About an hour from Barcelona, the city of Tarragona is well worth a visit for those looking for a city with the perfect mix of history, beach and delicious food. Sitting comfortably on the Mediterranean coast, the views of the sea can be seen from many points across the hilly city.
History buffs will love the city, with old Roman city walls to explore, a seafront amphitheatre to admire and the remnants of the old chariot racing track that ran through the city to tour.
Sitting comfortably on the Costa Dorada means Tarragona is treated to a stunning sunrise over the coast. It’s definitely worth the early start, but it’s an extra bonus that the prime sunrise viewing spot is just a few minutes’ walk from Plaça de la Font.
Tarragona Cathedral sits high in the city, on a site previously occupied by a Roman Temple. The cathedral dates back to the 12th century, but has been developed since that time to what stands today. As well as as interesting interior, the cloister is spacious, serene and a lovely space to wander on a sunny day. You might even spot the resident turtles in the ponds!
Castellers and the human towers originated in a town close to Tarragona, and spread throughout the Catalonian communities. The towers range in height, width and number of people, but it’s an amazing sight to see at the festivals in the regions. The tradition of castells has been present in Tarragona for such a long time – since the 1700s – only spreading to the rest of Catalonia in the last 50 years.
There’s plenty in Tarragona to explore and fill a weekend in the city. Aside from the numerous sights, the beach is a short walk from the city centre, and the cafe culture is strong with plenty of places to stop and enjoy some tapas and a coffee. To get a real feel for the city and the culture, try to time your visit to coincide with one of the festivals that take place there. One of the biggest and best celebrations is for Santa Tecla in September, but there are plenty taking place throughout the year, and you can find more details of them here.
I visited Tarragona in September 2019 for my birthday, which coincided with Santa Tecla – pure luck! You can see what I got up in the city here. Spoiler alert: I loved it!