The surprise birthday trip continued! From Barcelona (check out that blog post here), we took an hour train ride down the coast to a beautiful beach town called Tarragona. Tons of families piled onto the train with every beach accessory you can imagine as they escaped the city for some beach fun at the many different stops along the way.
Tarragona is a charming town, with many of the ancient ruins from when it was a Roman colony still intact. Although we did explore the city a bit, Justin chose to spend my birthday in Tarragona for one specific reason…this week they were hosting an international fireworks competition!
Yes. That’s right. So when I asked for clues for this surprise birthday trip, and asked if we’d see fireworks on July 4, and he said yes — I figured we had to be staying in the U.S. This was going to be so cool!
The perfect spot to watch fireworks
Of course, Justin thought of every detail and booked a room at a hotel overlooking the beach, ensuring we had one with a balcony looking out on the correct side of the hotel to see the fireworks each night from our room. That balcony was the perfect spot for breakfasts in the morning and private fireworks viewings in the evening.
The actual competition
This annual competition brings various fireworks companies who entertain about 60,000 spectators and compete to show their skill in color and light displays. The fireworks were absolutely amazing and we oohed and ahhed all night.
You be the judge
Some of our favorite videos from each of the different nights. Which wins?
And a food festival?
As if it didn’t get better than the fireworks, there was a whole food festival outside the hotel selling the most incredible delicacies for just a few tickets each. Note the blurry picture of us — when you’re holding bowls of hot goodness and the fireworks are starting soon, you’d be rushing too.
Exploring the town and beach
The town of Tarragona is beautiful with old, narrow streets and the remnants of its history as an ancient Roman city. The famous Amphitheatre dates back to the 2nd century AD and is so picturesque sitting right on the ocean (and right beneath our hotel balcony!). We also spend a beautiful day at the beach, lounging in the sand and splashing in the waves. It was perfection.
Some other fun treats
The grocery stores were awesome for two reasons: 1) Even in this little town you can buy an entire pig’s leg, 2) They have kids rides outside that adults can play on:
Justin knew I grew up with my parents hanging streamers and balloons on my bedroom door the night before my birthday so while I was in the shower, he recreated this birthday tradition. Thank you, honey for this amazing birthday!!
If you go:
- Check out the calendar for the fireworks competition.
- Two nights of viewing is probably sufficient, especially if you want to explore other parts of Spain.
- Riding the Renfe train from Barcelona is super easy — no need to rent a car. That said, booking the ticket on the Spanish website is quite challenging because the site didn’t take US credit cards and often crashed (although there are challenges with many non-European credit cards). Justin used his Australian credit card. Pro tip: Travel with a non-American boyfriend (or buy the ticket in Barcelona).
- If you want to join the crowds, you can watch from Platja del Miracle (beach) or from the Esplanade above the Amphitheatre.
- We stayed at a hotel called Hotel Husa Imperial Tárraco — which has since closed — but look if you want to watch from a hotel look for someplace with views overlooking Platja del Miracle.