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Vibrant, lively and with a fascinating blend of culture and the arts, Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular and interesting cities. As a port of call on many cruises it has a lot to offer tourists, with an eclectic blend of shopping, sightseeing and nightlife to enjoy. Divided into separate districts, each with a unique personality and interesting history to discover, there’s plenty to explore on a stopover in this trendy Spanish city.
Barcelona is one of those cities that offers something for everyone, from exciting adrenaline pumping activities, to cultural forays into its back streets. It has a few iconic tourist sites that travellers are always keen to see, so whether your stay in Barcelona is long or short, visiting one of these popular landmarks is the best way to get a real sense of the city:
La Sagrada Familia: located in the heart of the city, this cathedral is famous around the world for its inspiring architecture. It’s over one hundred years old and construction of this mediaeval wonder is still unfinished. Still, it attracts nearly 3 million visitors every year.
Barcelona Zoo: sitting near the sea, and located in the Parc de la Ciutadella, the zoo is a great day out, especially for families travelling with young children. It has some interesting animals on show and some displays from their more energetic residents, as well as places to play for youngsters.
National Museum of Catalonian Art: a symbol of the region’s Catalan heritage, this museum is a world leader in its traditional art form, housing hundreds of pieces including some unique frescos. It is located on Montjuic, a hill in the centre of Barcelona, and surrounded by tourist shops and plenty of cafes.
The Spanish love their shopping, and the cosmopolitan streets of Barcelona are no stranger to designer stores and boutique shops. With some fantastic local markets to explore, planning in advance is the best way to get the most out of any retail excursion here.
For one of the best malls in the city, head to Maremagnum, a busy shopping mall on the old docks. Converted from abandoned warehouses that once served the cargo ships that berthed there, it is home to an array of shops, restaurants, and cafes, and is one of the only retail locations in the city which opens on a Sunday.
Las Ramblas is one of the main streets through Barcelona, and it’s a great location to head for some shopping. As well as an extensive list of recognisable brand name shops, it also runs past some of Bareclona’s unique districts – like the Gothic Quarter – which have some interesting retail options of their own.
Restaurants in Barcelona are as diverse as its population, and you can find somewhere that serves your favourite cuisine without having to hunt too hard. But when you disembark your cruise in the Port of Barcelona, why not try some local dishes instead? The national favourite is paella, and if you’ve never tried it, it’s a rice dish made with mild spices and a choice of meats, all cooked together in a large, flat paella pan. One of the best places to find it is at Barcelona Beach, where sea front restaurants serve it with a view.
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