We never tire of Barcelona, the Catalonian capital and a favourite cruise port of many. It is the starting place for many Mediterranean cruise itineraries and plenty of people opt to combine a pre or post-cruise stay in order to see more of the city and surrounding area.
Beautiful Barcelona is deserving of days on end, but where do you head when you think you have seen everything the city has to offer? Here are three top trips to take you out of the city, all of them within around an hours reach.
The whitewashed walls and cobblestone corridors of Sitges play host to a colourful reputation and the resort’s 17 beaches are just some of what makes it so appealing. The destination has long been favoured by Catalans and its unique micro-climate promises sunshine 300 days a year. Historic architecture dating back to the 15th century has earned the town a UNESCO World Heritage Site accreditation, though you’ll be hard-pushed to find the crowds that usually come with such an accolade. Venture through the old town, losing your way amongst Roman ruins and calling into museums as beautiful on the outside as the artworks that sit within them, or head to one of the local beaches; varying from sweeping golden stretches to tiny secluded coves, you’ll never be short for space to sunbathe at the edge of those Mediterranean waters.
The walled city of Girona is often described as a miniature Barcelona, and where Barcelona had Gaudi, Girona had Rafael Masó; a Catalan architect responsible for creating much of Girona’s iconic modernist architecture. Speaking of Girona’s cityscape, it is something that Game of Thrones fans may soon see much more of, with its medieval and Hebrew quarters set to join Girona Cathedral as the backdrop for much of season 6 of the hit show.
Cross the footbridges over the River Onyar, stopping to photograph colourful facades of the houses overlooking the water, and listen to live rumba whilst enjoying citrus soaked salads and Catalan cured meats. Foodies will be well aware that Girona is home to El Celler de Can Roca, better known as the world’s best restaurant (that’s the official title, not ours – we’re far too unimportant to be in with a chance of snaring a table there!). If you have deep pockets and the patience to refresh the reservations page repeatedly, dinner here is a once in a lifetime experience.
Not to be confused with the volcanic Caribbean island of the same name, christened such by explorer Christopher Columbus, the Spanish region of Montserrat has been one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites for hundreds of years. Day trips from Barcelona to Montserrat are offered in their droves but you’ll find a strange sense of peacefulness when you finally arrive at the beautiful Benedictine monastery that is the main attraction here. The neo-Romanesque Royal Basilica Montserrat and the 12th century carving known as the ‘Black Virgin’ are unmissable sites amidst the multi-peaked mountain, as are views that stretch over 30 miles towards the Mediterranean seas on a clear day.
Will you be heading out of the city and exploring one of these three trips on your next cruise to Barcelona?