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Cruising from Barcelona: Making the Most of Your Catalan Experience

Let’s Ask an Expert!

Over the past decade, Barcelona has become the busiest cruise port in the Mediter­ranean, emerg­ing as the point of embarka­tion for a vari­ety of Euro­pean cruis­es. For hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple, the city has become their taste of Spain” before or after their cruise expe­ri­ence. While it’s won­der­ful that peo­ple are able to enjoy Barcelona, the city has become pre­dictably con­gest­ed; so much so that even the local pop­u­la­tion that osten­si­bly ben­e­fits from tourist spend­ing is push­ing back. The hus­tle and bus­tle of Las Ram­blas (while fas­ci­nat­ing and rec­om­mend­ed) bears lit­tle rela­tion­ship to what lies beyond the city in the region of Cat­alo­nia and through­out the rest of Spain. 

While I cer­tain­ly would not dis­suade you from cruis­ing out of Barcelona, I would like to offer some sug­ges­tions on how to take the great­est advan­tage of your future pre or post-cruise expe­ri­ence. To help me with this, I have invit­ed my one my part­ners in Spain, Eloy Triguero, a native of Cat­alo­nia, to share his thoughts on the best way to best spend your time in the area before or after your cruise. (Please note the hyper­links in Eloy’s respons­es in case you seek addi­tion­al information.)

Eloy, can you tell us a lit­tle bit about your­self and what you do to assist vis­i­tors to Catalonia?

Hel­lo to all my Kilo­me­ter One Friends. I am a native of the Cat­alo­nia Region of Spain with a pas­sion for trav­el and dis­cov­ery. One of the main rea­sons that I entered the trav­el indus­try is to share my beau­ti­ful Cat­alo­nia and its off-the-beat­en-path cor­ners with vis­i­tors from around the world. I work inde­pen­dent­ly and with pro­fes­sion­als like Ted to arrange vis­its, trans­porta­tion, accom­mo­da­tions, excur­sions, and activ­i­ties in a unique and high­ly cus­tomized way. 

Why should peo­ple trav­el out­side of Barcelona to see the rest of Catalonia?

Although Barcelona is a beau­ti­ful city, it can be over-tourist­ed dur­ing the cruise sea­son. The good news is that in just a short time, you can reach beyond Barcelona into uncrowd­ed, authen­tic rur­al des­ti­na­tions. It’s nice to spend a day vis­it­ing Barcelona but know­ing the real Cat­alo­nia requires a cer­tain explor­er spir­it. Dare to explore a vil­lage where there is no Eng­lish on the menu. But don’t wor­ry. If you can just speak two or three words of Span­ish, you will make new friends and dis­cov­er a new world. (Want to real­ly make friends! Learn a few words of Cata­lan!)

Would you like to spend a day on the Gold­en Coast? Vis­it a Roman city? Raise a glass under the starlight at a his­toric win­ery? Aston­ish­ing nature trips? Barcelona is just the depar­ture point for Cat­alo­nia. Although just a sin­gle region of Spain, Cat­alo­nia is extreme­ly diverse and cul­tur­al­ly rich. You will want to come back time and time again. 

Can you give us some of your favorite activ­i­ties that would allow vis­i­tors to real­ly con­nect with your region?

  • Not sur­pris­ing­ly, I would high­ly rec­om­mend a vis­it to the Montser­rat Monastery locat­ed on a spe­cial moun­tain with its char­ac­ter­is­tic shape and the famous Morene­ta (Black Vir­gin). Montser­rat can be reached eas­i­ly by pub­lic trans­port from Barcelona.
  • Nature-lovers should con­sid­er the Vall de Nuria Nat­ur­al Park, a ski par­adise in win­ter and an extra­or­di­nary venue for hik­ing and explo­ration in sum­mer. It can be reached via the R4 train from the Sants Rail Sta­tion. The views from the train are in them­selves worth the trip. 
  • Does any­one crave a sea­side walk and a some ice cream? Me too, and I know just the place. The idyl­lic vil­lage of Cam­brils is only about 1 hr 20 mnts from Barcelona by rail. After walk­ing the prom­e­nade and dis­cov­er­ing the village’s fas­ci­nat­ing streets, we can head to Casa Sir­vent”. Although it may appear to be a sim­ple ice cream shop, believe me when I tell you that it is remark­able.
  • For those will­ing to rent a car or hire a dri­ver, I high­ly rec­om­mend the Prades Moun­tains and the world-famous wine region of Montsant. Many quaint vil­lages await your dis­cov­ery: Siu­rana, Mar­galef, Mor­era de Montsant, Cor­nudel­la, Mont ral, Prades, and oth­ers. Each des­ti­na­tion has its own unique offer­ings: bode­gas, hik­ing, climb­ing, and count­less oth­er out­door activities. 
  • Final­ly, for fam­i­lies with teens and chil­dren, con­sid­er the Port Aven­tu­ra amuse­ment park, the largest attrac­tion of its kind in South­ern Europe. Locat­ed in Salou, it can be reached by train R17/R16 from the Barcelona Sants Train Station.

For peo­ple that do choose to stay in Barcelona (maybe because they only have a day or two), what advice could you give them? 

Assum­ing that you have already vis­it­ed The Sagra­da Famil­ia, Park Güell, Pas­seig de Grá­cia and Las Ram­blas, I would sug­gest some alter­na­tive and not so well-known attractions:

  • Carmel Bunkers. This fas­ci­nat­ing com­plex was once used dur­ing the Span­ish Civ­il War, and now offers a priv­i­leged view of Barcelona, cer­tain­ly a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on the city.
  • El Parc de la Ciu­tadel­la. This peace­ful green space con­nects the Cata­lan Par­lia­ment with Arc del Tri­omf, Barcelone­ta, and the Mari­na. It’s typ­i­cal here to see groups of peo­ple doing yoga and relaxing. 
  • A short dis­tance from Ciu­tadel­la, one will find the Estació de França train sta­tion. This mag­nif­i­cent sta­tion, built in 1854, takes one back in time. It’s a must-see for lovers of architecture.

Although the restau­rant sit­u­a­tion in Barcelona is always flu­id with new restau­rants and chang­ing cuisines, I can cur­rent­ly rec­om­mend the fol­low­ing options. I include a vari­ety since every­one has dif­fer­ent tastes:

Obvi­ous­ly, peo­ple can con­tact you through me, but how can they reach you directly?

My Kilo­me­ter One friends can always reach me at [email protected]​gmail.​com or via skype at eltrcs. I look for­ward to help­ing in any way pos­si­ble.

Thanks Eloy! So as you can see, your cruise gives you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to real­ly con­nect with one of the most beau­ti­ful regions of Spain. If you give your­self sev­er­al days, your time in Cat­alo­nia can be just as reward­ing as your cruise. Please feel free to reach out to me or to Eloy direct­ly if you have ques­tions about plan­ning your experience. 

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One of my favorite villages in Catalonia: Peratallada