In 2018 4.4 million passengers came to Barcelona by cruise ship, and judging by the questions I’ve got over the years about 2.6 million were docking in the dark (!).
So how the heck do you visit a world class city in no time at all?
The good news is the Barcelona cruise port is close to the action. It won’t take more than 30 minutes get central and start enjoying the sights and sounds: but you’ve gotta know how!
Allow me to get you on the right track.
Where is the Barcelona Cruise Port?
The Barcelona port has a total of 9 terminals with 7 of them used by cruise ships.
The main cruise docks are Moll Adossat (terminal A, B, C, and D), World Trade Center (North, South, East), and Port Vell Maremagnum.
The area around the port finds itself very close to the bottom of the city’s famous pedestrian boulevard La Rambla. The street links two of the city’s great neighbourhoods in El Raval and the Gothic Quarter.
Most cruise ship passengers arrive at the Christopher Columbus statue in Portal de la Pau Square. From here there are various transport options which I’ll get into later.
Barcelona Cruise Terminal Map
Here we see the main three cruise ports in Barcelona.
The blue line is the Autobus Azul shuttle and the pink line is the length of the La Rambla all the way up to Plaça Catalunya. Notice Drassanes metro station with the train decal.
Barcelona Cruise Port to City Centre
Moll Adossat (Terminal A, B, C, and D)
As you see from my terminal map don’t attempt to walk central from here. The walk is long and it’s not such a nice road, especially if you have bags to carry and it’s really hot.
Once you’re off the ship you’ll find a shuttle right outside all terminals.
This shuttle is called the Cruise Bus (or the T-3 Portbus) and will take you right to the bottom of Las Ramblas where you can start visiting Barcelona’s top attractions. It is adapted for disabled visitors.
The bus doesn’t run on a fixed schedule. They’re coordinated with cruise ship arrivals. The Moll Adossat – Colón line runs at maximum every 20-30 minutes. The 10 minute trip costs €4.50 one way.
Tickets for the cruise shuttle are bought directly aboard the bus (cash only) or online in advance (less hassle and no lining up and fighting for seats) via Tiqets.
For taxis expect to pay €6.00-€8.00 to get to the Columbus Statue (€15.00 to Plaça Catalunya).
World Trade Center Dock (N, S, E)
If you’re packing light you can reach the Rambla on foot from the cruise port in 10-15 minutes.
In all you’re just a few minutes from the Bus Turistic stop and about 10 minutes walking from La Rambla (and the Columbus Statue) and the Drassanes metro station (green line L3).
Maremagnum Dock (M)
This cruise terminal is dedicated to smaller ships mostly serving the Balearic Islands. It’s the closest one of them all and getting to La Rambla from here is about 10 minutes walking.
Maremagnum is also one of Barcelona’s top shopping malls, and the only one open on Sunday!
Barcelona Airport To Cruise Port
This super-convenient bus departs every 5 minutes from both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. A one way ticket only costs €5.90. You’ll have WiFi aboard for last minute planning.
The bus takes you to Plaça Catalunya where you can take the metro two stops to Drassanes or you can hail a taxi and get to the port for about €10.00.
The fixed taxi fare from Barcelona Airport to the cruise port is €39.00.
If you’re traveling in a group this is by far the best option for price-quickness ratio. Standard black and yellow taxis run on meters so it’s impossible to be ripped off. Night time and large luggage surcharges are normal.
Hotels Near Barcelona Cruise Port
If you’ve read my list of best areas to stay you’ll know I’ve recommend avoiding La Rambla for noise purposes – here are a few hotels hand picked based on blog reader recommendations and shining Tripadvisor scores.
Eurostars Grand Marina GL
☆☆☆☆☆ | Area: Poble Sec | Moll de Barcelona s/n | Metro: Drassanes
The great thing about this hotel is that it’s as convenient as it is luxurious.
This truly unique glass and marble building takes the form of a transatlantic liner and blends in with the surrounding cruise port. It was designed by the same architect who did the pyramid entrance to Paris’ famous Louvre Museum.
The many terraces overlooking the Mediterranean are a highlight.
Hotel Catalonia Port
☆☆☆☆ | Area: El Gotico | Carrer Ample 1 | Metro: Drassanes
This boutique gem is famous for its stylish rooms with hardwood floors.
A benefit is that’s it’s further up from the Barcelona cruise terminal so only a 15 minute walk to the beach. A highly recommended and extensive breakfast buffet. The seasonal rooftop terrace and swimming pool is pure relax. A fabulous 8.8 review on Tripadvisor doesn’t lie.
It’s also walking distance to a great deal of Barcelona’s best restaurants.
NH Barcelona Barri Gotic
☆☆☆ | Area: El Gotico | Carrer Ample 31 | Metro: Drassanes
At just 100 meters from the cruise port you can’t go wrong with this bright and modern hotel.
Even though you seem to be right in the chaos of the Gothic Quarter this quiet, no-nonsense hotel. Readers rated it very high in cleanliness and location: you’re walking distance to La Rambla, the port, and the city’s beaches.
There’s also an uncharacteristically charming service for Spanish standards.
Cruise Ship Passenger Itinerary: 6 Hours
With my Barcelona cruise ship passenger tour all you need is the metro. So grab yourself a T-Familiar travel card: it’s multi-personal and gives you 8 rides for €10.00 anywhere on the Barcelona transport network.
These tickets can be bought at the ticket machines of any metro station.
Expect each person to use 3-4 trips.
Stop #1: Gothic Quarter and the Born – 2.5 h
Let’s start at the Columbus Statue where the port shuttle has dropped us off.
We head up La Rambla on foot through the beginning of a little craft market and past legions of tourist trap bars: stay away! After about 10 minutes we take a right at Plaça Reial, one of the most beautiful squares in the city.
Soak up the sights and sounds here and check out the lanterns designed by none other than Antoni Gaudi.
From here we get lost in the labyrinthine streets and squares of the Gothic Quarter. It’s home to some of the city’s greatest sights like the Barcelona Cathedral.
Stop in to check out the impossibly peaceful Plaça Sant Felip Neri and its surprisingly violent history.
From here we hit the area’s widest street Via Laietana and head down into the Born area, the other face of the old city that’s become a lively neighbourhood full of great restaurants and independent clothing shops.
Here we need to see the Santa Maria del Mar, another of Barcelona’s most beloved churches. In and around this area you’ll want to stop for tapas: these small traditional Spanish dishes are a must.
I recommend Xampanyet (Carrer de Montcada 22), a delicious bodega to try a local cava sparkling wine with some salami, cheese, anchovies, sausages and more. Expect to spend about €25.00 for a decent meal.
For more ideas check out my list of best restaurants in Barcelona.
Stop #2: La Sagrada Familia – 1 h
Stomachs full, we restart the trip to admire one of the most incredible sights in the world: La Sagrada Familia.
To get there we head back to Via Laietana and jump on the metro at Jaume I (L4, towards Trinitat Nova) and get off at Verdaguer. From here we change to the blue line (L5) and get off at Sagrada Familia.
If you’ve bought your tickets online this is mandatory. If you haven’t you’re going to wait a long time, so make sure you’ve made the arrangements beforehand to truly appreciate this world class monument.
That said, even looking at it from the outside is an experience in itself.
Stop #3: Passeig de Gracia and Gaudi – 1.5 h
Let’s get back on the blue line (L5) and get off at Diagonal.
Normally you’ll need about 90 minutes to visit either one of these buildings properly but you can get a very good sense of one of them using about an hour of your time. Just make sure you book online first.
If you haven’t eaten already there’s El Nacional (Passeig de Gracia 24), an elegant multi-restaurant dining space which covers all cuisines of the Iberian Peninsula.
Stop #4: Plaça de Catalunya and Back – 1 h
We finish off heading downhill until we reach the unmistakable Plaça Catalunya: the city’s unifying square.
If you’re not too tired you can walk back down La Rambla and after about 10 minutes find one of the world’s best food markets La Boqueria on your right.
Grab one of the delicious €1.50 fruit smoothies or try a sampling of classic Serrano ham.
From here you walk another 10 minutes downhill and you’re right back where you started at the Columbus Statue, where you’ll be able to take the shuttle back to the cruise port.
If you’re too tired for the last bit simply take the green line (L3) of the metro from Plaça Catalunya to Drassanes.
Cruise Ship Passenger Itinerary: 1 Day
For this itinerary I recommend doing the 6 hour tour above and adding one or more of the following:
Extra Stop #1: La Barceloneta – 1 h
Why not start the day off with a quick dip at Barcelona’s beaches?
Especially in summer a walk along the beach and a quick aperitif in Barcelona’s seaside barrio is a must. Take bus D20 from the Columbus Statue all the way to Platja de la Barceloneta (Barceloneta Beach).
Here we take a walk up and down the promenade for some refreshing sea air. If you want a quick suntan or swim I recommend heading towards the sail-shaped tower (the W Hotel) for cleaner waters, but be quick!
From here it’s back on the D20 to the foot of Via Laietana to start the our visit of the Born neighbourhood.
Extra Stop #2: Park Guell – 1.5 h
The fairytale-like, surreal Park Guell completes our visit of Gaudi’s masterpieces.
This walk through Barcelona nature takes us to the famous lizard fountain, a bizarre column temple, and a massive terrace overlooking the city with its emblematic mosaic benches made famous by movies like Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
The view from here is incredible.
In my article on Park Guell you find everything you need to know about visiting, the history, and even the design but please: buy your tickets online. You don’t want to be asked to come back for a later time slot.
Remember that there is a bit of an uphill walk from the bus/metro so those with limited mobility may want to consider a taxi for this portion of the route.
Since the park closes late (in summer at 9:30 pm) I suggest saving this stop on the tour for last, to really enjoy the sunset. You could add this stop after you’ve arrived back to Plaça Catalunya (mentioned in the 6 hour itinerary). From here take bus 24 or the metro green line (L3) to Vallcarca.
You’ll probably be hungry after all that walking, right?
The ideal place for dinner in the classic village neighbourhood of Gracia, with it’s lively squares and diverse offering of bars. To get to Gracia retake the metro from Vallcarca and get off at Fontana.
If you’re looking for traditional Catalan food head for Bilbaro (Carrer del Perill 33). Here you’ll find an old school elegance that’s all but lost in Barcelona. Local couples out on romantic nights and waiters dressed to the nines. Try the beef filet! Expect to pay about €35.00 with wine.
If instead you’re in the mood for something a bit more casual I suggest tapas. One of my favourites in the area is Polleria Fontana (Carrer de Sant Lluis 9), a hole in the wall restaurant that used to be a chicken store.
Some great dishes to try (and share) here are the grilled octopus, Russian potato salad with grilled tuna, and the always recommended potato croquettes with ham. Average price here with wine is about €20.00-€25.00.
Essential Cruise Passenger Information
Make sure you buy your attraction tickets in advance online because lines can cost you hours.
I recommend this for regular visitors as well. You can save up to 20% off ticket window prices and skip the lines like a VIP. For cruise ship passengers on short schedules it becomes essential.
One thing to have handy to save time is a map of the city.
If you’re visiting with a European Union SIM card you’ll be happy to know you can fire up Google Maps any time. As of June 2017 there are no roaming charges for European visitors.
Visiting on a cruise from overseas instead?
There should be enough free WiFi around but cheap pocket WiFi is available if needed.
Credit/Debit Cards vs. Cash
All European credit and debit cards should work without issue. Other standard Visa and Mastercard credit/debit cards from overseas should also work.
American cruise ship visitors beware: PIN-less chip cards won’t work at automated kiosks. These cards requiring signature verification will only work with a clerk present.
I recommend you keep a little extra cash on hand in this case.
How to Get Around Barcelona
Barcelona cruise ship passengers tend to use the Drassanes metro station for quick access to Plaça Catalunya, Passeig de Gracia, Parc Guell and the area around Plaça Espanya.
If you prefer taking buses you’ll find various lines here. The D20 will take you to the beaches around Barceloneta, while the V13 will take you to Plaça Universidad, where in 5 minutes you’ll be able to get to Plaça Catalunya.
If you’re staying more than a few hours you should consider getting a discount travel pass.
Bus Turistic (Hop on Hop off Bus)
This hop on hop off bus is the best option for visiting the city on limited time.
Here you’ll be able to get a good taste of the city’s greatest attractions without worrying about getting lost and wasting time on the transport.
Remember that the Bus Turistic stop is right at the World Trade Center cruise terminal. If you prefer to continue ahead there is also one at Drassanes metro. Both are on the red line.
There are a ton of people wanting to get on so I suggest buying your tickets in advance to skip lining up for tickets. Buying online also gets you a 10% discount, who doesn’t want that?
Free Now is Spain’s new taxi-sharing app similar to Uber but using the city’s regulated taxis. It’ll allow you to get around the city with licensed drivers driving modern cars.
Yes, you could get the same service by hailing one randomly or going to the cruise port taxi stand but if you sign up using my instructions you’ll get €5.00 off your first ride.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to download an app.
EU visitors should be able to do this with ease as roaming charges are now a thing of the past. For my overseas readers you’ll be able to do this easily with the WiFi aboard the cruise ship and have the driver meet you at the dock.
The good thing about Free Now is all prices are known in advance. The driver literally can’t rip you off.
The flat rate for taxis from the cruise port to the airport (and vice versa) is €39.00.
Send Me Your Questions in The Comments
It’s not easy being a tourist in a new place but it’s not easy trying to provide all the information to an old place either! 😉
If I’ve missed something and you’ve got any questions about the Barcelona cruise port or anything else regarding your upcoming holiday please get at me in the comments below ASAP.