Mercado Central de Tarragona
The ruins of Tarraco stacked with Tarragona’s more modern structures and murals.
Reus International Airport (REU) is a short 20-minute, 7km drive to Tarragona’s centre. You can hire a private transfer or take one of several Hispano Igualadina public buses between Reus airport and Tarragona.
Where to Find the Monuments of Roman Tarragona
Some Roman ruins in Tarragona city are fenced off for protection, but still visible.
The Cathedral on the site of the former Roman temple in Tarragona
The cost for visiting the core roman sites of Tarragona is €3.30 per site that falls under The Tarragona History Museum (MHT) list. This includes the Model of Roman Tarraco, Casa Castellarnau Museum, the Walls (Archaeological Promenade), the Praetorium and Roman Circus, and the Roman Amphitheatre, the Local or Colony Forum and Casa Canals.
Stones of the former city wall of Roman Tarraco, next to the wall of today’s Tarragona Cathedral
Roman Circus and Praetorian Tower
For further information on planning your trip in Tarragona, from Roman ruins and beyond, visit the official tourism website.
Remains of Roman Ruins in the streets of Tarragona
A new city built on top of an ancient city, the fun of exploration in the UNESCO assemble of sites in Tarragona is to piece together the old and new, the latter of which has either replaced the former or has yet to be uncovered and preserved.
Find Roman Ruins in Tarragona
Where the Roman past is layered with the medieval and the modern, a visit to Tarragona, Spain means being able to lose yourself in centuries of living history, preserved in its stratum of golden structures and hidden levels.
No matter what stands before you, beneath you or around you, the wonder of Tarragona is in knowing that you are surrounded by 2,000 years of history. A living history of one of the most important Roman Empire cities that is still accessible to this very day.
A stone Roman Column in the middle of a pedestrian street in Tarragona
Tarragona may have built itself upon Tarraco, but it does not forget. In May, festivals like Tarraco Viva bring to life the Roman era and re-enactments from medieval days to Napoleon, aid the living history of the city. You can find out more about the calendar of events, with downloadable publications, here.
Roman Temple in Tarragona Cathedral
The large entrances leading inside Tarragona Amphitheatre
How many days do you need in Tarragona to see everything? For leisurely sightseeing, and the chance to enjoy the sun clad avenues, local markets, and laidback eateries and bars that this Mediterranean coastal city exudes, two days in Tarragona would be ideal. However, if you are short on time or day-tripping from Barcelona, Tarragona’s major Roman sites can be seen in a day since it is a compact city and easily accessible on foot.
Getting to Tarragona City
By Air and Bus Connections
The ‘Imageen’ smartphone app (available on the AppStore and Google Play) is a super cool ‘enhanced reality’ app that brings old Tarragona to life. At designated points at local sites, you can interactively learn about history. Holding our phone screen over the Cathedral, we were able to see how the Roman Temple once looked before it.
AVE Train to Tarragona – Booking a Renfe Train Ticket in Spain
The Roman Tarragona Amphitheatre with a view to the Mediterranean Sea A short walk from the amphitheatre is the Roman Circus and Praetorian Tower (Circ Romà), once used to hold grand horse and chariot races. You can climb to the top for a 360 view of the city, and parts of the lower spectator archways remain.
Saving one of the best until last, we found ourselves back in the very heart of the old city, looking up at the Cathedral that dominates the centre of town that stands on the former Roman temple site.
- You can book tickets via the Renfe website in English and specific high-speed network tickets. All tickets have to be pre-booked since you can’t turn up on the day and book at the station. You can pay by Visa, Mastercard and Paypal.
- The AVE trains have nine classes if you count the overnight trains with sleeper/bed options, but there are two main ones to consider – Turista (a second class option with 2 x 2 seating rows) and Turista Plus which is a little more spacious (with 2 x 1 seating rows). I travelled on each of my journeys with a Turista ticket, which was comfortable enough and great value for money.
- If you are looking to book a multi-stop trip, consider getting a ‘Spain Pass’. This means you can travel using just one ticket for the AVE and other long-distance trains. You must reserve a seat before every trip, as limited space is assigned for Spain Pass holders.
The old Roman city walls still visible in Tarragona, Spain
Things to Know About Tarragona
Visiting the Roman Sites of Tarragona
Approaching the Roman Circus and Praetorian Tower
If you are planning on visiting many of the sites, it is worth investing in the €7.40 pass which you can purchase at TarracoTicket or directly from the Tarragona Municipal Tourist Office.
Tarragona Augmented Reality App
We climbed the spiral staircases for a panoramic view of the city from the bell tower, before climbing back down and peering down into the remains of the old Roman temple wall that is now an integrated foundation to this more modern structure.
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Festivals in Tarragona
Camp de Tarragona is the High-Speed AVE Train Station, located10 minutes from the city centre.
Further planning for Tarragona
The coastal city of Tarragona in northeastern Spain is known for its scattering of ancient Roman ruins from its days of a colony known as Tarraco founded in 218BC. While not the only Roman city of Spain, this was the very first Roman city beyond the Western Empire stronghold on the Italian peninsula.
Get up close to the Roman ruins of the Amphitheatre.
Close by, the modern-day architectural examples by Catalan artist, Josep Maria Jujol can be found. The Theatre Metropole (designed in 1908 with a cruise ship style interior in antithesis to traditional theatre design) and the Mercado Central de Tarragona (opened in 1915 with arched windows and naves, in contrast to standard rectangular market buildings) shouldn’t be missed in a retro juxtaposition to the city’s ancient foundations.