While it’s highly unlikely you’ll run out of things to do in the Catalonian capital, there is no shortage of exciting day trips from Barcelona. There are so many amazing things to do in Barcelona to keep you busy for weeks, but if you are spending a significant amount of time in this region of Spain, it’s worth exploring the wider area of Catalonia and beyond. The whole region of Catalonia is packed with things to do and in addition to the many Barcelona attractions that you can explore, hopping on the train or bus to visit a nearby town is easy and affordable.
This northeastern region of Spain is rich in mountain parks, medieval towns, historic ruins, and seaside villages. It might surprise you that it’s even possible to squeeze in a one-day trip from Barcelona to France and Andorra!
Read on for a selection of the best day tours from Barcelona.
Map of the Best Day Trips from Barcelona
10 Best Day Trips from Barcelona
Depending on your personal travel style, you can choose to book guided Barcelona day trips or travel independently with public transport.
This guide suggests top-rated day trips from Barcelona that offer great value for money and spare you the complication of planning an itinerary. On the other hand, you can opt to take day trips from Barcelona by train, bus, or with a rental car.
If you only have time for one day trip from Barcelona, prioritize Montserrat in the Parc Natural de la Muntanya de Montserrat.
This jagged mountain range is a spectacular sight as well as granting views across Catalonia from the summit. Access to the top is a combination of riding the funicular and hiking. In addition, the natural park is the setting of a Benedictine Abbey dedicated to Catalonia’s patron saint, the Black Madonna. This is one of the holiest sites in Spain.
Travel time from central Barcelona via road is only one hour, which makes this perfectly possible for a short Barcelona itinerary. This top-rated Montserrat Monastery & Scenic Mountain Hike includes round travel and guide service.
Furthermore, your booking covers the cost of admission to the monastery and a ride on the funicular. The tour departs early to give you the chance to see the mountain scenery at its best, in the soft morning light.
Otherwise, you can catch the train from Espanya Station in the Plaça d’Espanya. Although this is one of the most typical day trips from Barcelona by train, you will need to consult the schedule with care as trains are not particularly frequent. You can either book the standard Trans Montserrat ticket or upgrade to the Tot Montserrat which includes museum entry and a meal.
2. Girona (plus Figueres and Cadaqués)
The beautifully photogenic city of Girona is located in northeast Catalonia. Resting on the banks of the River Onyar, the water is flanked by colorful buildings painted terracotta, salmon, and canary yellow.
You can wander the remains of the old city walls and connect with history in the museums and landmarks of the Jewish Quarter. There’s time to dive into some of the tastiest Catalan cuisine during your time in Girona. Read our full guide to the best things to do in Girona.
Fast trains link Barcelona-Sants and Girona in as little as 40 minutes. However, there are several day trips from Barcelona to Girona that tap on a visit to neighboring cities. For example, this Girona, Figueres, and Cadaqués Day Trip ventures to two smaller towns near the French border.
Figueres is home to the largest collection of works by Salvador Dalí at the Dalí Theater-Museum. While admission isn’t included in the tour, there is space in the itinerary to visit the institution. Alternatively, you can visit the ruins of the Castle of San Fernando, swing by the Toy Museum, or hit the shops in town.
On the other hand, Cadaqués is a teeny fishing village with an ancient center and dreamy lookouts over the Iberian Peninsula.
3. Besalú and Medieval Towns
Visiting the northern Catalonia town of Besalú is one of the top Barcelona day trips for history enthusiasts.
Besalú features some of the best-conserved medieval buildings in the region, including its Romanesque bridge. The arched Pont de Besalú still maintains its original defense towers.
As this town is not accessible via train, it makes sense to join a tour. This Besalú & Medieval Towns Tour with Hotel Pickup permits a maximum of eight people per group and is focused on the history of Besalú and its surroundings.
In addition to exploring Besalú, this tour includes a pit stop at Vic where you’ll see the old Roman temple juxtaposed with the Roman Catholic Catedral de Sant Pere de Vic.
However, the clifftop village of Castellfollit de la Roca hogs the limelight due to its dramatic position on a basalt ridge high above the Fluvià River. This is one for the photographers!
4. Colonia Güell
Colonia Güell is another of the best day trips from Barcelona if you’re strapped for time but eager to get your fill of Gaudí’s masterpieces.
This old textile village is the home of Gaudí’s crypt plus other Art Nouveau residences, as well as a comprehensive exhibition about the crypt and the colony. In fact, Colonia Güell is relatively unknown – overshadowed by the classic tourist attractions in Spain’s seaside city. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is where Gaudí experimented with his designs for La Sagrada Familia.
Located just a 20-minute drive out of town, you can take the FGC from Plaza España to Colònia Güell Station. To get the most out of your visit, it’s to pre-book your ticket to Gaudí Crypt in Colònia Güell with Audio Guide. This enables you to explore the “church of the twisted columns” at your own pace and study at leisure!
5. Costa Brava
Technically, Girona, Figueres, and Cadaqués all fall under the umbrella of the Costa Brava. This coastline generally incorporates Blanes right up to the Spain-France border.
With a rental car, you can just about squeeze in a day trip with a couple of stops at a selection of seaside towns and villages. However, this would be more comfortable if you’re looking at weekend trips from Barcelona so you’re less pushed for time.
Fortunately, tours are available to connect you from Barcelona to the Costa Brava. This Costa Brava Full-Day Tour from Barcelona includes stops at Calella de Palafrugell, Llafranc, Pals, and l’Estartit. Once at l’Estartit, you’ll enjoy a 1-hour 20-minute cruise around the Medes Islands’ archipelago (included in the tour price).
The outing concludes at the Greek and Roman ruins of Èmpuries, the site of a former city where first a Greek and later a Roman settlement existed in unison. Also included in the tour package, a professional guide is available to educate you on the history of the complex.
6. Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar is one final town on the Costa Blanca deserving of a special mention when looking at day tours from Barcelona.
As one of the southernmost towns on the coast, Tossa de Mar is easy to get to via rental car or bus. Public buses from Estación del Norte take 90 minutes each way and skirt the coastline. On the other hand, Tossa de Mar day tours focus on the water activities available in the bay of this pretty town.
For example, the Costa Brava Kayaking and Snorkeling Day Trip invites you to paddle through secluded bays, volcanic cliffs, and marine life. The outing includes a picnic lunch and sangria upon return to Barcelona.
If you are interested in going diving rather than swimming and you are happy to make your own travel arrangements, you can join this PADI Discovery Scuba Diving once in Tossa de Mar. Diving in this area is absolutely fantastic and for most of the year visibility is fantastic. These are some of the best day trips from Barcelona in summer for adventurous travelers.
Sitges is a languid fisherman’s town south of Barcelona with a backdrop of the Parc Natural del Garraf and beautiful Mediterranean beaches. Over the course of the last century, it flourished as a hub for Modernism. It’s also one of the best cities to visit in Spain for food, with a fusion of Spanish, Catalan, and international restaurants dotted throughout the center.
Sitges is one of the easiest day trips from Barcelona by train. Services link Barcelona-Sants with Stiges in under 40 minutes. You can spend your day pottering around the museums such as Museu del Cau Ferrat – the home of artist Santiago Rusiñol – before jumping into the sea.
However, if you fancy getting acquainted with the food and natural wine produced locally, consider booking this Food and Natural Wine Tasting. Each tour includes a sample of tapas and delicatessen products plus personal recommendations on where to grab lunch in town.
An alternative option if you can handle an early train to Sitges, the Cycling Tour with Winery Visit and Tasting takes you beyond city limits to the vineyards of the Penedés wine region. A bicycle, helmet, and wine tasting are included.
Another city south of Barcelona, Tarragona contains some of the greatest archaeological sites in Spain. In fact, it’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ruins of a Roman amphitheater, public forum, and circus are located right in the heart of the city. In addition, the 36-arch Aqüeducte de les Ferreres is a short drive from the center. After touring the Roman heritage sites, you can explore the medieval churches, alleys, and restaurants of the Part Alta before unwinding with a stroll along Playa el Miracle.
Tarragona is only another 37 miles down the coast from Sitges. As with Sitges, trains depart Tarragona from Barcelona-Sants and take just over 1 hour. If you’d like to visit both cities in one fell swoop, there are Barcelona day tours that take the pressure off lining up your schedule.
Capped at 8 travelers, the Tarragona & Sitges Full Day Tour with Pickup includes a guided tour of Roman and medieval Tarragona plus the fishing village. Admission to both the amphitheater and circus is included.
9. Pyrenees Mountains
Retreating to the Pyrenees for an afternoon of fresh air and heart-stopping views is one of the most exciting day trips from Barcelona.
Straddling the entire length of the France-Spain border, the Pyrenees register 310 miles (nearly 500 km) with the highest peaks rising to 11,100 ft (3,400 meters). It’s pretty tricky to get there and back in a day without your own transport, so you can either rent a car in Barcelona to head out for the day or if you don’t want to drive it works out best to join a tour.
The Pyrenees Mountains Day Tour whisks you up north to Queralbs, the last village accessible via road vehicle. You’ll have enough time to ogle the fairytale stone buildings before hopping on the funicular which will drop you at Núria.
Once there, you’ll have the option to hike, go horseback riding, take an archery lesson, or rent a boat. Consider customizing your Barcelona packing list for the trip to make sure you have everything you need for a day trip like this.
Naturally, you’ll want to sample traditional Catalan dishes before leaving the valley.
This tour also includes a stop at Vic where you can visit the medieval market.
10. France and Andorra
One of the more ambitious Barcelona day tours requires a bit of crafty planning as you’ll leave Spain and visit the neighboring countries of France and Andorra.
For that reason, it’s best to tackle this day trip as part of a tour with all transport taken care of. This 3 Countries in 1 Day Small-Group Tour departs bright and early and heads to the French border.
On the way, the bus stops at the small Catalan village of Baga where you’ll stretch your legs. From there, you’ll cross the border into the old spa town of Ax-les-Thermes where you can soak your feet in the thermal springs.
After lunch in France, it’s back on the bus and over the Pyrenees Alps into the Andorran capital, Andorra la Vella. There’s some free time for a stroll and a spot of duty-free shopping before the drive back to Barcelona.
With a full day required for this 12-hour tour, the activity is recommended for travelers spending more than three days in Barcelona. Otherwise, this works out as one of the coolest weekend trips from Barcelona if you have more time on your hands.