Take time to meander - losing yourself in the maze of alleys, streets and lanes is one of the Old Town´s principal pleasures. The streets wind and wander with no discerrible order or object. We rewarded ourselves with a cool cup of gelato for our effort! But you won´t do justice to the entire city of Tarragona whenever you won´t visit other parts. So ... do meander, because the cluster of sights around Placa Imperial Tarraco are hearthclutchingly beautiful, and the more secret pleasures of the hushed backstreets are just entrancing.
There are trully more than enough vibrant cultural scenes to see, like the ruins of Theatre Roma and for example the great arena Placa de Braus. Via Forum Local Roma, Placa Corsini, with its beautiful Mercat Central, we ended up at the Rambla Nova, which is probably the most important street of Tarragona. It lead to a great viewing point called Balco de Mediterrani, where we could get great views at the lower parts of the city. All this may seem very though as finding your way in Tarragona might be difficult, but in really distances are short and the signs will help you in getting around. Enjoy!
Most people try to rush Tarragona on a budget so they end up missing some of the highlights in a whirlwind. The key to seeing Tarragona properly is a game plan, you must know what you want to see before setting out. Before we visited Tarragona we saw on a city map that the small town of Tarragona is divided into three areas - the historical old town, the area near Rambla Nova and the residential near Placa Imperial Tarraco. We visited the city several times, every time we hiked our way through one of the areas.
Our first hike was the old town where the city is one huge archaeological site which received the UNESCO World Heritage designation in the year 2000. It was quite strenious sometimes, but definately worth while! We started at Portal del Roser, made our way to the Correr Major (Main Street) and finally hiked way down until it ended at the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. While most tour guides don't recommend getting lost in the alley´s, this part of Tarragona is the place to get hopelessly lost for half a day. We wondered off through mysterious and steep alleyways leading us away from the crowds. We ended up at Voltes Gotiques (old medieval marketplace), Antic Hospital (beautiful Romanesque Gothic building), mazes of hilly backstreets and deserted gardens. The real Tarragona?
Tarragona is a city with more than 2,000 years of history. The ancient city of Tarraco was founded in 218 BC and its golden age began in the year 27 BC. The compact town of Tarragona is easy to get around, and the ideal place to explore on foot. Tarragona is Spain, and yet it is a culture unto itself. It was the capital of the ancient Roman Empire and its legacy of monuments can be admired in the streets to this day. Historical buildings to stroll around include the 12th century cathedral, numerous churches, a circus, forum and the defensive walls of the Passeig Arqueologic reveal delights at every turn. Time to explore it!
We can honestly state that the best way to explore Tarragona is by foot and the second best way is also by foot! Besides giving you the opportunity to roam the narrow streets and the cosy squares, it is the quickest way too. If you really want to, you can cross the city in approximately 25 minutes. Remember that sometimes it might be quicker (and nicer!) to take a few short-cuts into picturesque alleys instead of following the masses of tourists. Maybe this is easy for us to say as we stayed for a longer period of time and not like most of the tourists only for one day. But even when your stay is rather short, do try to get away from the crowds and just have a 'look around'. Tarrogona is simply a perfect place to walk for a few hours and pretending to know where you are.
I was fortunate and got to interact with a member of the wildlife population around Montserrat. This little fella was so sweet. Okay, so she's no Iberian Lynx, but she's definitely cute! Where are those cat treats when you need them?
To get up to Sant Joan, you can take the Funicular de Sant Joan. Up here a number of paths take you about the highest reaches of Montserrat, including Sant Jeroni, Montserrat's highest point at 4055 feet.
This little chapel was a little find we made while hiking about one of the paths. Many treasures like this can be found as well as diverse flora and if you're lucky, some wildlife.
From across the shops at Montserrat, you can take the Funicular de la Santa Cova. Here there is a path that takes you to the Mirador de Sant Miquel where you have an outstanding view and also can see the Creu (Cross) de Sant Miquel. I don't have a close up of it, but it's the cross you see at the top of the picture. It's about a 40 minute walk up to it.
From Montserrat, take the funicular to Sant Joan, and after a twenty minutes walk you'll find this fabulous hermitage lost in the mountains.