Spoiler for freewheelers: rent a car and drive yourselves from Barcelona!
Wine lover awareness of Priorat has been growing over the latest few decades. So have the number of wine travelers, according to the statistical data we receive annually from the Priorat Tourism Information Office in Falset.
Priorat is located “some 100 miles to the south from Barcelona,” in romantic terms. Geographically, it is to the WSW from Barcelona. It takes a 1.5h drive or a 2h train ride to reach this beautiful county from the busy city of Barcelona. If you haven’t already, also take a look at our itinerary for visiting Priorat.
For many, however, reaching Priorat from Barcelona seems a bit of a puzzle. Before you make up your mind, ask yourself to consider just two questions:
1. Am I enthusiastic enough about wine to travel to Priorat?
2. Do I have at least one wholly available day to visit Priorat?
If the answer to either is no, we recommend you re-think your next trip to Catalonia so that you can allocate enough time to visit our beautiful wine region.
Meanwhile, spend your few free hours visiting Alella (a small wine area just to the east of Barcelona – Google for some public transportation options) or just pop in a wine bar in Barcelona and taste some Catalan wine downtown.
If both answers are yes, let’s dwell no more and consider the three following options for navigating Priorat: wine travel agency, train + local driver, or renting a car.
Three Ways To Explore Priorat
Barcelona-To-Priorat Tours via a Travel Agency
This option is wonderful for those who don’t want to think about any arrangements. We recommend three companies in particular that provide private, customizable and all-inclusive service to Priorat from Barcelona.
One option is Spanish Trails, which provides pickup/return to Barcelona, guided winery visits as well as a 3-course lunch at the lovely Clos Figueres winery.
The second option is El Brogit, which is another wonderful company that provides private tours throughout Priorat. However, you’ll need to take the train from Barcelona to Priorat (how that’s done is detailed below). Once you arrive at the Priorat train station, they’ll be waiting for you.
The third option is to hire Barcelona by Road, which provides pick up and return from any hotel (or even the airport) in Barcelona. This is a bit more of an expensive, yet an exclusive option. They will map out a private full-day, 9-hour excursion for you. It typically includes at least 2 winery visits and lunch.
We should note that whichever company you choose, all 3 have been rated nothing less than 5 stars by hundreds of travelers. You can’t go wrong. If you don’t believe us, read their online reviews, see their response to customer reviews; check their range (wine only, culinary experiences, wine and heritage, jack-of-all-trades…), and contrast all of this with their prices.
Taking The Train To and From Priorat in Barcelona
Priorat is connected to Barcelona and Tarragona via the R15 regional train service. Check the available schedules at the Rodalies de Catalunya website: Click on Regional Services and choose R15 in the drop-down menu to view the timetables or just click on this shortcut to the pdf. The destination station is called Marçà – Falset (pronounced as “mar-sah fahl-set”, easy).
As you can see, there aren’t many return/round trip options for a meaningful day in Priorat.
For the early birds, pick the R15 15907 RE train, which leaves downtown Barcelona at 6.13 am and reaches Marçà – Falset at 8.37 am. You’ll have a decent nap or at least some gorgeous seaside views from the train window. Remember to turn your alarm on so that you don’t miss Priorat.
The most popular option among train lovers is the Renfe MD 17501 RE train, bound for Madrid. It leaves Barcelona at 8.43 am and arrives at Marçà – Falset at 10.55 am. You won’t sleep in either, but at least you won’t have to rise with the lark.
The reasonable return train options will include the one at 6.04 pm (R15 15036 RE) and at 7.32 pm (Renfe MD 15016 RE). Train tickets are available at all stations in Barcelona for card or cash. If you purchase your tickets on the train, make sure you have cash, the train ushers don’t accept cards. The single/one-way fare is around 12€ per person.
So far so good. But what will happen when you hop off at the Marçà – Falset station? Nothing if you haven’t planned anything else. You’ll be just in the middle of nowhere.
If you have booked some winery visits beforehand, ask your hosts to arrange for your local transfer. They can book a taxi for you or just pick you up at the station if they’re located close enough.
Another good choice could be booking your Priorat experience through a local agency that will plan all your tastings and lunch plus the transfer. Try contacting, for example, Meritxell of El Brogit.
I’d like to emphasize again that train connections could also be interesting to travelers staying in Reus, Tarragona, Altafulla, Torredembarra, Coma-ruga, and Vilanova I la Geltrú.
Driving To Priorat
Free-spirited travelers will find both the train-and-transfer and travel-agency modalities a bit deprived of flexibility in terms of places to visit, time frame, and customization.
If you decide to drive, the world of Priorat is your oyster. Make sure you rent your car from a rental office that opens early enough because driving to Priorat from Barcelona can take at least 1,5h, depending on traffic leaving the city. Book your Priorat winery visits and your lunch ahead of time, and just enjoy driving from place to place.
You also should plan enough time to move from one winery to another if they are located in different villages. Driving also gives you enough flexibility in terms of visiting some pop-in wineries, where you don’t have to book anything (however, there aren’t so many of this type in the region).
There is a clear limitation to your choice: you will have to stay sober and drive. This pitfall is easy enough to avoid: all wineries have spittoons, so your risk is minimal.
Driving is probably the only option for people who visit Priorat from other destinations: Alicante, Valencia, Zaragoza, etc., because there is no (good) public transport service between Priorat and those cities. Additionally, such places as Salou, Cambrils, Miami Platja, or the Ebro Delta, also lack good communication with Priorat, so driving seems the most viable option (most of our summer visitors drive from Costa Daurada to Priorat).
Priorat is a landlocked county that hides its gems in its rugged mountainous landforms. In a way, we do take pride in its peculiar location: close enough to large destinations like Costa Daurada and Barcelona, but still quite isolated from them, which helps us avoid crowded streets and cluttered car parks most of the year. This does have an upside: Priorat can help you unwind and feel some peace and quiet. Our wine region may well be a true escape from the La Rambla / San Marco / Times Square buzz.