Barcelona—the capital of Catalonia, Spain—is a popular stop on many Mediterranean cruise itineraries. Knowing what to do in Barcelona Cruise Port can be a hard if you are only there for one day. Whether you are exploring Barcelona with the kids or with a loved one, there is many things to see and do, you really will be spoilt for choice.
Out of all the cities in Europe, Barcelona is one of our favourites. But as you’ll likely only have a few hours to explore, it’s important that you create a brief plan on which shore excursions or attractions you want to visit to avoid missing out. Sadly, as there are so many things to do, fitting them all in just simply isn’t possible. But that’s the great thing about cruising, there is always next time!
Everything you need to know about What to Do in Barcelona Cruise Port for When your Cruise Ship Docks
So, if your cruise ship is docking in the Spanish port of Barcelona and you’re trying to decide which things to prioritize, keep on reading as we’re going to cover how to get into the city from Barcelona, as well as the city’s top attractions.
How to Get Into the City From the Barcelona Cruise Port
Barcelona has two cruise ports, with the larger port being the Moll Adossat Quay. Moll Adossat Quay has four terminals, and it is where the larger cruise ships dock. The smaller port, The World Trade Center (WTC) has three terminals, and this is where smaller cruise ships will dock.
The terminal your cruise ship docks will ultimately decide how to get into Barcelona’s city. If you dock at Moll Adossat’s terminal A, for example, it will take you 25 minutes to walk to central Barcelona. But if you dock at terminal D, it will take you roughly 45 minutes. A big difference if you ask us.
For cruise ships that dock in the WTC, however, the walk to the city centre is just under 10 minutes. And totally manageable!
As you will only have a few hours in Barcelona, we highly recommend getting some form of transportation if your ship docks at Moll Adossat. And don’t worry, the Barcelona cruise terminal has a few options.
After you disembark your cruise ship you will need to work out where you want to visit first. Firstly, you can hail a taxi at the nearby taxi rank to take you into the city. Or if you want to save a few euros, you can opt for a shuttle bus. Shuttle buses will run from Moll Adossat to the World Trade Center. They usually cost around 13€ for a round trip. You can then walk into Barcelona from there.
In terms of the metro, there isn’t a metro that runs from the cruise terminals into the city. But you can use the metro to get around Barcelona after taking a shuttle to the WTC. You’ll find the Drassanes metro station near the Columbus Monument.
The Best Things to Do Barcelona Cruise Port
One of the best things about cruising is the fact that you can book onto a shore excursion or explore the area by yourself. We personally like to do a mix of both. However, if you are taking on the city by yourself, here are some of the best things to do when your cruise ship docks in Barcelona.
Visit Sagrada Família
The Sagrada Familia cathedral is one of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s most famous and impressive creations. Construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882. And still to this day, it isn’t finished—they’re hoping to have it complete by 2026, just in time for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
Both the exterior and interior of the cathedral are absolutely breathtaking and showcase Gaudi’s unique architectural style. To get inside the Sagrada Familia, you will need to purchase tickets. However, we highly recommend booking in advance because tickets on the day are extremely hard to come by.
Explore Park Güell
Another popular Gaudi Barcelona landmark that all tourists should visit is Park Güell. The Park Güell has a few interesting and unique features—particularly the main terrace, terrace walls, collonaded footpaths, and tiled mosaics. Although Gaudi didn’t actually design the houses that sit in the park, he did live in one of them. That house is now a Gaudi museum.
Similar to the Sagrada Familia, you will need to purchase a ticket—preferably in advance—to enter the central area. But the park is a must-see for Gaudi fans.
One thing we will mention, however, is that Park Güell is far away from other Barcelona attractions. But you can get there by a hop on hop off bus. In our opinion, buses are one of the best ways to see the city.
Stroll Along La Rambla
La Rambla is one of Barcelona’s most famous streets, filled with restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, and pubs. Stretching for just under a mile long, you can walk the entirety of La Rambla in under 30 minutes. But that time could be multiplied tenfold depending on how many sangrias you stop to drink.
Experience the Vibrant Atmosphere of La Boqueria Market
On La Rambla is a market called La Boqueria that is filled with stalls selling fruit, meat, and delicious Spanish snacks. The colours and atmosphere in La Boqueria are like no other, which has made it one of the most popular places to visit in Barcelona.
Enjoy the Beach at Barceloneta
Barceloneta Beach provides visitors with 2.5 miles of sand and sea, making it a popular spot for families visiting Barcelona. With bars, restaurants, and cafes lining the beach, Barceloneta Beach is a great spot for lunch. Or an hour or two of relaxation, whatever you prefer! You could easily spend the whole day here or get a cable car up the mountain for views of the city.
You’ll also find one of the best aquariums in Europe, L’aquarium Barcelona. The aquarium is just a short walk from the beach and another great activity for families with kids.
Wander Through the Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is, for the most part, a pedestrian-only area with narrow streets amongst five-story buildings. Stretching from La Rambla to Via Laietana, the Gothic Quarter is an interesting area to explore and is even home to the Barcelona cathedral and the Palau de la Musica Catalana—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are lots of smaller tapas bars to grab a bite to eat in this area as well as street are covering some of the walls.
Barcelona Cathedral views from the roof
Within the Gothic quarter, numerous tranquil plazas beckon, providing serene havens to unwind and savor the ambiance with a glass of sangria. Barcelona Cathedral right at the core of this district, is a prominent highlight the immense Cathedral, boasts a captivating courtyard adorned with lush greenery and, intriguingly, a congregation of geese. You can also pay to go up the Cathdral for views from the roof!
Marvel at Casa Batlló
Another must-visit Gaudi site is Casa Batllo which is one of the architect’s most recognizable pieces of work. In 1900, Josep Battlo purchased the house and gave Gaudi free rein over its design just a few years later. Ultimately, Josep wanted a house that was completely different from anything else in the city. And boy, did Gaudi make that happen.
With irregular oval windows, sculptured stonework, mosaic tiles, and a roof that is likened to that of a dragon, the Casa Batllo is a true work of art that draws in visitors from all over the world. Like many other Gaudi buildings in the city, the Casa Battlo is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Discover the Magic of Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
Gaudi fans really will be in their element in Barcelona as yet another of the architect’s designs is on display for tourists to marvel at. Casa Mila was built between the years of 1906 and 1912. And is now a cultural centre with performances, art exhibits, and a Gaudi interpretation centre.
Different from Gaudi’s other work—as the building is colourless—the Case Mila is just a short walk from the Casa Batllo. So you can tackle two Gaudi sites with one stone.
Watch the Magic Fountain Show at Montjuïc
Originally built for the World Fair in 1929, the Magic Fountain of Montjuic puts on a display of colour, light, motion, music, and of course, water. With 3620 jets and the ability to produce 7 billion light water combinations, the fountain is an excellent free activity in the city of Barcelona. You can also walk up to Montjuic castle for fabulous views of Barcelona and the sea.
Take a Bike Tour Around the City
Aside from hop on hop off buses, a great way to see and learn all about Barcelona and its iconic landmarks is by booking a bike tour. Bike tours—with English-speaking guides—take you all around Barcelona in just a few hours, allowing you to see nearly all of the city’s attractions in one go.
Visit the Picasso Museum
Picasso is one of the world’s most famous painters. And although he is known for his colourful abstract art, the Picasso Museum is actually home to some of his early realism pieces that he painted when he was just a teenager.
Have a Picnic at Parc de la Ciutadella
If you’re after a bit of greenery, then look no further than the Parc de la Ciutadella. The park offers visitors the chance to relax, walk, and picnic on its expansive grass areas. However, you can also visit the Zoo, the Museu d’Art Modern, and the Zoological Museum, which are all situated within the park’s walls.
Explore the Contemporary Art at MACBA
The Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona—or MACBA, for short—is an art institution that is renowned for its array of contemporary art pieces. Serving as a hub for artistic exploration, the museum’s art pieces—and the building itself—attract art lovers from all over.
Take a Cable Car to Montjuïc for Panoramic Views
One of the best ways to see the city of Barcelona from afar is by taking the cable car to Montjuïc. Elevating you 270 feet up the hillside, the cable car offers panoramic views of the entire Barcelona region. You’ll also see iconic landmarks like the Sagrada Familia and the port where your cruise ship will be docked.
Climb to the Top of Montjuïc Castle
The Montjuïc Castle is a spectacular fortress that is perched on top of Montjuïc Hill. Dating back to the 17th century, the castle once played a significant role in Barcelona’s history. Now, however, it offers a glimpse into the city’s military heritage.
Aside from witnessing the beauty of the castle, climbing up Montjuïc Hill offers truly spectacular views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. So if you have the stamina, the walk to the top should take you around 20 to 30 minutes. Just be warned, some areas are steep, so the climb may not be suitable for everyone.
Discover the History at Museu d’Història de Barcelona
The Museu d’Historia de Barcelona—also known as the Barcelona History Museum—is a museum that takes you back through the history of the Catalan city. Located in the heart of Barcelona, the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona has a huge collection of artefacts, archaeological finds, and documents from hundreds of years ago.
Whether you are a history enthusiast or simply curious about Barcelona’s captivating past, the Museu d’Història de Barcelona is a wonderful attraction that deserves its place on your Barcelona itinerary.
Watch a Football Match at Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s Stadium)
There really is no better attraction for soccer fans than watching a match at Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s Stadium). Of course, whether a match is on really depends on the exact date and time you dock in Barcelona. But even if you can’t get tickets to a match, you can still take a tour around the stadium and the Barca Museum.
Try Local Tapas and Traditional Catalan Cuisine
You can’t visit Spain and not indulge in tapas—it would be criminal! Tapas are small plates of food that come together to create a full meal. And as Spain is the birthplace of these delectable dishes, you’ll find some of the best-tasting tapas imaginable.
From Spanish omelettes and patatas bravas to croquetas and calamares fritos, there are so many tapas options to try. It also helps that they pair well with wine, beer, and sangria. Try the Pintxos which is a small tapas on pieces of bread, you will find it in lots of bars in the area.
Shop at Passeig de Gràcia for High-End Fashion
All you high-end, luxury, and designer lovers out there will be in your element in the Passeig de Gracia. With shops from some of the most well-known designer labels, the Passeig de Gracia is the answer to all your shopping dreams.
But, even if you don’t enjoy spending an arm and a leg on fashion items, even a walk down Passeig de Gracia is a must-do activity in Barcelona. Passeig de Gracia has beautiful architecture and plenty of cafes and restaurants.