Barcelona is a fantastic international city with brilliant food, rich history, great beaches, and stunning architecture, but if you wish to explore beyond Barcelona’s borders, there are several interesting day trips you can do:
Montserrat – Located 30-45 minutes by train from Barcelona is a famous monastery located on a mountain top, one of the most famous symbols of Spain. It’s very popular with Catholic pilgrims, but it’s a marvelous structure and can be appreciated by people from all walks of life.
Salou – A beautiful beach town with a renowned theme park, Port Aventura Resort, Salou is a great place to enjoy the sun and fun of beach culture, but also escape the fast hustle of Barcelona. Salou also contains golf courses and adventure activities like zip-lining, as well as nice shopping boutiques. The train from Barcelona will get you here in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Tarragona – If you want a more balanced combination of beach and history, then Tarragona is the place. Only one hour by train from Barcelona, Tarragona has a Roman coliseum as well as a Roman aqueduct and an imposing cathedral. There are also many nice, quiet historical streets to stroll on, complete with tapas bars and cafes.
Figueres – Home of a great Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres is awash with a plethora of Catalan history. A comfortable two-hour train ride is all it requires to get here from Barcelona, and there is much here to explore for one day, including the aforementioned Dali museum, as well as a great toy museum (Museu del Joguet), the tremendous San Ferran Castle (Castell de Sant Ferran), and a relaxing old town.
Besalu – A stone’s throw from the more well-known city of Girona, Besalu is approximately 2 hours from Barcelona using a combination of train and bus, but it’s well worth the visit. The chief landmarks are the historic Besalu bridge, a nice and quiet riverbank perfect for a stroll, well-maintained cobblestone streets, and historic ruins with a great view. There are also several interesting restaurants and cafes to wind down in.
Girona – An underrated jewel of a city in the heart of Catalonia, it only takes an hour to get here by train or bus from Barcelona. Girona has lovely narrow, cobble-stone streets which are worth exploring, as well as a historic Jewish quarter. The scenery along the riverbank is quite nice, and there are many fantastic restaurants and cafes to be found.