Barcelona’s museums, bars, clubs, restaurants, and beachfront setting will certainly keep you entertained. But just outside the city, Catalonia’s small towns have a great deal to offer. Extraordinary beaches line the Costa Brava, and with a car rental, you have easy access to the more secluded and tranquil spots. On the outskirts of the city, parks and mountain ranges are also in abundance; this is a Spanish hot spot for natural beauty. To make the most of it, here is our list of the best small towns near Barcelona.
The Montserrat Mountains have a hugely important place in Catalan culture, both as a religious retreat and a site of outstanding natural beauty. If you are traveling to Montserrat for a day trip from Barcelona, the best way to get into the mountains and see the famous Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey is to park in the town and take the cable car up. Once you are there you can stroll around and see the monastery’s architecture, take in the fantastic views and admire the stunning geological rock formations up close.
Just south of Barcelona, Sitges is a beautiful beachfront town often compared to St. Tropez for its mix of tradition and glamor. Sitges is popular with the LGBT community and in and around the town there are a staggering 17 beaches with Platja de la Bassa Rodona and Platja de la Barra being two of the most popular. The historic Old Town is not so expansive, but it is charming and picturesque. On the beachfront, you can expect villas, cocktail culture and lots of outdoor dining.
3. Tossa de Mar
This Costa Brava resort town is 53 miles north of Barcelona and offers the whole beach vacation package. Some parts of the town date back to the 12th Century and there is an old fort with much of its walls intact perched on a hill overlooking the town and beaches. There are three main beaches in total: the main downtown beach Platja Gran, La Mar Menuda and El Codolar. History buffs can see the remains of the Roman villa of Ametllers that dates from the 1st century BC – 6th century AD.
Begur is another excellent beachfront town that pulls in the tourists despite its situation being off the main coastal route. Begur’s vibrant and colorful buildings are a historic mix of Moorish and Spanish architecture, plus fantastic restaurants and boutique hotels have opened in recent years and the town is very popular with Barcelonans. To reach Begur take the AP-7 north for around 1.5 hours, the last stretch of the route will take you close to the coastline and offers scenic views over the sea.
If mountains are more your thing, a trip to Rupit makes for a completely different vacation experience. At 868 meters above sea level, you can reach the town in around 1.5 hours. Built from stone, the medieval old town is perched on a rocky hill and features rustic houses, Romanesque churches, and Rupit Castle. There is an amazing hanging bridge that crosses the Rupit River while nearby you can find the jaw-dropping Salt de Sallent waterfall. If you are lucky you can also see eagles and the Egyptian vultures that live in the surrounding cliffs.