Barcelona is a beautiful, fun and vibrant city but it doesn’t have everything for everyone! Frequent visitors to Barcelona or tourists that want to see another side of Catalonia, outside its capital, are still spoilt for choice on where to go and what to see. Spring is a wonderful (and often less appreciated) season but is ideal to explore and enjoy somewhere new, giving visitors a greater insight into what makes this region so captivating, diverse and cultured!
The smallest country in Europe is certainly not short of things to do! With breath-taking landscapes as far as the eye can see, every season brings something new to do in Andorra. Situated in the Pyrenees and a few hours from Barcelona, it is surprisingly close and well connected to the Catalan capital, even Andorra’s national language is Catalan. The country thrives on the exploring tourist with many visitors focusing on sports and outdoor activities when coming to the mountainous heartland of Andorra. Escaping from the hustle and bustle of big city life for a day and feeling truly at one with nature is easy in this tiny country, and a truly refreshing experience, even if you are already on holiday!
In the Winter, the country is transformed into a winter wonderland and becomes an amazing ski destination with more than 210km of runs over 7 different sectors. Whilst, in the summer Andorra becomes an array of rich greenery and beautiful forestry perfect to explore on foot, bike or horse. Catering to all different sports, whether it’s hiking or fishing to quad-biking or skis or snowboarding there is something for everyone who appreciates a beautiful background and discovering what nature has to offer. Alternatively for visitors who prefer the indoors, Andorra has an amazing shop collection in its city centre, as there are massive tax discounts throughout the country.
Spring is a wonderful time to visit the country, as Andorra changes from its wonderful winter coat of snow to reveal its amazing, dark-green scenery underneath. Early Spring remains a prime time to ski in Andorra, with skiers benefiting from both the snow and the sun. March and early April are wonderful times to go skiing, and it is quite easy to organise a day ski trip from Barcelona centre. Visitors that aren’t keen on skiing but would still love to explore Andorra’s snow are able to benefit from the warmer weather, while enjoying the wintery feel of the white Pyrenees. Andorra in early Spring is a truly beautiful and picturesque site and not as cold as the winter season.
Towards the end of Spring is an equally striking scenery, and is ideal for keen walkers, hikers and riders to discover the country by foot, bike or horse. The variety of outdoors activities in Andorra make it possible to escape into nature’s tranquillity with quieter routes where visitors are free to wander. However, for those wanting a more fast-paced adventure quad-bikes and other off-road bikes are also on offer for those who have missed the thrill seeking of skiing and snowboarding down the mountains in the Winter.
Towards the French-Spanish border lays Girona. 85km North of Barcelona, Girona is a beautiful city with a great Medieval and Roman history. Perfect for a day trip often being a quieter and more peaceful contrast to the liveliness of Barcelona. Girona is as equally stunning, making it easy to spend a day here wandering the streets and relaxing, whilst taking in the picturesque landscape and architecture. Visit the churches, and enjoy the terraces, bars and restaurants, as well as the past of this wonderful hillside city.
The grand Girona Cathedral is visible from almost any point within the city. Its wonderful white stonewalls, la pedra de Girona, are the perfect contrast to the luscious mountain greenery and clear blue skies of Spring. From the Cathedral and fortress walls far in the distance are sights of the Pyrenees, which often have white peaks in Winter from the snow, and sometimes into Spring. The remains of the fortress walls that surround the city, protecting and securing the Roman capture of Girona, also provide wonderful views of this historic city, its iconic Cathedral, and further a field the scenic countryside outside this secluded section of Catalonia.
There are regular trains between Girona and Barcelona, especially due to Girona’s international airport. Prices range from the fast AVE (37 minutes, 55€ return) to the Regional Express (1hr 31 min, 12,56€ return).
Spring is one of the best times to visit Girona as it has a busy schedule of events and festivals as soon as the sun starts shining and the warmer weather arrives. Throughout the first 3 weeks of March (1st to 20th), Girona, holds its annual Black Music Festival, with a huge variety of acts, its appeal reaches a mass of music lovers. If you’re visiting in March it is a great idea to spend a day exploring the city and in the evening coming together with locals and tourists to enjoy, listen and celebrate the beauty of black music. This year’s line-up includes both a Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse tribute amongst other original and creative composers, singers and artists.
However, the main event in Girona throughout the Spring season is the fantastic flower festival held in May. The famous floral festivities date back to 1954 and have become a significant part of the city and Catalan calendar. This year the festival is from the 7th to 15th May, with the city’s senses exploding as the 185 beautiful and colourful displays that take over Girona, as well as the delightful smells of such a fun flowery event, transforming Girona into a Garden of Eden.
The Montserrat Mountain is home to a stunning Benedictine Abbey and a small village built high above sea level and looking over a magnificent, mountain range as far as the eye can see. Located 50km from Barcelona, Montserrat has beautiful views and many picturesque, walking routes to explore. Tucked into the mountain’s side there are also cafes, two museums, a few shops, local markets and the famous Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, making it easy to spend an entire day enjoying everything Montserrat has to offer. The mountain and monastery are one of the crown jewels of Catalonia, with the area becoming the first official Spanish National Park.
Trains regularly depart from Placa Espanya to Montserrat. There are a variety of ways to reach the Monastery and all other amenities surrounding it, either by cable car, funicular or walking, make sure to purchase the right. The cable car is one of the easiest options, where you can buy a combined train and cable ticket at Placa Espanya, and enjoy the stunning views the entire way up and down Montserrat Mountain. Either decision, once you have arrived at the heart of the village there is an array of things to see and do.
Spring is an ideal time to visit Montserrat as you are able to discover and explore your way round this charming community and beautiful landscape with far greater ease than before the hot summer months, or in winter when it can get extremely cold. A spring day in Montserrat is idyllic as the trees begin to grow leaves and the greenery of the area is at its height. Visiting close to Easter is also an amazing opportunity to see the Monastery at its finest, as this Christian celebration is key to the whole community, and especially to its 80 living Montserrat Monks. Like Christmas, it is one of the most festive times of the year and a highlight of the religious calendar, drawing people far and wide to the Benedict Monastery set in the mountains.
Tarragona is a beautiful historic town, about an hour south of Barcelona along the coastline. The city was a very prominent area during the Roman Empire, which is why Tarragona easily earned its title as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, due to its long and preserved history. Throughout the Roman period, Tarragona (or then Tarraco) was the Roman capital of the Iberian Peninsula, and today the city still boasts amazing architecture and array of ruins from this era.
The city was well established and developed during the Romans hold in Iberia, being one of their first foreign strongholds. First captured in 218BC, the city walls of Tarraco are the oldest remains of the Roman Empire outside of Italy. Visitors are invited to explore the ruins and discover this scenic city’s history. The Romanesque walls also provide wonderful and strategic views of Tarragona and beyond. The amphitheatre situated on the coast is one of best view and vantage points with magnificent views of the Mediterranean on one side and Tarragona on the other. However, there is plenty more history to be immersed in Tarragona’s buildings and museum. Trains and buses depart regularly from Barcelona, from 12€ and 16,55€ return respectively.
Spring is a beautiful time to visit Tarragona while the weather is warm but not too hot to explore. As the city is located by the sea, Spring is the perfect time to spend the morning discovering the ruins and city’s history, and then as the temperatures start to rise you can spend the afternoon overlooking or on the beach relaxing.
In late March, Tarragona also hosts its international jazz festival, the International Dixieland Festival of Tarragona. It’s a popular time to visit the city and will be particularly special this year as it overlaps with Santa Semana, a national week of Easter celebrations, which take part all over Spain! Therefore, this week of celebrations will be extra grand, joyous and lively with the explosive genres of jazz, swing, rhythm and blues being appreciated alongside the traditional Easter week.
Mid to late May is another great time to visit Tarragona, particularly if you are interested in history and culture. The city returns to its Roman roots for almost two weeks, discovering its past and ancestry throughout Tarracoviva. The Tarragona Roman History Festival is one of the longest and most important events in Tarragona’s calendar as the community re-identifies and embraces its Roman heritage and the beauty this period has left the city.
The beautiful seaside town of Sitges is 35km southwest of Barcelona. With 17 beautiful beaches, the city really flourishes with beauty and vibrancy in Spring and into Summer. The wonderful whitewash architecture and the Cathedral that sits prominently along the seafront provide an insight into the history and culture of the town. However, as one of the gay capitals of Europe and certainly Spain, Sitges’ nightlife is incredibly lively, fun and the local gay and tourist community know how to party!
Despite its small size Sitges has an array of nightlife and a strip of bars and clubs near the sea, whilst also boasting beautiful, unspoilt beach views and a wonderful cuisine – as it is a former fishing village. The city also has a large variety of shops to cater to its growing tourist industry (with longer opening hours than many surrounding areas, including Barcelona!). Sitges really it has it all! A mini and up-and-coming Barcelona; the town offers the perfect tourist amenities: vast restaurants, stunning beaches, shops and water sports and an amazing a unique culture, with less of the crowds.
Spring is a great time to visit Sitges before the summer sunbathers and swimmers flock to the beaches. With clear warm waters and golden sands, Sitges is a day trip with a classical Mediterranean vibe, so it is perfect when the sun starts to shine, and often feels like a mini-holiday retreat from bustling Barcelona. Soak up the sun and bathe on the sand before the beaches get busy in the summer months on a lovely Spring day. Spring is a great time to truly relax and leisurely explore in Sitges Town, whether it be by the beach, shopping or exploring the city before peak season.