The Region Around Barcelona
Barcelona has so much to offer! But the city isn’t the only thing worth exploring; you won’t want to miss the attractions surrounding Barcelona, either. From visiting villages to hiking trails, there are many possibilities for backpackers. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about the region around Barcelona.
The Top 6 Places in the Region Around Barcelona
If you visit Barcelona, a stop in this city is an absolute must. Sitges is 40 kilometers away from Barcelona and has beautiful beaches and great cultural events. No matter what you’re into, there’s something to do for every season here!
Are you a movie fan? The Sitges Film Festival takes place in the first week of October and attracts national and international stars. During this time, there’s a magical atmosphere in the city that you will remember forever. In February, you can also take part in a carnival featuring captivating floats and colorful costumes. If you’re looking for an exciting night scene, Sitge’s Carrer del Pecat is best known for its LGBTIQ+ Community, bars, and nightclubs. It is truly an incredible atmosphere – one you certainly don’t want to miss.
Montserrat, a 1,257-meter-high mountain, is a good 50 kilometers away from Barcelona. It is one of the most popular attractions in the region around Barcelona, especially known for “La Moreneta” or “The Virgin of Montserrat”. This is no ordinary mountain, and it offers lots to do for backpackers!
At an altitude of 720 meters, you’ll find the Abbey of Montserrat, a Benedictine monastery. The abbey can be reached by car, rack railway, or on foot. There are several beautiful trails in the area, making it a popular destination for hikers. The most popular trail is Sant Jeroni which leads to the highest point on the mountain; this trail takes about three hours to complete.
But that’s not all! You can also stay the night in one of the three accommodations on the mountain, and the area is the perfect place to taste some local foods as well. If you would like to try some typical Catalan food, you will find stands with typical homemade regional dishes.
The city of Tarragona is 100 kilometers away from Barcelona. We recommend taking the train to get there as a ticket is quite cheap, and you’ll arrive faster than you would by car. Tarragona is ideal for anyone interested in history and events of the past.
The Roman city of Tarraco was located here once, and some original buildings have been preserved to this day. The most famous is undoubtedly the Roman Amphitheater. However, the Roman circus Praetorium as well as the squares Plaça de la Font, Plaça del Fòrum, and Plaça del Rei are stunning as well.
The other attractions in this city are cathedrals from the 12th century and El Serrallo, a typical fisherman’s district! And don’t forget to visit the many beaches in the region. Relaxation is important, too, and this is one of the best places to do so. The beaches here are even better than the Costa Brava; they are much longer and the sand is way finer.
If you’re looking for a thrill, visit Port Aventura as well. It’s a huge amusement park made up of three smaller parks: a water park, Ferrari Land (we’ll assume that you can imagine what this is), and a park where different parts of the world have been recreated.
The village of Cadaqués is 160 kilometers away from Barcelona in Cap de Creus along the Costa Brava. It is the ideal destination for backpackers who visit Barcelona in the summer. Cadaqués is known for its white houses and charming alleyways. But beware! If you’re visiting by car, you would be better off not driving too far into the village; we recommend parking just outside instead. You must know the area very well to know which streets you can actually pass through with your car.
There’s also a long-distance hiking trail along the Costa Brava; it starts in the first village of Blanes and ends in Portbou. This trail is called Camí de RondaI; so, if you enjoy hiking, don’t miss out on this wonderful route. It doesn’t just lead you through villages, it also takes you past beautiful beaches that are only accessible on foot.
The beaches of the Costa Brava are small and rocky, making them ideal for snorkeling and diving. People also like to explore the region by kayak or boat. And here are a few other villages along the Costa Brava that are worth a visit as well: L’Escala, Begur, Pals, Calella de Palafrugell, and Tossa de Mar.
The city of Vic is 70 kilometers away from Barcelona. If you like picturesque landscapes and hiking trails, this is the right place for you. After a stroll through the city, you can continue your walk through the surrounding villages.
In this region, there are two natural areas that are worth a visit – Montseny and Pantà de Sau. They are especially great in autumn. The leaves turn red and create a spectacular site.
Montseny Natural Park
The residents of Barcelona enjoy visiting Montseny in the fall. It’s a great place for a hike to Turó de l’Home or Matagalls, for example. The most popular tradition is to collect chestnuts. On October 31st and November 1st, in Catalonia, people typically eat chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and panellets – a Catalan dessert.
The villages around Montseny are also worth a visit! The most popular ones are Viladrau, Montseny, Aiguafreda, and El Brull.
Pantà de Sau
Pantà de Sau is a reservoir where you can go on various excursions. You’ll love it! If you would like to admire the landscape from a different perspective, you can even explore the reservoir with a kayak. And don’t miss the church tower that rises from the water!
Girona is 100 kilometers away from Barcelona. But maybe you already knew that. Why? Because most of Game of Thrones was filmed in Girona! Famous landmarks like the cathedral, for example, can be seen in the series. You might also discover a few of Girona’s streets and Arabic baths in some of the episodes.
No worries, though, even if you aren’t a fan of Game of Thrones, there’s quite a bit for you to see as well. Girona’s old town, for example, is an absolute must for backpackers who come here. The narrow alleys and the atmosphere of the city are simply unique. There are also many students that live in Girona, making it an attractive and busy place, especially while school is in progress.
Girona’s flower season, the Girona Temps de Flors, is a truly wonderful event. You don’t want to miss this! It takes place in May, when the whole city is decked out in flowers. It’s not just the building façades or balconies that are decorated, there are entire works of art made of flowers! Sounds great, right?
An Outing in the Pyrenees
Yeah, we get it – the Pyrenees are a bit too far away to be counted as part of the region around Barcelona. But you should definitely plan a trip to the Pyrenees, particularly in the winter. Barcelona’s locals often take a day trip to the mountains, which are easily accessible via train or car.
Do you like skiing or mountain sports? If so, you will love Pyrenees’ endless possibilities to just let loose and have fun! There are three large and well-known ski-resorts: La Molina, La Masella, Baqueira Beret, and of course, many more.
For fans of biking, La Molina is a great place in the summer as well. Once the snow has melted, the area is transformed into a large bike park. There are 13 slopes for all skill levels. Of course, the Pyrenees also have many hiking trails, especially around Catalonia’s highest mountain, the Pica d’Estats, which boasts a height of 3,143 meters.
You could also visit Catalonia’s national park, Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. If you have enough time left, a trip here is a must. From numerous lakes to impressive hiking trails and a wide range of snow sports, this park has a lot to offer.
Or you can simply visit a few typical villages of the Pyrenees. Here is a list of the top-rated places – though many of them are a little further away. It might be best to allow for several days if you come here:
- Bellver de Cerdanya
- Esterri d’Àneu
- Queralbs und Vall de Núria
Like you’ve seen, the region around Barcelona is packed with opportunities. We know that Barcelona alone has a lot of attractions, but while you’re here, it’s also worth exploring the region and getting to know the Catalan culture.
You can freely plan your activities and outings, even if you don’t have a car. Most of these destinations can be reached with public transportation or as part of organized tours – like the Montserrat mountain, for example. Other destinations, like Cadaqués, some parts of the Pyrenees, and Montseny, however, are more difficult to reach without a car.
Whatever your preferences are and no matter when you visit Barcelona, you will always find something to do. Why be content with just seeing the city, when you can go discover the incredible region around Barcelona! What are you still waiting for?