Beyond Barcelona: 5 Amazing Day Trips Worth Taking

Cava Hotel Mastinell Gaudi inspired architecture

Ever since I moved to Barcelona almost two years ago, I have made it my own personal challenge to uncover as many Spanish hidden gems as it’s humanly possible while still working a full-time job (something’s gotta pay for my travels!).

And while I could tell you all about Montserrat, Sitges, Girona and Tarragona – and they are all certainly great choices for a getaway from Barcelona, I deliberately chose not to.

Instead, I’ll make you dream of medieval villages and castle sleepovers, flamingos and rice fields, Gaudi style luxury getaways or kayaking adventures around the Great Wall of Spain.

Beyond Barcelona: 6 Amazing Day Trips Worth Taking

I dare you to spice up your travels and add some of my suggestions below to your plans – for a more memorable vacation in Spain!

Spilling the beans, here are some of my favorite places to go to around Barcelona:

A 9th Century Castle Sleepover in Cardona

vaulted ceiling dining area at the Parador de Cardona
Cardona Castle’s vaulted ceiling dining area

A mere 100km away from the bustling streets of Barcelona, you’ll be able to find the perfect peace & quiet getaway in a medieval castle turned Parador (Spanish for inn), set up high on the unconquered hill of Cardona.

The castle has been exquisitely refurbished in the 60’s and is now open for both daytime visits and accommodation.

The highlight of your trip to Cardona Castle will be the vaulted dining room, where the most delicious & original food (think wild boar in chocolate sauce) will be brought to you with impeccable service.

Getting there by bus: There’s a bus running from Barcelona Nord station taking you to Cardona, before its final stop in Andorra.

While it takes roughly 2h30 to get there by bus, I assure you the trip will be most worth it.

Bonus for thrill seekers, there is a rumor of a ghost suffering from heartache in room 712 – though we certainly didn’t see anything weird happen.

Curious for more details? Check out my post here.

Flamingoes & Rice Fields in Delta de L’Ebro

Whoever knew you can sample such exotic vibes with a Spanish touch!

One hour south of Barcelona, you’ll have the perfect nature getaway, complete with rice fields and pink flamingos, right in the heart of Ebro’s Delta.

While I, like everyone else, am all familiar with the infamous Spanish paella, it still comes off as a surprise that Spain is actually a rice producer as well. In fact, some 80% of EU rice production takes place in Spain and Italy.

To give you an idea of what to expect in the Ebro Delta: more than 300 of the total 500 species of birds in Europe can be seen here. Flamingos are not even the stars of the flock!

Surrounded by rice fields, a huge sandy beach awaits, with enough bird colonies to make you gape, even if you’re not into bird watching.

Thinking back to my own excitement when birdwatching in the Montfrague paradise of Extremadura , you can’t NOT be impressed. Trust me on this.

Getting there by Train: A 2h train ride away from Barcelona, you just take the R.EXPRES 18051 direction Tortosa and stop at L’Ampolla train station.

Medieval Besalu and Green Volcanoes

Besalu's Viejo Bridge reflected in the river
Besalu’s Viejo Bridge

Another hidden gem that had me through the roof! Why not mix nature, history, and architecture with a one day trip through Catalunya’s medieval villages? Yes, why not!

The highlights are too many to list, but here’s a spoiler:

A small but proud Catalan village, perched on a high steep cliff as if it were torn from a fairytale book, where cats lazily hang around window sills and the views are just perfect!

panoramic view of Castellfollit de la Roca village in Catalunya spain,
Castellfollit de la Roca

You’ll have plenty else to see and do on this getaway:

  • visit the superb medieval village of Besalu, where you can combine sightseeing with a visit to their quaint Miniature Museum
  • go for a short, refreshing hike inside the caldera of a volcano
  • get lazy by the lake in Banyoles, or rent a boat to better enjoy its perfectly clear turquoise waters
  • and avoid all crowds in the process

Getting there: If you don’t want to bother organizing all this yourself, check out my post for tour companies & more details.

Wine Country Splurging: Penedes

With more than 2.9 million acres of vineyards, spread all over Spain, there are a variety of wineries to choose from.

But it’s only in the Penedes region, south of Barcelona, that cava – the infamous sparkling wine of Spain that has grown in popularity over the last years – is produced. To spare you from choice overload, I’ve chosen a niche representative for you to try.

Behold: Hotel Cava Mastinell – the perfect mix of gastronomy, wine tasting, and boutique accommodation – with a pinch of Gaudi.

While a night at Hotel Mastinell sure doesn’t come cheap, this hidden gem is a real keeper for your next romantic escapade or otherwise special occasion. 

Getting there: Take the R4 regional train towards Sant Vicenc De Calders and go down at Vilafranca del Penedès.

Trains run every 30 minutes and take roughly one hour to Vilafranca. A short 5-minute taxi drive and you’ll be at the hotel.

 Kayaking around the Great Wall of Spain

finestres muralla china

Yes, there is such a thing as the Great wall of Spain. Though it was not built by humans, but by sheer force of nature, it is equally impressive.

A day out kayaking and hiking the Congost de Mont Rebei and Finestres will appeal to the most passionate urban creatures.

Getting there: You’ll want to rent a car, because this one’s tricky.

If you can’t, you can also get an ALSA bus from the Barcelona Nord bus station and stop in Benabarre. CheckMyBus is a good tool to make sense of your public transport options.

Mind that if you take the bus you’ll have to plan for more than a one-day trip: the bus takes around 4h30 to get there.

Like my suggestions? Spread the word to your friends and travel partners! 

Start to Travel. Differently.

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