This blog post was originally posted on March 9, 2015, and was updated on November 29, 2017.
If your cruise ship is stopping in the Barcelona cruise port, there is no way you can miss out on this beautiful city!
The city is relatively small and easy to manage for a first time visitor. Furthermore, you can get a great feel for Barcelona’s laid-back vibes in just one day. Of course, you can also see the big sights while you’re at it! Here are some suggestions for how to make the most out of spending the day in Barcelona.
Finding Your Way into Barcelona
Depending on which pier your ship stops at, you will be anywhere from a 10 to 25 minutes walk from La Rambla. This is the central vein of Barcelona’s city center. You’ll probably want to hop on the blue cruise port shuttle bus that runs on a regular basis and costs 3 euros for a round-trip ticket. Once you are at the foot of the Columbus monument, you are ready to begin exploring. For more information about arriving into Barcelona on a cruise, check out our post about the Barcelona cruise port.
A Walk up La Rambla
La Rambla is truly the heart of the city. Although it can be quite touristy, no visit would be complete without stepping foot on this tree-lined boulevard. Connecting the old port with Plaza Catalunya, La Rambla is also referred to in plural form. In reality, it is actually made up of five different streets.
Near the port, check out the talented street performers who are there to impress passersby. Furthermore, one square worth stopping in, just off La Rambla on the right, is Plaza Reial, or Royal Square.
As you continue walking up, you will pass the famous opera house, Liceu. Next, you will find La Boqueria, one of Barcelona’s most emblematic food markets. La Boqueria is definitely worth poking in, as Barcelona markets are colorful, bustling and full of life. Have a look at the video below to have a sneak peek inside.
Feel like a snack? Inside the market, El Quim de la Boqueria is a great option for some simple and savory tapas-style dishes, or if you’ve got a sweet tooth, head to the famous Pasteleria Escriba (La Rambla, 83) directly next to the market.
A Bit of Gaudi
A lot of Barcelona’s most famous sights are works of the modernist architect Antonio Gaudi. You could spend days visiting the different monuments, but on a tight schedule, you will have to be a bit choosy. Spending the day in Barcelona can be difficult when you want to see it all!
La Sagrada Familia, a stunning and bizarre church, is probably the most famous and well-worth a visit! However, to make the most of your time you should either hop in a cab or take the subway to get there. If you’d like to go inside, definitely buy tickets online beforehand to avoid the lines.
Getting Lost in the City Center
One of the most enjoyable things to do while spending the day in Barcelona is roaming! Walk and explore the labyrinth-like streets of its old city center. The Gothic Quarter and the Born, with their mysteriously narrow streets and charming archways. They are the perfect neighborhoods to get lost in over and over again.
Visit the imposing Gothic Cathedral, or the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar, a humble church in the Born, that, when entered, usually takes people’s breath away. The Born is also great for independent designer and boutique shopping, while the Gothic’s Avinyo street is on the funkier side.
Some Fresh Air in Barceloneta
Before heading back to the cruise port, check out the old fisherman’s neighborhood of Barceloneta. On the interior, it’s a very traditional area that seems to have not changed in years. Rustic taverns and authentic seafood joints abound, and it’s really the perfect place to snag a delicious paella or fideua.
If you border the neighborhood, you will walk along part of Barcelona’s old port and eventually arrive at the beach. This beach isn’t your best bet for sun-bathing or swimming (it can be crowded and the water can sometimes be quite dirty) but it’s great for people watching and just soaking up the urban beach vibes.
Have extra time?
Depending on how long your ship is docked in the Barcelona cruise port, you may or may not have time to explore other aspects of the city, like its fantastic museums, off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, or shore tours. Here are a few suggestions if you have the time:
- Check out Barcelona’s best museums
- Go on a shore tour in or outside Barcelona
- Visit the historic markets of Barcelona
- Go to a Flamenco show
- Live up Barcelona’s exciting nightlife
- Try something unique!
- Learn a bit of the local language
- Live like a local
So finally, happy cruising, and whether you’re spending the day in Barcelona or the week, you will be sure to enjoy this beautifully sunny Mediterranean city!