Spring is here, and with it, the warm weather that makes a vacation irresistible—even if it’s only for an afternoon. Barcelona is located within driving distance (or a short train ride) of some pretty spectacular areas. Don’t believe me? Check out our list of Barcelona’s top five weekend getaways!
Want to stay close to home? Visit the Montserrat Benedictine Monastery. Visible from Barcelona itself, Montserrat offers an afternoon dedicated to history, spirituality, and incredible vistas. Once believed to be the location of the Holy Grail, this mystical mountain excursion is not to be missed! After you’ve taken the train out of the Barcelona city center, you have the option of continuing with a train journey or enjoying a cable car with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. At the top, you can explore the monastery, try out the hiking trails, or follow the Funicular of Santa Cova down to a sacred cove—one where, legend has it, St. Luke uncovered a statue of the Black Virgin, or La Moreneta.
Located just an hour and a half from the bustling metropolis of Barcelona, the ancient Spanish city of Girona is steeped in history. A gorgeous collection of Gothic and Modernista buildings stand guard over ancient cobblestone streets, all wound together by the rush of a modern city. Whether you’re interested in cathedrals, art museums, or parks, Girona delivers—and it delivers them all with an origin story. When you’ve finished exploring for the day, the city offers a number of lively bars and restaurants located all over the area. After all, Catalonia was just named the European Region of Gastronomy 2016, so you know the food will be incredible.
In the past, Zaragoza appeared to be little more than a stop between Madrid and Barcelona. But in the last few years, this cultural hotspot has grown bigger and bigger, threatening to break out of its position as Spain’s best-kept secret and into superstar status. A lively city populated by artists and businesspeople alike, Zaragoza’s biggest attraction remains the incredible Basilica del Pilar. Constructed in 1681, the impressive structure features shimmering tiles and a striking domed ceiling—it’s impossible to miss. If you love history, then Zaragoza boasts a collection of interesting Roman ruins, all over the city. At night, the city comes alive with creatively designed bars and upscale restaurants, filled with locals enjoying life in Zaragoza.
If you’re in Spain, you’ve no doubt heard of the beautiful Costa Brava. Why not take an afternoon to explore it a little? A quick train or bus ride from Barcelona and you could find yourself in the lovely coastal town of Blanes. Besides exploring the beloved Castillo de San Juan or checking out one of the dozens of restaurants that line the Mediterranean coast, Blanes’s crown jewel is actually the botanical gardens. The Marimurta Botanical Gardens are situated high up on the cliffs, so that you can look out at the vast and sparkling sea while you peruse a series of exotic flowers, trees, and cacti. Bring your family, or make it a romantic weekend getaway for two—this destination is sure to please.
5. Port Aventura
Maybe you’re staying close to Barcelona this weekend, and that’s just fine—PortAventura is just an hour’s drive from the city! This no-holds-barred amusement park is sure to make for a great adventure for kids, friends, or anyone who loves fun. Currently, PortAventura offers two parks to choose from (PortAventura Park and PortAventura Caribe Aquatic Park), with a third to be completed in 2017. With five hotels, full resort service, and its own Cirque du Soleil show, you’d think that any rides or attractions would come secondary. Not the case here. PortAventura Park has over forty rides that run the gamut from kid-friendly swirling teacups to high-octane roller coasters. Plus, the park is sectioned off geographically, like Disney’s Epcot. That way, you can ride a roller coaster in China, eat lunch in Mexico, and wander over to ride horses in the Wild West—all before four o’clock in the afternoon. Need to cool off? Head over to PortAventura Costa Caribe Aquatic Park to swim in wave pools, rocket down water slides, and relax by the “beach.”
That’s our list of the best weekend getaways from Barcelona! Did we miss one? Let us know down in the comment section. Happy travels, all!