Last Updated on May 7, 2022 by Natalia
Situated amongst the mountains of south Catalonia in Spain, the small city of Tortosa is a spot worth visiting. The city’s Cathedral of Saint Maria is particularly impressive, as well as Saint John’s Castle which provides some wonderful views. It’s not a particularly big city so there are only a few things to do in Tortosa – but the castle and cathedral alone are worth visiting for! Getting to the city is easy as it’s a fairly short drive from the nearby towns of L’Ampolla and L’Ametlla de Mar, as well as there being multiple trains a day to Tortosa from Barcelona, Tarragona and Valencia. The Ebro River flows through the city, and there are a few other nice spots nearby where the river can be seen – in particular at Miravet Castle and in the Delta de L’Ebre. Find out the best things to do in Tortosa, Spain, with this guide!
How to get to Tortosa
There are several trains a day to to Tortosa from the nearby cities of Barcelona, Valencia and Tarragona, as well as from smaller towns like L’Ampolla and L’Ametlla de Mar. Trains in Spain are a good value way to get around, and so are the best way to get there if you don’t plan on renting a car.
The train from Barcelona to Tortosa costs €13.50 one-way, with a journey time of around 2½ hours. There are a number of departures every day from Barcelona Sants station, mostly with regional trains that cannot be booked online. If you want to book in advance there is normally one train a day that can be booked online in advance through the Omio website.
If you’re travelling from Valencia to Tortosa then train tickets start from €13.80 one-way, and generally take around 2¾-3 hours. There are less daily departures from Valencia, but tickets for all the trains can be booked online through Omio.
The trains from Tarragona to Tortosa are the same trains that run from Barcelona, but as you are only doing a smaller section of the journey the tickets cost just €8.05. Alternatively trains run from smaller towns like L’Ampolla and L’Ametlla de Mar to Tortosa, with tickets costing around €4-5 one way.
To book your trains in advance we recommend using Omio’s website, as they offer the cheapest prices and also show if any alternate means of transport are available. For any regional trains you can check an up-to-date schedule on the Renfe website.
Our personal recommendation is to rent a car to travel to Tortosa, as it gives you the chance to explore some of the other nearby spots in Catalonia. The best places to rent a car nearby are in either Barcelona, Valencia or Tarragona – all of which are close enough to visit Tortosa on a day trip if you wish.
In our experience the roads in Spain are in good condition, and as long as you’re a confident driver then you shouldn’t have any issues. Renting a car is reasonably affordable too, especially if you book via the Rental Cars website as they compare between operators to get you the best price!
If you are renting a car for your trip in this part of Spain then two spots you may want to visit are L’Ampolla and L’Ametlla de Mar, so make sure to check out our articles on the best things to do in L’Ampolla and things to do in L’Ametlla de Mar!
Best things to do in Tortosa
Visit Tortosa Cathedral
One of the best things to do in Tortosa is to visit the Cathedral of Saint Maria, which is particularly impressive from the outside. It’s very unique and is quite unlike any cathedral we’ve seen before thanks to the impressive architecture – which is mainly Catalan Gothic, except for the facade which is Baroque.
Construction of Tortosa Cathedral began in 1347 but was not completed until 1757, hence the two different architectural styles. The cathedral is actually built on the site of the city’s old Roman Forum, so it’s been an important site in the city for many years.
Entrance to Tortosa Cathedral costs €4.50 per adult, which includes entry to the cathedral museum. Alternatively, if you would rather just admire the cathedral from the outside then you get the best views from Castell de la Suda – which is next on our list of the best things to do in Tortosa!
Castell de la Suda
Castell de la Suda, also known as Saint John’s Castle, stands at the top of a hill in the centre of Tortosa. The castle overlooks the city and has some amazing views of the area – the view of Tortosa Cathedral being particularly impressive.
Dating back to the 10th century, the castle has undergone a number of modifications through the years. Since 1972 Tortosa’s Castell de la Suda has been a Parador Nacional (a luxury state-run hotel), so if you’ve ever wanted to spend the night in a castle then here’s your chance!
There is no entrance fee to visit Castell de la Suda, but it’s not really possible to go inside without visiting the hotel. You can still enjoy the wonderful views over the city though, which make it well worth a visit. It takes around 15-20 minutes to walk to the castle from Tortosa Cathedral, with most of the route being uphill.
Whilst you’re there it’s also worth visiting the nearby Avançades de Sant Joan, which can be reached via a zig-zag path near the route up to the castle. This spot is another section of the city’s fortifications, and also has some lovely views of Tortosa.
Battle of Ebro Monument
A fairly significant landmark in Tortosa is the Monumento a la Batalla del Ebro – a monument commemorating the Battle of Ebro in the Spanish Civil War. The Battle of Ebro was the longest battle in the Spanish Civil War – lasting from July to November of 1938.
Located in the middle of the Ebro River, the monument is just a few minutes walk from Tortosa Cathedral. It’s not possible to get a good close-up look due to the monument’s location, but it’s still a notable spot in the city.
The monument was inaugurated by Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco in 1966, but in recent years there have been talks that the monument may be removed due to bearing Franco’s name. In 2016 there was a referendum in which 68% voted in favour of keeping the monument, so for the time being at least it remains visible from the riverfront.
If you want to see more of the Ebro River then one of the nicest areas to explore in this part of Catalonia is the delta. Check out our guide to the best things to do in the Delta de L’Ebre to find out more!
Museu de Tortosa
The Museum of Tortosa (Museu de Tortosa) is another piece of beautiful architectural work in the city. It’s one of the nicest buildings we saw in the city, and its exterior is thankfully more colourful than the cathedral and castle!
If you just want to admire the exterior then you can walk into the grounds and around the building free of charge. There is an entrance fee of €3 if you want to visit the inside of the Museum of Tortosa to learn more about the region’s history.
It’s quite a small museum so you won’t need too long here, but it’s fairly near the cathedral so it’s worth at least a quick visit to admire the nice exterior.
Parc De Teodor Gonzalez
One of the more relaxing things to do in Tortosa is to visit Parc De Teodor Gonzalez. It’s the city’s largest park and is a nice spot for a walk or to have a picnic.
The park isn’t anything spectacular, but if you want somewhere for a pleasant walk it’s a good spot to visit. There are some nice trees in the park, and it’s very nearby to the Ebro River so you can also take a stroll along the riverfront before or after if you like.
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