While Barcelona and the Costa Brava are famed for their excellent variety of beaches to enjoy all summer long, once Winter arrives it can be hard to think of what to do in when laying in the sun is no longer an option.
To help give you ideas for what to do in the winter months, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite day trips to take from Barcelona in winter, that are all around only an hour’s travel away.
Here are our top 10 favourite day trips to take from Barcelona when the weather is colder:
To the north of Catalonia’s capital, located between the Pyrenean Mountains and the Costa Brava, is the charming city of Girona. Known as the very romantic ‘Ciudad de los Cuatro Ríos’ (City of the Four Rivers) and used as the location for filming for the incredibly popular ‘Game of Thrones’ series.
Things to do in Girona
- Take a visit to Girona’s key locations that were used for the filming of Game of Thrones (as the Free City of Essos for fans of the show!). Locations of filming here include the steps of Sant Marti, Els Banys Àrabs and La Catedral de Santa María. Why not visit the sights via Segway for an even better tour of the city?
- Walk the city walls built in the Roman era to see the best views of the Girona skyline
- Visit the beautiful coloured houses called Cases de l’Onyar, located on the river and perfect for an Instagram picture to make your friends jealous!
How to get there:
It is only 40 minutes each way by train from the Barcelona-Sants station via the high-speed AVE train
Slightly further north of Girona in the northern part of Catalonia and in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the small town of Besalú is a must-visit. The town has a rich history dating back to the prehistoric era, but Besalú was particularly significant during the Medieval period when its borders reached as far as France.
Things to do in Besalú
- Visit the medieval bridge constructed in the 12th century, the view on top makes for an amazing panoramic photograph of Besalú. Easily one of the most impressive monuments of the town!
- Take a stroll through the old Jewish neighbourhood, as Besalú has a fascinating Jewish heritage with several historical houses and ceremonial buildings. Visit the mikveh and take a guided tour for an explanation of the Jewish history of the town.
- Visit the Sant Pere Monastery, founded in the year 977 and renovated a couple of centuries later, rather modest in style but worth a visit nonetheless!
How to get there:
Besalú is a 55-minute journey on the Renfe train from Barcelona to Girona, and then a short bus to Besalú, or 1.5 hours if you take a bus the entire way.
Although a town famed for its beaches and carnival in the summer, Sitges is an excellent choice even when the weather becomes cooler. Sitges is a favourite of Barcelona residents for a quick day trip down the coast, and for good reason!
Things to do in Sitges
- Although it won’t quite be the weather for nipping into the water for a swim, taking a stroll along one of Sitges’ many wonderful beaches is still a great choice in winter. Our favourite beaches here are Platja de la Ribera and Garraf village beach
- Head to Casa Bacardí, to learn about the history and manufacturing process of Bacardí and try some cocktails for yourself!
- Just next to the Platja de la Ribera is the Parròquia de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla church, a beautiful church dating back to the 17th century with multiple altarpieces and a bell tower.
- If you happen to be coming on a rainy day, heading to one of the museums in Sitges is also a good idea. We recommend the Cau Ferrat Museum, which is the workshop of painter Santiago Rusional built in 1893 housing his works, and the Marciel Museum which hosts an amazing collection of artworks and artifacts also.
How to get there:
Sitges is only 30 minutes from the Barcelona Sants station by train, or 45 minutes by bus from Plaça Espanya.
Sant Sadurní d’Anoia
The Catalonia region is infamous for its world-famous cava wine, so what better day trip than to the Penedès wine region. The town of Sant Sadurní D’Anoia is the centre of this region, with about 60 wine companies based here. These tours aren’t only suited to wine enthusiasts, with many allowing children to come free too (without the wine tasting part!)
Things to do in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia
- Freixenet Tour: the instantly recognisable brand Freixenet offers a guided tour of the cava production process and of their centennial cellars with cava tasting too of course! There are also options to combine the cava tasting with a trip to a chocolate factory, or of a tasting of local gourmet products.
- Cavas Codorníu: listed as a ‘National Historic Artistic Monument’, this architecturally astonishing facility offers a variety of different activities such as guided tours, breakfast and lunch between the vineyards, and tasting courses too.
How to get there:
The quickest and easiest way to get from Barcelona is by bus which takes 50 minutes, and you can also buy the Freixetren ticket which includes a round trip by train plus a visit to the Freixenet cellars for 11 euros!
Heading north of Barcelona towards the Pyrenees mountains will find you in the quaint, historical town of Vic. Vic is known as the ‘saint’s town’ thanks to its variety of churches, beautiful architecture and artistic heritage, but it is also worth a trip for its fantastic gastronomy too.
Things to do in Vic:
- Head to the Plaça Major which is the town’s main square, boarded by many shops, bars and restaurants to sit and relax in.
- Visit the Sant Pere Cathedral, founded in the 11th century and boasting an excellent display of artwork, as well as an original Romanesque crypt and bell tower.
- One of the town’s most important historical monuments is the Roman Temple of Ausa, which dates all the way back to the 1st century!
How to get there:
The quickest way is by bus which will take you direct to Vic Bus Station in 55 minutes from near Plaça Catalunya, or by the R3 train in 1 hour 20 minutes.
The best part about being in Barcelona means you’re in easy access of the mountains to the north too, so why not do something completely different and take a day trip to ski? There are not many places in the world that you can leave the beach in the morning to head to the snow within a few hours!
Things to do in La Molina:
- SKI! Although getting here takes a little longer than some of the other trips listed, you can still head for a day on the slopes just for the day. You can buy a ski pass from your phone at a cost of €42 per day, or buy a ticket that includes transport, skiing and insurance too!
How to get to La Molina:
By train which takes around 2 and a half hours, by bus which takes around 3 and a half hours.
For families and adrenaline junkies alike, the PortAventura Theme Park is the perfect day trip out of Barcelona! Found in Costa Dorada’s Salou, the wide range of exciting attractions makes for an entertaining day out for everyone, without being weather dependent. The park is separated into themed sections, so you can easily get up to a whole day of fun here.
Things to do in Port Aventura
- Head on to the park, which is themed as the four corners of the globe, and with an endless amount of roller coaster attractions to get your pulse racing!
- Take a trip to Ferrari Land and get your adrenaline pumping on the red force roller coaster which accelerates from 0-180km in 5 seconds.
- Watch one of the shows that takes place throughout the day, from Tahitian fire shows, to musicals and dancing fountains, there’s something to entertain all!
How to get to Port Aventura
Take the train to Port Aventura which takes just under an hour and a half, or by driving which is a similar amount of time.
The natural beauty and views from the Montserrat mountain are unparalleled, and well worth a visit to get some fresh air away from Barcelona for the day. Arguably the holiest site of Catalonia, many pilgrims travel to visit the Montserrat Abbey, but it’s a fantastic day trip even just for the views.
Things to do in Montserrat
- Visit the Montserrat Abbey, a monastery that dates back to the 11th century and still has over 70 monks in residence there. Here you can find the Virgin of Montserrat sculpture that depicts the Black Madonna that many come to pray to.
- There are some of the best views of Catalonia from up on Montserrat, hike over to Sant Miquel’s Cross for views of both the mountains and monastery, or head to The Stairway to Heaven for Instagram-worthy shots.
How to get to Montserrat
Take the renfe R5 train from Plaça Espanya, and then the cable car or funicular to reach the top, which takes roughly an hour in total.
Close to the border of France and the birthplace of Salvador Dalí, the town of Figueres makes for an excellent day trip from Barcelona at any time of year. Although a lot of the town’s attraction is to do with the great artist, this beautiful town has many more historical sites to visit too on your day trip.
Things to do in Figueres
- The Teatro Museo is the main Dalí museum in the whole of Spain, and perhaps even the world’s largest surrealist artefact! At the museum you will notice that the rooftops have giant egg sculptures between golden statues – definitely very different to anything you’ve seen before!
- Visit the Sant Ferran Castle which is a military fortress constructed in the 18th century, and book onto the castle’s guided tour which includes a visit to the underground water tanks and off-road travel in the ditch surrounding the castle.
How to get to Figueres
Direct trains run from Barcelona Sants to Figueres that take roughly 2 hours, or the bus from Barcelona Estación del Nord that takes around 3 hours.
This beautiful Catalonian coastal town is famed for its excellent array of beaches – its coast Is literally known as the Golden Coast – being home to countless bays and coves too. However, Tarragona is still an excellent choice in the winter months too with the cooler weather drawing in.
Things to do in Tarragona
- Visit the Tarragona Amphitheatre, built by the Romans around the end of the 2nd century BC but still standing tall today. Spectators would come here to watch chariot racing and gladiator fights in the past, and a hidden chapel was even discovered beneath the amphitheatre itself. A must visit for any history lovers!
- Take some tapas and a drink in the Plaça del Fòrum or Plaça del Rei, the two main squares found in Tarragona.
- Located outside the centre, but well worth a visit, is the Les Ferreres Aqueduct, otherwise known as Puente del Diablo (Devil’s Bridge). This impressive piece of Roman engineering remains in perfect condition, and supplies the whole of the Tarraco region’s water.
We hope that our list provides you with more of an idea of what to get up to on a day trip from Barcelona in winter, when heading to sunbathe every day is no longer an option! There’s such a variety of things to do in and around Barcelona to suit whatever you’re after, so it makes for the best base for anything you would like to do here. If you’re thinking of staying in Barcelona, check out AB Apartment Barcelona’s website to search for an apartment here, and contact us for any help you need for ideas of where to visit or where to stay!