Top 10 Day Trips in Spain

Top 10 Day Trips in Spain

The big cities in Spain such as Barcelona and Madrid are definitely enough to keep you entertained for a long trip, but if you want to escape the city and do something a little different, this guide is for you!
Here we have listed our favourite day trips to take on your Spanish adventure.

Girona

Girona

If you’re looking for a city that you can easily see within a day, Girona is one that you should consider. It is littered with gorgeous Gothic architecture and it is still possible to see remnants of the old Jewish community within the city. Located in Northern Catalonia, it is a great option if you’re looking to explore a bit more of Spain from Barcelona.

How to get there:

From Barcelona Sants train station it is a 38 minute train ride. You can purchase your tickets (roughly 15 euros for an adult ticket) at the train station the day of departure, or from a third party ticket website such as http://www.thetrainline-europe.com/.

Best things to do:

  • The Cathedral of Saint Mary is a must-see if you’re visiting Girona. Adult tickets are seven euros which includes an audio-guide.

Opening hours:

July and August: 10:00-19:30.

November to March: 10:00-17:30.

The rest of the year: 10:00-18:30.

  • The Arab baths are really cool if you get the chance to see them. They are remnants from the Moorish times in the city, and date back to the 12th century. Adult tickets are a very reasonable two euros.

Opening hours:  

April to September:

Monday to Saturday 10:00-19:00.

Sundays and bank holidays 10:00-14:00.

October to March:

Monday to Sunday 10:00-14:00.

  • The river in Girona, which is named the River Onyar, is picturesque and really nice to take a stroll along after doing some sightseeing. We would recommend going in the late afternoon to catch the sunset.

Sagunto

Sagunto

Via Flickr

For those of you who were hoping to explore a 2,000 year old castle situated at the top of a Spanish mountain with a view of the Mediterranean sea, Sagunto should definitely be added to your bucket list.
Castillo de Sagunto is a Roman ruin that you can walk freely around, and also has an old Roman theatre attached. The tickets are free, and it’s a great place to spend a few hours exploring. When you’re finished at the castle, head down to the beach for a beer and a plate of paella at one of the many beach-front restaurants.

How to get there:

From Valencia there are trains leaving from Valencia Nord train station roughly every 40 minutes. A round trip ticket is about 7.50 euros. The first train is at 06:50 and the last train is at 22:28. If you don’t make the last train, you’ll be either be spending the night in Sagunto, or facing a 40 euro cab ride. Ouch.   

Things to do:

  • The Castle of Sagunto is hands down the coolest attraction of Sagunto. It is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00-20:00. On Sundays it is open from 10:00-14:00. Monday’s the castle is not open to the public. The ticket is free, or “gratis” in Spanish, and also grants you access to the Roman theatre which is right beside the castle.
  • If you take the main road on your walk down from the castle, there is a restaurant called La Taverna de la Serp. It is open from 10:00-01:30 Wednesday-Sunday. It is an excellent place to grab a bite to eat after exploring the castle ruin. The food is excellent, and the prices are good. We would recommend getting some tapas and some Spanish wine.
  • After spending a few hours walking around the castle in the hot sun, you’ll probably be looking to jump into the refreshing Mediterranean sea that happens to be a stone’s throw away. There are buses down the port for 1.45 euros, and there is a stop right on the beach. If you didn’t get something to eat at La Serp (or if you did and still want more—we aren’t judging) there are tons of really great restaurants all along the beach.

Toledo

Toledo

This medieval town is one of Spain’s gems. It has a mix of influences from Christian, Jewish, and Arab cultures, and is regarded as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain by the locals. Since it’s rather small, it’s the perfect place to spend the day. But be warned: one day may turn into two or three, since this place seems to have some kind of mysteriously magical pull.

How to get there:

From Madrid’s Atocha train station, you can buy a round-trip ticket for 10 euros. The ride will take about 30 minutes and is definitely worth it. The trains go every 30 minutes starting at 06:30 with the last one at 23:00.

Things to do:

  • The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes is one of the most beautiful parts of Toledo. It dates back to the 15th century, is well worth the 2.50 euro admission price.

Opening hours:

October 16-February 28: 10:00-17:45

March 03-October 15: 10:00-18:45

Open everyday of the year except for Christmas and New Year’s day.

  • Toledo Cathedral is the fifth largest cathedral in the world. This Gothic monument dates back to the fifth century. The tickets are eight euros including an audio-guide, which we highly recommend. It is open from 10:00-18:00 every day.
  • The Alcazar of Toledo is a great place to see the military history in Toledo. It was used as a Roman palace in the third century, and now houses the military museum. It is open from 11:00-17:00 Thursday-Tuesday. The tickets to enter are five euros.

Alicante

Alicante

This port city has everything you could ask for from a Spanish city: the beach, narrow streets, colourful buildings and amazing food. There is also a castle located in walking distance from the city.

Since it’s on the top of one of the mountains surrounding the city, you can see all of Alicante and out into the Mediterranean sea. If you’re up to it after a day of adventuring, be sure to check out some of the city’s legendary nightlife.

How to get there:

From Valencia the easiest way is to take a bus from the Valencia bus station to the Alicante bus station. It is about a three hour bus ride, and the price starts at five euros. The tickets can be purchased at the station on the day of departure, or online using a third party ticket sales website.

Things to do:

  • The Santa Barbara Castle sits atop a mountain which overlooks Alicante and the coast. On a clear day it is possible to see all the way to Valencia, which shows you just how much you can see from this spectacular view point. It is open every day from 10:00-22:00. The ticket price is only 2.40 euros.
  • The Port of Alicante has an amazing beach with tons of places to eat and drink. During the summer it is pretty busy, so we recommend getting there early to secure yourself a prime location.  

Tarragona

Tarragona

Not only does this city have a fascinating medieval history, it also has a beach that you won’t want to leave, and nightlife that will have you partying until the sun comes up.

If walking around and gawking at the stunning Gothic architecture all day leaves you famished—worry not! Tarragona fulfills the stereotypical Spanish port city by serving up some seriously mouth-watering seafood.

How to get there:

From Barcelona Sants station, there are approximately four trains every hour that run to Tarragona. The ride is a short one hour and 15 minutes, and costs less than seven euros. There is a high-speed train that only takes half an hour, but it costs around 30 euros, so it may not be the best option if you are trying to save some money.

Things to do:

  • The Tarragona Cathedral is stunning and should be apart of anyone’s visit to the city. The Gothic style represented by the cathedral is really something that you have to see for yourself, and for only five euros, you just can’t pass it up.
  • The archaeological site of Tarraco is one of the best features of Tarragona, which explains why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are so many Roman ruins to explore here, such as a Roman amphitheatre and an aqueduct.

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Montserrat

Montserrat

If you’re in Barcelona and find yourself with a bit of extra time, we would definitely recommend checking out a mountain called Montserrat. Besides the stellar views, you can also find a monastery on this mountain that houses the Black Madonna, which is a very important piece of Spanish culture.
If you’re not afraid of heights, take the cable car up for a seriously breath-taking experience. Make sure to wear your walking shoes, because there are also several cool hiking trails.

How to get there:

From Barcelona’s Espanya rail station, you’ll be taking R5 towards Manesa. It takes about an hour to get there. The tickets can be purchased from a kiosk at the station, or from a ticket booth. They cost around 20 euros round-trip.

Things to do:

  • The many hiking trails at Montserrat offer amazing views, and are suitable even for people with no experience. You don’t need to pay anything extra to access the trails, and there are many to choose from with varying lengths.
  • The Monastery is one of the highlights of Montserrat, and one of the main reasons that over 2,000,000 people trek all the way up the mountain every year. The Monastery is where the Black Madonna is kept, and it is possible to purchase a ticket in the basilica to visit her.
  • The Museum of Montserrat is a great way to see some of the amazing heritage of Montserrat, not to mention a good way to get out of the heat for a little while. It is open from 10:00-17:30 every day, and costs only five euros.

Figueres

Figueres

Calling all of you Salvador Dali fans out there, this one’s for you! Figueres was the home of the famous painter Salvador Dali, and is now home to the Dali museum. Art-lovers should not miss this, as it is arguably one of the best art museums in Spain. Dali was even buried in the museum, in a crypt beneath the stage!

How to get there:

From Barcelona Sants train station, it is possible to take a train for about an hour and a half to Figueres. The trains are every hour starting just before 09:00, and cost 16 euros.

Things to do:

  • The Dali museum is, of course, the best thing to see if Figueres. It is open from 09:00-20:00 between the dates of July 15-September 30. The tickets are 14 euros, and are well worth it to fans of Salvador Dali. The museum is only a 12 minute walk from the train station.
  • Castell de Sant Ferran is lesser known in Figueres, but is something you should add to your list of things to do! It is open every day from 10:00-20:00.  

Castellón

Castellón

Just a train ride away from Valencia, this beach town is perfect for anyone looking to soak up some sun. Castellon Is also a great place to catch a bull-fight, if that’s your kind of thing. If not though, be sure to check out the cathedral and other stunning architecture.

How to get there:

From Valencia Nord train station, you can purchase a ticket for about 10 euros round trip. The trains start at 06:58 and run until 22:28.

Things to do:

  • The Castellon beach is one that locals don’t mind hopping on that hour train ride for. With tons of beach bars that all have insanely good local food, we can see why. So pack up your towel and some suntan lotion and get ready for the perfect beach day.
  • One of the most famous things in Castellon is the bell tower. You’re able to climb to the top and get a great view of Castellon. Did we mention it’s free?
  • The central market is not only beautiful to look at, but also a great place to go if you want to shop like a local. With everything from meats and cheeses, to fresh produce and baked goods, you are sure to find something that satisfies your cravings. It’s open from 07:00-15:00 everyday, except for Sunday’s which are closed.

Peniscola

Peniscola

This beach-side town is feels kind of like stepping into some kind of Spanish fairy-tale. Not only is it picturesque with the seaside castle, they also claim to have the best seafood in Spain. If you’re looking to have some fun with the kiddies, there is also a beach there that has pockets of quicksand that will swallow them to about waist-height. Who doesn’t love to be sucked into quicksand, right?!

How to get there:

From Valencia Nord train station, you can purchase a round trip ticket for about 27 euros. There are five trains a day, and they take roughly three hours.

Things to do:

  • The castle is one of the icons of Peniscola. It’s open from 09:30-21:30 every day. Some of Game of Thrones was filmed here, so if you’re a fan, try to spot some of the locations!
  • The narrow streets in the city are so beautiful, and are really an attraction in themselves. Let yourself forgo your maps for the day and just get lost. If you get hungry while wandering around, there are so many restaurants in town serving up the best local cuisine.
  • The Peniscola beach is one of the most fun beaches I’ve ever been to, ll thanks to those pockets of quicksand. Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous. You can’t sink very deep, but it definitely causes a lot of laughter.  

Segovia

Segovia

Last, and certainly not least, this city may be small enough to explore in one day, but it also has enough to do to keep you entertained for several days. Not only does it have many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it also is chock-full of restaurants with amazing food. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

How to get there:

From any of Madrid’s train stations, you can buy a ticket either day of departure at the station, or on a third party ticket website. Since the train ride is only about 30 minutes long, it’s almost as if Segovia was destined to be your day trip from Madrid.

Things to do:

  • The aqueduct is one of the main attractions of the city. There are 163 arches that span 15 kms from the mountains, and it is possible to score a wicked view by climbing the stairs to the top (located just behind the tourist office). If you search for photos of Segovia, you will most likely find heaps of photos of this gem.
  • If visiting Sleeping Beauty’s castle sounds as awesome to you as it does to me, you’ll want to check out the Alcazar. This fairy-tale looking castle was actually Walt Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. If you’re a parent of younger kids, you’ll score major points with them for this one! It only costs 5 euros for an adult ticket.

Opening hours:

October to March: 10:00-18:30

April to September: 10:00-19:30

Even though these places aren’t as famous or popular as the more-well known big cities, these  are all well worth spending a day or even more. If you’re able to take a day out of your city schedule, you won’t regret squeezing one or more of these Spanish gems into your itinerary.

Which one do you like best? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author Ana

Anastasia is a Chicago, Illinois native. She began studying Spanish over 10 years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. Living in Spain since 2012, she loves Spanish tortilla, vino tinto, and anything that contains jamón ibérico.

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