Hi. Me, DH and DD (currently 17 months) are travelling to Barcelona in June and hiring a car for the duration of our stay. We are staying in Salou but intend to travel around the Catalonia area quite a bit and go into Barcelona for a day or two. Any tips on driving around there? Are there toll roads? Is parking in Barcelona a nightmare? TIA. x
It is many years since we were in Spain, but my one lasting memory is that town/city driving in Spain is not for the faint hearted. I have driven in many countries on "the wrong side of the road" and Spain was the only country that I couldn't cope with. I was fine in Lanzarote and Majorca, but not mainland Spain.
Oh that's a bit worrying. To be fair DH is an experienced at driving and has driven a lot internationally. Maybe we won't drive into Barcelona though - I can imagine driving and parking in the city itself might be a nightmare.
If you are staying in Salou I would highly recommend the train to Barcelona. It is a really easy trip and the parking in Barcelona is a nightmare and expensive. Salou station was walkable from the campsite we were staying on. Driving around the rest of the area was fine though.
We were in Salou a couple of years ago, went back and forth to Barcelona a couple of times on coach trips. It's a straight shot down a big motorway, but if I recall there are at least a couple of toll booths along the way. It seemed like an OK drive, not much traffic, although it might be different when you're behind the wheel.
Salou's town centre is quite walkable, and lots of buses to nearby towns. Might be worth considering whether you need to drive.
Drive to Ikea and park for free at Bellevitge train station, then get a 10-min train to the centre, they're very frequent.
DH has a lot of experience of driving around Barcelona and even he finds it terrifying, they're bloody nuts. Even the train straight from Salou is a great option, about 1hr30, sit on the right for sea views, get off at Passeig de Gracia super-central, right in front of a Gaudi building.
There are toll roads, about €8-10 one way, train is €16 return per adult. You can get to Barcelona on free roads, but it takes abit longer and can be a bit disorientating if you don't have gps.
I'd recommend visiting Cambrils, Tarragona, Montserrat for a long walk if you have a sling for your DD. Some nice monestaries around: Poblet, Santes Creus, Siurana up in the hills (hairpins bends ahoy ) or Escala Dei in the Montsant for great local wine. Vilafranca del Penedes between Salou and Barcelona is Priorat wine region, all the vineyards have visitor centres and tastings.
You'll have a great time. Salou beach is huge and you can walk to Cambrils or cycle if you fancy an activity.