Port of Tarragona, Spain – the essential guide

The port city of Tarragona in Spain is expanding with a new cruise terminal, attracting cruise lines like MSC Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises, Costa Cruises, and Silversea to include it on their southern Spain itineraries.

We traveled to Tarragona, also known as Tàrraco, to discover more about this relatively unknown port. We found a city rich with history, friendly locals, a lively market, and delicious food. Keep reading to learn more about Tarragona, a fresh addition to your Mediterranean cruise itinerary.

Where is Tarragona?

Tarragona is located along the beautiful Costa Daurada in Spain, just an hour away from the vibrant city of Barcelona. While it has often been overshadowed by its bustling neighbor, recent changes at Barcelona’s ports have opened up new opportunities for cruise travelers to discover what Tarragona has to offer.

The Tarragona cruise port is situated 100 km southwest of Barcelona. The nearest airport is Reus Airport, just 7 km away, while Barcelona’s international airport, El Prat, is 85 km from Tarragona.

How to get from the airport to Tarragona city center

From Reus Airport, it’s just an 11 km ride to Tarragona city center, usually taking about 10 minutes, depending on traffic. A taxi ride costs around 25 euros.

If you’re coming from Barcelona El Prat, the distance is 80 km and the journey takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, costing approximately 130 euros.

Always catch a taxi from the official taxi stand outside the arrivals area.

Buses from Reus Airport are operated by Hispano Igualadina and run from just outside the arrivals terminal. They will take you directly to the Tarragona central bus station. The cost is about 2 euros, payable by card or cash directly on the bus.

If you’re arriving at Barcelona Airport, there is a train service to Tarragona, however the journey is rather long. First, take a train to Barcelona’s central station, Estació Sants (Barcelona Sants). From there, switch to a train bound for Tarragona.

Trains depart every 15 to 20 minutes, and the total journey time is around 2.5 hours, including the change at Sants. Ticket prices vary, with the cheapest found around 15 euros for a one-way trip. Tickets can be purchased at the airport or in advance online through Renfe, the official train operator.

Private Transfer:
For a more relaxed trip, consider booking a private transfer. This service offers a hassle-free, door-to-door experience from the airport to your destination in Tarragona.

Where to stay in Tarragona

We recommend at least one hotel night in Tarragona before your cruise starts to ensure you do not miss your embarkation time. Ideally, you will arrive in time to spend a few days there before your cruise.

If you plan to book a hotel in Tarragona, here are our top 3 choices:

  1. H10 Imperial Tarraco: Situated near the iconic Playa del Miracle, this hotel has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and garden. The breathtaking views and an array of amenities are designed to pamper you. The hotel has an excellent location and top-notch service, making it a favorite for those booking 4-star stays in the city​. The hotel is a 10-minute taxi ride from the port.
  2. AC Hotel Tarragona by Marriott: This hotel combines the reliability of the Marriott brand with the local flavor of Tarragona. Located in a central part of the city and just 15 minutes by taxi from the port, it provides easy access to shops, Roman sites, and the new theatre. Enjoy the refurbished pool and an excellent breakfast buffet.
  3. Hotel SB Ciutat Tarragona: Just a 3-minute walk away from the AC Hotel Marriott, this hotel provides a comfortable and accessible stay for visitors looking to explore the city’s rich culture. Service is excellent, and the hotel will help you book a taxi to take you to the port on the morning of your cruise departure.

The medieval city and a UNESCO World Heritage site

Tarragona is a UNESCO World Heritage site. At its heart is the Old Town, with cobblestone streets and well-preserved Romanesque and Gothic architecture, notably displayed in the imposing Tarragona Cathedral.

You will discover many medieval remnants, including the ruins of walls that once fortified Tarragona against invaders. The Gothic Quarter is a collection of medieval buildings, museums, galleries, and quaint cafes where you can enjoy the local cuisine in a traditional Catalan restaurant.

The annual Tarragona Viva Festival, held in May every year, brings the city’s Roman past to life through Gladiator parades and food fairs. The festival is family-friendly and a great way to experience the city’s rich culture and historical significance.

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A Walking Tour of Tarragona

Soak up the atmosphere of Tarragona with our self-guided walking tour. Pick up an audio guide that is available at most attractions. And for those of you who prefer the insight that only a local expert can provide, don’t miss the Tarragona Highlights Private Tour, a four-hour exploration that we can highly recommend.

Tarragona Cathedral (Catedral de Tarragona)

Begin your adventure at the majestic Tarragona Cathedral. This architectural marvel, built in the 12th century, showcases a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

Although the Black Death halted its completion, the cathedral’s grand entrance and iconic rose window are breathtaking. Inside, you’ll find the incredible Diocesan Museum and the Saint Tecla altarpiece, made of colored and gilded alabaster.

Entrance to the cathedral is 11 euros, less for children and if you are over 65 years old.

Roman Circus (Circo Romano)

From the cathedral, walk to the Roman Circus, once an ancient spectacle of horse and chariot races. Make your way through stone tunnels before climbing up to the vista – panoramic views over Tarragona.

In this neighborhood, Part Alta, you will find Taverna El Llagut, run by chef Ramon Martí. Stop for lunch and taste superb Medieterranean seafood.

If you follow the trail through Parc del Miracle, you arrive at the amphitheater, which is set against the stunning backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.

Tarragona Amphitheater (Anfiteatro de Tarragona)

The Tarragona Amphitheater, more than 2,000 years old, was once a battleground for gladiators. It now stands as a monument to a story of bravery and the dramatic events that unfolded here.

If you want to walk around the center of the amphitheatre, an entrance ticket costs around 3 euros each, and you can purchase tickets easily where you are there. Otherwise, the expanse of the site can be viewed from many viewpoints around the perimeter.

Nearby is Playa del Milagro, a wide stretch of golden sands that is perfect for a peaceful beach break.

Shopping on Rambla Nova

From the beach, walk towards Rambla Nova, the vibrant shopping street of Tarragona. This bustling promenade stretches from the Mediterranean to the busy Plaça Imperial Tàrraco, the city’s main transport hub.

You’ll find street performers, boutiques, and cafes. There are local artisan shops and high-end designers,

Tarragona’s central market (Mercado Central)

Next, visit the local food at Mercat Central, just off Rambla Nova. We love this place. It’s a hub of vibrancy where you’ll find fresh, locally sourced produce, cafes, local arts and crafts and leather goods. Allow time to browse; it’s a big place!

The Forum (Foro Colonial de Tarraco)

A 20-minute walk will take you to the Colonial Forum of Tàrraco. Though much of it has been lost to history, the remnants of this once bustling square invite you to tread the paths of those who walked its streets centuries ago.

The Fishing Village of El Serrallo (El Barrio Pesquero de El Serrallo)

Wrap up your day in the picturesque El Serrallo district, a leisurely 40-minute stroll from The Forum. Should your feet protest the distance, a 10-minute taxi journey can whisk you into the heart of this vibrant fishing village.

Here, the promenade is lined with painted fishermen’s houses, setting the stage for an array of restaurants that serve up the freshest catch alongside traditional tapas.

El Serrallo is home to red prawns of Tarragona and petite cuttlefish. The generous waters here provide a rich assortment of seafood, from oily varieties like sardines, anchovies, and mackerel to the highly sought-after line-caught hake, sole, and bluefin tuna and swordfish during their respective seasons.

Try dishes like the hearty moixina stew – blackmouth catshark, potatoes, and garlic mayonnaise sauce – or the romescada, enriched with a Romesco sauce. This region’s hallmark sauce, made from a blend of scalded dried peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes and garlic, along with toasted almonds and hazelnuts, olive oil, and a dash of vinegar, is delicious!

For an unforgettable adventure in the safe hands of an experienced tour guide, take a step back in time with recommended Tarragona Gems Half-Day Private Tour and dive deeper into Tarragona's rich history, guided by those who know it best.

Visit Barcelona before your cruise from Tarragona

Check which port your cruise departs from before booking your flight and transport arrangements. Have you booked a cruise from Barcelona, or are you now leaving from Tarragona Cruise Port? Most cruise guests are eager to spend time in Barcelona before they transfer to Tarragona.

Find out about visiting Barcelona, where to stay, and what to do on our Barcelona information page.

How to get to Tarragona from Barcelona

From Barcelona Sants train station, there is a direct train to the central station in Tarragona. The nonstop train takes around 1 hour and is operated by Renfe. Prices vary depending on the time of day you travel. We paid 8 euros for a ticket.

We recommend that you search, compare, and book train tickets in before you leave home. Omio, which offers train tickets with both these carriers, is an easy-to-navigate price comparison website in English.

It provides all available options for your journey and allows you to compare prices to ensure you get the best deal. Bookings can be made in your local currency. Just change the currency on the upper right corner of the website if you need to.

Alternatively, you can book tickets directly with Renfe on their website for about three months within your travel date.

Getting to your cruise ship in Tarragona – helpful tips for a smooth start

Embarking on your cruise from Tarragona is straightforward and hassle-free, thanks to convenient transportation options and excellent port facilities. There are several alternative transportation methods are available to ensure you reach your ship comfortably and on time.

Taxi and bus options:
Taxis offer a quick solution by dropping you off near the port entrance. Alternatively, we highly recommend using the dedicated bus service available for cruise passengers, specifically arranged to take you directly to the terminal.

Dedicated bus service for cruise passengers:
For the bus service, make your way to Moll de Costa 7. Here, buses set off for the cruise terminal located at Moll de Balears, where many cruise ship dock.

Make sure always to check your cruise ticket for the exact address of your cruise ship departure terminal.

Most of the time, buses are timed to coincide with the embarkation day provided by your cruise line, ensuring that you arrive in time for boarding. The journey to the terminal takes about 10 minutes, and arriving early is wise as the cruise terminal gets packed with travelers.

Tarragona cruise port facilities:
The cruise port in Tarragona features a single terminal, which houses the Tarragona Cruise Port Welcome Center. This center is strategically located at Balears Wharf and Llevant Breakwater Wharf, serving as the primary hub for both embarkation and disembarkation.

Exploring the city:
For those visiting Tarragona as a port of call on your Mediterranean cruise itinerary, buses from the cruise port will conveniently drop you off at Via Augusta, near the picturesque Reconciliació Park. This spot also serves as your return pick-up point when you are ready to board your cruise ship again.


Here are the answers to the most common questions about Tarragona! If you cannot find the help you are looking for, email us at info@cruisetrail.com!

How far is Tarragona center from the cruise port?

Central Tarragona is close to the port. It takes about 10 minutes from the cruise port to reach central Tarragona using the local port bus. Taxi are also available at the cruise terminal.

Is Tarragona Cruise Port in Barcelona?

No, Tarragona Cruise Port is not in Barcelona. Tarragona is a separate town located about 100 km southwest of Barcelona. The cruise port is very close to the Tarragona center.

Is it worth staying in Tarragona?

While many cruise guests choose to stay in Barcelona before embarking on a cruise from Tarragona, we advise you to stay in the city of Tarragona at least one night before your cruise.

It’s a great place to visit and experience. In addition, on embarkation day you do not need to make a long journey from Barcelona to reach your cruise ship on time, stay in Tarragona and the cruise port is just 10 minutes by taxi from central hotels.

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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