Three Day Trips from Barcelona

by Talia Klundt / Jun 05, 2013 /
Talia Klundt's picture

As much as I enjoyed spending a summer in Barcelona and everything it had to offer, it also drove me a bit nuts at time. There were far too many tourists around the city felt like it had reached its maximum capacity with crowds for me. So any day I had off I went exploring outside of Barcelona. Mostly I went to the beaches about an hour outside on the commuter train, but a few times my friends and I went to different places in Catalonia. So I am here to write about three different and easily accessible day trips from Barcelona, for those who are short on time. 

Painted poles lining the streets of Tarragona. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Painted poles lining the streets of Tarragona

Castell (human tower) statue located in Tarragona. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Castell (human tower) statue located in Tarragona

With my work I was fortunate enough to get to partake in my cultural activities with the students we worked with, such as Flamenco nights, cooking classes, traditional Spanish dinners, and going on days trips. The first day trip the students had in the summer was to Tarragona. It is easily reached from Barcelona by taking a train or bus, both take about one hour. Tarragona is one of the largest seaside towns located south of Barcelona along the Mediterranean. It is a beautiful city filled with Roman ruins, which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. One of the most impressive ruins, to me, was the amphitheatre. It was built in the 2nd century and is built near the sea, so when you are standing on the top you get the most spectacular view of the Mediterranean. There is also a Museum of Archeology in Tarragona, due to all the ruins and ancient finds and discoveries throughout the city. The city also has a beautiful Gothic Quarter and a very large Cathedral. I tried to capture the entire Cathedral but it was too big, I only got a partial picture! 

Amphitheatre in Tarragona. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Amphitheatre in Tarragona. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Amphitheatre in Tarragona

Tarragona Cathedral. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Tarragona Cathedral

Saints at the Cathedral in Tarragona. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Saints at the Cathedral in Tarragona

Tarragona also has lovely cobblestoned streets, which are lined with cozy cafes and restaurants during the summer time. It's a perfect place to come and enjoy a nice lunch before heading off to the beach.

Old part of Tarragona. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Old part of Tarragona

Window in Tarragona, Spain. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Tarragona, Spain. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Square in Tarragona. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Square in Tarragona

Unfortunately, because we were with students we were not able to swim, but we did walk along the beach and take pictures high up on some of the cliffs. The sea was so beautiful and the water so clear on our sunny day that it took everything I had not to jump in. One nice thing about the beaches in Tarragona is they are far less crowded than those in Barcelona and you will also see little cafes setting up shop at the beach serving ice cold drinks and sandwiches. It feels more like a relaxing day at the beach, versus an overcrowded city beach where you are likely to get robbed. I had big plans to come back to this city and walk around a bit more and go to the beach, but sadly I never got around to it. So for those who are looking for culture, ruins, history, good food, and some fun in the sun, Tarragona is a great place to start!

Beach in Tarragona, Spain. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Beach in Tarragona

The second day trip I recommend outside of Barcelona is Sitges. Two girls from my work and I decided to spend a Saturday afternoon at the beach and one of them suggested Sitges. I didn't know much about it, so I was up for going out and exploring some place new, especially if there was a sandy beach waiting for me. Sitges is a gorgeous little seaside town located 35 kilometers southwest of Barcelona. You can take the RENFE trains from Passeig de Gràcia, which takes about 35 minutes. This was definitely one of the most charming seaside towns I have ever been to. It looks like something outside of a magazine, there are cute beach shops everywhere, ice cream vendors along every cobblestoned road, small cafes, children flying kites, people lounging on beach chairs while others are enjoying picnics in the sand. I could have easily spend the entire weekend here, going out for tapas and enjoying a cava in the early evening and exploring all the little shops after a long day at the beach. Since we were only here for the afternoon, we decided to make the most of it.

Small sculptures on the Maricel Museum, Sitges, Spain. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Small sculptures on the Maricel Museum, Sitges

Naturally the first thing we did was go to the grocery store and get lots of different snacks to enjoy a picnic on the beach. The beach was really beautiful and very clean, the nice thing when you get away from city beaches. Another major plus was that it felt that it was mostly Spanish tourists and locals enjoying the beaches at Sitges. Of course there were some foreigners there, but it was not overcrowded with them and it felt very authentic. It felt as if we were doing what a typical Spaniard would do a on a Saturday afternoon, which I really loved. Oh and the very best part, you could actually go into the water without panicking that all of your stuff would be gone the second you got out.  It was one of the more relaxing beaches I went to in Catalonia. After spending hours at the beach soaking up the sun, we decided it was time to do a little exploring before we headed back to Barcelona. 

Beach in Sitges, Spain. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Beach in Sitges, Spain. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Beach in Sitges. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

We walked to the seaside church, Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla, which offers a spectacular view at the top of its stairs. We weren't able to go in, because it was not open for some reason, but it was still beautiful from the outside. Next, we headed for some ice cream. It was quite difficult to choose which one to try because there were so many located throughout the city. Thankfully we found one that offered every flavor under the sun and we walked out with our ice creams in hand, which began melting the second we stepped out of the shop. Before we had to head back to our train, we walked throughout the city and entered as many little shops as we possibly could. If you only have one day to get out of Barcelona and are looking for a cute seaside town, Sitges is the place to come and relax, but I suggest staying a bit longer than one day if you have the time!

Beach in Sitges, Spain. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

View from Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla Church in Sitges

Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla in Sitges. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla in Sitges

Halfway through my time in Barcelona, one of my dear friends came to visit me for a weekend. It was so nice having her in Barcelona so I could show her all of my favorite spots in the city! We had a great time eating lots of great food as we visited tapas bars along the city while indulging in our love of cava at the same time. Our love of cava made me think we should take a day trip to out to one of the cava wineries. About an hour outside of Barcelona you will find over 100 cava wineries in the countryside. Although you can't visit every single one, many offer cava tours and you it is popular to go and visit several cava wineries in a day. It was still not quite the season when all of the wineries opened up their tours as well as it was a Sunday so I looked for the major cava brands and decided to go with Freixenet. Freixenet is the largest and most well known cava producer throughout Spain. Thankfully they had an opening on the Sunday we wanted to go to so I booked us an 11:00 tour for only 6.50 Euro a piece!

Cavas Freixenet. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Cavas Freixenet

Me posing with one of the old Freixnet advertisements. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Me posing with one of the old Freixnet advertisements

We left Barcelona in the morning and arrived about 45 minutes later via the RENFES train to Sant Sadurní d' Anoia Station. From the station, it is about 50 meters to the caves. We arrived a bit early so we decided to walk around the small town and take pictures of all the wineries and their beautiful advertisements. I imagine that when the season starts to pick up, the town must be bustling with tourists and all the wineries have their doors open to welcome visitors. Once we arrived at Freixnet, we were ushered to watch a small video on the history of the company. 

Wagon holding empty cava bottles. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Wagon holding empty cava bottles

Old Freixnet Cava advertisement. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Old Freixnet Cava advertisement

After that we were wisked away to start our tour of the winery. We went down to the caves where we guided through each and every step that is involved for producing cava. We were even shown the old fashioned way of doing this, was was the turning of the bottles every few hours by hand! It was a really interesting tour as we got to see first hand how it begins and then how it turns to cava.

Cavas Freixenet. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Cavas Freixenet. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Cavas Freixenet. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

The tour was about an hour and a half and afterwards we got a glass of cava accompanied with some crackers in their lounge. It was the perfect end to the tour. I could have easily sat and drank a few more glasses, but it was unfortunately time to leave and head back. Since the tour was quite short, in the future I would like to visit maybe five or six or join a tour that is visiting several cava wineries so that you can get a real feel of different wineries and compare them as well as the cavas. All in all, it was a great tour and I would definitely recommend anyone who enjoys cava to spend a half day to a full day exploring the cava wineries outside of Barcelona. If you are unfortunate enough to have a rainy day, such as we had, this is the perfect way to spend the afternoon!

Enjoying a complimentary glass of cava!. From Three Day Trips from Barcelona

Enjoying a complimentary glass of cava!

 

 

 

Talia Klundt is the Sweden Editor for Wandering Educators

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Talia Klundt