Tarragona: City of Roman Ruins

The Catalonian city of Tarragona could potentially fill a lot of travel wishes. It boasts many of the same attractions as two tourist meccas, Barcelona and Rome, but without over-priced meals and stuffy crowds. Hardly visited by tourists other than Spaniards, Tarragona makes a great day-trip from Barcelona.

When I found myself traveling to Barcelona again to meet up with visiting friends, I really wanted to see something new. I love that city but there’s still so much of Spain I haven’t seen. Tarragona is an easy, hour-long train ride from Barcelona (from Barcelona-Sants to Tarragona or Camp de Tarragona). Many of its citizens live there to commute into Barcelona for work.

We didn’t plan ahead very well and realized too late that we’d be carting our bags around for the day, but that wasn’t an issue to visit the coastal Ampitheater located only 10 minutes walk from the train station! Entry is free to explore the outskirts of these ruins, as well as to enter on the ground floor.

Another site worth seeing is Tarragona’s cathedral. To get there you’ll have to get into the winding, cobblestone streets of the Old Town. Look out for the arched portales that will lead straight to the steps of the cathedral. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was beginning to rain and we walked straight into a funeral procession. We opted not to go into the cathedral to interrupt and ducked into a small cafe for un cortado instead. If the weather would have allowed, a trip to the beach would have been completely necessary!

If you have time for lunch, you have to try Catalan fideuà. Similar to paella, this dish features tiny fideuà noodles that are browned in olive oil and mixed with small bits of seafood. “When in Rome Tarragona!”

After June 28th you’re bound to run into the castells of the human tower competition. This annual tradition brings hundreds of spectators to Tarragona to see the show. Each “team” is made up of over 100 people. The most impressive towers are ten people high, and usually top off with a small child. Oh, Spain! If you want more information about events in Tarragona, check out their tourism website here.