Many people visiting Barcelona also want to escape the city and discover some of the places close by. If you love the mountains, want to explore medieval villages, want to explore the coastal regions or walk in some of the national parks and reserves, you won’t be disappointed.
Beaches and coastal towns to visit:
To the south of the city the top locations are Sitges and Vilanova i el Geltru, which can be easily reached by train (Cercanias). Closer to Barcelona on the same train line are Casteldelfels and Garraf. It is hard to beach Sitges if you are looking for a beautiful coastal town, but it does get crowded in the summer months and at weekends. There is always something going on. Vilanova is a larger town a little further south. It has a good feel as you stroll down the Rambla (tree lined street) to the port and beach area. There are also plenty of restaurants and you won’t feel like you are only eating with tourists. Castelldelfels is a good choice if you are looking for a big beach, but the town is some distance from the beach.
To the north of the city there is a train that runs all the way to Blanes, although this more than an hour. Ocata is a popular beach to the north, a short distance from Barcelona and Sant Pol de Mar is a beautiful coastal town about one hour by train.
Mountains and monasteries
Montserrat is a very important mountain for the Catalans both spiritually and culturally. It is also a beautiful mountain and nature reserve to visit and explore. Most people head to the monastery itself and do walks in the immediate vicinity. If you travel by train/rack train or cable car this is really the only option. However, if you travel by car there are many more options for walking in the mountain and you’ll have the chance to visit some of the nearby towns like Collbato.
Sant Cugat is a town on the other side of Tibidabo mountain and it has a beautiful monastery that is well worth visiting. The town is a pleasant change in pace from the crowds of downtown Barcelona and it takes around 30 minutes by the FGC (ferrocarriles/train) from Plaza Catalunya.
Vic is a town about an hour from Barcelona on the train and has a beautiful historic centre. It makes for an easy day trip, where you can mix some exploring with a good lunch. As the town is inland it is much colder in winter and much hotter than Barcelona in summer.