Ah yes, Salou: amazing amusement parks, bumpin’ clubs, beautiful beaches, value hotels, and an impeccable climate to boot.
And it’s all within easy reach from Barcelona.
My Salou holidays have always been a great beach escape and so here I am to spread the joy, with my very own Salou guide on Barcelona Hacks!
Salou is a little beach side town on the aforementioned Costa Daurada (‘Golden Coast’) between Cunit and Alcanar and not far from the city of Tarragona.
It’s one of the top day trip options from Barcelona.
This tourist stretch of coast is where every summer masses of young people: Spanish, French, English, and Northern Europeans gather to dance the night away at local clubs, tan on amazing beaches, and usually spend a day at the amusement park behemoth PortAventura.
There’s also a plethora of activities for sport lovers: the Catalunya-Costa Daurada Rally and the Salou Triathlon Challenge are testament of the town’s growing sport culture.
Feel like taking a trip down? Let’s get moving then.
Barcelona to Salou/Salou to Barcelona
Where is Salou?
Salou is found just 10 km to the southeast of Tarragona and about 100 km from Barcelona.
It’s very well-connected to the rest of Catalonia and Spain, especially if you’ve rented a car or are planning on arriving by train.
- By car: from Barcelona to Salou take the C-32 highway (1 hour and 30 minutes, about €23.00) or the AP7 (1 hour 40 minutes, about €23.00)
- By train: RENFE national rail services run frequently (about every 90 minutes) between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm; the trip takes about an hour and a half and costs between €8.00-€20.00 depending on your ticket. Aside from the normal regional station Salou also has a stop on the high-speed AVE train service called Camp de Tarragona, that’s about 20 minutes from the city centre. The AVE trip lasts about 30 minutes and from there there’s a shuttle that’ll take you to Salou for €6.00.
- By bus: trips are run by the Plana bus company and connect the Barcelona city centre (at Passeig de Gracia in front of Casa Batllo) with Salou; buses depart every 30 minutes between 7 am and 10 pm and the trip takes about 2 hours depending on the traffic. The buses also run from the airport if needed and some even take you to Port Aventura or other towns on the Costa Daurada.
- By plane: the closest landing strip near Salou is Reus airport and it’s about 8 km away. There are plenty of connections here to the UK and Ireland, but it’s most likely you’ll touch down at Barcelona El Prat airport. From there you’ll be able to take the bus or rent a car.
There is a comfortable temperature in Salou year-round averaging about 10ºC (50ºF) around Christmas, 15ºC-20ºC (59ºF-68ºF) in spring over Easter, and ramping up to about 30ºC (86ºF) in the summer heat of July and August.
Obviously at night these highs dip a bit especially when winds come, but during summer you’ll be fine staying permanently in t-shirt and shorts.
The best time to visit Salou is between April and October.
In general shops in Salou are open between 10:00 am and 10:00 pm in the summer (until 8:30 pm in winter).
Most shops are found in the following three areas: one is Ponent (off Calle Barcelona), where you’ll find the municipal market selling fresh food products (Mon-Sat from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm, and then from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm in high season). Every Monday you’ll find the weekly flea market.
On Jaume I you’ll find a street full of stylish shops and souvenir huts open during high season.
On Llevant, the street from Plaza Europa all the way to Cap Salou, is jam-packed with souvenir shops, restaurants, and supermarkets.
You’ll also find a handicraft market every evening from 7:00 pm until midnight at Av.da de Carles Buigas 50
Best Things to Do in Salou
Salou City Centre
From a historical standpoint don’t expect a ton from Salou Spain.
The town and its surroundings are quite modern and you won’t find any tales of massive battles or royal conquests. The most important attractions here are the beaches, bars, and clubs.
There are however a few notable modern buildings on Passeig Jaume I like the tower of Cal Bonet and its monument to King Jaume I, who chose Salou as the launching pad for his conquest of Mallorca.
For a great walk with a panoramic view you also can’t go wrong with the Salou Promenade, which includes the boardwalk and Platja Llevant, a little beachside town.
From Salou you can also work your way up to Tarragona, a charming city with a rich Roman architectural history that’s as well conserved as anything in Rome.
Port Aventura, Ferrari Land, and Caribe Aquatic Park
The biggest attraction in the area is amusement park Port Aventura World: one of the biggest entertainment resorts in Europe with 36 rides and over 4 million annual visitors.
2017 brought the brand new addition to the park: Ferrari Land. Here you’ll find an Italian theme with its famous 112 m high vertical accelerator, the highest and faster roller coaster in Europe.
For those looking to cool off you’re also in luck with the 50,000 m2 water park that includes 16 slides of all intensity levels: PortAventura Caribe Aquatic Park.
All three of these parks can be found within 15 minutes of Salou and 1 day ticket packages including the two amusement parks start at €55.00 for adults and €47.00 for kids.
Nightlife in Salou is justly considered its main attraction, and don’t be scared but the atmosphere is a bit of a Mediterranean Jersey Shore with less hairspray and aggression. Though you will run into the occasional stag do/bachelor party.
If you’ve been to Lloret de Mar it’s very similar.
Here you’ll find a ton of young people from northern parts of Europe like Holland, Sweden, and Germany getting cheap holidays in Salou.
My favourite ‘pre game’ pub with decent prices and English hospitality was Dai Jenkins.
If you’re looking to start the night there’s no better place for bars in Salou than Carrer de Saragossa or along the Paseo, where tons of flyer girls promote the city’s best clubs: with free shot included!
Luckily many of the clubs have free entrance though it’s mandatory to buy a drink.
Clubs are open until 4 am.
Of all the main clubs some of the best are: Snoepy’s, Flash Back, La Cage, Tropical.
In the commune of Salou there are various beaches, of which the most famous are right off the Paseo Maritimo or those along Llevant and Ponent. The beaches here have been awarded 34 blue flags by the EU for the cleanliness of their waters.
Llevant beach is only 1.2 km long yet it’s easily the most crowded and adapt for people watching. Along this stretch you’ll find the most services and amenities from chiringuitos (beach bars), to parks for children to play, to umbrella rental places.
From the beach you can get to the Salou Nautical Club where you’ll be able to rent jet skis or practice other water sports.
Ponent Beach is very similar, a golden sand stretch of beach measuring only about 1 km. Here you’ll find the waters to be much cleaner and more shallow. Again, this is another quite crowded beach.
Coves and Rural Beaches
Right nearby is the Platja Llarga which gives a less urban feel with its surrounding pine forest, giving Salou visitors a perfect place for a summer shade break. Here you can also practice water sports or go for a rollerblade along the boardwalk.
Cala Llenguadets is the smallest entry on the list and regardless of its size is frequented for its spectacular surrounding cliffs.
In all the most beautiful beaches are found in the rocky confines of Cap de Salou. Here we’ll find all sorts of coves like Cala Crancs, Cala Font, and Cala Penya Tallada.
Cala Font and Cala Viña are the most crowded of the bunch but are great for their snorkeling opportunities and they offer the most crystal clear water. Cala Crancs is a good spot for family holidays since it has its shallow water and playground facilities.
Looking for a more wild experience? Cala Penya Tallada is your choice since it’s a bit off the beaten path, is only accessible by foot, and is cut off from civilization with it’s lack of services.
Where to Stay in Salou
There are a ton of options to stay in Salou between the hotels, apartments, and camping. What I usually do is check out the Salou landing page at Booking.com since it offers the best prices.
One tip which I use when travelling is to go to the city’s results page and put in my dates, then set the filter to ‘all deals’ under the ‘Deals & Discounts’ menu. You can find accommodation up to 50% off depending on the day.
Here’s a little screenshot to help out:
If you find yourself a hotel in Salou that’s central you won’t need transport nor a car. To make sure you’re central within meters of a ton of bars with the sea I suggest selecting any of lodging along Paseo Jaume I.
Right after Jaume I you’ll find the aptly named Paseo Miramar (Seaview Boardwalk) which stretches all the way to nearby Cambrils. For those traveling with kids this is a better spot since it has the same amenities with less crowds.
If you’re young and want to dive into the chaos head first then Carrer Carles Buigas is the center of nightlife and cheap hotels.
It’s never a bad idea to sign up to Airbnb and get as local an experience as possible.
This homestay program allows tourists to rent our rooms, apartments, or entire houses for a fraction of hotel prices.
Why not get yourself a home and have your morning coffee from a terrace with the seabreeze in your hair like somebody who’s lived there all their life?
If you’re looking for camping in Salou there are three main ones: La Siesta (200 m from the beach and 1 km from Port Aventura), Sanguli Salou (near the city centre and the Paseo Maritimo), and La Pineda de Salou (3 km from Salou and a 5 minute drive from Tarragona).
Where to Eat in Salou
Like most places in the region Salou is all about traditional Catalan food.
If you’re a person who can’t get enough paella or any type of fresh seafood you’ll be in paradise. Most of the restaurants in the city will be serving Mediterranean food but the key is to avoid the ones watering down their tastes for the Northern European palate.
For paella, octopus, Serrano ham, and other gorging on Spanish classics with the freshest ingredients around I recommend Xantar (Carrer del Bilbao 3).
If you’re looking for some comfort foods from home without breaking the bank you can’t go wrong with burgers at American restaurant Roadhouse (Plaza Europa 11).
Another option if you’re looking for a true gastronomic experience is to get a table at Deliranto (Calle Llevant 7). From the masterful cocktails to the 56 hour Black Angus ribs or the wild boar with figs refined palates find a home here.
In general for a meal with a gorgeous sea-view you’ll find tons of options along the Paseo Maritimo – if you’ve tried any and have a kind (or nasty) word for any of them please make sure you write me in the comments below.
Remember also! It wouldn’t be a restaurant in Salou without accentuating the meal with some local wines, I’d recommend any of the wines with a Registered Designation of Origin of Terra Alta, Priorat, Penedes, Tarragona e Conca de Barbera.
Salou Events in 2020
If we’re talking about sports there are three main events in the town: the Rally RACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada (three days from Fri-Sun at the beginning of October), the Mitja Marato de Salou half-marathon (April 18th, 2020), and the Salou Triathlon Challenge (March 27-29, 2020).
There are also two dates you’ll want to circle on your culinary calendar, the first being the Sabor Salou (early May) convention where the area’s best artisans and chefs gather to offer visitors a sampling of the best food in Salou.
The second is Gastrotour Salou which offers a week of tasty tapas treats in the form of cheap tasting menus and low prices. Typically each restaurant participating will put one of its tapas on offer plus a beer for about €2.00 or €3.00.
Parking in Salou
If you arrive by car and you have to park, know that finding free parking in the city is almost mission impossible. I suggest you entrust yourself to the internet parking giants Parclick to find yourself a spot at an honest price.
If you’ve got no problem taking a bit of a walk there are some decent spots near the school called Elisabet-Vial de Cavet or in a suburb (if it can be called that) called Emprius, just a few kilometers from the city centre.
Alternatively you can park in the ‘zona azul’ (the zone designated by blue lines) anywhere in the city for about €0.75 an hour.
The Salou Tourism Office
The first of two is found at Passeig Jaume I 4 and is open daily during summer from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm (Saturday at 10:00 am).
The other office is found in Plaça d’Europa and has the same hours as the one above except it’s closed in winter from October to Easter.
Any doubt? Check out the hours here.
Need Help Planning a Salou Holiday?
OK so I’ve helped you visit Salou with some degree of expertise, but as always I’m sure I’ve missed something and that’s where you come in!
Any more questions about your Salou holiday or Barcelona in general will be answered ASAP in the comments below.
Happy travels 🙂