barcelona, you can reach this natural area in about an hour and a half of driving from the Catalonian capital.

If you happen to be visiting in the warmer months, there are plenty of great lakeside activities to enjoy here. You can opt to go swimming in the blue waters or even hire a rowboat or canoe to paddle out onto the lake. There is also a trail circumnavigating the lake that lends for great strolling opportunities.

Banyoles Lake
Banyoles Lake

There are countless places to visit in Catalonia near Barcelona that are worth adding to your itinerary. The places on this list are just some of many incredible examples of wonderful places to head to on your trip to this historic region.

Are you looking for some places to visit near Barcelona? Have any questions about visiting Catalonia? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. When she’s not dreaming of far-away lands, Maggie enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, Harry Potter, and coaxing stray cats into her home.

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