10 awesome things to do in Tarragona, Spain's mini Rome.
The perfect Tarragona visit with wonderful things to do, with a little something for everyone, from history nerds and foodies to sunshine seekers.
Roman ruins, golden beaches, delicious food, shopping. What more could you want in a city?
1. Start your visit at the Roman Amphitheatre - an absolute must.
The Amphitheatre is a stunning legacy of a time when Tarragona or Tarraco as it was called by the Romans, was one of the capitals of Roman ruled Hispania. It has an impressive setting, carved into a steep slope between the Roman Walls and framed by the Mediterranean. It was built in the 2nd Century AD to hold 15.000 spectators. Walk around this glorious setting and imagine the bloodbaths, gory public executions and fun Roman Gladiator Games.
UHC tip: Get a combined ticket for all of Tarragona's historic sites at the entrance booth. Opening times from 9:00am to 9:00pm. Closed on Monday.
2. Explore the Roman Circus and the Praetorium Tower.
In ancient Tarraco, this massive complex was where chariot races would take place. In ancient times, up to 30,000 people watched the races. The Roman Circus is considered as one of the best-preserved in the Western World. It's impressive to walk through the old tunnels and learn more about the city's history. The kids will love it!
The Praetorium Tower is connected to the racecourse by underground tunnels. From the roof of the tower you have an amazing view of the city, the amphitheatre and the impressive Cathedral.
UHC tip: The visit to the Praetorium is included in the admission price. Get a combined ticket for all of Tarragona's historic sites at the entrance booth. Opening times from 9:00am to 9:00pm. Closed on Monday.
3. Walk along the ancient city walls.
This impressive structure was once more than 3km long and enclosed the city. Today, you can step back in time and walk along 1km of the imposing wall, just as the Romans did, of course with much prettier landscaping and gardening. It was built between the 3rd and 2nd century BC and is one of the oldest surviving Roman structures outside of Italy. Walk along the wall and get an idea of what Tarragona used to look like in ancient times.
4. See the Roman Forum.
The remains of the Roman Forum are situated next to the Placa Ponent, in the city centre close to the central market. The best preserved ruins are of a basilica and a street. Although many of the structures are gone, the space it occupies will give you an idea of the size and importance of the Forum.
UHC tip: The visit to the Forum Romanum is included in the combined ticket for all of Tarragona's historic sites. Buy your combined tickets at the entrance booth. Opening times from 9:00am to 9:00pm. Closed on Monday.
5: Visit the Devil's Bridge Aqueduct.
This ancient Roman Aqueduct bridge or Pont del Diable was built to supply water to the ancient city of Tarraco. Built somewhere around the birth of Christ, this Roman bridge was the only bridge in the area until the 14th century. It is part of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Several hiking trails lead you to different viewpoints. You can easily spend a few hours and have a typical Catalan lunch at the small restaurant on site.
UHC Tip: You need a car to get there as the bridge is located 10 minutes outside the city. Entrance to the park is free. Wear comfortable shoes to explore the area. If you visit during the summer don't forget to carry water and wear sun protection.
6. Explore the Medieval quarter.
While Tarragona is inextricably linked to it's Roman heritage, feel the enchanting magnetism of the city's Old district with it's intriguing maze of narrow streets and stunning world-class monuments. Today no visit to Tarragona is complete without getting lost in the streets of this neighbourhood. Put down your map and wonder around a bit. There's nothing like getting lost in an old town. Seek out the impressive murals and street art decorating the city's walls.
UHC Tip: When you get too hot or tired, simply chill for a while on one of the city squares with a nice glass of cold white wine or whatever takes your fancy. There are also plenty of cute boutiques to tempt you. Don't miss the Carrer Comte, aka Pilon's street, home to a colourful array of painted pilons in every possible theme you can think of, from oranges to Harry Potter. A vibrant pop of fun!
7. Visit the Cathedral & cloisters.
The Tarragona cathedral, combining Romanesque and Gothic elements, is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the old town. It may look like quite a small building, but it holds many of the city's greatest secrets and architectural styles, making it one of the most inspiring places to visit in Tarragona.
The cathedral is built on top of the former Roman temple of Jupiter. Later it became a Visigothic cathedral and Moorish mosque. Deep under the building, is an area where you can see the strata of it's history and soak up the enormity of what you're seeing. Overground, the cloisters and courtyards are a lovely place to relax and enjoy the silence.
8. Wander around the Port and have fresh seafood in the Serrallo district.
The fishermen's district or El Serrallo is a severely underestimated area of Tarragona. It offers a fantastic promenade with breezy palm trees, fountains that light up rainbow at night, some of the top seafood restaurants in town and an excellent spot to spy on swanky super yachts!
UHC Tip: Try El Pósit Restaurant. You will not be disappointed. They don't take reservations, so just line up as from 13:00pm. If you go for dinner, don't expect to enter any restaurant before 20:00pm.
9. Be wowed at the Mercat Central.
The Mercat Central or Central Market of Tarragona is situated near the Rambla Nova, the main street, and is easy to find. It's a busy, bustling place with traders selling all sorts of fresh seasonal produce. Wander around the stalls and soak up the atmosphere and perhaps be tempted to buy something and prepare a delicious meal in your self catering accommodation on the Costa Dorada.
10. Take a stroll down La Rambla.
La Rambla Nova is the vibrant heartbeat of Tarragona and it's lined with an endless parade of restaurants, cafes, shops and more. No matter the time of the day, you'll find La Rambla buzzing with people. It's a great place to people-watch, shop or enjoy a bite.
At the beginning of the Rambla you'll have an amazing view of the sea and beaches from the "Mediterranean Balcony". It's a great place for kids as they can run around.
Somewhere halfway along the Rambla look out for a sculpture depicting the Castellers, the multi-level human towers. If you are lucky to be in town during a local event, make sure to attend!
UHC Tip: Touch the iron railings and make a wish!
We hope you enjoyed this list of all the best things to see and do in Tarragona! If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to let us know.