Cruise from Barcelona – the essential guide

Barcelona is a true gem on the spectacular Costa Brava. Make the most of your cruise vacation and spend some time in the city before you board your cruise from Barcelona.

Barcelona Cruise Port (Port de Barcelona) is easy to reach, located close to the town at the end of the famous La Rambla street.

We’ll try and help you make your hotel booking easy by breaking down Barcelona into different areas of the city that we recommend and why.

Where to stay before your cruise from Barcelona

Barcelona offers visitors different flavors and experiences depending on where they stay.

Below, we list our favorite hotels in the most popular areas.

Hotel options in Eixample

The Eixample area is our go-to place in Barcelona. With a great selection of hotels in different price ranges, a lively nightlife offering great tapas and bars, and easy walking distance to the city’s heart, Eixample is a good family choice.

  • Olivia Balmes Hotel – this is a great 4-star hotel with excellent service. It’s bright and modern, with a large open-plan reception area and a small rooftop pool. 
  • H10 Art Gallery – we love this hotel’s area, which is just a short walk from Olivia Balmes. There are plenty of tapas bars within the vicinity, and this 4-star  hotel is personal and quirky, with colorful pop art covering the walls. On the rooftop are a small sundeck and a plunge pool.
  • Hotel Majestic is an excellent, pricier hotel on Passeig de Gracia just a few blocks from Casa Milà. Hotel Majestic is an elegant hotel with a great bar on the ground floor and a roof terrace with a pool. Worth the extra price tag if you want an unbeatable location. And from the rooftop, you will get a fantastic view over to the Basílica de la Sagrada Família.
  • Hotel Jazz is a popular 3-star hotel located 5 minutes by foot from Plaça de Catalunya, where the hop-on/hop-off buses stop. The hotel has a great rooftop pool, clean rooms, and good food.
  • Hotel Sercotel Casper is an excellent choice to be close to the city park, the Arc de Triomf, and good biking routes
  • Hotel LLeo is another good 3-star hotel often used by cruise guests. Breakfast is simple but good, the rooftop swimming pool is excellent, and you are just a short walk from the airport shuttles and hop-on buses at Plaça de Catalunya.
  • Hotel Casa Bonay is a comfortable 4-star hotel with a great restaurant, Bodega Bonay, where the locals come for lunch, ordering a selection of appetizers and a glass of local wine. In addition, the rooftop beach shack serves up fresh summer salads, tasty local tapas, and renowned BBQ favorites like sardines, beef skewers, and roasted asparagus.

Hotel options in Barri Gòtic

With a stay in Barri Gotic, you are in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, the historic old town. You can’t get more central. You will be close to the main tree-lined pedestrian street of La Rambla and steps away from restaurants, bars, cafes, and markets. It’s lively, crowded, noisy, and splendid. Stay here if you are a couple looking to be in the heart of it all.

  • Hotel Colón – a stylish family-run hotel with cozy rooms and great views. Ask for a room on the top floor to get a view over to the cathedral.
  • El Avenida Palace Hotel – a good hotel in a great location close to the main shopping streets, between Paseo de Gracia and Rambla de Cataluña.
  • Hotel Le Meridien – probably our favorite hotel in this area. In the middle of the old town, the hotel has good-sized rooms, excellent service, and a great breakfast. There is a fantastic bar on the ground floor with live music most days of the week. Do not stay here if you are looking for quiet! This is a lively spot in the middle of Rambla.
  • H10 Cubik – What we love about this hotel is its spacious, modern interior and fantastic front-desk staff focused on excellent customer service. This hotel is a winner, situated right in the middle of great shopping and within walking distance of many sights, including the cathedral. You will find everything you need, from the rooftop plunge pool to a bright, airy restaurant. Opt for a room with a city view, alternatively looking out onto an inner courtyard.
  • Hotel Barcelona Apolo – a large Melia hotel, a 20-minute walk from La Rambla and just 10 minutes from the Columbus Monument. It’s very popular with cruising guests as the taxi to your cruise port is only 10 minutes from here. It’s also a good choice for families as rooms are large and extra beds are available.
  • Citidines Barcelona – if you are a large family, this may be a perfect choice. Right on La Rambla, choose an apartment with your own kitchen and living area, with beds for the whole family.
  • Petit Palace Boquería Garden – located right on La Rambla, this hotel is cozy with a lovely courtyard. You are very close to the Liceu metro station. We have had mixed reviews about the service, but often you can find reasonable prices for the central location.

Hotel options in Barceloneta Barrio – hotels close to Barcelona cruise port 

If you want to live near Barcelona’s fabulous beach, this is the area for you. It’s about a 20-30 minute walk from the center of the old town. However, local buses run frequently or hop on Barcelona’s metro system for an even faster ride. It’s also a good choice if you are looking for a hotel close to the Barcelona cruise port.

  • Hotel Duquesa de Cardona – This hotel is tastefully decorated in muted tones with wooden floors. The view from the pool area looks directly over the beautiful harbor. On the rooftop deck, they offer al fresco dining.
  • H10 Port Vell – another good hotel in the H10 Spanish hotel chain. A simple, elegant hotel next to Barcelona’s trendy El Born area and a 10-minute walk from the Picasso Museum. 
  • Catalonia Port – a compact hotel in a small building, overlooked from all sides when you are on the rooftop terrace. But still, it’s a good choice. The rooms are fresh and unassuming, the service is excellent, and there is a great breakfast buffet. If you are a family with kids, ask for the extra stow-away beds, and you can share the same room. This offers good value for money for being in a great spot.
  • W Hotel – If you want a luxury stay as close to the Barceloneta boardwalk as possible, look at the 5-star W hotel. Architecturally spectacular, its sail-like shape is unmistakeable. It’s as close to the beach as you can get. 
  • Eurostars Grand Marina – close to the port, this is an excellent, modern hotel just a 2-minute walk to the Columbus Monument at the southern end of La Rambla. The hotel will arrange your airport transfer and transfer to the port for your cruise. Enquire by email (reservas@grandmarinahotel.com) after you have made your reservation.
  • Hotel Gaudi is one of our favorite 3-star hotels in Barcelona. It is a short walk from the food market on La Rambla and a short Uber or taxi ride to the port.

Hotel options in Gràcia

What we love about Gràcia is the peace and quiet just outside Barcelona’s main touristy old town. This neighborhood is full of indie shops, small cafes, and bars and is where you find the locals live. The tree-lined streets are inviting, with a slightly bohemian feel.

There is only one hotel that we feel is worthy of recommendation located right next to the Gràcia neighborhood:

  • Hotel Barcelona 1882 is a beautiful, elegant hotel with friendly service. The hotel sometimes offers its guests a free guided tour of the Sagrada Familia on Saturdays (check for availability). Enquire about booking your free spot when you make your hotel reservation. The very name of the hotel, ‘1882,’ is a nod to when Gaudi first started building this breathtaking architectural masterpiece, which is still under construction 140 years later.
Click to search, compare, and book your accommodation in Barceona.

5 Fantastic Ways to Spend the Day in Barcelona

So you’ve chosen your hotel, and it’s time to experience Barcelona. Below are five recommended areas of the city, each of which you can explore as much or as little as time allows. And in any order you like.

In a city with so much history and art, it’s a good idea to pack a pocket guidebook so you don’t miss anything. Alternatively, you can book a guided tour with a knowledgeable local.

The following daily itineraries will cover the must-see sights and a few hidden gems. Essential information on Barcelona Cruise Port is also at the bottom of the page.

Day 1: Eixample

Eixample is very walkable and easy to navigate as it is laid out somewhat on a grid system. As well as being Barcelona’s nerve center of commerce, this vibrant area of famous sights, restaurants, cafes, and markets has plenty of hotel options. Eixample is my favorite part of Barcelona in which to stay. 

Start your day at Barcelona’s university. The inner courtyards are beautiful, and this elegant landmark dates back to 1861. Walk towards the fountain on Plaça de Catalunya and wander northwards along Rambla de Catalunya. This tree-lined street has super boutiques and deserves a little window shopping.  

The famous Mansana de la Discordia

Turn right on C/d’Aragó towards the beautiful street Passeig de Gràcia. Here, you will discover the famous Mansana de la Discordia. See these three picturesque houses of different architectural styles, and you’ll understand why they attract crowds every day of the week. The most famous of the three is Gaudi’s Casa Batllo.

Casa Batllo, Antoni Gaudi
Casa Batllo, Barcelona (Antoni Gaudi)

Continue on the Passeig de Gràcia to Gaudi’s surreal Casa Milà (La Pedrera). If you want to climb to the roof, then be sure to purchase tickets in advance, as queues can be very long. This will save you both time and money. We prefer to wait until visiting La Sagrada Familia for a breathtaking view over Barcelona.

If you are starting to get hungry, many good eateries are nearby. We recommend Tragaluz on Pasaje de la Concepción, serving many well-priced dishes, including classic tapas. 

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia

After lunch, head towards Antoni Gaudí’s Basilica of La Sagrada Familia, the church that exemplifies his architectural genius. It’s essential to purchase skip-the-line tickets before your visit, as there are usually endless queues.

Admire the cathedral from the small square Plaça de Gaudí before climbing the clock tower for a breathtaking view over the city.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia, Barclona

Book a ticket in advance or, even better, a guided tour and learn the rich history, including the tragic end of one of the world’s greatest architects.

At the end of your visit, you can take the metro directly back from Sagrada Família metro station to Passeig de Gràcia. Buy a metro ticket at the station with your credit card.

Looking for a cosy wine bar to visit in the evening during your visit? Step into Masa Vins, a cozy nook in Barcelona's Poble Nou district, where a setting reminiscent of a chic friend's kitchen awaits you. This trendy wine bar, opened in 2023, draws a stylish crowd looking to enjoy an extensive selection of natural wines, accompanied by fashionable tapas like kimchi grilled cheese. It's the perfect spot for wine lovers seeking a trendy, laid-back vibe in Barcelona.

Day 2: The Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic)

The medieval Gothic Quarter is Barcelona’s old inner core. It is well preserved from the Middle Ages and characterized by the main street, La Rambla.

The point where Eixempel meets Barri Gòtic is Plaça de Catalunya. This enormous, striking plaza surrounded by monumental buildings has a large fountain.

It is where all the taxis and hop-on, hop-off buses stop, and many tours begin. So if you are looking for a bus, this is where you’ll find it in most parts of the city. Plaça de Catalunya is also the starting point of La Rambla and, therefore, an excellent place to begin your day. 

Barcelona’s fantastic food market, Mercado de La Boqueria

Start by walking southwards from Plaça de Catalunya down La Rambla, Barcelona’s wide pedestrian boulevard.

Take care of your wallet and watch the pick-pocketers amongst the crowds as you look up to admire the medieval facades. Hold onto your valuables if someone bumps into you or stops to ask you a question.

Head towards Mercado de La Boqueria, the best food market you will find anywhere. Spending hours at the little eateries and bars and sampling tapas, cheeses, or sweets in the hundreds of fresh food stalls is easy. Or grab an iced fruit juice before continuing your walk of the old town. 

From La Boqueria, cross the street and continue down La Rambla, making a left on Carrer de Colom and into Plaça Reial.

This is one of the city’s busiest spots, with fountains, cafes, and restaurants. It is a favorite of ours for lunch tapas and a beer.

The Cathedral of Barcelona and the Picasso Museum

Exit the square on the other side and walk to the Cathedral of Barcelona, which dates back to 1298. You will walk through the beautiful Plaça de Sant Jaume, surrounded by Barcelona’s government buildings.

The tourist information office is on one corner if you need to pick up a map. If you are lucky, an outdoor antique market or street choirs will be performing outside the cathedral.

Do you love coffee? One of our favorite spots in the city to indulge in the finest coffee is at Nomad Coffee, founded by acclaimed barista Jordi Mestre. From its roots as a humble coffee cart, Nomad has evolved into a key player with its own roastery, supplying beans globally. Visit one of their locations in either the Born district or in Poblenou for coffee bliss.

Enjoy walking through winding streets and old town markets to the Picasso Museum, about a 10-minute walk from the cathedral.

It’s worth the entrance fee to see the fascinating earlier works of a young Picasso. The museum has the best collection of Picasso’s earliest art from when he was just 14 years old.

Shopping, parks, and the beach – experience it all before your cruise from Barcelona.

Now you have two options.

For some relaxation, head towards Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf and the city park, just a 10-minute walk away. Enjoy the garden or explore the area on a bike by renting a public bicycle nearby.

Barcelona has over 200 km of dedicated bike lanes, but I advise staying away from the busy walking boulevards and keeping to the park or coastline on your cycle ride.

Alternatively, head in the opposite direction for some afternoon retail therapy. Walk along Avinguda del Portal de l’Àngel, a beautiful, wide pedestrian street with familiar retail names and our favorite shopping spot in Barcelona.

Finish your afternoon with a visit to El Corte Inglés, Spain’s famous department store. And you’re back where you started your fabulous day out.

If you are looking for a beach day instead, hop on the metro at Drassanes, just off La Rambla, and before you reach the Columbus Monument (Monument a Colom) at the bottom of the street.

Get off at the Barceloneta stop. You can walk to the beach within 15 minutes or hop off one of the local buses for a short ride that costs just 2 euros.

Day 3: Barceloneta, the Beach & Port Olympic 

From an empty industrial area to a beautiful beachfront with a wide open boardwalk, Barcelona’s beachfront location, Barceloneta, has transformed during the last 30 years since the city hosted the 1992 Olympic Games.

You can reach the beach after a long walk from the city, but we recommend the metro instead, getting off at Drassanes or the Barceloneta stop. Sculptures, art, skyscrapers, and shopping malls now line the beach boulevard.

Walk along Rambla de Mar. This floating wooden pier stretches to Maremagnum, a lively shopping galleria and movie complex. Plenty of fast food restaurants and bars are here for a lunchtime snack.

After a lazy few hours on the beach, head towards Port Olimpic. Here, you can take a boat trip with one of the many companies offering guided sailings around the coastline.

Enjoy a whole new view of the city from the ocean. Alternatively, shop at El Centre de la Vila-Port Olimpic, a large, inviting shopping mall. 

Where to find the best seafood in Barcelona

Dive into Barcelona’s vibrant culinary scene with a visit to La Fonda del Port Olimpic, where the city’s freshest seafood awaits. This beloved restaurant offers diners dishes crafted with care and tradition. It’s a must-visit for any seafood lover looking to experience the essence of Barcelona’s gastronomy.

For those seeking variety, Can Sole on Sant Carles 4 in Barceloneta and Ultramarinos Marin offer fantastic alternatives. Can Sole charms with its authentic vibe and exquisite dishes, while Ultramarinos Marin, set in an old bar, delights with fish and shellfish straight from the harbor’s fishing boats. Simple yet exceptional dishes straight from the heart of Barcelona’s seafood tradition.

Day 4: Montjuic

The park of Montjuic rises over 200 meters over the harbor and is a beautiful green oasis visible from the city center.

It’s a memorable day out before your cruise from Barcelona. Enjoy the baroque-style castle, Castell de Montjuic, that dominates the hillside, art museums – and, of course, the view over Barcelona. Visit on a clear day, as the view can be somewhat hazy.

Make time to visit the Museum of Fundació Joan Miró, housing the most spectacular collection of art by Joan Miró, the Catalan painter and sculptor and painter. Discover his vision in the studios where he worked. Download a map of Fundació Joan Miró here. The museum is open from 10 am to 7 pm every day except on Mondays.

The spirit of Joan Miro pops up all over Barcelona, starting at the airport when you first arrive where one of his spectacular mosaics welcomes you to his home city. When you visit the museum, don't miss the sculptures on the roof terrace, where you can also enjoy a view over the city including the splendid Sagrada Familia in the distance.

To get to Montjuic – you have four options:

Local bus

Take a local bus from Plaça d’Espanya. This is the cheapest option. If you are using the metro in the city, your metro ticket will also include bus rides. Check when you purchase your ticket. Bus numbers 55 and 150 (bus Parc de Montjuïc) will get you there, and the entrance is 15 euros per adult. Buy your tickets online here, or if you are a lover of art, we recommend you book a guided tour.

Mountain train (funicular)

Ride the funicular, the mountain train, which leaves from the Parallel metro station.

Montjuïc Cable Car

The Montjuïc Cable Car (Telefèric de Montjuïc) is terrific if you don’t mind heights! It’s great fun but also the priciest way to get to Montjuic. The cable car leaves the cable station at Parc Montjuïc.

Walking

Walk it! Yes, it’s possible, but only if you feel energetic. On a hot day, it will be tough. Pack a water bottle and wear good shoes!

Walking up is a bit of work. If you are unsure, we recommend walking down to make the most of the views and sights along the way. 

Don’t miss visiting The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, situated at the tip of Avinguda Maria Cristina and below the Palau Nacional. From there, it’s just a short walk back at Plaça d’Espanya.

Day 5: Parc Guell and Camp Nou

Parc Guell

Visit this splendid park as a hop-on/hop-off bus tour stop. Choose the blue line starting at Plaça Catalunya.

Gaudi’s 30-acre park is a fantastic way to see his inspirational architecture. Gaudi himself lived in the mansion you see as you walk in.

Playful and full of nature-inspired fantasy, the park has beautiful views over the city. Be sure to buy a ticket to get inside the monumental area. It is well worth the entrance fee.

Camp Nou

If you are an FC Barcelona fan, a visit to the city wouldn’t be complete without seeing Camp Nou before your cruise from Barcelona.

Camp Nou stadium - home of FC Barcelona
Camp Nou, FC Barcelona

Visit the stadium and the museum, but get tickets ahead of your visit. It’ll be busy.

Using the hop-on/hop-off bus on the blue route, you can visit Parc Guell and Camp Nou on the same day.

Start early. The bus ride takes time, but it is a great way to see Barcelona outside the city center. The hop-on/hop-off buses leave from Plaça de Catalunya.

Prefer to explore with a guide? Looking to pre-book tickets for entrance to Sagrada Familia? Do you need to book an airport or port transfer? Or do you want to book hop-on/hop-off bus tickets so you can get around more easily? Find out why we like to partner with Viator for Barcelona's best transportation and excursion options.

Best day trip from Barcelona

If you choose instead to substitute one of your sightseeing days in the city with an excursion further afield, here are our recommendations:

Half-day trip Montserrat and the Black Madonna

Monserrat is the spiritual soul of Catalonia. Located 60km north of Barcelona and characterized by jagged mountain tops, the name itself means “serrated mountain.”

The Black Madonna, the image of the Virgin Mary, is located at the back of Montserrat’s Royal Basilica, Santa Maria de Montserrat. You’ll enjoy this half-day excursion if you are a lover of art.

And remember, if you are making this trip avoid wearing shorts or sandals as you may not be allowed to enter the basilica. Good walking shoes and cotton layers to beat the heat are perfect when visiting in summer. Take a jacket in the shoulder season or winter, as the mountain air can get chilly.

Queues to enter the monastery are long in high season, and you will need tickets. A prepaid excursion with a guide will make it quicker to enter.

Montserrat and the Black Madonna, plus lunch and wine-tasting

To extend the half-day tour of Montserrat’s Royal Basilica and the Benedictine abbey, include a traditional Catalan lunch and a visit to a fantastic vineyard to try the local wines. Ensure you book in advance and have a guided tour of the vineyards and the wine cellars.

Discover why we choose to work with Viator for guided city tours and day trips to the beautiful surrounding area of Barcelona.

Getting from city to port for your cruise from Barcelona

Barcelona is the largest and busiest cruise port in the Mediterranean. Check your cruise ticket to be sure you get to the correct terminal. Getting to the port for your cruise from Barcelona is relatively easy. Here are your alternatives.

Private Transfer

If you are more than two people, we recommend booking a private transfer before you leave home for pick up at your hotel. Tell them when you want to check in at the cruise port, and they will calculate your pickup time from your hotel to get you there in good time.

Taxi

Ask your hotel about pre-booking a cab. Allow time to get to the port. Traffic and queues are unpredictable, especially in the high season. Taxis charge a flat rate plus a cruise port supplement. Be sure to establish the price with your driver before you start. 

Metro & Bus

From Plaça de Catalunya, use the metro to get to the station Drassanes. A short walk takes you to the Columbus Column. Blue buses (PortBús) depart to the port every 20 to 30 minutes. Again, check your cruise ticket to get to the correct terminal.

Note! Walking to the cruise terminal is too far, especially on a hot day. And you are on the main road making the whole walk quite unpleasant. Plan your trip and take extra time if you rely on public transport. When all else fails, get yourself into a cab.

How to book your cruise from Barcelona

Our trusted partner for cruise bookings is CruiseDirect. Find out why we like to work with CruiseDirect, easily search and book the perfect cruise, or discover last-minute deals.

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.

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