Barcelona is a Spain's liveliest city, celebrated for its architecture, two millennia of history, and liberal, fun loving atmosphere. These features, coupled with its position in the heart of the Costa Brava, make Barcelona the cruise capital of the eastern Mediterranean.
Big operators such as Crystal, Princess and Costa are based here, departing and returning from Barcelona's Port Vell after cruises taking in the best of southern Europe. In doing so, these vessels are emulating great seafarers such as the Phoenicians and the Romans who plied these waters for centuries.
Port Vell is perfectly positioned at the foot of Las Ramblas, the key tourist thoroughfare leading into the city. It's also one of the most modern and well thought-out cruise facilities in the world, with a currency exchange, duty-free shops and restaurants all serving to maximise the comforts of passengers. The cruise ship berthing positions and the old city are linked the Blue Bus.
For those wanting to maximise their time exploring the city and beyond, Avis car hire has an office right on the docks near the World Trade Centre building. The port area also has ferries departing for the Balearic Island of Mallorca, Minorca, and Ibiza. For more port information visit www.apb.es.
Barcelona is packed with attractions such as La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's famous modernist fantasy church; the maze-like wonder of the medieval Gothic Quarter; the Picasso Museum's astounding collection of Pablo Picasso's work; and FC Barcelona's shrine to football at the Nou Camp. It's worth spending at least three days here, including at least one day to relax and take in the passing scenery at one of Barcelona's famous cafes while enjoying tapas and a jug of ice-cold sangria.