A basket full of bread, cheese and a bottle of wine. The recipe to make me happy! I never thought I could have so much fun discovering things to do outside Barcelona, Spain. A trip that made me realize that although Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world, there are many interesting things to do outside the town.
The picnic was one of the highlights of my trip to the Catalan region. For the first time in one year traveling around the world, Rob and I split and traveled alone. It was an interesting experience, like having a tiny holiday from our relationship. After the TBEX, our first travel blog conference, I left him alone at the Spanish Pyrenees and went to explore great things to do outside Barcelona.
This is not the first time we go out of the beaten path in Spain. Last time we wrote a post about how to enjoy Barcelona like a local. Now it’s time to go outside the big city and search for truly Catalan experiences! My mission was to seek adventurous things to do outside Barcelona using the natural elements as inspiration: earth, air, water and fire. And I’m sure I accomplished my task. Welcome to my first solo trip:
Things to do outside Barcelona – 4 Elements Adventure
Before we start talking about what to do outside Barcelona, have a look at the map above, there you can see the Province is divided into three big areas:
» Costa Barcelona [crystal clear water, beach hotels, water sports, family resorts and wine tasting]
» Paisatges Barcelona or Landscapes of Barcelona [historical towns, great architectures, delicious food, and adventure]
» Pirineus Barcelona [mountains, natural parks and spa]
I had the chance to know a little bit about those three areas and I was surprised by the number of activities and things to do outside Barcelona. Our trip [I say ours because I was traveling with a group of bloggers] started in Lloret de Mar and finished in the heart of Barcelona. Three busy and lovely days!
1st Element » Earth – time to explore amazing places!
» Architecture lovers must go to Terrassa
Terrassa city is located in the region of Barcelona Landscapes, and it is an open-air museum with buildings from the Spanish industrial period mixed with stunning Catalan Art Nouveau. The impressive Aymerich, former textile industry and now the museum of science and technology is a place you should visit. Half a day is enough to walk around Terrassa, you can explore the city by yourself or hire a guide at the tourism center. For lunch go to the rooftop restaurant at the Aymerich building! Stunning view!
» For veggies and medicinal herbs visit Malgrat de Mar
Time to meet some locals and work on a cooperative farm. In El Pla de Grau [the area in Malgrat de Mar where they produce vegetables] the Professor Alberto Tuner taught us about medicinal plants from all around the world, and we could even have a sneak peek in his secret lab.
After a long walk through his garden, we harvest some parsley and chat with farmers. Josep Turon tried to teach me how to cut the parsley, but I sucked… hahaha… I’m sure the bunch I cut didn’t make it to the local shops. 🙁 Definitely not a “traditional” tourist attraction, but a way to meet Catalan people, to understand their passion for the land and culture.
» Seeking adventure outside Barcelona? Mountains and Segway
It was my first time riding a Segway and I had a blast. The Daema Aventura team took us for a ride at the Natural Park of Montseny [a Biosphere Reserve] and it was great fun. We drove around trees and fields until we reach an artificial lake.
PS: Be really careful driving a Segway. The company gave us all the instructions, helmets and we were with guides all the time, even though one of the girls fell from the Segway and hurt herself badly. Of course, the guys gave her all the support after the accident, that’s how a serious tourism company should act. The thing is that accidents might happen during a holiday trip that’s why we always have to have travel insurance.
» Wine tasting and picnic
No doubt this was the highlight of all the things I did outside Barcelona. In a tiny town called Alella, on the top of a mountain, close to the sea, we visited Bouquet D’Alella vineyard and met the lovely people who run the company. We learned about the grapes, walked around the sexagenarian vines and finished the tour with a serious wine tasting.
By this point I was already happy with our visit, the organic white wine was delicious [the owners make sure the wine is produced in the same way as their ancestors]. Suddenly they gave us some baskets full of food, some wine, and a map. Our lunch was a picnic organized in the middle of the vineyards.
So we played Red Hood and went through the trees searching for our spot. A few minutes later and we arrived at this beautiful table surrounded by green, with an amazing view [even the sun started shining and the cloudy weather gave us a break]. I was astonished, all the details, everything perfect, they even put an espresso machine there for us. OMG!!!
Not to mention all the wine, wish I had space in my luggage to bring some bottles to fill up my wine fridge at home.
All the activities I suggest here can be done in a one or two days trip from Barcelona. The cities can be easily reached by train and bus. Leave the big city for a while and discover amazing things to do outside Barcelona. If you are already inspired, hold on, there are more great tourist attractions to come! 😉
2nd Element: Air – let’s fly!
» Canopy and zipline in Santa Susanna Village
First of all, congratulations to me! I did 10 looonnngggg zip lines with almost 800m of wires set at 8 to 10 meters above the ground. I put my fear aside and I went for an amazing canopying adventure, jumping between trees, climbing ropes, and flying around. Like a happy monkey! The guys from Active-Natura gave us all the instructions, taught us the technique and rescued us in some bad movements. I felt super safe. Teamwork, fun and I’ll definitely be going to do it again!
3rd Element: Water – relax and indulge yourself outside Barcelona
» Sun and sea at Costa Barcelona
Costa Barcelona has a stunning coastline, 100 kilometers of beaches and cities for all styles of travel. Lloret de Mar is perfect for young people full of parties, bars and boat trips.
Malgrat de Mar and Calella are famous as family destinations. Among many things to do outside Barcelona, water sports are the top attractions, that’s why some cities have tourism centers focused on it. The sea lovers can find the water sports advisor centers in Santa Susanna and in Vilanova i la Geltrú. And for those who love the sea view, the coastline paths and trekking routes are open in almost all seasons.
» Relax in a Spa at Montseny Park
When we talk about water and things to do outside Barcelona most of the people think: beaches. But I will show you another way to have fun: pools, hot tubs and sauna. Heaven!! Not so often I have the chance to indulge myself in a Spa, so I put my bikini on, grabbed my towel and run to the Spa at Hotel El Montanya.
OMG!!! Soft lights, warm pools, sauna and us. Nine exhausted travel bloggers healing our muscles after two long days full of adventures, exploring what to do around Barcelona Province. [at this point we had already done canopying, zipline, Segway, harvesting parsley and wine tasting. The last one a super tiring activity ;-)]
Sorry, but I have no picture of the Spa! For the first time on the trip I forgot to be a blogger, left my camera in the room and just chilled out as a normal guest.
4th Element: Fire – hot things to do outside Barcelona
» Nature and history in Vic city
I’m sure you are curious about our fourth element. It’s not so common to enjoy a trip with fire, or on fire, but with Love and Road unexpected things happen! We went to Vic city, really close to the Pyrenees to fly a hot air balloon. The take-off was in the middle of the fields, we flew above the city, admired the Pyrenees mountains [still with some snow caps] and helped our pilot to land and fold the hot air balloon. A really unique and adventurous morning.
The Baló Tour does group and individual flights. As Vic is in a valley, protected from strong winds, they can fly almost every day and the landscape is stunning. The balloon flight is definitely one of the hottest things to do outside Barcelona. After the flight, we went to explore Vic, a historical town with medieval architecture.
» Food for your soul! Lunch at Magda Subirana Restaurant
Still talking about fire, we can’t finish our 4 Elements Adventure without eating a feast. All our meals in Catalunya were delicious, but the last lunch was “oh my God!!”. Eating at Magda Subirana Restaurant is definitely is one of the top recommendations of things to do outside Barcelona. Magda, the chef, will surprise you with local ingredients, reinvented recipes and good wine.
A curious thing about Spanish cuisine is that most of the awarded restaurants are outside the big cities. So one thing you can be sure of, you gonna eat very well while exploring Catalunya and searchings for delicious things to do outside Barcelona.
Where to stay in Barcelona Province
There are many options for accommodation in the city and outside Barcelona. On our three-days trip, we slept in two different hotels and I highly recommend both of them. Near Calella Beach, we stayed at Camping Roca Grossa, in a super cute bungalow with three bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, living room, and even a balcony with BBQ place. Seriously, I could live there! The camping also has spaces for tents and campervans, you can choose the best option for you. I would say that the little houses are perfect for a family holiday or a friends trip. You can fit 6 people in the bungalow with comfort and privacy.
Our second suggestion is the Hotel El Montanya at Montseny Park. Famous for being a hotel base for soccer teams as Barcelona and Real Madrid, the hotel has spacious rooms, top-notch restaurants, and a spa. Do I need to say anything else?! Book a night there for a romantic trip or a business conference, but stop everything you might be doing around 8 pm and sit on your balcony to enjoy the sunset in the mountains.
How to get around Barcelona Province?
You can arrive in Catalunya by flying to Barcelona or Girona airports (read our guide to reasons to visit Girona here). Long haul and local low-cost airlines fly there. To guarantee the best prices and routes check Skyscanner. From the airport, you can get trains and buses to go to all the cities in the province.
However, if you really want to discover the amazing landscape and things to do outside Barcelona I recommend you to go there by train. That is what we did, and it was a unique experience!! With our Eurail Pass we could choose any train we wanted and do all the connections we could imagine. From Barcelona to tiny cities or to busy beaches, there is no easier [and better] way to travel around. Eurail has several options of passes, I’m sure you will find one that suits you perfectly.
Earth, Air, Water and Fire… Four different ways to explore Barcelona Province. I had the opportunity to discover incredible things to do outside Barcelona and get in touch with Catalan people. It’s not every day that we can explore places outside the traditional tourist route, that’s why I want to say Thanks to Deputació Barcelona, the tourism office, our guides and TBEX for putting together such a great trip. After this trip I realized that I love Barcelona and all the region much more, I discovered the Province is more beautiful, warmer and hospitable than I imagined.
It was a pleasure to discover that Barcelona is much more. And doesn’t matter who paid the travel bill, my opinion and feelings are always true. I had a blast during my 4 Elements Trip, and I recommend you do the same! Go, discover the city and the unique things to do outside Barcelona, I’m sure you will love it!
To make the best of your time in Barcelona we handpicked the best of the best tours, have a look:
- Skip-The-Line Sagrada Familia and Park Güell Guided Tour
- Barcelona Card: 25+ Museums and Free Public Transportation
- Montserrat & Artistic Barcelona: the Best of Gaudí
- Barcelona Skyline and Beaches Boat Tour
- Barcelona: Paella Cooking Experience + Boqueria Market Tour