What to see in Tarragona
Published on October 24, 2019 by Catalan Holidays
Tarragona is one of the most important cities in Catalonia, and with the most tourist appeal. It has everything that a visitor could hope for in a place: leisure and culture.
On one hand, a tourist approaching this fine town on the Costa Dorada will be able to enjoy a large quantity of distractions: beach, bars, restaurants etc. On the other hand, they will be able to uncover the secrets of one of the most important capital cities of the Roman Empire.
- Historic center
- City walls
- Roman Circus
- Roman Amphitheatre
- Tarraco Viva
- Rambla Nova Street and Mediterranean balcony
- La Banya Lighthouse
- Central market
- De la Font Square
- Tarragona Beaches
- Festivals (Saint Thecla and Saint Maginus)
- Where to sleep in Tarragona
- Map of Tarragona
Below we will show you a complete tour through all the places that there are to see in Tarragona and that you must not miss.
Walking through Tarragona’s streets is a really rewarding experience. In the highest part of the city, narrow streets between old, charming buildings await you.
By Jorge Franganillo: Tarragona’s Historic Center from Flickr
To make the most of your visit to the historic centre, we recommend you split it up into historic periods: Roman Tarraco, Medieval Tarragona and Modern Tarragona.
You should start your visit in Pallol Square, and there you can gaze upon a model of Roman Tarraco. You will be able to get an idea of what one of the most outstanding provincial capitals of the Roman Empire looked like.
By Enric Rubio: Tarraco Romana en Tarragona from Flickr
Really nearby is the beginning of the tour around the Tarragona city walls.
Along the Archaeological Promenade, you will see the ancient walls of the city of Tarraco and spectacular views of the city.
By Tomàs Badia: Walls of Tarragona from Flickr
One kilometre of ancient history to explore. (In their time, the Romans built a 4 km long wall, of which today one kilometre remains).
The Archaeological Promenade brings you to Escorxador Square and from there, if you take Talavera Street, you will arrive at Forum Square. An ideal place to relax in the bars and rest and recover. This space housed the political and administrative centre of Roman Tarraco. From this site, you can reach Rey Square and, from there, the Roman Circus.
By Jorge Franganillo: Tarragona’s Roman Circus from Flickr
From here you can get an idea of what this place was like in the olden days: a site where the Romans entertained themselves with chariot races. Once there, it is worth going into the walkway inside the Circus, which leads to the Praetorium, where there is a museum and amazing views of the city of Tarragona can be enjoyed. From high up, you will be able to see the most important tourist attraction in town, the Roman Amphitheatre.
The Roman Amphitheatre is one of the most spectacular Roman constructions in the city of Tarragona, and it is one of the main tourist delights to visit. It measured 109.5 metres by 86.5 metres in total, and had capacity for 14,000 spectators. It was the other large leisure hub in the city, with gladiator and animal battles and public executions.
By SBA73: Tarragona’s Roman Amphitheater from Flickr
It is worth spending at least an hour on visiting this gorgeous place of interest in Tarragona. Wander through the tiers (or what is left of them), visit the pit and enjoy the spectacular ocean views that you have from this World Heritage Site.
If you can plan your visit to Tarragona in advance, we recommend you travel to this city in May, to coincide with the International Festival of Tarraco Viva. For two weeks, the area recreates the glorious past of Roman Tarraco.
By Manel: Tarraco Viva in Tarragona from Flickr
The whole town turns out to recreate life in this historical period, from actors who dress in period clothes to impress the tourists, to dishes inspired by classical Rome, prepared in the finest restaurants.
Tarragona’s charms go far beyond enjoying the ruins of the Roman period. Medieval Tarragona is also worth visiting. One of the symbols of this period is Tarragona Cathedral. Located in the highest part of the city, in the same Square as the Roman temple was.
The most outstanding monument of Medieval Tarragona is in Romanesque and Gothic style. Its façade makes an impression, with a large gateway and an immense rose window. In the cloisters, you can visit the Diocesan museum and the altarpiece of Saint Thecla, the patron saint of the city and of the Cathedral.
Rambla Nova Street and the Mediterranean balcony
One of the loveliest walks in the town is on Rambla Nova Street. It is the main artery in modern Tarragona and is where the best range of bars and restaurants are concentrated.
By Teresa Grau: Rambla Nova Street and the Mediterranean balcony in Tarragona from Flickr
From Imperial Tarraco Square head up to the Mediterranean balcony, one of the best viewpoints in the city, from where you will be able to appreciate, at 42 metres above sea level, views of the amphitheatre, the Mediterranean sea, Milagro beach and the port.
La Banya Lighthouse
On the port of Tarragona peninsula, you must not miss the charming La Banya Lighthouse. It was one of the most prominent lighthouses on the Ebro Delta for years.
By Enrique Valdés: La Banya Lighthouse in Tarragona from Flickr
It was built in 1847 on La Banya Point to light the way for boats into the city ports, and for the vessels that crossed the area to the Delta. With its restoration, it was moved to Tarragona port so that citizens and tourists could enjoy its charm.
Near the port of Tarragona you have Serrallo’s fisherman’s quarter. It deserves a wander round to enjoy one of the most picturesque areas in the city and you should attend the fish auction in the afternoon.
By Jorge Franganillo: Serrallo from Flickr
The local restaurants also stand out, with the best fish and seafood in the area.
Another marvel of Modern Tarragona is the central market, located in Corsini Square, near the Roman Forum, and inaugurated in the year 1915. It is a modernist building which was refurbished in 2017 to restore one of the symbols of local commerce in the city.
De la Font Square
On the other side of Rambla Vella you have De la Font Square. It is a square where the town hall building is located, and it sits over part of the Roman Circus arena.
By Jorge Franganillo: De la Font Square, Tarragona from Flickr
It is the most important square in Tarragona from a social and political standpoint, and it is the place where they hold the different “Human towers competitions”. The name “font” relates to a well built in the year 1363, also known as “font”.
Its 15 km of beaches and coves make up one of the main tourist attractions in the summer months. Fine sand and shallow water are characteristic of Costa Dorada beaches, making Tarragona’s beaches the perfect place to spend a sunny, hot day with the family.
At your disposal you have ten charming beaches to discover: Miracle Beach, L’Arrabassada Beach, Savinosa Beach, Capellans Beach, Llarga Beach, L’Arboçar Beach, Becs Beach, De La Móra Beach, Jovera Cove and Tamarit beach.
Festivals (Saint Thecla and Saint Maginus)
The two main popular festivals of the city of Tarragona are Saint Maginus (19 August) and Saint Thecla (23 September). It is worth visiting the city on one of these dates, as it is when you can best experience the town’s authentic atmosphere. The festival of Saint Maginus is a popular celebration with activities for all the family, from the littlest ones to the oldest ones.
By Ferran Llorens: Human Towers Competition in Tarragona from Flickr
The Main Festival of Saint Thecla is the popular celebration dedicated to the patron saint of the city. In this festival, held since 1321, the Human Towers Competition and the Parade are particular highlights. It has been recognised as a “National Festival of Interest to Tourism” by the Spanish Government, and as a “Heritage Festival of National Interest” by the Catalan Government.
Where to sleep in Tarragona
Our recommendations are coastal accommodation near to the city of Tarragona. There are areas on the Catalan coast that allow you to be between the sea and the mountains at the same time as being near to the city of Tarragona.
On the other hand, have you thought of holiday rentals of houses with private pools y holiday rentals of houses that accept dogs or other pets. Through this link you have all our holiday homes in Catalonia.