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If you’re flying to Barcelona, you can take a day trip to one of the many small coastal towns in Catalonia, such as Cadaqués. Photo: Shutterstock
If you’re flying to Barcelona, you can take a day trip to one of the many small coastal towns in Catalonia, such as Cadaqués. Photo: Shutterstock

Places

Five beautiful places to visit around Barcelona

All the world wants to go to Barcelona! When the weather’s at its warmest, it can be nice to take a trip to one of the many small towns in Catalonia. Everywhere you go you can eat amazing food, do some shopping and simply enjoy life.

Girona

This city of around 86,000 inhabitants is located about 100km northeast of Barcelona. The pace is slower and there are fewer queues here than in Barcelona. Which makes it a more pleasant and comfortable experience. It’s only a short walk from the excellent restaurants to the great delicatessens. For example, try the fantastic little tapas dishes at Boira on Plaça de la Independència along with some cava one evening. If you’d prefer a little Catalan extravagance on your plate, El Celler de Can Roca, with its three Michelin stars, is the place for you. The restaurant has come out top of the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants twice now. Stars and fame notwithstanding, a meal at El Celler de Can Roca starts at €125. Girona is easy to reach by train from the station at Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona.

Boira
Plaça de la Independència 17, Girona

El Celler de Can Roca
Can Sunyer 48
cellercanroca.com

girona.cat

Girona is located approximately 100km from Barcelona. The city is great in itself, but also has good restaurants. Photo: Shutterstock

Cadaqués

This white, well-kept town is located about a couple of hours’ drive north of Barcelona. It has a small beach, which isn’t particularly busy unless you come here in July and August when the whole of Barcelona seems to be on holiday in the town. Although only around 3,000 people live here, there’s no shortage of food and taste experiences on offer. Compartir is a restaurant that serves Catalan cuisine with an international flavor. Compartir means ‘to share’ and the restaurant naturally enough serves small dishes for you to share. It has been awarded a so-called Michelin Plate, which is a mark of good food. As you travel around Catalonia, you’ll quickly discover traces of the artist Salvador Dalí. He built a hut in Portlligat bay in Cadaqués in 1930, which later became a magnificent house where he often worked. Today the house is a museum.  As you step across the threshold into his former home, you’ll be met by more visual surprises, just like when you look at his pictures. 

Compartir
Riera de Sant Vicenç, s/n
compartircadaques.com

Portlligat Museum
Platja Portlligat, s/n
salvador-dali.org

Cadaqués, north of Barcelona, is easy to like. Photo: Shutterstock

Pals

The medieval town of Pals is home to nearly 2,500 people. The old part of the town, like many of the older villages in Catalonia, is situated atop a hill, Mont Aspre. This part of town is well preserved and there are extremely severe restrictions on development. From this height you can look out across the vast plains and rice fields. All this can make you hungry and if you visit the Vicus restaurant, which has been awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide, you can enjoy their playful Catalan cuisine made using local produce. Rice is naturally on the menu.

Vicus
Carrer Enginyer Algarra 51, Pals
vicusrestaurant.com/en

The landscapes along the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona, are spectacular. Photo: Shutterstock

Palafrugell og Llafranc 

If you’re traveling with children, you’re sure to enjoy these small seaside resorts with their beautiful beaches. They’re not really separate places and you can easily walk from one to the other along the path that has been laid along the cliffs. Here the fragrant pines lean daringly out over the sea. There are plenty of small bars and restaurants along this strip. If you’re looking for a simple and affordable place to stay, where you can eat freshly caught seafood, you and your family can check in at Sant Roc, which is, well, right on the beach. For a more luxury dining experience, you’ll find some fantastic restaurants here, of course, such as the Michelin-starred Casamar. It’s easiest to drive here, but there are also trains from Barcelona. The nearest station is Flaçà around 25km away. From there you need to take the bus.

Casamar
Nero 3, Llafranc
hotelcasamar.net/ca/restaurant

Hotel Sant Roc
Plaça Atlàntic, 2
santroc.com

visitpalafrugell.cat

Sitges, south of Barcelona, has both a beach and impressive nightlife. Photo: Shutterstock

Sitges

Sitges, with its 28,000 residents, has for several decades been a kind of center for the LGBTQ community in Spain. Here the parties last all night and if possible on until the next afternoon. There are cool stores on every corner, offering both big brands and more eclectic ranges. You’ll find everything here from vinyl records to fancy interior design boutiques. The city breathes culture and every year plays host to both a carnival and a theater and film festival. The religious celebration marking the feast of Corpus Christi, when the narrow streets are beautifully decorated with flowers, is well worth a look. The highlight is probably the Festival Internacional de Cinema Fantàstic de Catalunya which attracts filmmakers from all over the world. Sitges is used to welcoming visitors, so you’ll have no trouble finding hotels, boarding houses and restaurants. The Michelin inspectors have been generous with their Plates and their Bib Gourmands, but none of the city’s restaurants have yet been awarded a star. You can find some that have in Barcelona, though, just a half-hour train ride away.

sitgesfilmfestival.com

visitsitges.com


Text: Inga Ragnhild Holst

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