how to move around
The small train station in Tarragona is located near the coast which means you just have to walk a bit uphill through some steps to reach Old Town but in 10’-15 you’ll be there, checking first the view from the balcony at the bottom of Rambla Nova and then head to the amphitheatre, the archeological museum, the cathedral etc.
There are many taxis waiting opposite the train station in case you cant or don’t want to walk and then you can easily walk around and check the sites with no problem.
We noticed a small tourist train go around with some visitors too.
There are signs pointing to main sites but also a helpful map opposite the train station’s entrance to orient yourself upon your arrival. Later you can take your own map at the Tourist Information office at Rambla Nova.
how to go there
Tarragona is about 100km west of Barcelona and 60km west of Sitges.
It’s an easy 90’ train ride from Barcelona (you can catch the train at Sants of Passeig de Gracia stations) with some nice views on Costa Daurada beaches along the way. Check the panels for train that goes to Tortosa as Tarragona is just a stop along the way.
There are many trains through out the day (one very 30’). Single ticket costs 9 euros, return 14,10e(2012 prices).
The train station is in walking distance from Old Town although you have to go uphill in the beginning.
There’s a direct bus from Barcelona Airport but you have to check the timetables to see if it’s worth to wait there or go downtown and catch the train. Single ticket cost 12,85e while return ticket costs 22,95e (2012 prices). The bus station in Tarragona is 2’ walk from rue de la Rambla.
Many charter flights arrive at Reus airport, 10km west of Tarragona also connected by bus or taxi.
From Barcelona take A7 autopista, with normal traffic you’ll be in Tarragona in about an hour. Have in mind that you have to pay 8 euros for tolls.
As I understood, trains could be the best option to head to daytrips from Barcelona. They are convenient and quite cheap.
Train to Tarragona took a bit more than 1 hour; the ticket price was approximately 7 euros. The train stop is not so far from Rambla Nova street, thats about 10-15 minutes to walk to old town.
The views when riding Barcelona - Tarragona - Barcelona railway are quite nice ones, as you could see Costa Daurada beaches (Costa Daurada means "golden beach").
Tarragona Railway Station
Railway station in Tarragona is situated on the coastline, and beautiful approach to the city. The station is small and quaint at the foot of the steep climb to the town which can be reached by a winding road 10 minute walk which is very steep and winding, alternatively there are steps again very steep and difficult with luggage, not what you need after a long journey. To take a Taxi from the station to the top of the hill, the end of the rue de la rambla costs 10euros which is expensive for the two minute journey but well worth every penny after a long journey.
Tarragona Bus Station
To catch the bus from Tarragona to BCN Airport costs 12 euros one way. Board at Tarragona Bus Station, which is very clean and well organised. Latin American shop
Bus station easy to locate 10 euros in a taxi from the far end of rue de la rambla, 10 minute journey. The toilets are “delightful” an endearing touch of Catalonia.
The station was very clean and comfortable, well organised and not too busy at the time of day we were there i.e. 10.30am Thursday. There is a tourist information office, which is very modern and well staffed, a bar/ coffee shop selling delicious Boccadillios and other snacks. And interestingly a Latin American shop selling coffee and other provisions from South America. Be careful of opportunists looking to pickpocket, steal bags and luggage, we were aware of a man eyeing bags up, using a fake suitcase to give the impression he was travelling (handle missing a piece of wire instead).. The bus station is situated in quite a pleasant area of the commercial district, I would not feel at threat if arriving at night outside the station, there are cafes and bars close by, and is two minutes walk from the market and Rue de la Rambla.
To catch the bus from the airport to Tarragona, find the stop outside the terminal directly in front of the Miro Mosaic, there are several bus stops together.
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Plantaciones de Origin Coffee Shop, Barcelona El P
Situated in Terminal 4 of Barcelona El Prat Airport before check in, sits the Plantaciones de origin Coffee shop an oasis amongst the hustle and bustle. The staff are jovial, friendly and helpful and deliver a professional service in a spotlessly clean environment. The selection of snacks and drinks is impressive and extremely well priced, especially for an airport where there is a captive audience; Bocadillio Jamon Serrano – 3.75 euros
Bocadillio Iberico – 5.30 euros, Bocadillio Jerrano queso 4.10 euros, Coffee con leche – 1.15 euros. The coffee is a dream freshly ground, made with hot milk, delicious. Beer is a snip at 2.50 euros, cheaper than in Barcelona itself. Everything n the menu was inexpensive and of excellent quality. Comfortable seats close to cash machines and toilets, an ideal place to watch
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Catalunya Express Barcelona to Tarragona
The train station in the airport can be easily found, follow the red roofed corridor. Ask for a ticket to Tarragona which you can purchase for the very cheap price of 5.80euros. (The Regional and catalunya express cost 5.30 euros, other trains though are 16 euros if you get on the wrong train you’ll have to pay the difference when the ticket inspector comes around.) Take the journey into Barcelona, it is only three stops, and takes approximately 20 minutes. You will then need to change platforms in Barcelona Saints, however a word of caution, be careful when catching the train to Tarragona, the platform number changes without notification, and there is often no indication on the front of the trains where the final destination is . Confusing, unfortunately we ended up getting on the train we had been told was going to Tarragona by a fellow passenger and ended up heading back to the airport from which we’d just left :-) It is prudent to check once on the train that it is the actual train you want. However, once heading in the right direction, settle down for a relaxing journey along the beautiful coastline.
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Going to Tarragona
If you're in Barcelona the best way to go to Tarragona is by train. You can take the train in Sants Station or Passeig de Gràcia Station. It only takes 1,30min and when you arrive you can go everywhere walking. One day trip it's ok. Take 2 days if you want to go to the beach too :-)
The first train leaves Barcelona to Tarragona at 6,00h-6,30h and there is a train more or less every half-hour (depending on the day and time)
I write down renfe's website but it's not very helpful, it usually does'nt work :-(
From Barcelona to Tarragona and back
I visited Tarragona on a daytrip from Barcelona and took the 8.55 train from Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia. About 1h 15 min later the train arrived in Tarragona. From the train station in Tarragona it is walking distance to the city centre.
I can’t remember which train I took back to Barcelona but they are running every half an hour or every hour until 21.34.
A return ticket between Barcelona and Tarragona was 10.50 Euro (March 2008). In Barcelona the card is stamped when you go through the gates, but in Tarragona you should not forget to stamp the ticket in one of the machines to make the ticket valid (the machine didn’t work for me so I went to the ticket counter to get it stamped).
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Getting to Tarragona
If you drive, Tarragona is about an hour from Barcelona along the A-7 autopista. This will also cost you ~8EUR in tolls.
Alternatively, take the train from Barcelona-Sants in Barcelona, avoid the hassle of driving and save ~3EUR. The train station in Tarragona is at the bottom of the hill of the old city center, easy walking distance if you have light luggage or a 5 minute taxi to just about anywhere.
If you actually fly into Barcelona, you can take the rail directly from the airport. Unless they are doing construction, the rail will stop on track 5 of BCN-Sants station and from there the outbound to Tarragona also leaves from track 5. You can buy your ticket for the entire journey from the ticket window at the airport platform for something near ~6EUR.
If you fly into Reus, you will have to take a bus (~20km).
If you fly into Girona, you're on the far side of Barcelona and will have to get a train.
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Travelling with (young) kids.
Are you nervous about taking your baby or child on a plane trip? You aren't alone, most parents are nervous about it. We have moved with Iris and Sam Tarragona Corfu by plane this holiday and drove some distances by car on the island itself and we learned a few things that hopefully will help you.
Bring books, old favourite toys and new surprise toys. Do remember that balls are not a good idea as they can end up anywhere! Our best buys were definitely books, especially sticker books are great! They can peel the stickers off, are glossy, have thick pages to turn easy, have bright colours and come in endless subjects. They're a nice break from the other books your child might be tired of, too. Put aside fears of setting poor eating habits, and bring on the snacks! We told Iris: “Welcome to the world of boredom eating."
If your child is big ask for earplugs as soon as you board the aircraft. Make use of them for take-off then save them for landing as the crew may not have any fresh ones left by then. Also let them eat candies, this helps the kids tremendously if they don't know how to pop their ears.
Toy bars meant for stroller use are a big help in the car, as they often feature toys plus a snack cup, and are big and easy for you to grab from the front seat for refills. During the car trip it’s always a good idea to play a game and sing some songs. It sounds rather easy, but it does work!
We only have one last statement! Just do it! Don’t be afraid that it might go wrong. We have learned this, because we have been travelling with Iris from the beginning. She was only 6 weeks young when we had our first short vacation and stayed in a hotel. Iris has been used to it rather fast and (maybe because of it) has always been an easy kid to get along with.
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Flying to Tarragona
Reus, about 7km away, is the closest airport to Tarragona. Some budget airlines use this route, including Ryan Air who fly there from Ireland, the UK and Frankfurt. As the principal gateway to the Costa Dorada, Reus also has loads of charter flights arriving daily in summer to Salou and the other resorts. From Ireland for example, Budget travel and many other operators who feature packages to this part of Spain also offer seat-only options. Sometrimes, early or late in the season you could pick up a week's package in this area for less than the price of a scheduled flight.
Hispano Igualdina offers a bus service from Reus to Tarragona.
The phone number in the contacts section is for the coach company
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Vista, vista all the way
This photo shows the view as you arrive in Tarragona by train . If you have come from up or down the coast then you will have had similar views for the entire journey. I travelled by train from Barcelona but because I boarded the train at Castelldefels where I was staying, had to change in St Vicens de Calders. From the city it's a straight run and you can catch the train at Paseig de Gracia or Sants. The distance is approximately 60 miles and the journey takes about an hour. After Castelldefels the scenery changes dramatically and from Sitges on it's just blue, blue Mediterranean all the way. The station at Tarragona is situated very close to the beach at Placa Pedrera. When you come out, turn right, head uphill and a few minutes walk will bring you to the Rambla Nova. From here you can access the newer part of town or climb higher to get to the old quarter. I took a taxi because it was hot and the five-minute journey cost me more than my train ticket, so maybe negotiating a price beforehand is a good idea. Train from Barcelona cost less than EUR 10.
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Take the Train from BCN
Tarragona's not far from Barcelona and the train system (RENFE) is very good and very reasonably priced.
It would be an easy overnight trip to take the train out to Tarragona and back and well worth the detour.
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If you fancy a trip to...
If you fancy a trip to Barcelona, get the train from Salou. At around £6.50 return it's a bargain. You can get the Bus Touristic when you're there to see all the sights. Much better value than the trips from the tour operators.
See my Barcelona page.