Tarragona is the first large seaside town south of Barcelona. The town also offers a number of historical sites including churches from several different periods and a well preserved Roman colosseum. The town itself has the usual Spanish assortment of plazas sprinkled with cafes and tapas bars. Tarragona is a good choice if you only have a day or two to get out of Barcelona, otherwise the beaches further south or the remoter seaside villages to the north of Barcelona offer a more unique experience.
Tarragona's main station, 1 Tarragona, is on the main train line between Barcelona and Alicante, served by 'Euromed' and 'Alaris' trains, as well as regional trains. Talgo trains run as far as Montpellier in the north, and Lorca in the south. The 'Trenhotel' night train to Granada also calls here. Note that it's best to buy train tickets a few days ahead during the high season to avoid getting stuck in one place. However, you always have the chance to take a stop-train, which is reasonable when coming from Barcelona, as it basically takes the same amount of time.
Tarragona is also close to the 2 Camp de Tarragona AVE station, on the Madrid-Barcelona High Speed line. From Camp de Tarragona, high speed trains run to Zaragoza, Madrid, Sevilla, Malaga, Burgos, Vigo, Bilbao and San Sebastian, as well as the 'Trenhotel' night trains to Burgos, Vigo, A Coruña and Gijon. From the station, Plana (+34 977 553 680) runs buses regularly to Tarragona between 6:00-23:00; the trip takes about 20 minutes. Taxis are also readily available.
3 Reus Airport (REU IATA) is 9 km from Tarragona. Reus is mainly served by charter flights and Ryanair. Taxis can be hired to take you to Tarragona for roughly €30. Hispano Igualadina (+34 902 292 900) provides service to Tarragona's bus station from Reus Airport 3-5 times per day.
Tarragona is on the AP-7 (Autopista de la Mediterrània) motorway. Barcelona is roughly 100 km northeast and Valencia is roughly 250 km (just under 3 hrs) south. North of Tarragona, the AP-7 is a toll road, but south it is toll-free. The tolls north of Tarragona are expected to be removed in Sept 2021.
Many of Tarragona's sites are within walking distance of the train station. Taxis and local trains can take you further.
Befitting a city that's existed for over 2,000 years, there are a number of historical sites to see in Tarragona. One of the most beautiful parts of city is the narrow old streets of the Casc Antic, or Medieval Quarter, particularly near the cathedral.
- 1 Balcó del Mediterrani (Balcony to the Mediterranean), end of the Rambla Nova. A viewpoint at the end of the Rambla Nova with views of the sea, the port, Miracle Beach and the Roman amphitheatre. The statue of Roger of Llúria, a 13th century admiral who defeated the French navy, is also located here.
- 2 Casa Canals, C. Granada, 11, ☏ . Tu-F 9:00-18:30, Sa 9:30-18:30, Su 9:30-14:30. Preserved home that belonged to some of Tarragona's nobility. The main floor, garden and terrace are open, with the terrace offering nice views. €3.30.
- 3 Casa Castellarnau, C. dels Cavallers, 14. Tu-F 9:00-14:30, Sa-Su 9:30-14:30. Built in the 15th century and home to some of Tarragona's most influential families. The inside is a mix of styles from various eras, including arches from the 15th century, Gothic columns and the painted ceiling of the ballroom. €3.30.
- 4 Catedral Basilica de Tarragona (Cathedral of Tarragona), Carrer Major, 41 (Pla de la Seu). 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-18:00 when open. Usually open Saturdays, but check the schedule of the website for exact dates. Roman Catholic cathedral with a mix of Romanesque and Gothic design built over the 12th-14th centuries. There are a number of chapels inside and the cloister has some excellent Romanesque sculpture work. €5 adults, €4 seniors, €3 youth (7-16).
- 5 El Serrallo, C. de Sant Pere / Moll de Pescadors (south of the railroad tracks at the western end of the Moll de Costa). The historic and still active fishing district. The neighbourhood mixes the charm of brightly painted buildings, a palm-lined promenade, a selection of seafood restaurants and the markets and auction rooms where fish caught during the day is sold in the afternoon.
- 6 Marqueta de Tarraco (Model of Tarraco), Plaça del Pallol, 3, ☏ . M-F 9:00-20:30, Sa-Su 9:30-14:30. A model of Tarraco in the second century AD. Free.
- 7 Museu del Port Tarragona (Port Museum), Tinglado 2, Moll de Costa, ☏ . Oct to May: Tu-Sa 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-19:00, Su 11:00-14:00; June-Sept: Tu-Sa 10:00-14:00 and 17:00-20:00 (in Aug the hours are 9:00-15:00), Su 11:00-14:00. Museum showcasing Tarragona's maritime past and present, including life on the docks, types of fisheries and local freight. Free.
- 8 Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona (MNAT), Tinglado 4, Moll de Costa, ☏ . June-Sept: Tu-Sa 9:30-20:30, Su 10:00-14:00; Oct-May: Tu-Sa 9:30-18:00, Su 10:00-14:00. Exhibits on the history of the Roman colony of Tarraco. €4 adults, €2 seniors (includes admission to the Museu i Necròpolis Paleocristians); €7 MNAT ticket, for admission to this museum, the Necropolis, the Villa of Centcelles and the Roman Villa of Els Munts.
- 9 Museum of Modern Art, C. Santa Anna, 8, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00. Gallery that exhibits paintings and sculptures from the 20th century. Free.
- Universitat Rovira i Virgili
Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco
The Roman city, Tarraco, was one of the Roman Empire's most important cities in Spain and a provincial capital. A number of buildings and landmarks remain from that era and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many are within walking distance of the town center.
- 10 Amphitheatre, Parc de l'Amfiteatre romà. Tu-F 9:00-14:30, Sa-Su 9:30-14:30. Roman amphitheatre built in the second century AD. It could hold 15,000 spectators and looks over the sea. €3.30.
- 11 Circ romà (Roman Circus). Tu-F 9:00-18:30, Sa 9:30-18:30, Su 9:30-14:30. The remains of the chariot track and buildings. Only a portion of the structure is left but some of the passages and vaults in the basement can be seen. Admission includes access to the nearby Torre del Pretori. €3.30.
- 12 Teatre romà (Roman Theatre), Carrer Caputxins & Carrer Rebolledo. The remains of the Roman theatre. It was built in the first century AD and could hold 6,000 spectators. Temporarily closed.
- 13 Colonial Forum, C. Lleida and C. del Cardenal Cervantes. u-F 9:00-14:30, Sa-Su 9:30-14:30. The ruins of a large square dating from Roman times. A portion of the basilica remains in the northwest corner. €3.30.
- 14 Museu i Necròpolis Paleocristians (Early Christian Necropolis & Museum), Av. Ramón y Cajal 84, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-13:30 and 15:00-17:30 (open until 20:00 June-Sept), Su 10:00-14:00. One of the earliest Christian burial sites in the western Mediterranean. There is a museum with sarcophagus, epitaphs and other funerary objects, and part of the cemetery is open to the public. €4.
- 15 Pont del Diable (Aqüeducte de les Ferreres), Highway N-240, just north of the AP-7 overpass, in the Parc Ecohistoric (Bus: From Plaça de la Imperial Tàrraco take bus 5 for three stops to the Pont del Diable stop, from here continue on foot for about 450 meters), ☏ . A Roman aqueduct with two levels of arches, roughly 200 m long and 30 m high. Guided tours are available for €5.
- 16 Provincial Forum, Plaça del Pallol, Plaça del Fòrum, Plaça del Rei. The provincial forum was the administrative center of the city in Roman times and covered a large portion of the northern end of Tarraco. Much of the original structure has been torn down, but remnants of walls, vaults, entrances and towers remain in the Antiga Audiència on Plaça del Pallol, the Plaça del Fòrum, and the Praetorium on Plaça del Rei (near the Circ romà). Some pedestals with Roman inscriptions can still be seen along Carrer Merceria, too.
- 17 Villa of Centcelles, Afores s/n, Constanti, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-13:30 and 15:00-17:30 (open until 20:00 June-Sept), Su 10:00-14:00. Roman villa built in the fifth century AD. It is notable for its mosaic, which is believed to be the oldest Christian-themed mosaic in the Roman world. €4.
- 18 Walls, starts at the gate near Avinguda de Catalunya and Via de l'Imperi Romà. The city walls were built in the second century AD and modified in the Middle Ages and 18th century. About 1 km remains, bordering the Casc Antic (Old Quarter), with a number of towers and bastions. A cobblestone path follows the outside of the wall and has some interpretation plaques and gardens.
There are not a lot of organized outdoor activities in Tarragona beyond strolling through the town, swimming at the beaches, and people watching in the plazas.
Tarragona has a number of golden sand beaches, mostly to the north of town. Avoid pollution from the town's large shipping port (one of the biggest in Spain) by walking a ways up the beach. There is a nice walk following the shoreline, about 6-7 km long, where you will find the five main beaches and several smaller ones.
- 1 Platja del Miracle (Miracle Beach), Passeig Maritim de Rafael Casanova. An urban beach with the port at the south end and the railroad and city centre behind it. It's a longish stretch of sand (roughly ½ km) and the water is generally calm but it tends to get crowded due to its proximity to the city centre.
- 2 Platja del l'Arrabassada, Passeig Maritim de Rafael Casanova & C. Josep Ras i Claravalis. A little north of Miracle Beach, l'Arrabassada is another ½ km of golden sand. It has some small beach restaurants and there's a palm-lined promenade behind it. This beach regularly earns a Blue Flag for its environmental management.
- 3 Platja Savinosa, foot of C. de Francesc Girminells i Mascaro. Smaller Blue Flag beach
- 4 Platja Llarga, C. de la Platja Llarga. Popular beach with restaurants, rentals, showers and sailing club. At 3 km in length, it's the longest strech of sand in Tarragona.
The Tarragona 'Ajuntament' ie Town Council publishes a fortnightly online 'what's on' guide called 'publics' which can be accessed via the ajuntament website.
- Tarragona International Dixieland Festival. The week before Holy Week, end of March. The unique Dixieland festival in Spain and one of the most important in Europe: 25 bands and 100 concerts.
- Tarragona International Fireworks Displays Competition. first week of July. The most important fireworks contest in the Mediterranean area is held every first week of July in Tarragona, in a wonderful bay — Punta del Miracle — a place praised by the famous architect Antoni Gaudí. The competition selects six international pyrotechnic companies every year.
- Santa Tecla Festival. between 15th and 23rd September. One of the most important Spanish traditional festival, between 15th and 23rd September. It has been celebrated since 1321 and it has been considered of national touristic interest by Spanish government. Human towers, historical parades and fireworks are some of the main activities.
- [dead link] Tarragona Cultura Contemporania (TCC). October to April. Concerts, films in Original version, Theatre... L'associació cultural Anima't since 1994 produced a cultural program in Tarragona under the label of Tarragona Cultura Contemporània (TCC) together a program of music and films in original version of the October to April.
There are many interesting shops along the Rambla Nova and in the streets around it, as well as in the old part of the city. A lot of typical Catalan stuff can be bought there.
- 1 . Sundays. Large street market.
- 2 Mercat Central de Tarragona, Plaça de Corsini, ☏ . M-Sa 8:30-21:00. Produce, meat, bread, pastries and other foods in a modernist building. There's also a clock on the exterior with figures that come out twice a day (noon and 18:00).
Tarragona has a number of small bars, restaurants, and cafes serving the usual selection of tapas, bocadillos (sandwiches), and local seafood dishes. The best area to browse for tapas and full meals is from The Plaça de la Font along the Carrer Major up to the Cathedral, with Carrer Nau and the Plaça del Rei and Plaça del Fòrum particularly worthwhile.
The Serrallo neighbourhood near the fishing harbour has some excellent fish and seafood restaurants, which are particularly popular for Sunday lunch. There is a market hall just off the Rambla Nova in the middle of town where the basics of a good picnic can be bought cheaply.
- 1 El Pulvinar, Carrer dels Ferrers, 20, ☏ . M, W-Su 13:00-15:45 and 20:00-23:30. Pizza, pasta and other Italian dishes in a building that used to be part of the Roman Circus.
- 2 Filosofía Restaurante, Plaça d'en Ripoll, 6, ☏ . M, W-Su 13:00-15:30 and 20:30-23:30. Grilled meat, burgers and fish. €15-30.
- 3 La Cucafera, Plaza de Santiago Rusiñol, 5, ☏ . M, W-Su 13:00-15:45; open for dinner F-Sa 20:00-23:30. Focuses on tradition Catalan dishes, particularly rice and fresh seafood, with some fusion influences.
The nicest place to spend and evening is in one of Tarragona's many plazas with a glass of beer and plate of tapas. At night if you want to have some drinks and dance you should go to "El Port" (the port), there are a lot of pubs and dance locals there.
The local speciality is vermouth, and you will find plenty of vermuterias that serve their own brand vermouths.
The tourist office at Carrer Fortuny in the New Town and Carrer Major in the Casc Antic can point you to hotel rooms at any budget.
- 1 Hotel Catalunya Express, C. General Contreras 16, ☏ . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. 30 room hotel in the city centre with basic furnishings. Most rooms are for two people, the Superior rooms can hold 3 or 4. Free Wifi and complimentary continental breakfast. From €60 in summer, from €45 in winter.
- [dead link] Aparthotel Alexandra, Rambla nova 71, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms starting at €49.
- 2 Hotel Canadá, Carretera de Valencia 211, ☏ , fax: . 60 room hotel with individual, double, triple and quadruple rooms. Amenities include Wifi and air conditioned rooms. Parking is available but cannot be booked in advance. €75-125.
- 3 Hotel SB Ciutat de Tarragona, Plaça Imperial Tarraco 5, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Modern and centrally located. Free Wi-Fi connection in all rooms and common areas, splendid reunion salons and a wide range of Tarragona’s rich gastronomy. Amenities include private garage, gym, sauna and solarium terrace with pool. Rooms come in a variety of sizes, for 2-5 people. From €100 in summer, from €70 in winter.
- 4 Hotel SB Express Tarragona, Plaça de les Corts Catalanes 4, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Located at the beginning of the Rambla of Tarragona. Private garage. Modern, comfortable and functional hotel, spacious rooms suitable for families. Free Wi-Fi connections in all rooms and common areas. Cafeteria, reunion salons and car rental office. €85-100 in summer, €50-70 in winter.
Be careful if you choose to visit the night clubs of the Puerto Deportivo alone, especially if you are a guy. Foreign visitors have been robbed there.
- Ohtels Sant Salvador, Calle Llobregat, 11 43880 Comarruga Tarragona, ☏ . 3-star hotel in Comarruga
- [dead link] Gran Hotel Europe Salou, Avda. Palfuriana, 125-127, ☏ . 4-star hotel in Comarruga.
- Salou — Popular beach town with holiday resorts. PortAventura, one of Spain's largest amusement parks, is nearby.
- Reus —
- Poblet Monastery UNESCO listed Cistercian monastery 30 km north on the road to Lleida