Visit Tarragona, a hidden gem an hour south of Barcelona, to experience some of Spain’s best preserved Roman ruins. Begin with the Amfiteatre de Tarragona, a spectacular remnant that, like the Colosseum in Rome, once hosted gladiatorial clashes. Built in the 2nd century AD and overlooking the Mediterranean sea, it is said to have seated 15,000 spectators. Next, head to the Roman Circus which once used to hold horse and chariot races. Better yet, it is one of the best-preserved circuses in the west. The Praetorium, a tower that once connected the lower city to the provincial forum, is well worth a visit too (climb to the top for panoramic views of Tarragona). A short 4 kilometers outside the city is the impressive Les Ferreres aqueduct which carried water to the town until the 18th century. All that and you’ve only scratched the surface of what to see in Tarragona.
If you’re wondering what to do in Tarragona, the city also hosts Spain’s most visited theme park, PortAventura. Divided across two sites (the Aquatic Park is in Vila-sec), PortAventura caters to all your thrill-seeking needs. So, if you’ve overdone the Tarragona sights and are in need of some unadulterated fun pack up the kids and make for the park’s giant drops, water slides and roller coasters. Spread across six themed areas that include everything from China to the Far West and Sesame Street, the park also boasts, as of 2016, a Ferrari Land. Each area also puts on shows specific to the themes of the areas where they are located. In Polynesia, you can watch an educational performance that involves exotic birds. And, in Mexico, shows include rituals, dances and songs. If you’re planning an extended stay, PortAventura also offers themed hotels that offer unlimited entry to the park.
When people consider Spanish coastlines, the Costa Dorada often goes overlooked. But, this 216 kilometer stretch of coastline, whose name translates to the Gold Coast, is so named for a reason. Annually this strip of coastline enjoys roughly 3.5 million visitors a year who flock to the many clean stretches of white sand that feed into fresh, clear-blue waters. On the list of “Tarragona Attractions,” with its ruins, Cathedral and Old Town, a beach may not sit very high. But, located at the foot of the city and beneath the impressive Amphitheatre, is Platja del Miracle. And, on the days when Tarragona sightseeing is the last thing you want to do you can throw on your swimwear and head to the Platja for some R&R. Soak up the sun, go for a dunk and when the sun starts to set why not take a stroll - its stretches for a kilometer.
It dates as far back as to the arrival of Generals (and brothers) Gnaeus and Publius Scipio in 218 BC and the beginning of the Roman conquest of Spain. As it expanded, Tarragona was fortified and used as an arsenal to defend against the threat of Carthaginians. Visit Tarragona now and you will be greeted with a slew of fantastic ancient Roman sites that don’t free of the crowds typical for other popular destination.
A short 4 kilometers outside of central Tarragona is Les Ferreres Aqueduct which used to transport water to the ancient city. And, backing onto the beach, facing out onto the Mediterranean is the Amfiteatre Romá, a gladiatorial arena where men fought to the death. Behind the Amfiteatre sits most of the city, including the walls of its Old Town. Here you can find the National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona, remnants of the Forum and the Cathedral of Tarragona. This Gothic structure, built on the former sites of a Roman temple, Visigoth Cathedral and Moorish Mosque, further points to the city’s rich history. Indeed, what to do in Tarragona is not a difficult question to answer.
The Old city is also one of the best spots to grab a bite to eat in one of the countless restaurants and bars. These places have a distinctly local feel and are often built into the ancient walls of the city. In port area of El Serrallo, restaurants serve fresh seafood.
There are plenty of beachy things to do in Tarragona, too. In fact, its location on the Costa Daurada makes it a beach-goers paradise with five beaches easily accessible by bus. So, after a day of exploration, you can catch the late afternoon sun and soak your feet in the refreshing waters of the Mediterranean.