If you are doing one cruise to Barcelona, you will almost certainly not have much time to visit the Catalan capital.
With that in mind, I wanted to put together a guide on what to see in Barcelona in a few hours, trying to give you all the information you need to optimize your time in the city.
In fact, in this article you will find thebest route but not only that, you will also find many tips on which is the fastest way to move between the various attractions of the city and how to save with cards and packages created specifically for cruise passengers.
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IMPORTANT: if you have a few hours to visit Barcelona, it is imperative to avoid as much as possible anything that could waste precious time, especially the movements and various queues at places of interest.
Basically this itinerary I have created is for those who decide to visit Barcelona in a DIY way. But that's not the only way I recommend. So later I also covered some organized tours of a few hours!
- How to go from the Port of Barcelona to the Rambla
- What to see in Barcelona in a few hours
- Colom viewpoint
- Casa Batllo
- Sagrada Familia
- Park Guell
- Extra visit: Camp Nou
- Rambla and Gothic Quarter
- Organized tours of 3 hours maximum
- Walking tour of the Gothic Quarter
- Private tour with local guide
- Paella Experience and tour to the Boqueria market
- Segway tour with English guide
- Tapas tour by bike
How to go from the Port to the Rambla
There are a number of options for getting from the various Barcelona cruise terminals to the city center.
These range from walking to private or bus transfers.
Larger ships (including MSC and Costa Cruises) tend to dock at Moll Adossat (Dock of Adosado), which is about two miles from Plaça Colom, the square at the beginning of the Rambla.
While theoretically it is possible to do it on foot, it will take around 30-40 minutes, which will eat up a good chunk of precious time for no good reason: the port isn't exactly a highlight of the city!
Surely the best way to get from the port to the city center is the Cruise Bus (ex T-3 Portbus). This is a dedicated shuttle service that connects the cruise terminals to Plaça Colom (at the beginning of the Rambla): its stop is just outside the Terminal.
The buses are blue and have the inscription on the screen panel located at the front “Cruiser - T3”. They do not have fixed schedules, but are synchronized with cruise ship arrivals and departures and are generally very well organized.
The ticket is currently available for purchase on board, bring coins or small banknotes.
It is also possible to book a private transfer from the port or take a taxi.
This is certainly the most expensive way to get to the city, but it has the great advantage that you will avoid the queues, especially if you arrive on a large cruise ship.
The taxi costs an average of 6 to 8 euros to take you from the ship to the start of the Rambla.
What to see in Barcelona in a few hours
Cruise ships generally leave less than a day for visit Barcelona.
Starting from the assumption that you disembark around 8 in the morning and that you have to return at 18 (but you will have to be there a little earlier) I calculated an itinerary over a time window ranging from 6 to 10 hours.
Obviously if you have 10 hours you can afford a few more visits, or simply before embarking you can sit down in some place to have an aperitif with tapas!
As I told you before, the tourist bus is the top choice. Touch the best spots in the city, it is included in the price of the Barcelona Cruise Pass and allows you to spend neither time nor money on public transport.
Alternatively, if you really decide you want to get around by public transport, you should take the 10-ride T-10 pass.
Actually you would have many options to choose from but below you find thebest route to visit Barcelona in a few hours: touch the main points of interest in the city and even if you won't be able to enter all of them, at least you will have had a taste of them.
To help you see what this itinerary includes, I have created the map below which shows the main attractions as well as the location of the cruise terminal for you to better orient yourself.
You can also see this map on google maps here.
1 - Statue of Columbus - Mirador de Colom
The Cruise bus will drop you off at Colom viewpoint, located at the southern end of the famous pedestrian street La Rambla.
Here, on a gigantic 60-meter high pedestal is one of the iconic symbols of Barcelona: the statue depicting the Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus.
If you want you can also climb to the top of the monument and enjoy a wonderful view of the harbor and the mountains. With the Barcelona Cruise Pass (always him!) You have one 20% discount on the ticket.
You can buy your ticket for the Columbus monument from Tiqets here.
Once you have visited the Christopher monument, it is finally time to really set off to discover Barcelona!
From Plaça Colom you have two choices: the first is to get on the bus hop-on hop-off linea rossa (note that there are 3 lines of these buses: red, blue and green, but only the red one passes through here so you can't go wrong!)
Remember that you will have to go down in Catalunya Square.
The second is to walk the Rambla stopping for a snack at the Boqueria market and visiting the Gothic Quarter. Walk all the way down the Rambla and arrive at Plaza Catalunya. Personally I recommend taking this route on the way back, because you are close to returning and therefore if you are late you have less road to go to get to your ship.
From Plaza Catalunya, whether you walked there or took the hop-on hop-off red line, take the bus hop-on hop-off linea blu.
La blue line of the tourist bus includes some of the most famous and beloved stops in Barcelona, including:
1 - Plaça Catalunya - The main square in the heart of Barcelona
2 - Casa Batlló - The famous house inspired by a dragon created by Gaudí. His other building, Casa Milà / La Pedrera it is just a few steps away.
3 - Passeig de Gracia - Barcelona luxury shopping street.
4 - Holy Family - A church with an epic history, as well as epic design.
5 - Parc Güell - A unique park, which offers a splendid view over the city.
6 - Blau Tram - From here you can visit the Tibidabo amusement park.
7 – Stadium Camp Nou - The home of FC Barcelona.
From Placa Catalunya then take this bus and get off at the Casa Batllò stop.
2 - Casa Batllo
Depending on your time of arrival and how much time you have in the city, Casa Batlló is an optional stop for those wishing to explore one of Gaudí's works. Nearby La Pedrera is another option (but I like it less). If you don't have time to visit either, you can at least take a close look at their exteriors!
Together with the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo is one of the most recognizable works of Gaudí in Barcelona.
The house was commissioned by Josep Batlló, who bought it in 1900, and gave Gaudí the free will to design something bold and creative, a challenge an architect like him certainly couldn't refuse.
The house as it stands today is quite jaw-dropping, from the Venetian mask-inspired balconies to the dragon on the roof, with a number of unique and innovative features. Even if you don't decide to go inside, it's worth stopping here to admire the facade.
Note that Casa Batlló is a very visited place, therefore it is advisable to book the ticket in advance and skip the ticket line.
From casa Batllo hop on Hop-on Hop-off again (always the blue line) and go to visit one of the absolute must-haves in Barcelona: the Sagrada Familia!
3 - Holy Family
La Sagrada Familia it is the most famous of Gaudí's creations. It is a monumental cathedral that incorporates many of the Catalan artist's design ideas, and construction has been underway for over 100 years.
Although it is not finished, it was consecrated in 2010, so it is an active place of worship where you can regularly attend Mass.
A visit to the Sagrada Familia it's almost a must in Barcelona. The incredible exterior facade and its interior interior are unlike anything else I have ever seen - it is truly awe inspiring experience.
I recommend that you invest in an audio guide to get the most out of your visit as there is a great deal of symbolism related to Freemasonry that may escape you.
Here you will find a comparison between the various online tickets for the Sagrada Familia
The visit to the Sagrada Familia will take you about an hour and a half. At the exit you can grab a sandwich on the fly and continue to the next destination: Parc Güell!
4 - Parc Güell
Parc Güell it is a little different from other Gaudí sites. Instead of being a building, it is a large park with a number of interesting features.
Originally, the park was conceived as a luxury housing development for sixty properties, which also included many outdoor functions and parking spaces.
Unfortunately the project was a failure and only two houses were actually built. However, Gaudí lived here for twenty years in one of the houses (which can be visited), and was responsible for many of the features of the park itself, including the main terrace, the lower colonnade, ornate walkways, tiled mosaics and more. still.
Here you will find what to see at Parc Güell
After the Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell is one of the most popular attractions in Barcelona, and therefore access to the monumental zone (known as the Monumental Core or Monumental Zone) is subject to a fee.
The Barcelona Cruise Pass also gives you a 20% discount on park admission here if you book in advance with the code. Instructions for claiming this discount will be provided when purchasing the Barcelona Cruise Pass, and you can also book your time slot to enter Parc Güell.
Remember to leave enough time between exiting the Sagrada Familia and entering Park Güell for travel.
The much-loved alternative to Parc Güell is a visit to the Camp Nou.
5 - Extra stop: a visit to the Camp Nou!
If you are a fan of football and FC Barcelona you may have thought about visiting the Camp Nou instead of Parc Güell or the Sagrada Familia. Well there is a chance to do the visit of the stadium and get a behind-the-scenes look at everything from VIP suites to player locker rooms.
You can even sit in the seats where the coach is during the game!
There is also a well laid out museum inside which takes you through the club's history, its impact on the city, and some of its notable players and achievements. although I am not a football fan, I must say that the visit has its own reason and is very interesting.
If you decide to visit it, I recommend that you arrive early as it gets very busy. You will also need to check match times as obviously you cannot take a tour when the stadium is in use.
6 - Last stage: La Rambla and Barrio Gotico
Last on our list of what to visit in Barcelona in a few hours is a long walk La Rambla, The famous road that connects Placa Catalunya to Mirador de Colón and Plaça Colom, where you can take the Cruise bus back to your cruise ship.
The street was originally a creek, which separated the old town of Barcelona (now the Gothic Quarter) from the suburbs known as The Raval.
The city has since expanded and the stream has been smoothed out, making the Rambla a large tree-lined boulevard with a large pedestrian promenade in the middle.
La Rambla is full of restaurants serving mugs of sangria and tapas, souvenir vendors, bars and pubs, but I don't recommend them as they are very touristy and very expensive.
Here you will also find the market La Boqueria, where it is worth stopping for a few minutes.
If you have time I advise you to continue and to visit the neighborhood of La Barceloneta which, in my opinion, deserves above all for its beaches.
Organized tours (maximum 3 hours)
Cruise ships always offer excursions departing from the boat.
They have the advantage of being fully organized in advance; if you opt for this solution, you don't have to worry about anything. From this point of view they are really very comfortable.
However, the downside is that they are much more expensive than the services you find in the city, they don't offer you any flexibility (so no one will wait for you if you happen to want to go in somewhere, or if you want to visit something more) and they generally also include a large number of attendees.
TOUR Free. OF BARCELONA WITH ENGLISH GUIDE
Attention! Civitatis, a leading Spanish company in the sector, offers a tour Free subscription 2 hours with English guide. You can book it right now here.
For these reasons, I personally don't feel like recommending them to you very much, especially because they are in Barcelona there really is an almost infinite choice of tours to choose from that adapt to everyone's needs and above all that, lasting a few hours, then leave you free time to dedicate yourself to something you would like to do more.
And when I say a practically infinite choice, I'm not telling a lie: I'm not just talking about tour with guided visit to the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, but I also mean bike tours, walking tours, boat tours, bike tours, tours with various tapas tastings, combined tours, even there is a tour that includes a helicopter ride!
Below I wrote you my favorites. All of them last a maximum of 3 hours and therefore give you the option to do something else to your liking afterwards (like buying some souvenirs!)
All tours listed here you can book them online means GetYourGuide o Tiqets which are both my number 1 choices when it comes to booking tours and excursions. They have an excellent reputation, great customer service and competitive prices.
Seriously you can't go wrong booking your tours with them, BUT always check before buying a tour that the time and day are compatible with yours. This is especially important for cruise passengers!
Walking tour of the Gothic Quarter
This tour in my opinion is among the best you can do.
It starts from an easily accessible point (Plaça de Sant Jaume, right in the Gothic Quarter) at 9,30 and guides you for 2 hours to discover one of the oldest and most fascinating neighborhoods of the city.
You will see ancient Roman walls, the old synagogue of Barcelona, the Roman temple of Augustus, the chapel of Santa Agata, the medieval royal palace and much more.
As this neighborhood is particularly labyrinthine, having a guide to help you find your way, while telling you the history and anecdotes of the city and the places you are visiting, is the best choice to get to know this ancient part of Barcelona in depth!
☞ Gothic Quarter Walking Tour on GetYourGuide
Private tour with local guide
This is another super recommended tour. When you arrive in Barcelona you will find your guide waiting for you! This tour also leaves you crazy freedom.
Meanwhile, you can decide the time and duration of the tour (from 2 to 6 hours), but not only: you can also decide where you want to start the tour (from any meeting point or site of interest in the city center).
Discovering the city with a local, uncovering its secrets and being revealed where to buy the best products and ask for the things that interest you is by far the best way to visit Barcelona like a true local!
☞ Private tour with a local on GetYourGuide
Paella Experience and tour to the Boqueria market
You are a gourmet and you like to cook? Visit the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, the oldest and most famous market in Barcelona where your chef will teach you the basics of Catalan and Spanish cuisine.
Enjoy traditional hot and cold tapas as you learn to cook the many famous appetizers, including queso manchego al pimientos de padrón, and to make a real sangria with Basque pan pâtate and pintxos.
If what you have eaten so far is not enough for you, don't worry, the authenticity is still waiting for you seafood paella!
And don't worry if you don't even remember a recipe after the sangria, all of them will be sent to you by e-mail so you can share them with your friends and family when you get home.
☞ Paella Experience with tour to Mercato de la Boqueria
Segway tour with English guide
This amazing tour gives you the chance to see the suggestive corners of the city which cannot be reached by bus. See both the modern part of the city and the historic districts as you pass through Barcelona on a segway !.
As you walk along the waterfront, you will have a panoramic view of the Mediterranean coast and when you walk along Barceloneta and Port Vell, your guide will share some of the history of the city and the struggle for Catalan independence.
You have also 4 different tour options with different duration and visit, so you can choose the one that inspires you the most.
Tapas tour by bike
This is another of my favorite Barcelona tours.
Not only will you visit the historic districts (El Raval, La Ribera, El Borne and La Barceloneta) by bike, but you will also visit characteristic bars and restaurants where you can enjoy typical tapas!
And that's it for my guide on how to make the most of yours visit of Barcelona on a cruise! Hope you found it useful. As always, I'll be happy to answer any questions you have and I'm open to further suggestions from you!