Calling all students studying abroad in Barcelona! Barcelona is a beautiful, historial, lively, and culturally rich city that allows students studying abroad in Spain to immerse in the Spanish city lifestyle. However, an essential part of studying in the Catalonia region of Spain is exploring the country’s stunning north-east coast and the areas surrounding Barcelona. Catalonia is split into four provinces, Barcelona (central coastal), Girona (northern coastal), Tarragona (southern coastal), and Lleida (central inland). Many people find that discovering new areas, particularly on the coast, is an amazing opportunity to find breath-taking views and enjoy a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. Below are my favorite spots that I visited when traveling throughout Spain’s northeastern coast!
Here are my top three recommendations for places to visit.
Sitges - Province: Barcelona
The first city that I am going to recommend is the historical beach town of Sitges. Only 24 miles from the city of Barcelona, Sitges is a 30 minute car ride, and there are bus and train lines that run from Barcelona that you can hop on easily with a transportation pass. Sitges consists of miles of picturesque beaches alongside streets with abundant restaurants, entertaining street vendors, and even street performers. It is a spectacular place to walk through the historic old town with cobblestone streets. This includes the San Bartolomé and Santa Tecla church, which are located on a lookout known as the 'Baluard'. This lookout overlooks the sparkling Mediterranean sea and has a cannon that is a replica of six 18th-century cannons that were originally at Baluard and protected the city for over 200 years. In addition to the strip of tasty restaurants on the water, Sitges has many quiet and peaceful spots to enjoy the coastal scenery, including a pathway along the sea that spans many miles and gives you great views along the way! There is a mix of bigger beaches and smaller beaches, both amongst a more residential setting than the city of Barcelona. There are many houses with a nice presence of locals mixed within the tourists enjoying the pleasant beach town.
Girona - Province: Girona
Girona is a famous old medieval city that is set inland in the more northern province of Catalonia: Girona province. The walled ancient city is only a 40 minute train ride and an 1.5 hour drive from Barcelona. Aside from the narrow, weaving, and architecturally pleasing streets that give the illusion of transporting back in time as you walk through them, this city has many medieval and Roman remains that are famous sites to visit. This includes the Cathedral of Girona, the Força Vella fortress, the Arab Baths, the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants, and the well-preserved Jewish Quarter. There are medieval walls that have watchtowers and spectacular views of the castles and the city as a whole, including the more modern section. A fun fact about the city is that Girona was one of the filming sites for the television show Game of Thrones! I highly recommend visiting Girona for an enlightening taste of Spain’s medieval past.
Begur - Province: Girona
Finally, my favorite spot in the Catalonia region of Spain that I have visited so far is the Costa Brava region. Costa Brava is a region in the northeastern province of Girona along the coast. It is dotted with coves flowing with turquoise crystal-clear water, impressive rock cliffs, flourishing greenery native to the sea area, and historical towns built into the terrain. Begur is a specific town that borders the sea and gives a perfect taste of the Costa Brava beauty. It is nestled in a lush mountain that supports the infrastructure of winding roads and houses built into the hills. Many of the houses and hotels have an appearance that resembles the quaint and coastal buildings in the movie Mamma Mia. If you are looking for quieter, smaller beaches where you can dive into the ocean and explore the deep inlets of the ocean amongst the fish, this is the place for you! Begur specializes in peaceful and quiet exploration of nature, a change from the large and busy beaches in Barcelona.