Top 8 Road Trips from Barcelona: Amazing day trips/weekend trips you should do when visiting Barcelona
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Whether you’re visiting Barcelona and want to explore more of Catalunya, or you’re an ex-pat living in Barcelona now and want to have some fun with weekend trips from Barcelona, keep reading. I’ve put together the top 8 road trips from Barcelona. The list includes a mixture of history, cities, relaxation on the beaches, interesting facts, and fantastic hiking trails. Everyone can find a perfect road trip from Barcelona here, depending on your interests.
List of the Top 8 Road Trips From Barcelona
- Figueres & Besalú
- Tossa de Mar
- Portaventura Amusement Park
Where To Rent A Car In Barcelona?
Before we get to our list, Indeed, you’ll need to get a car since we’re talking about road trips from Barcelona. You can definitely do some of them by train or bus. However, the best and most convenient way is to rent a car in Barcelona with most of them.
For car rentals, I recommend Localrent company. They are very transparent with all the costs, don’t charge anything extra you wouldn’t be aware of, have low deposits, and have some of the best prices on the market.
So go to Localrent website, and select Spain as your destination. After, write down your pick-up city (in this case Barcelona), number of days, and you can pick up your car at that location and make your road trip. It’s that easy.
Nature, History & Relax
To make it easier for you to navigate through this list, I’ve divided it into 3 sections. The first section contains road trips where you can see beautiful nature, go hiking, and even explore a new exciting country. The second section is full of cities and exciting history. The third section has places on Costa Brava that you can choose if you are looking for a more relaxed day trip on a beach. The last road trip from Barcelona on this list is an amusement park, which is a great one if you travel with kids. But believe me, it is so great that even for adults, it is just a perfect trip if you want to have some fun and feel adrenaline pumping inside you.
Let’s dive into the top 8 road trips from Barcelona you can do when visiting this unique city on the Mediterranean coast, as well:
NOTE: If you don’t feel like driving, you can also make these trips by train or bus. I’ve included organized tours below each day trip if you don’t like planning and want to enjoy these trips without overthinking.
Let’s start with day trips full of hiking, nature and history.
Visit another country, not so far from Barcelona. Yes, there is a real country close to Barcelona, and it’s not France. Andorra belongs to the smallest countries in the world (it is the smallest in Europe).
From the political point of view, it is a co-principality ruled by 2 princes. Interestingly, none of them comes from Andorra. One of them is Emmanuel Macron, current President of France and the co-prince is Bishop of Urgell.
Andora la Vella, its capital city, is the highest capital city in Europe, 1023m (3356feet)
This little country hasn’t been part of any conflicts for 1000 years thanks to the lack of natural resources and unpleasant location in the Pyrenees mountains. Even during WWII, Andorra didn’t send anyone to fight and remained neutral.
Andorra uses EURO as a currency and doesn’t have its own currency.
The country also holds the status of being tax heaven, which resulted in the mass production of tobacco here. They used to have a cigarettes factory since they were much cheaper than in Spain or France.
The official language here is Catalan. But you can also speak Spanish or English in most cases.
Things to do in Andorra
Andorra is home to 3 natural parks: Valle de Sorteny, Madriu-Perafita-Claror,
Valls de Comapedrosa.
Enjoy its beautiful hiking trails and the atmosphere of the Pyrenees mountains.
Drive through Andorra with breathtaking views
Drive through and enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains and valley – honestly, Andorra is just worth driving through with a car. Tiny, curvy roads will lead you up to the mountains with amazing views. Then back to stunning valleys full of stone bridges and houses with Romanesque style… the entire country is incredible so just spend some time driving there. We did it as well during our road trip, and it was, after hiking, the best activity of all.
Natural baths and Spas
Andorra is pretty famous for its spa. One of the best spas is Caldea. Check it out and have a nice relaxation after your hiking experience.
Explore Andorra la Vella (the capital)
Casa de la Vall – the building was constructed back in 1580 and is now home to the parliament.
Tobacco Museum – tobacco is produced here in Andorra. You can see its production and the history of tobacco in the museum.
Find Romanesque churches and admire their architecture such as Church of Sant Joan de Caselles, Sant Esteve, or Santa Coloma.
Taste Local Food
Snails are very popular here in Andorra. Many dishes include mountain boar and hare. The most typical dish for Andorra is Escudella: a stew made with meat and pasta shells. Another one is Trinxat squeak made with cabbage leeks, potato, and pork. You’ll often find trout on the menu in Andorra, coming from its freshwater.
Distance from Barcelona
Andorra is located 190km from Barcelona. It will take you around 2 hours and 30 minutes to get there by car.
Andorra is a must-to-visit place if you are staying in Barcelona. However, it is the only trip on this list, for which I highly recommend you plan 2 or 3 days. The best way is to rent a car in Barcelona and drive to Andorra. You’ll get the most out of it by car.
For the best car rental deals in Barcelona, check out Localrent.
Organized Excursion To Andorra
If you don’t want to drive to Andorra on your own and want to see it as a day trip from Barcelona, I’ve got something for you. You can take an organized excursion from Barcelona to Andorra, which takes 12 hours, by Viator.
They’ll pick you up from your hotel in Barcelona, drive you to Andorra, and give you a 4-hour private tour with a local guide in Andorra la Vella city. In the evening, you’ll get back to Barcelona with them. If you’re interested in this excursion, check out the link below and book it.
The Montserrat monastery is almost 1000 years old. About 80 monks live in the monastery nowadays.
Montserrat is a Catalan word and translates to English as ‘saw a mountain.’ The main attraction you come to admire here is the monastery, Benedictine Abbey, with the Montserrat Sanctuary carved right into the massive rocks of Montserrat. It is also a popular destination for hiking and climbing enthusiasts.
Things to do in Montserrat
First, go to the Basilica and see ‘La Moreneta’. The Black Madonna, The Virgin of Montserrat, and saint patron of Catalonia. Her statue represents Romanesque Art.
Some claim the reason for the Madonna to be black is that some shepherds found the statue in a dark cave, and others claim it is made from dark wood, and the candles darkened the statue even more.
After, go to the main shop (La Botiga) and taste cookies and coques made by the nuns.
Outside are usually markets, where you can taste local food. They sell things like local cheese, honey, sweets, chorizo, and a lot more.
Enjoy the stunning views from Montserrat and soak up the atmosphere.
Montserrat is also famous for its beautiful hiking paths. Hike up to the cross on the other side and get the best views of Montserrat and its monastery.
The legend says that the Holy Grail is situated in the mountain called Monsalvat. Some associate it is the Monserrat mountain. Even the head of Nazi S.S. Himmler came to look for it while Hitler was visiting Spanish dictator Franco in those times.
Distance from Barcelona
Montserrat is situated 57km away from Barcelona centre, around 50 minutes drive by car. You can also book one of the organized excursions to Montserrat below (at the end of tihs section).
Count with 1 full day to visit Montserrat, its monastery, and go hiking.
You can either make this road trip on your own or you can choose one of these organized day trips. These ones are really good. With one you can even experience tapas and wine tasting together with visiting Montserrat. Check them out below:
The next road trips from Barcelona include cities and a lot of history. So pick one if that’s one interests you.
The city was founded before the 5th century BC. Tarragona was inhabited by several cultures and nations in the past, including the settlement of Hispanic tribes, after it was captured by the Roman forces, then ruled by Muslim Caliphs and Christian Kings. Today, it is home to many Catalans and even ex-pats.
In the past, Tarragona hosted a Roman colony, and that’s the reason why you’ll find many Roman archaeological sites, including the Roman Amphitheatre, which is one of the main attractions here. Also, check out the old aqueduct, which served to transport freshwater back in Roman times.
It is the second most important financial centre of Catalonia, thanks to its petrochemical industry. The city also has a busy seaport with a lot of importance.
If you are on the hunt to see Castell, Tarragona is also the place. Castell is one of the Spanish/Catalan traditions. The point is that people climb on top of each other, creating a giant statue named Castell. It is very impressive.
Distance from Barcelona
Tarragona is 96km away from Barcelona, so count around 1 hour and 10 minutes to get there by car.
One day is enough for Tarragona, and it makes a great road trip from Barcelona.
If you like to do guided walking tours in cities, this one in Tarragona is great. You’ll learn more about the history of the city and Roman monuments. It is an organized day trip to Tarragona. They’ll pick you up in Barcelona and you can enjoy:
Welcome to the hotspot of Game of Throne fans. Many parts of the movie (season 6) were shot in several locations here in Girona, including the Jewish Quarter, Cathedral, or the River Onyar.
Here ins Girona you can be looking forward to ancient history, colourful architecture, and great food.
- Jewish Quarter – between 982 and 1492, Jews lived in Girona, and this is one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in the world. You can also visit the Jewish Museum if you’re interested.
- Girona Cathedral – walk through the famous staircase, where Game of Thrones was shot.
- Roman Arabis-style baths
- Eiffel Bridge – Gustav Eiffel built this bridge right before his masterpiece, the Eiffel Tower. In fact, he proposed to construct the Eiffel Tower in Barcelona, but local authorities refused it. So he at least built this small bridge in Girona before heading to Paris.
- Onyar River
- Placa Independencia – the square is a great place to get some food or sit for a café and have a break.
If you are interested more in the history of this city, visit the city history museum.
Try to catch some Catalan words as the locals speak mostly Catalan here, no Spanish. But, of course, if you speak Spanish, then do so, they will reply. But Catalan is far more important here.
Distance from Barcelona
You’ll be driving 1 hour and 20 minutes to Girona from Barcelona centre. It is 106km.
Girona is a great day trip from Barcelona. I think 1 day is definitely enough. Or you can stay overnight and visit other places from this list on the way back to Barcelona.
Walking Tours of Girona
I recommend you rent a car in Barcelona and drive to Girona on your own. It is the best value for money. Mainly because you can visit other places (from this list) on the way and be independent. Don’t take any organized tours to Girona from Barcelona.
However, if you like to do walking tours, I recommend you do one of these in Girona.
5. FIGUERES + BESALÚ
Come and explore the birthplace of Salvador Dalí, the surrealist artist born and raised in Spain here in Figueres. See his bizarre images and unique architecture.
Things to do in Figueres
- The Teatro Museum – Dalí’s main museum, hosted in a red theatre, which he renovated on his own. Admire its white eggs, local yellow bread, and golden statues. He is also buried in this building.
- Dalí Jewels Collection – admire Dalí’s collection of jewels, paintings, and drawings here
- Casa Natal de Salvador Dalí – visit the birthplace and house where he was born and grew up.
- Castle of San Ferran – is one of the largest fortresses in Europe, dating back to the 18th century.
- La Rambla de Figueres – if you didn’t really enjoy La Rambla in Barcelona, I get you. But don’t worry, the street here in Figueres is a lot less touristy and quieter. So get some food, stop for a coffee and watch people.
- The Toy Museum of Catalonia (Museu del Jouget de Catalunya) – a great place to visit with kids
- The Technology Museum of Emporda – showcases technology exemplars from the 28th and 19th centuries.
Distance from Barcelona
Figueres is located 150km from Barcelona centre, so it will take you around 1 hour and 10 minutes by car to get there.
You can also do one of these walking tours in figueres and learn more about Dalís life, his art, and the history of the city.
If you want, you can make a stop in Besalú on the way back to Barcelona. Back in the middle ages, Besalú was the capital of the country of Besalú, the large French region extending to these areas, which are now part of Spain.
The town is just worth visiting and go through. You don’t even have to visit any museum or monuments, just walk in and soak up the unique medieval atmosphere.
Things to do in Besalú
- Puente de Besalú – walk through the bridge to access the old town. It was built back in the 11th century and will really take you back to medieval times.
- Old Town – enjoy the old town, stroll through its streets, observe locals, and have a good café in the centre
- The monastery at Sant Pere – many monasteries didn’t survive until today, and this is one of those that are standing here for ages.
- Jews Baths – Jews settled here back in the 9th century as in many other parts of Spain and have left beautiful architecture and important landmarks throughout Catalonia. These baths are one of them, so check them out.
Figueres together with Besalú are amazing places that you can visit as a day trip from Barcelona.
The following road trips from Barcelona are for those who want to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Costa Brava, relax, and visit charming towns.
6. TOSSA DE MAR
Tossa de Mar was one of the highlights for me personally when making a road trip through Catalunya. It has this charm and special atmosphere, despite being sometimes crowded with holidaymakers and travellers. It is definitely the top place to visit on Costa Brava.
Stroll through the streets of the old town and get to the beach. Have a nice café and continue up to the Castle (Castillo de Tossa de Mar). You’ll get stunning views of the crystal-clear Mediterranean Sea and the town from above.
Tossa de Mar is also the first place that banned bullfighting in the world.
This road trip from Barcelona is worth it for those who like to relax on a beach, see a few historical monuments and a nice medieval old town. It is a perfect day trip from Barcelona.
Distance from Barcelona
Tossa de Mar is 107km away from the centre of Barcelona. Count with 1 hour and 20 minutes of driving there.
Tossa de Mar is enough to visit for a day. You’ll have enough time unless you want to chill another day on the beach.
I don’t think it’s necessary to book any tour to Tossa de Mar. again, the best thing is to rent a car in Barcelona and drive there. Then stroll through its tiny streets, enjoy the atmosphere, go up to the castle, and relax on the beach.
Venice in Spain? Yes, it also exists. Come and explore this unsual town in Costa Brava – Empuriabrava. It is the largest residential marina worldwide. It has 24 canals and nearly 5000 jetboats.
Take a boat trip through the canals of Empuriabrava and drive yourself. It really feels like being in Venice, except on an electric boat. Canals have no particular order or direction, so try not to get lost and remember how to get back to the dock where you started. You can rent the boats on the spot, no need to book anything in advance.
You can also do skydiving if that’s what you like.
Other than that, just chill on the beach and enjoy Costa Brava with one of its most beautiful sand beaches.
Distance from Barcelona
Empuriabrava is located 157km from Barcelona centre. It will take you almost 2 hours to get there. It is close to Figueres, so you can also visit the place on the way back to Barcelona if you like.
Empuriabrava is an excellent day trip from Barcelona. You don’t need more time for it.
8. PORTAVENTURA AMUSEMENT PARK
Are you ready to have some fun? Plan the entire day and even a night for this road trip from Barcelona. It will take you back to your childhood, scare a * out of you, and the adrenaline will be pumping inside you.
PortAventura is an amusement park with hundreds of roller coasters, theme parks, and fun stalls in the southern part of Catalonia, Spain. It is Europe’s leading theme park, and you’ll have an unforgettable experience for sure.
6 Themed Areas with world regions
It is made out of 6 themed areas, out of which 5 represent different parts of the world, including Asia, the American Far West, imperial China, Mayan Mexico, Polynesia, and fishing villages in the Mediterranean.
Recently, they added the Ferrari park, which is dedicated to the legendary Italian team. At the time I visited PortAventura, they were still building this area. The most famous attraction is the Red Force, 112 metres high, which accelerates from 0 to 185km/h in just 5 seconds. Crazy, right?
Enjoy the roller coasters, water parks, and get lost in the Selva del Miedo in the evening. It is seriously worth waiting for the selva del miedo (scary forest experience). I was part of it, and it was a unique experience.
Distance from Barcelona
Portaventura is 120km away from the centre of Barcelona. The drive takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Portaventura is great for a day trip or even for an overnight stay. It would be a perfect weekend trip from Barcelona. Definitely don’t miss the Scary Forest Experience, due to which it’s worth staying overnight.
Book Skip-the-Line Tickets for PortAventura
Places like amusement parks tend to get pretty crowded. Of course, you’ll get lost in this huge area and won’t mind tourists, but I think you don’t want to spend an hour waiting in line for entrance tickets.
That’s why I recommend you book skip-the-line tickets. Then, depending on the number of days you want to spend in PortAventura, choose one and book them in advance.
More Tips for Barcelona & Spain
These are my top tips for road trips from Barcelona you should do. Whether you are doing a Spain itinerary and want to stay more in Barcelona, or you are only visiting Barcelona on your trip, add some of these road trips. You’ll not be disappointed.
I’ve also designed the entire Spain itinerary for 14 days, with which you can see the highlights of Spain, so check it out. This itinerary starts in Barcelona, so you can stay longer and include some of these road trips in the itinerary. If you only want to visit southern Spain, get my southern Spain itinerary for 10 days.
Check out my 3-day Barcelona itinerary if you want to get the most of Barcelona.
Don’t miss one of the top 6 Spanish celebrations. Once you’re visiting Spain, it is another top thing to do. They will help you to immerse into the Spanish culture and experience so much fun.
If you are looking for more places to visit in Spain, check out my Spain Travel Guide. It will give you a better picture of this country, places to visit, the budget you’ll need, the food you have to taste and how to travel around.
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