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The beauty of living in Barcelona is being able to access both the beautiful coastline and inland mountains, which provide plenty of options all year-round. Although Catalunya has hundreds of places to explore, for a newcomer the best place to start is the coastline and inland South West of the city. Here are our top picks for places located 90 minutes or less from Barcelona.

Costa Brava

What's not to like about the Costa Brava? A little bit of paradise located 90 minutes outside of Barcelona and along the coastline, the Costa Brava has much to offer, especially in the summer time when you are longing to escape the heat and not be stuck in an empty city. There are several wonderful towns on the Costa Brava, Begur being one of the best. It is vital to make reservations at any of these towns in advance, especially during holiday weekends and the month of August. Each town has its own unique structure; several are built around castles. The beaches are typically rocky, but the Mediterranean water is magnificent and you are surrounded by nature and calm. Not to mention the gourmet factor - the dining on the Coast is unforgettable, from fresh seafood to home made paellas, you will feel like you are in another world.

How to get there: Take the A-7(direction Girona) and continue onto the AP7. From here, take exit 9A and merge onto the C-35 then continue to the C-31 and exit as needed. There are also buses available between Barcelona and Palafrugell and Girona, as well as the Sarfa train.

Family fun factor: Medium high. Beaches abound, good food at family-friendly restaurants and the little towns and castles leave lots to the imagination for the little ones! Parents can unwind over a nice glass of wine and fresh seafood.

Sitges

If you are in the mood for a beach town, this is the place to be. With approximately 4 kilometers of golden, sandy beaches, Sitges is very easy to access from Barcelona and offers options for the whole family. Between beach-related activities - surf camp for kids, swimming and kite-surfing to name a few - Sitges also boasts the annual film festival and great, old "American" style houses. There are also several wonderful beach side bars or "chiringuitos" as well as more formal restaurants and bars for a night out on the town. It is also known for being very-gay friendly and the Carnaval celebration that takes place in Sitges is one of the best in Spain.

How to get there: Take the AP-7 in the direction of Sitges. There are also buses that and trains that run between the city center and Sitges. (All travel options take between 30-45 minutes)

Family fun factor: Medium high - many fun, bea…