Barcelona is full of historic attractions, winding streets, and buzzing plazas to keep you busy on holiday. From huge shopping avenues to cheap tapas and gorgeous wine, you could spend weeks exploring the Catalan capital. The city also makes a great base for day trips across the region. Here are five popular destinations that are far away from the city, but close enough to return before it gets dark.

Girona

Girona streets

Image by Toni Verdú Carbó (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Situated on the junction of three rivers, the ancient walled city of Girona is often seen as ‘Barcelona in miniature’. From the River Onyar, its warren of old streets twist alongside a stunning mix of architectural styles, dominated by the cathedral. The picturesque city has recently featured in the Games of Thrones. If you're a GoT fan or not, it's only a short trip by train from Barcelona to Girona. Regular AVE trains make it a 40-min journey if you book in advance.

Montserrat Mountain

Santa Maria de Montserrat

Image by urban_lenny (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Santa Maria de Montserrat is the home of the Benedictine abbey. The spectacular location hosts the “black virgin” shrine that attracts thousands of pilgrims each year. Here you can take the funicular up Sant Jeroni, the highest point of Montserrat, and marvel over the stunning mountain vistas.

You can get to Montserrat from Barcelona's Plaza Espana station and it takes about an hour. Options to reach the monastery include a short rail or funicular ride.

Figueres (Dali Museum)

Figueres

Image by Matthew Paulson (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Figueres is the birthplace of surrealist painter Salvador Dali. Here you’ll find a museum dedicated to his life works. The quirky design reflects the painter’s eccentric personality and Dali is even buried in the crypt in the basement of the theatre.

A must see for any art fan, the Dali museum also contains works by El Greco and Marcel Duchamp. The high-speed AVE train goes from Barcelona to Figueres in under 60 minutes. 

Tarragona

Tarragona

Image by SBA73 (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Only an hour south of Barcelona by train, the ancient Roman town of Tarragona is popular with travellers for its sandy beaches and crumbling ruins. The UNESCO world heritage site boasts a beautiful amphitheatre overlooking the sea and is the gateway to the ‘Golden Coast’, which has 15km of sparkling coves, sandy shorelines and clean seas for swimmers.

You can get from Barcelona to Tarragona by train and it only takes 33 minutes. There are high-speed AVE, Avant and Alvia services going hourly to Camp de Tarragona too.

Andorra la Vella

Andorra la Vella

Image by Alex Alishevskikh (Flickr/Creative Commons)

If you want to visit another country when staying in Barcelona, then take the shuttle bus to Andorra’s capital. Sitting in a majestic valley in the Pyrenees mountains on French-Spanish border, the city is a popular tax haven that draws 14 million visitors each year to take advantage of its amazing bargains. If you want cheap drink and food gifts on holiday in Barcelona, then make sure to book your bus ticket to Andorra la Vella.

*Header image by Gustave Deghilage (Flickr/Creative Commons)