Spain is a beautiful European country, boasting some of the best weather and most amazing beaches in Europe, as well as some of its most beautiful cities. Barcelona stands out as a clear example. The capital of the Catalonia region, Barcelona is renowned for its unique personality, stylish architecture, incredible religious buildings, amazing art venues, and fascinating museums. Many travelers to Spain spend a lot of time in Barcelona, visiting key locations like the Sagrada Familia and Casa Batilo.
Barcelona is also popular with travelers due to its key location quite near the international border with France, putting it in a great place as the starting point for many different day trips. If you want to see two countries during your vacation, staying in Barcelona and organizing day trips over the border into France is a great idea, and there are plenty of different day trips you can arrange to see some of the prettiest cities in the South of France. Here are some popular examples of day trips from Barcelona to France.
Day Trip to Carcassonne from Barcelona
A hilltop town in the Languedoc Rousillon part of France, Carcassonne is well-known for its medieval fortress, known as 'La Cité', and the incredible walls that surround it. Seeing La Cité feels like one has stepped into an old children's fairy tale of knights and dragons, and it's an amazing place to explore, with the rest of the city also having some charming streets and shops to explore.
Getting to Carcassonne from Barcelona is relatively easy, but you'll need to take a rental vehicle or get a spot on a bus tour, as the public transport options are quite limited. When driving to Carcassonne, you can follow the AP-7 out of Spain, merging onto the A9 when you cross over into France and then heading past Perpignan and following the signs for Carcassonne.
Day Trip to Perpignan from Barcelona
You might not be able to get all the way around to the cities of the French Riviera from Barcelona, but many would argue that Perpignan is just as pretty. Once the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca, Perpignan is a city with history dating back many centuries. It's home to some fascinating Gothic and Romensque buildings, with some of its top sights being Perpignan Cathedral and the Palace of the Kings of Majorca.
Perpignan is also one of the fastest and most convenient options if you're planning a day trip into France from Barcelona. It's only about two hours away by car if you follow the AP-7, and the drive is quite a beautiful one. You can also take a high speed train direct from Barcelona City Center to Perpignan. If you choose to take the train, the journey will only take about two and a half hours.
Day Trip to Sète from Barcelona
Situated in the Occitanie region, Sète is a beautiful port city that stretches for miles all along the coast. It features huge beaches, with some looking out on the Mediterranean Sea, and others looking inland over the Etang de Thau, a beautiful and often warm saltwater lagoon. Known as the 'Venice of the Languedoc', Sète is famous for its canals and waterways. It's the perfect place for people to relax, ideal for families and romantic couple retreats.
To get to Sète from Barcelona, you can take a very scenic drive all along the coast. You'll follow the AP-7 out of Spain and then the AP-9 through Perpignan, Narbonne, and Béziers before reaching Sète. The drive will take a little over three hours on a good day. You can also choose to take the high speed train connecting Barcelona with South of France cities like Marseille and Nice, but this will take about four and a half hours.
Day Trip to Toulouse from Barcelona
If you're looking for a big city experience on your day trip to France from Barcelona, Toulouse is the closest option available to you. Known as 'La Ville Rose' (The Pink City), Toulouse is a beautiful place with a lot of great shopping and dining opportunities, as well as some super museums and monuments. Some of the top sights to see in Toulouse include the Basilique Saint-Sermin de Toulouse, the Capitole building, the Cité de l'espace museum.
If you choose a day trip to Toulouse from Barcelona, you can drive there in about four hours by following the AP-7 into France and then the A9 up towards Narbonne. Just before Narbonne, you'll turn off onto the A61, going past Carcassonne and onwards to Toulouse. You can also take a direct flight from Barcelona to Toulouse. The flight only takes an hour, but you do need to factor in the time needed to get to and from each airport.
Day Trip to Narbonne from Barcelona
Anyone looking for a simple beach break in a pretty city with some interesting monuments and landmarks to visit as well should definitely head for Narbonne. Closer than Carcassonne or Sète to Barcelona, Narbonne is a convenient option for your day trip. It's got a beautiful beach, some scenic canalside walks, a stunning cathedral, and some fantastic seafood restaurants too.
To get to Narbonne from Barcelona, you can either drive or take the train. The drive will take less than three hours along the AP-7 and the A9. The train, meanwhile, will take about two and a half hours, so it’s usually faster than driving. Plus, if you book your train tickets in advance, you can enjoy this day trip at a very affordable price.