Transport Options to Arrive: Train, bus, car, plane (to Barcelona and Reus)
Tarragona is well connect to the cities around it and is easy to get to by train or bus from cities like Barcelona (82km) or Reus (7km) that have an airport and smaller cities as well. As always, if you come by car, you have the flexibility to move around the surrounding area more freely. If not, the available transport in this region is taken care of.
Note: If you are planning on taking the AVE (the fast train in Spain), please know that in Tarragona the station is outside the city center—about 13 kilometers—so factor this into your journey.
Recommended time of year to visit and length of visit: Although you only need a couple of days to explore the city and all the history it has to offer, you could easily spend a week relaxing on the beaches if that is your thing. The weather in Tarragona is nice all year round, but I would recommend avoiding the summer months as it gets more crowded with the summer holidays. If you go from January to March, you might even be able to try the calçots (see below).
Fun Fact: Tarragona was the capital of the Roman rule in what is now Spain and you can see this influence all around the city (from the walls encircling the cities to the monuments inside it). Known as Tarraco, this city was acted as a safe enclave for the Romans during their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula.
Top Three Must-sees:
1. The monuments: If seeing historical monuments is something that interests I would highly recommend getting a pass to see everything for just €11.05 (valid for a year). If you are not so interested in spending a day or two wandering around ancient Roman ruins, than consider checking out the Museum and the Amphitheater.
2. The beaches: Tarragona is located in the costa daurada or the “golden coast” which, as you might expect has beautiful beaches with soft golden sand. As someone who loves the sea, I might be biased, but I will say that a day or a sunset on any of the beaches in the Tarragona area will be a lovely way to spend your time (and I truly believe that time you enjoy wasting is not time wasted).
3. Rambla Nova: If you have had enough of seeing the sights and lying out on the beach, check out the city center. The Rambla Nova is a promenade though the new (nova) part of the city characterised by traditional architecture and restaurants with terraces allowing you to watch the world go by. And, if you make it to the end, the Balcó del Mediterrani (Mediterranean Balcony) gives you a great view overlooking the sea.
One thing to eat: Calçots
While living in Tarragona for eight months I ate a lot of really good food. However, one of the things that will always stand out in my mind are the calçots or a type of green onion from the region that is roasted on a grill, stripped of their outer leaves, and then dipped into different sauces before eating them. It is an experience that I cannot even begin to explain (eating roasted onions and calling it a meal) so check out the video to get a better idea of how it’s done.