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Galatea de les esferes
©Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, 2014

The 10 best museum day trips outside Barcelona

Get out of town for insight into art, archaeological sites and the history of Catalonia – plus, some incredible views and activities – in these top 10 museums outside Barcelona

By Xavier Amat

Catalonia is a land that is rich in history, culture, and nature. Barcelona, the capital, is a great example of that, but you're missing out if you don't venture out and explore all that Catalonia has to offer. Dalí, for example, left a single centre full of surrealism in his native Figueres. The iconic mountain of Montserrat also has one of the most prestigious art galleries in the country, and in Tarragona you can explore ruins and masterpieces left by the Romans and enjoy amazing beaches. Take a break from the city and visit 10 of the best museums in must-visit locations throughout Catalonia.

Recommended: Best Museums in Barcelona

Teatre-Museu Dalí

Museums Art and design

The legacy of a genius; that’s what you’ll come across if you take a stroll around the centre of Figueres, the capital of the Alt Empordà region, which is home to the Teatre-Museu Salvador Dalí. Contemplating the work of Catalonia’s most iconic surrealist is a unique experience for all five senses. From paintings and engravings to photography, sculpture and holograms, here you’ll find Dalí’s imaginative universe in all its splendour. While the museum is incredible enough to be the highlight of your trip, Figueres is a very nice town to explore and is just a short drive away from the Gulf de Roses on the Costa Brava.

Montserrat Museum

Museums Art and design

Located atop Montserrat, this museum never takes a day off. It shows the cream of the crop of the abbey’s heritage, gathered from the Napoleonic devastation. The museum opened in 1963, but its collection started back in 1911, with objects from the monk Bonaventura Ubach’s expedition to the Middle East. The modernist rooms from Puig i Cadalfalch feature, over two floors, both old and contemporary paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, Byzantine icons, jewellery, archaeological pieces from the biblical world, and 'Nigra Sum', about the adventures of the Virgin of Montserrat.



Museums Science and technology

The Catalan modernist-style Aymerich, Amat i Jover factory has been home to the Museum of Science and Technology of Catalonia for the last two decades. It is located just outside of Barcelona, in Terrassa, and it features around a dozen permanent and various temporary exhibits that reflect the scientific advances that have changed our lives and document Catalonia’s industrial heritage. The museum collection is also spread out in 25 territorial museums, and the Generalitat government is planning to integrate all of them in the new National History Museum.

National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona

Museums Art and design

This is the oldest archaeological museum in Catalonia and an important centre for the recovery, conservation, research and dissemination of the heritage of the Roman city of Tarraco (Now Tarragona) and its area of influence. On display are numerous pieces from the Roman era, and the mosaics are considered to be of special value. Other sites also make up the museum, including the Roman villas of Munts and Centelles. Additionally, Tarragona is a wonderful city with beautiful beaches that are well worth the trek. It can be easily reached by train or car from Barcelona.


Jewish History Museum

Museums Specialist interest

The main objective of Girona’s Jewish History Museum is to preserve and make public the history of the Jewish communities of Catalonia, who, throughout the Middle Ages, contributed decisively to the country’s historical, cultural and scientific development. The visit attempts to bring to life episodes from the Jewish history of Girona. These examples, whether documentary, archaeological or iconographic, offer a general explanation of the ways of Jewish life in medieval Catalonia. Girona is a cultural capital of Catalonia and has a rich medieval history. It is one of the places in Catalonia where Judaism saw a major period of prominence.

Badalona Museum

Attractions Beyond Barcelona

On display in the basement of the museum is a slice of urban life in the town in Roman times which gives an idea of the importance of Beatulo (Badalona) two millennia ago and especially of its springs. Also on display are other exhibits from Roman times, and with the same ticket you can visit other sites in the city that are also connected to the era of the emperors and legionnaires. Badalona is directly north of Barcelona and has a smaller, more local feel. It also features beaches with nicer sand than Barceloneta and beautiful views of the Costa brava.


Religious Art Museums

Museums Specialist interest

The weight that the Catholic religion has had in the history of Catalonia can be seen in streets and churches, but also in many museums devoted exclusively to objects related to the Christian faith. Here you can find pieces, many of great historical and/or artistic interest, that are best preserved and are protected away from their original location. The Romanesque and Gothic periods are the major contributors to the collections. The Museum is located in Vic, a charming town that is equidistant from Barcelona and the Pyrenees. In addition to the museum, it is home to a Roman temple, medieval market, and a lively central plaza. 

Archaeological Museum of Catalunya - Empúries

Museums History

This is an archaeological site of great importance since it brings together in one place the remains of a Greek town (the first that existed on the peninsula) and a Roman town. It is situated on the Gulf of Roses, one of the most beautiful parts of the Costa Brava. The archaeological site is outdoors, while in the museum you can see pieces found in the excavations, as well as the most iconic statue found on the site, that of Asclepius.

Sant Climent de Taüll (Lleida, Spain)

Patrimoni de la Humanitat de la Vall de Boí

In the heart of the Pyrenees, the Boí Valley is known for its picturesque scenery, including the Romanesque architecture that reached its height here. All the villages in the region (Cóll, Cardet, Barruera, Durro, Erill la Vall, Taüll...) are jewels in themselves, but in Taüll you'll find an ensemble of churches that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among them is Sant Clement i Santa Maria de Taüll, where you can see a projection of the famous Romanesque fresco depicting the Christ Pantocrator on the church’s apse (the original fresco is in the National Art Museum of Catalonia, in the National Palace of Montjuïc). The Valley itself is worth a visit for mountain lovers who want to experience authentic Pyrenees culture.

Parc Arqueològic Mines de Gavà

Attractions Beyond Barcelona

The Interpretation Centre at the Gavà prehistoric mine site brings back what life here was like 6,000 years ago, when the local Neolithic community began to work the variscite mines. As well as offering visits to a small part of the mine, the centre features audiovisual and explanatory modules and a scale reproduction of the mines. Many of the items discovered here can be found in the Gavà Museum. Additionally, you are just north of Parc Del Garraf, one of Catalonia's most stunning natural parks. You are also just a short train ride away from Sitges if you are seeking a great beach town. 


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