Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Ellen
Get out of the tourist zones in Barcelona and visit Tarragona if you have the time. We were in Barcelona a month, so we had the time.
To get to Tarragona, we took the Renfe train. The express train ride cost $20 each round trip. We went for some sightseeing, and to visit new friends. An express train gets you there in about 70 minutes, as opposed to two hours.
As budget travelers, we rarely rent cars or motorcycles and usually rely on public transportation. But our friend had wheels so it made our sightseeing a breeze.
Here are some of the sites in Tarragona, not exactly one of the most popular tourist sites in Spain – which is exactly why you should go!
This is the main street through town and it was a gorgeous walkway through the city. On the day we went, there happened to be a market down the middle walkway featuring mostly inexpensive new or used clothing in good condition. I scored a T-shirt and linen vest for my spring wardrobe for a mere $3.75.
There are different market offerings on different days – sometimes at places other than Rambla Nova.
Rambla Nova ends at the sea and features statues such as the Monumento a los Castellers – people forming a human tower. These towers are formed in real life throughout Catalonia as a way to display strength, balance, courage, and cultural pride. (It’s really taken off in recent years, and you can find a schedule of casteller performances at the official organizing site here.)
But back to those Mediterranean views. You can take them in as you walk along the beachfront walkway.
Tarragona is perhaps most well-known for the Roman Amphitheater right off the shore, smack dab in the middle of today’s civilization. The day we went, it happened to be free admission. But even if you had to pay, it’s only a couple of dollars to get in.
This site allows you to walk all over the ruins, which of course have been maintained and upgraded to a good degree. Still, it’s an impressive site and you can see the seating that likely hasn’t been modified – it’s blocked off and looks a bit different from the rest of the ruins.
This is a cool place. You can see where the Romans cut through stone and the path used to get the goods to building sites. The Roman quarry of El Medol is right off the highway National Road 340. It is just outside Tarragona by about eight kilometers.
You’ll see old markings of cutting, and lots of beautiful trees. Despite being right next to the highway, the place as a good vibe.
Our friend drove us to the quarry, and I do not know how you would get there from town aside from a taxi. On the official Tarragona web page, I didn’t see any public transportation page for once you are in the city, although there is information on how to get to the city itself.
A link to Tarragona’s tourism page with quarry information is here. This quarry is part of the “Roman Route” and it has many old sites on the route if you want to make a tour of all those attractions. Note that the link doesn’t offer any information on how to get to the quarry without a car.
Speaking of a car…
Our friend drove us to a lovely beach just outside the main city, which was down the road from his home. We enjoyed coffees and beer at a cafe on the beach, and then he took us to his home where his wife and house staff had prepared a delicious lunch for us. We spent some hours chatting away the afternoon.
Next our friend drove us to Altafulla – a nearby town with a few more sites to see, including castles and beachfront walkways.We started our journey back to Barcelona from the Altafulla train station.
These were beautiful places to visit, and if you have a car you could easily do Tarragona and Altafulla in one day.
We had a great time exploring areas outside the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, and we thoroughly enjoyed the company of our new friends. This is one of the reasons we travel — not only to see new places, but also to experience those places with people who live there.
Hopefully you find great people like our new friends on your own retired budget travel journey.
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