10 places you should visit if you come to Barcelona
Which Barcelona do you know? The beaches of Maresme, Montserrat, Montseny or Sitges are some of the jewels you should visit if you come to Barcelona this summer. Set aside a couple of days to discover a unique region with a cultural, natural and culinary heritage that will surprise you.
Colonia Güell’s Crypt1. Sitges – beaches and Art Nouveau
Sitges will never disappoint you. If you are in the mood for beaches, you have 26 to choose from, and good times are guaranteed: 320 days of sunshine a year! After a day at the beach, we recommend an afternoon stroll through the old quarter of this fishing village that preserves its authentic Mediterranean spirit.
At the beginning of the 20th century, its beauty and light inspired different Art Nouveau artists who have left an enviable legacy. The most significant buildings are the Cau Ferrat Museum and the Maricel complex. However, we also recommend that you wander through the narrow streets and discover charming spots that are not mentioned in the guidebooks.
2. The Maresme beaches
Small rocky coves of white sand and large sandy areas of golden sand lap the Maresme coast. In Calella, you will find some of the most popular beaches on this coast, such as the coves of Roca Grossa, Morer and Platjola. A must-see in Calella is its lighthouse, with its intriguing views.
If you follow the coast southwards, you will reach Sant Pol de Mar, a small town that still preserves its seafaring essence. To finish this tour, we recommend you reach Canet de Mar. You will find a small town dotted with Art Nouveau houses. You must stroll along the Riera de Sant Domènec, with its hundred-year-old plane trees, and discover the legacy of the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner through his House Museum.
3. Montserrat – route and fare
It is the most symbolic mountain in Catalonia. Many visitors go up to see Our Lady of Montserrat (La Moreneta) and the monastery, but what about a trip that brings you closer to its natural surroundings and ends with a good meal? One of the itineraries that will allow you to have an overview of the landscape of Montserrat is the route that goes from the monastery to the top of Sant Jeroni, the highest peak of this mountain. If you prefer a more relaxed option, choose the Montserrat hermitage trail, a route that will allow you to discover the small temples that were built in the middle of the rocks.
Whichever option you choose, when you return to the monastery, take a stroll around the farmer's market, which is set up every day next to the shrine. You will find farmers from the villages around Montserrat offering their typical products: honey, curds, cheeses, fig bread and more.
4. Gaudí crypt and Güell colony
One of the Art Nouveau jewels of the famous architect Gaudí is located near Barcelona. We are talking about the Colonia Güell’s Crypt, a World Heritage Site. This space was Gaudí's laboratory, so to speak, the place where the architect tested his impossible arches and all the building techniques that he eventually applied to the Sagrada Família.
However, the crypt is just the icing on the cake of the Güell colony. Do not miss a guided tour of this industrial colony with an Art Nouveau origin or the permanent exhibition on the overall vision of space.
5. Gaudí's Artigas Gardens
More Gaudí, now somewhat further away from Barcelona. In the small medieval town of Pobla de Lillet, you can visit the Artigas Gardens, a space where nature and architecture merge in perfect harmony and which was a gift from the architect to his patron, Eusebi Güell.
A family-friendly suggestion, as you can take the Tren del Ciment (cement train) to get to the gardens. This trail will allow you to retrace part of the old mining route to the old Ciment Asland factory, now a museum.
6. The Penedès vineyards
A mere 30-minute drive from Barcelona, you can enjoy the landscape, the culture and the wine and cava of the Penedès region. A unique region, where you will find museums and cultural centres that are essential for getting to know wine culture in depth. The Vinseum in Vilafranca is an ideal place to get an idea of the winemaking history in the Penedès region, whereas you have to visit the Cava Centre in Sant Sadurní if you want to know everything about cava.
To taste and experience wine, why do not you go to some of the terraces and wine bars? If what you want to do is walk through the vineyards, we recommend you do part of the Wine Route, with a whole host of wine tourism experiences; follow the cava trails along some of the walking and cycling routes that are signposted throughout the region.
7. Montseny, a biosphere reserve
If you fancy a natural getaway, head for Montseny, a World Heritage Biosphere Reserve. The best way to discover this mosaic of extraordinarily biodiverse Mediterranean and Central European landscapes is by hiking. This is the only way to get close to the cork oak, holm oak, beech, chestnut, pine and fir forests and to walk along the many rivers and streams.
To explore this scenic gem, we suggest you start from the Can Casades Information Centre, in the middle of the natural park. Several hikes of varying difficulty leave from here. One of the best known and most rewarding is the one that will take you to Turó de l'Home and Agudes in 11 kilometers and about 5 hours. Despite its length, it is of low difficulty. If you are traveling with children, a good option is the walk around the Santa Fe reservoir, a short, flat walk for the whole family, which is about 3 kilometers long and can be completed in an hour.
Whichever you choose, before you go check out the Park Bus Service to do it by public transportation.
8. Cardona – castle and salt
A castle at 585 meters above sea level, a unique historic center at 500 meters and tons and tons of salt two kilometers underground. Cardona Castle, its historic center and the Salt Mountain make up a unique ensemble in Catalonia. Find out who the uncrowned kings were by visiting the castle, the last stronghold of Catalan resistance during the War of the Spanish Succession. Fall in love with its streets and the medieval merchants’ houses that are still preserved in the old quarter.
Finally, do not miss one of the most incredible underground tours in Catalonia and discover why salt was the time’s most valued white gold.
9. Vic and Collsacabra
Vic has one of the most significant old quarters in Catalonia, an exciting past and a very interesting medieval history. If we combine it with Collsacabra and charming towns such as Rupit, we have the perfect blend for an unforgettable getaway.
We suggest you start by getting to know the city thoroughly, either with a guided tour of the old town or by visiting one of its museums, such as the recently opened Vicpuntzero, or, if you are more interested in art, the well-known Episcopal Museum. If your visit is scheduled on a Tuesday or Saturday, it is essential to stroll around the weekly market on Plaça Major, which has been documented since the 9th century.
Moreover, very close by is the charming town of Rupit. Cross its hanging bridge, the town's most iconic landmark, and walk aimlessly through its cobbled streets. Take a moment to marvel at its surroundings. The cliffs of Tavertet and the Sau reservoir offer fascinating landscapes, one of those places that allow us to unwind and take a breath of fresh air to face routine with more enthusiasm.
10. Romanesque jewels
You should not miss out on two Romanesque jewels that await you very close to Barcelona. We are talking about Seu d'Ègara in Terrassa and the monastery of Sant Cugat, two impressive heritage sites. Seu d'Ègara is made up of three churches: Santa Maria, Sant Miquel and Sant Pere, which make up a unique monumental ensemble in Europe. With its more than 1,500 years of history, Seu d'Ègara is the only Visigothic example (5th to 8th centuries) in Western Europe that features pictorial decoration.
Furthermore, the monastery of Sant Cugat has a 12th-century cloister, which is one of the best preserved on the continent. With its 144 capitals, all of them different, you can discover it on your own or, if you want to go deeper, on one of its guided tours.
El Berguedà Tourism
Maresme Barcelona Coast
Vallès Oriental Tourism
Montseny Nature Park and Biosphere Reserve
Vallès Occidental Tourism
Visit Sant Cugat