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Amazing Day Trips to Take from Barcelona by Boat

From world-famous buildings to LQBTQ-friendly beaches, day trips around Barcelona are one of a kind
From world-famous buildings to LQBTQ-friendly beaches, day trips around Barcelona are one of a kind | © Juan Bautista / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Mark Nayler
24 November 2021
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Barcelona is a bucket list destination in its own right, home to world-famous buildings by Antoni Gaudí and the iconic boulevard, Las Ramblas. However, its position on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain means it’s also well-placed for day trips by sail or motorboat – from the LGBTQ-friendly Sitges to the traditional fishing village of Sant Pol de Mar.

Explore the best of the Catalan coastline by hiring a motorboat with SamBoat – no experience necessary.

Mataro

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Boats in the Mataro Port in Spain
© Jordi Sans Galitó / Alamy Stock Photo
Wedged in between the Mediterranean and the Parque del Montnegre y el Corredor, Mataro welcomes sailors with great fanfare in June – when the Port Festival hosts concerts and sea-related attractions. The big draw in the town is the Nau Gaudi, a former cotton-bleaching shed that now houses the Museum of Contemporary Art, considered the first-ever structure by pioneering Catalan architect, Anton Gaudi. Nature enthusiasts can walk 45 minutes inland – or jump in a taxi – to explore the Forest Park’s Vertical Wood.

Lloret de Mar

Architectural Landmark
Map View
A rugged coastline near Catalonia, Spain
© Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur / Alamy Stock Photo
This seasoned Costa Brava resort is sought out for its beaches, especially the headlining Lloret Beach – directly in front of the hotels and restaurants – and the quieter, slightly smaller Playa de Fenals to the south. Move away from the heaving sands and you’ll stumble on obscure attractions, such as the Italianate Santa Clotilde Gardens and the Catalan Modernist Cemetery. Divers can spot wide-eyed flounders and moray eels at the Can Roviralta site, found just off Playa de Fenals.

Blanes

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Blanes Beach in Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain
© Valery Bareta / Alamy Stock Photo
Part-resort, part-fishing village, Blanes is known as the “Gateway to the Costa Brava” – hence the sculpture of a gate on the path up to the Palomera viewpoint. Whatever time you drop anchor, stick around for the early evening fish auction, when returning fishermen sell their catch on the quayside. During the afternoon, explore the secluded, rocky coves to the north – Sant Francesc and Treumal are two of the best – or recline on the long, smooth beaches to the south.

Badalona

Architectural Landmark
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An aerial view of the coastline of Badalona, Spain
© KarSol / Alamy Stock Photo
It’s an effortless glide north along the coastline of Barcelona to reach its smaller, less touristy neighbour. Once on land, make for the Anis del Mono Factory to learn how the iconic drink is made – don’t forget to greet the bronze monkey – also known as Mono – who sits outside. Stretch your legs by strolling down the 250m (820ft) Pont de Petroli before heading to the main beach to rent a jet ski or paddleboard.

Palamos

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Boats in a harbour at Palamos, Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain
© Stefano Politi Markovina / Alamy Stock Photo
Sailors up for a longer voyage may wish to venture north to Palamos, where you can immerse yourself in Mediterranean fishing culture without leaving the port. Make your first stop at the Museu de la Pesca, where the exhibits explore fishing methods and preservation techniques throughout the centuries. Then move on to the market or auction to see the day’s catch being sold – before attending a cooking demonstration in the Espai del Peix next to the museum.

Calella de Palafrugell

Architectural Landmark
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A traditional whitewashed fisherman village and a popular travel and holiday destination in Calella de Palafrugell, Spain
© Boris Stroujko / Alamy Stock Photo
Calella de Palafrugell is the home of one of the largest live music events in Costa Brava – the Cap Roig Festival held in mid-July. Over several days, top drawer stars perform on an open-air stage in the botanical gardens – where previous headliners include Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler and Elton John. Another compelling reason to visit in July is to attend the Habanera Festival, which celebrates the historic relationship between Catalonia and Cuba with music and dancing on the beach of Port Bo.

Sant Pol de Mar

Natural Feature
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A view of Platja de les Barques Beach in Sant Pol de Mar, Spain
© Nito / Alamy Stock Photo
For a pleasing contrast to big city life, bop north to Sant Pol de Mar – a sleepy seaside town that’s often overlooked in favour of its flashier neighbours. Sunbathe in relative solitude on one of its four sandy beaches with a good book in hand, before wandering a few blocks back for a long lunch. Cosy Can Talamas – a specialist in fresh grilled fish and seafood arroz dishes – is one of the best options if you’re after traditional Costa Brava cuisine.

Sitges

Building
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Medieval Buildings in Sitges, Catalonia, Spain
© Itsanoemithing / Alamy Stock Photo
Scary movies and roaming zombies contribute to the appeal of Sitges, a seaside town situated just under 40km (25mi) north of the Catalan capital. Every October, it hosts the internationally renowned Horror Film Festival – a highlight of which is the Zombie Walk, when participants walk the streets dressed as members of the undead. It’s also one of the most LGBTQ-friendly destinations in Europe – be sure to visit in February when Sitges hosts a drag-themed carnival unlike any other in Spain.

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