Barcelona is the cultural centre of Catalonia, known for its golden sandy beaches, vibrant art scene and rich history. But a visit to the region doesn’t mean you have to stick to the city. There’s plenty of amazing things to see and do, just a short road trip from Barcelona. Within the vast countryside surrounding the city, you’ll find picture-postcard villages, medieval ruins and rolling hills of greenery, just waiting to be discovered. So, what are you waiting for – take your family or friends and hit the road!
Here are the top 5 places you need to explore in Catalonia by car on your road trip from Barcelona.
If you’re a fan of Roman architecture, then this port city is a destination worth seeking out. It was one of the most important cities in the Iberian Peninsula some 2,000 years ago, a key outpost in the Roman empire. Pieces of Tarragona’s rich history can still be seen today, in landmarks such as the coastal amphitheater, the Necropolis and the remains of the ancient aqueduct, which can be found just a short road trip outside of the city. After sampling the Roman delights of Tarragona, take a walk along the ramparts for beautiful panoramas of the city. From your vantage point, you’ll see the meeting of the past and the present in this charming city.
Driving to Tarragona will only take 1 hour and 20 minutes, giving you plenty of time to explore. The city lies to the south west of Barcelona, so if you’re looking for car rental, Barcelona airport is the best place to begin.
While Costa Brava is known as a tourist hotspot, there are plenty of hidden gems within the region that still boast all of the rustic charm you’d expect from a quaint Catalonian village. Calella de Palafrugell is one such village. It’s home to a sea of white houses, narrow cobbled streets and pristine sandy beaches.
On a road trip from Barcelona, it’ll take just over 2 hours to reach this scenic spot. After making the journey to this idyllic part of Catalonia by car, stretch your legs with a walk along the Camino de Ronda. It was once a secret route used by locals to escape pirate attacks. Nowadays, you can take to the path to discover peaceful coves and sweeping panoramas of the glistening sea.
Begin your trip to Barcelona with a cycling adventure and head north to the principality of Andorra. In the winter, the mountains are a great place to ski and snowboard. In the summer, the snow melts and the hills become the perfect track for an invigorating bike ride.
It’ll take you around 2 hours and 45 minutes to drive through Catalonia by car to the region. Alternatively, go for the scenic route, which takes around 1 hour longer, and witness the beauty of Catalonia along the way. If you’d like to take your own bike don’t worry about car rental, Barcelona airport has plenty of larger vehicles available.
For Game of Thrones fans, Girona is a must-see. The city is home to one of the best preserved Jewish quarters in all of Europe. Within the maze of narrow streets sits the imposing Cathedral of Saint Mary, which eagle-eyed GoT viewers will recognise as the exterior of the Great Sept in season 6. Girona also has plenty more to offer, including Independence Square and sprawling fortifications that offer amazing vistas of the city and countryside beyond.
In terms of car hire, Barcelona to Girona is a popular road trip taken by visitors to the region, so you’ll find plenty of options (and advice) available at rental places.
High above Barcelona sits the monastery of Montserrat. It’s a highly popular destination for Catalans and Catholic pilgrims, who travel from far and wide to journey to the top of the rock mountain. From its vantage point, the monastery offers unparalleled views of the region, so its well worth getting up early to experience sunrise at Monserrat.
Barcelona is only an hour’s drive away, so you’ll have plenty of time on your road trip to continue north after visiting the monastery. After a short 30 minute drive you’ll find yourself at the Oller del Mas winery, where you can explore the vineyards and wine cellar before tucking into a delicious meal in the winery’s restaurant.
Have a great road trip!
Your four-wheel travel buddy, Carrentalia 🚗