If you are there for more than two days (in which case, you should spend all of your time in Barcelona)…
With so many things to see in Spain, several travelers feel paralyzed by choices, trying to cover the mountainous and monkey-lined regions of Gibraltar, the Moorish architecture of Granada, the beaches of Cadiz, the intimacy of Zaragoza, the bustle of Madrid, and the free-spirit of Barcelona, all in one whirlwind of a trip. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to rethink your Spanish immersion program.
This article focuses on Catalunya and the many wonderful cities and experiences that it has to offer. If you are there for more than two days (in which case, you should spend all of your time in Barcelona), check out some of these amazing sites.
Time recommended: 5 hours
The site of the Dalí museum and just a quick train ride away from almost every major city in Catalunya, Figueres is a destination for an afternoon but not someplace that requires an overnight visit. The Dalí museum is a staple in every Spanish textbook and one that should not be missed on your tour around the province. Apart from the museum, take about an hour or so to wander the local streets and indulge in a traditional Spanish lunch.
Time recommended: one day, one night
With medieval remains, trendy bars, winding streets, and bridges to make your Instagram melt, Girona beckons anyone who loves a walk away from the beating path. The best time to go is during their flower festival in May but either way, Girona promises some lovely photos and lovelier memories.
Time recommended: full day
Just a short jaunt from Barceloneta, Mataro boasts the same blue water and beautiful beaches with almost zero tourists and more Spanish locals. The churros are definitely worth eating from the several stands along the beach and with La Roca outlets close by, you’re guaranteed a great day no matter what the weather (not that you need to worry about the weather much in Catalunya).
Time recommended: Overnight, at least one night
Located by the see and featuring outstanding Roman ruins, Tarragona is a city that appears to be taken straight out of a movie. Vibrant by nature, it sports enthusiastic locals, quiet retreats, bumping night clubs, and adventures perfect for tourists and cultural enthusiasts alike…not to mention the great food! Most Barcelona visitors don’t know to check out Tarragona so during months when tourism is making other, more prime cities busy, Tarragona is a great place to get away.
Recommended time: 3 days
One of my all time favorite places in Europe, Cadaques is a tiny, white town by the sea. With a gorgeous cathedral as its focal point, hidden outstanding restaurants, a blue crescent beach that spans the inner perimeter of the city, and bars in nooks, full of character, Cadaques offers a charm that few other cities can. It’s the perfect place for families, couples looking to enjoy a romantic day away, or friends trying to find a hidden oasis.
Recommended time: 5 days
Barcelona is always at the top of Catalunya and Spain’s list and is sure to live up to your grand expectations. With an indescribable artistic buzz, a thriving night live, warm days all year-round, and restaurants that will make your mouth water, Barcelona’s walls speak and they are saying something you want to make sure that you hear. Barcelona is usually a quick stop on the tourist list but with so many things to see, you can easily spend a week or two here and feel like you still have so much to learn.
Recommended time: 3 days
A short train ride from Barcelona, Sitges is most famous for throwing it down during Carnival and a thriving night life but the small, Catalan town has much more to offer than discos and parades. Because it is further from the tourist epicenter, the beaches are clearer, cleaner, and quieter. The paella restaurants on the beach are a must-visit with experiences like Bacardi tours and palace museums to keep your days, weekends, and nights filled!