There are endless reasons as to why people from all over the world choose a new life in Barcelona. For many from more northern European countries such as the UK and Scandinavia, a major contributing factor is that, even though it is only March, here in Spain we can already start to think about warmer days. Although there is much to keep you busy in Barcelona City, there is such a rich selection of other areas to see around Catalonia. From exploring different towns, to hiking through mountains and kayaking through coves, the opportunities at our fingertips are the envy of the world.
This post will introduce you to just a handful of beautiful and convenient destinations for weekends away from Barcelona.
Less than an hour’s drive or train from the center of Barcelona, Sitges has something for everyone. It is home to a charming town, with so many traditional little streets to explore, offering a wealth of boutique shops and local tapas restaurants. A 5-minute walk from the station, you will find yourself on the glittering beachfront. Since this is a little more of an upscale destination you can expect the sand to be pristine, leading into crystal-clear water, stretching for miles down the coast.
Along the seafront you will discover a varied choice of restaurants of different cuisines, where you can enjoy a meal on a sunny terrace overlooking the sea. If you are partial to paella and seafood, or you simply desire a glass of Cava on a sunbed, El Vivero is a delightful option, built into a cliff overlooking the beach and the town.
Sitges is never short of events for children and adults alike, offering a fascinating and cultural experience of parades and carnivals throughout the year.
Steeped in history and surrounded by dazzling beaches, Begur is a getaway you will remember forever. The town is built surrounding a 16th century castle, observing a blanket of pine trees above the historical town and coastline from the top of a central hill. The town itself is idyllic and calm, offering traditional little Catalan restaurants and winding walks around ornate Mediterranean architecture.
During the day, you will be spoilt for choice by the picturesque beaches in the area. Relax in the sun on the beach of Sa Tuna or hire kayaks or a boat to explore the coves and world-famous coastline of the Costa Brava. There are also several routes to walk through the hills along the coast. Take in spectacular views of the sun shimmering across the blue water, inhaling the scent of fresh pine whilst exploring the natural environment.
The only possible catch is that you will need a car for this trip since it is tricky to reach via public transport.
Approximately ninety minutes north of Barcelona by car or train, or less than 40 minutes on the high-speed train, Girona is a wonderfully cultural inland city. Intersected by four rivers, Ter, Guell, Galligants and Oñar, Girona offers a uniquely beautiful take on Catalan architecture. At the highest point of the city, you will find the Catedral de Santa María de Girona. This cathedral, dating from the year 1312, is a prime demonstration of gothic architecture, with a famous baroque façade, featured in the popular Netflix series Game of Thrones. Behind the cathedral is the old Episcopal Palace, leading up to the walls surrounding the old city which were first established by the Romans in the 1st century AD. It is possible for visitors to walk around the walls and climb the towers, taking in unrivalled views across the city and the surrounding natural environment.
In Girona itself, there are a wealth of landmarks to explore, including the Collegiate Church of Sant Feliu, and the bridges which cross the central river, providing the perfect opportunity to view the renowned colorful houses which line the banks. You will certainly not be short of restaurants and bars of all kinds in this fascinating city.
Tossa de Mar
At about an hour and a half north of Barcelona by car, or by coach from Estacio de Nord, Tossa de Mar is a town you will always want to keep coming back to for summer weekends. With charming winding streets offering a choice of delicious traditional restaurants and fun bars, as well as many boutique shopping opportunities, there is plenty to explore. Along the seafront you will find idyllic beaches to relax and soak up the sun. There are also several kiosks to hire boats and kayaks, to explore the coves and hidden beaches along the coastline.
On the south side of the town, there are the old walls of Tossa de Mar leading up to and around the castle, which date from the 12th to 14th century. Strolling around the walls is a must, simply for the medieval architecture and the Vila Vella which they enclose, offering more little restaurants and bars, some offering spectacular views of the town and beach. When you reach the top, you will find a viewing point on the other side, offering stunning ‘instagramable’ bay views amongst pine trees and local nature.
No matter which is your favorite destination, we can all surely agree that as expats we have chosen Catalonia for its myriad of possibilities and opportunities, both in Barcelona and beyond. In exploring these paradisiacal locations, there is no doubt that you will fill your weekends with beautiful memories to last a lifetime.