The day trips outside the city are growing due to the increased number of repeat visitors and to the overcrowding. But where can tourist go outside Barcelona?

The one-day or half-day excursions are a consolidated product in the tourism sector. European capitals tend to offer them less because they already have a multitude of attractions. But the growing debate about massification in fashionable cities as Barcelona has revitalized this kind of day trips visits.

In the Catalan Capital, the supply and demand of excursions grow very noticeably in the last three years even because more than half of the 17 million visitors it receives each year are ‘repeaters’. For this reason, they are more interest in getting out of the city.

At the moment the main day trip is the one organized by bus, although public transport also takes a bit of the cake. Anyway, we have to say that Barcelona still lacks today of a specific plan on day trips. This could be an important subsector in tourism to seasonalize and decentralize it. But how far is the tourist willing to go and which destinations interest him more? And from the other side, what challenges do tour companies entail?

Day trip statistics

In 2017 a lot of companies in the tourism sector decided to invest more in this type of tours. And it  is apparently going well. General director Edgar Weggelaar of Julià Travel, a bus company giant of the sector, said that in 2015 they represented the day trips with 10% of the total of their catalog against the 90% of itineraries within the city; but now in only two years they have risen to 40% and the goal is to represent in 2019 the 60% of it. “With the increase of repetitive tourists, if you offer an appetizing product has a safe exit, the market grows”, he said.

Also in the public sector, the dynamic is an increase of excursions outside the big city. In fact, it sold last year almost 29,000 day trips in face offices or through the virtual portal stores as the one of Barcelona Turisme. Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat also offers all-inclusive tickets to visit Montserrat and Colònia Güell, as well as promoting its ski resorts in the Pyrenees and tourist breaks with packs to the Núria Valley in collaboration with Renfe Cercanías, which on its own promotes also integrated tickets for fun attractions such as Port Aventura or Isla Fantasía.

Destinations ranking

In the ranking of destinations, the start excursion from Barcelona is Montserrat in all its formats – daily, by night, express, VIP, in combination with other destinations – from 43 and up to 147 euros. The second podium position is undoubtedly for the Dalí Museum in Figueres and the city of Girona. The bronze medal is more divided: Costa Brava, La Roca Village, Port Aventura or the combined Montserrat + Sitges. The Pyrenees and Núria and the wine tourism of Penedès also stand out but not to get on the podium. About the period of these excursions in the surroundings of Barcelona, the strong months are May, June, September and October; curiously July and August are weak probably because of the cheaper tourism, that if want to visit something outside the city does it on its own.

What does not work?
  • The limit does not lie in the distance but in the prior knowledge of the destination. The perception of remoteness is very cultural. If tourists have interest in something they are able to travel miles if needed. Some destinations though, simply do not find their audience; because they are burdened by the lack of interprovincial collaboration and lack of marketing. In this list, we can put the Priorat with its wines and evocative landscapes, the Ebro delta, the fruit orchards of Ponent, the Romanesque Pyrenean or the industrial heritage of Llobregat.
  • Another problem is that the stays in Barcelona are very short. They do not reach the average three nights, which contributes to the saturation of the most famous places. This makes it difficult to share the benefits of tourism in the territory. In fact, the Catalan capital is one of the favorite destinations for weekend getaways, the beginnings and the end of cruises tours and lightning trips to attend concerts and events, a type of tourism very anchored to the icons and the beach and little inclined to decentralization.
  • The Barcelona Guide Bureau has also noticed a steady increase in regular and private tours but hired after the arrival in Barcelona. This lack of advance in the reservation makes it difficult to organize excursions of more than one day; because tourists land with the accommodation contracted for the whole stay. Apparently, most tourists also come very documented about Barcelona and very little about Catalonia. They hire excursions in an “impulsive” way, with peregrine motivations; such as it is too hot to walk, the children are tired of museums or they have a few empty hours before the return flight.

What to take into consideration for the strategic plan?

For Albert Arias, director of the Strategic Plan for Tourism in Barcelona, “Barcelona is very convenient to be the gateway to Catalonia, but decentralizing tourism is not easy or immediate“. It is clear for him that neighborhoods cannot be the object of this decentralization. The city has to extend the scale and try to influence in origin.

This decentralization cannot be waived. But it also generates challenges that need a lot of effort and work, especially on mobility. The starting point is the challenge for the next years. Unlike other cities, in Barcelona, it is not essential to pick up the tourists at the door of the hotel. However, the departure point should be central and well-known. The majority of agencies opt for Plaza Catalunya and immediate surroundings. Nevertheless, this mobility zone has already very stressed and with less than half a dozen of parking places for private buses. For this reason, the municipal government of Ada Colau will present this autumn a tourist mobility plan. It will address the management of coaches and include perspective in the elaboration of a marketing plan of the destinations.

Since 2012 the capital has an agreement to support the program ‘Barcelona és molt més’ of the Diputació de Barcelona. The plan is a pioneer in weaving alliances with municipalities and tour operators to encourage – also for the local public – visits to attractions located within a radius of less than an hour and a half of the capital. The tourists are encouraged to move around freely and the local initiatives are encouraged from the other side to sell organized packs in public online stores.

Our advices

Our Barcelona-home Team also thinks that is important to visit the place where you decide to sleep. However, the day trips allow you to discover new attractions and make your travel experience more complete. It gives you the feeling of coming back again for a full discovering of the region.

In our section Things to do, you can find a lot of activities and excursions in the surrounding area of Barcelona in collaboration with Barcelona Turisme and its online store. In our blog, you can also find a lot of articles about Costa Brava, Costa Dourada, activities, and tours in all the Catalunya Region. Find out the one that fit your needs.


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Source: La Vanguardia
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