You have probably never heard of this incredible little town only a one-hour train ride from Barcelona. Well, I am glad that you have come here to find out more about it! If you are looking for the perfect side trip on your Barcelona vacation, look no further! Tarragona is a small port town that was once an ancient Roman colony. Many of these ancient ruins are preserved and run throughout the historic center of the town. It's a unique mix of Spanish architecture and Roman ruins and the result is simply magical.
Distance from Barcelona
Tarragona is located 80 km (approx. 50 miles) southwest of Barcelona along its coastline. There are two economical options for solo travelers or smaller groups, and if you have a larger group to split the fair, you could also take a taxi or hire a private shuttle.
by bus, it takes about 1.5 hours
costs about €8.75 one way
book it here
by train, it takes about 1 hour
costs about €8 one way
book it here
by taxi, it takes about 1 hour
costs about €120 one way get the app Cabify here
what to say
official language: Catalan & Spanish
goodbye: adéu, adios, ciao
please: Por favor
Thank you: gracias, merci
where is the bathroom?: ¿Donde esta el aseo?
are you serving food now?: ¿Estás sirviendo comida ahora?
I would like this one: Me gustaría este
it's okay: está bien
okay or alright: vale
What to do
Because Tarragona is also a coastal city, it does have a nice stretch of beach to enjoy. My first stop after I arrived at the train station was to enjoy the beach and take a dip in the water. It was only March when I went, so the beach was relatively empty, but I am sure it's a bit busier during the hot summer months. So when going to Tarragona, don't forget to pack your swimsuit and your beach towel! You can see some of the lovely beach photos I was able to capture below.
ancient roman ruins:
Tarragona is known for its Roman ruins scattered throughout the city, especially its colosseum looking over the Mediterranean (talk about a good photo op!) Aside from the photos, Tarragona does have a fascinating history that dates all the way back to 281 BC when it was founded as the Roman colony of Tarraco. It was actually the very first Roman city beyond the Italian peninsula and was the capital of the province of Hispania Citerior in the first century BC.
*pro tip! Bring your student ID to get a HUGE discount on entry to all of the ruins! it only cost me about €3.60 to enter all of them because I brought a student ID with me. learn more about the ruins HERE
Castles & Cathedrals:
The Tarragona Cathedral was built on the Roman remains of the sacred area of worship that were constructed in the first century AD. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1331 and was considered to be the finest cathedral in Catalunya at the time. The Cathedral is located in the city center and boasts historic works of art throughout its Naves and Chapels. It does cost 5€ to enter, so take this into consideration when planning your trip.
I never actually made it to Tamarit castle, unfortunately, but it is one of the main touristic attractions of Tarragona. You can read more about this gorgeous castle by visiting the website HERE.
Tarragona also boasts many medieval sites throughout the city. If you would like to see more of these sites check out this guide HERE.
wander the cobblestone streets of the historic center:
One of my favorite activities when arriving in a new city is to simply wander the streets of the city center. Because I was visiting during March, I did happen upon a practice for the easter procession of the virgin mary throughout the city and did accidentally participate in this practice, so you never really know what will happen when turning around every corner.
watch the sunset from the top of the Roman ruins:
One of my favorite memories from this trip was watching the sunset from atop the Roman ruins. The entire city lit up and the sea sparkled; it was truly magical and I highly recommend this experience.
What to eat
The food here is pretty much exactly the same as it is in Barcelona! The menus are all in Catalancentury but should have the English translation under each item on the menu. Most of the waitstaff does not speak English, so see some of the helpful phrases to learn at the top of the page here to help you communicate.
If you are dining out, I suggest going somewhere in the Historic Center of town, because that is where a majority of restaurants are and you can find some authentic Catalan cuisine here as well :)
For a list of what to order see my What to Eat in Barcelona post HERE.
Want to know more about my day in Tarragona? watch the Vlog I took below!
If you have any tips for things to do in Tarragona, i would love to see them in the comments below :)
XO - Eva