Discover the heart of Catalan culture when you cruise to Barcelona. Famous architect Antoni Gaudí has left quirky and fantastical buildings across the city—perhaps none more extravagant than his awe-inspiring, and still-incomplete, Sagrada Família church. Join the Barcelonans in their favorite pastimes: strolling La Rambla, dining on seafood on the waterfront, and sipping wine in Barri Gòtic cava bars. Best of all: many of Barceolna’s most famous sights are just a tour away.
View the alabaster sarcophagus of Barcelona's patron St. Eulàlia in the Catedral.
Spot Gaudí's intricate animal sculptures on the exterior of La Sagrada Família.
Shop for leather handbags and designer shoes in Barcelona’s hippest boutiques.
Wind your way through Barri Gòtic, Barcelona’s old city, to find Museu Picasso.
Walk the harbor where Christopher Columbus docked after returning from the New World.
When sketching a donkey for a carving for La Sagrada Família, Gaudí chose to draw an old broken-down beast from a peasant.
Freddie Mercury wrote the song Barcelona as the theme to the city's 1992 Olympic Games. After Mercury's death in 1991, opera singer Monserrat Caballe sang it at the Games' opening ceremony.
The Barcelona Football Club is owned and run by its supporters. Its stadium, Camp Nou, holds almost 100,000 people.
Within Walking Distance
The palm-lined Port Vell is not far from your Barcelona cruise. Massive tanks of marine life, from corals and sea plants to sharks, eels, and tropical fish, are the highlight of L’Aquarium de Barcelona, one of Europe’s largest. Check out the city’s nautical past at the Museu Marítim, the maritime museum, with soaring arches and vaults of historic shipyards.
The waterfront gives way to the southern end of La Rambla and the Monument a Colom, dedicated to Christopher Columbus. The statue marks the spot where Columbus docked in 1493 upon his return from the New World. Montjuïc Mountain overlooks the waterfront. Visit the Spanish Village, a collection of architectural examples from regions across Spain, plus a small community of artisans’ workshop.
The Barceloneta neighborhood of Barcelona was once the hub of the fishing industry and is now a popular district with local seafood restaurants and sandy beaches. Today, its cocktail bars and restaurants make the perfect start for a summer evening. Live music, the buzz of happy hour chatter, and the sounds of crashing waves mix together for the perfect evening soundtrack.
Beyond the Port Area
La Rambla promenade leads to the Barri Gòtic at the heart of Ciutat Vella, the old town. The Gothic spires of the Catedral de Barcelona tower over this tight warren of cobblestone paths and Roman remains. The Museu Picasso, housed in several medieval mansions, holds many of this Spanish master’s finest works. Contrasting the Gothic Quarter is the L’Eixample neighborhood, with its wide avenues and Modernista architecture.
Gaudí’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Família basilica, is a monumental church of outrageous design, featuring a soaring arched roof supported by tree trunk columns and detailed animal and forest sculptures adorning the exterior. At the northern edge of the city is Parc Güell, a hilly park of Gaudí’s whimsical mosaic sculptures, benches, and buildings overlooking all of Barcelona, Spain.
Beaches in Barcelona
The golden sands of Platja de Barceloneta stretch past a cluster of lively seafood restaurants and fun beach bars on the waterfront closest to downtown. Look out for the shimmering lattice-like scales of Frank Gehry’s huge copper Peix fish sculpture, perched above the action. To the east is Nova Icaria beach, its broad swathes of sand perfect for volleyball and beach soccer.
Shopping in Barcelona
Barcelona is famed for its leather goodies, with top-notch chain store Loewe a good starting point. Handmade shoes and jackets, or stylish belts and bags make great souvenirs from your cruise to Barcelona. Local shoppers crowd the historic lanes of Barri Gòtic, where tiny antique stores and contemporary art galleries bring new life to centuries-old buildings. In elegant L’Eixample, enjoy a credit card splurge on Passeig de Gràcia, an avenue of luxury Spanish brands and local fashion designers. Close by is Rambla de Catalunya, lined with even more high-street fashions.
As you walk down the iconic La Rambla, make a stop at Europe’s biggest food market La Boqueria for the makings of a fine picnic: bulbous Monserrat tomatoes, dried salt cod, and orange slabs of quince jelly—delicious with Manchego cheese.
- Your Barcelona cruise docks at Muelle Adosado (or “Moll Adossat”), a short shuttle bus ride from the city center.
- Locals love dining out late and often eat dinner until midnight. For an early-evening snack with a beer, try tasty pintxo—tiny savory bites on a cocktail stick.
- You can try out your Spanish in Barcelona, but Catalan is the first language for most locals.