If you still haven’t had enough of Barcelona and its Mediterranean atmosphere you can discover its surroundings. In this article, we will take you through the best places around Barcelona that you should definitely visit during your stay in Barcelona. Check out our top tips on finding out a little bit more on Catalan culture.
San Cugat: El Monasterio San Cugat del Vallés
The town of San Cugat is only 25 km from Barcelona and the monastery can be reached within 1h by public transport. This is the best day trip idea full of cultural, leisure, and nature experiences without crowds.
El Monasterio San Cugat del Vallés dates from the 4th century and is one of the most important and greatest architectures of medieval art in Catalonia that you find here. There you can visit the Cloister and the Church that are considered as jewels of Romanesque and show the transition from that style to Gothic. This monastic complex will tell you a diverse and exciting history of monastic life from its beginning as a monastery until its end as a National Monument in 1931. The entrance is free and you only need to buy an audio guide (if you want to get to know it better).
In Sant Cugat, you find numerous activities for lazy and active people, for families, couples, and those who prefer travelling alone. You have a wide choice between routes and visits. Here one can find many sports activities or even plan their business meetings. Here is something for everyone!
Rupit: a 1,000 Year Old Medieval Village
Located 98 km from the Catalan capital, this small charming village of fewer than 300 inhabitants can be reached in less than 2 hours by car or 3 hours by train and is ideal for a day trip from Barcelona. When travelling by car you should park in a large outdoor garage and then can cross the suspension bridge and enter the city. From the bridge, you can enjoy the views across the Rupit river.
The word Rupit means “stone“ which had been traditionally used in the houses, the streets, the squares, and the bridges. The atmosphere will bring you back some centuries in time. Here you should walk through the stone streets and observe the remarkable stone buildings like Ca L’Apotecari (now Cal Mestre), la Ferreria (Herreria), and Can Sallent. In the same area, you find old churches of Baroque style.
If you want to see more as only the town you can book a guided walking tour, one of them leads to the Sallent waterfall of a drop of 100m and the Molí Rodó waterfall with a drop of 25m, as well the Pedreres cave and natural viewpoints of stone.
Don’t leave without trying their traditional food!
Los Riscos de Tavertet: Hiking enthusiasts get ready
Just “on the corner” at about 12 km from Rupit is a magical place of great scenic interest, inhabited by birds of prey, the small town Tavertet, raised on a huge cliff of 200 meters. This place is the best for those wanting to spend time actively in nature, enjoy the spectacular views and explore the Catalan through the centuries.
There one can discover beautiful examples of rural Gothic Catalan such as the casal de L’Avenc and Romanesque buildings like the parish church Sant Cristófol, San Miguel de Sorerols, San Bartomeu Sesgorgues and Santa Cília dated from the 11th to 15th centuries.
If you are looking for adventure and adrenaline – you’ve already found it! Those of you can join packrafting trips to navigate through the waters of the Panta de Sau, where you will find vestiges of the ancient flooded town of Sant Romà de Sau, whose bell tower still stands out of the water. Or if you are more for walking and hiking join the tours of walk runs through impressive and colourful cliffs of Tavertet where you will see small caves called baumas where people who lived in the Palaeolithic era used to live, and enjoy the impressive views of the Guilleries Natural Park.
Girona: For fans of Game of Thrones
Girona also Gerona is in the very north-east of Spain between Costa Brava and the Pyrenees, only about 100 km from Barcelona and is perfectly connected by the new high-speed AVE trains which leave every 45 minutes and bring you there in 38m. You can buy the ticket at the Estacio Sants Train or online flexibly.
The old town of Girona is well preserved and has therefore served as a filming location for numerous films and series, including seasons 5-8 of Game of Thrones. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones you definitely must visit the Girona Cathedral where the scene of Cersei’s walk of shame was filmed and the staircase where Arya was running away from the waif. Just below that staircase you can eat and drink at the Café le Brisrot and recall the scenes of your favourite series. If you don’t know where to go to follow in the footsteps of the series, join the Game of Thrones Tour.
Check out the Jewish Quarters
Moreover, in the heart of Girona is one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in the world where you can explore the narrow cobblestoned streets and visit the Jewish Museum. If you want to learn more about the history of this quarter it is best to book a 3-hour-tour with a knowledgeable guide.
A walk on the Medieval Walls
A walk on the medieval walls also called the Passeig de la Muralla, is another must-do activity while in Girona as it opens up spectacular views of the city that are even better from the towers. The best views over the rivers are offered by the many bridges. One of them, Pont de Peixateries Velles, is reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower which is not a coincidence as it was built by Eiffel himself before the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Note: Most museums are closed on Monday so I would recommend not going there on that day if you want to be flexible in your choices and If you have time and the opportunity it is better to stay overnight to experience how the city comes to life at night.
Empuriabrava: the Venice of Spain
Our last suggestion from the surroundings of Barcelona you should definitely visit is Empuriabrava, a city on the Costa Brava with large, comfortable houses with boats in front of each of them. This place is great for partying! The city has around 25 kilometres of sailable waters, making it the largest residential harbour in Europe.
The marina of Empuriabrava offers a number of award winning beaches like Platja de Empuriabrava and Rubina Beach making this place a perfect summer holiday location. It is also close to great natural areas such as the swamps and mysterious lakes of Aiguamolls de L’Emporda and the Natural Park Cabo de Creus that you can visit throughout the whole year. This area is a protected nature reserve so make sure to stick to the fixed routes while there to avoid damages to the fragile ecosystem. You’ll receive the needed information and a guideline at the reception at the entrance to the park.
Fancy a bike tour?
Alongside the river La Muga is a trail of 40 km, the perfect place for a bike tour. The route starts at the beach of Empuriabrava and leads you through the Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de L’Emporda and ends in the mountain valley Sant Llorenç de la Murga. So you can combine your bike tour with the visit of the natural Park and other monuments and areas. There are a lot of places there where you can rent a bike for hours or days.
Or maybe a competition?
However this place offers not only beaches, parks and canal tours but also many festivals you can participate in. Empuriabrava is known for the “wind games”, a competition where anyone can show their flying skills. You also can participate in the Festival Medieval Tierra de Trovadores, one of the most iconic festivals of this region and see how people used to live here and learn some of their traditions, enjoy music shows and street markets.
Barcelona is one the most beautiful cities in the world surrounded by no less interesting and beautiful towns and villages that are definitely worth a visit. If you happen to be stuck and still looking for bits to do in Barcelona alone, check out our top 8 favourites!