Spain is one of those countries that looks good from all angles – from historic city squares, up in the mountains and especially along the coast. It helps that Spain’s landscapes come in all shapes and sizes, stretching from the mainland out to a smattering of pretty scenic islands. This country was made for cruising, and as such, just about every cruise line offers a Spain cruise itinerary of some variety.
That said, choosing where to go and what to see on your cruise to Spain can be as difficult as choosing tapas from a local Spanish restaurant. While we can’t help you with the latter, we’d be glad to oblige with the former. Here are some of the top Spain cruises and destinations on offer.
Capital of the Catalonia district and all-around Renaissance city, Barcelona is the epitome of Spanish culture. The city is clad in famous Gaudi architecture, busy beaches, cosmopolitan streets and so many shopping opportunities that your credit card will need a credit card. With the Picasso Museum and the view-heavy Park Guell, tapas lunches and sangria for days, you’ll never want to leave.
That said, Barcelona is also home to a major cruise port visited by a wide range of lines. Cunard runs a special glamour-filled tour of Italy and Spain that starts in Rome and ends in Barcelona, while Marella Cruises’ Highlights of the Mediterranean Magic of Spain itinerary takes a 14-night trip through Majorca, Barcelona, Gibraltar, Malaga and more.
The Balearic Islands
These little islands might be small in the grand scheme of the Balearic Sea, but they sure know how to pack a punch. Ibiza is Europe’s party capital, home to a healthy dose of mega clubs and trendy rooftop bars that attract internationally-renowned DJs and partygoers alike. Majorca is the largest island of the bunch, loved for its beautiful beaches, while tiny Menorca scales things back with quiet shores and sweeping green hills.
P&O Cruises hits one of the three Balearics with Ibiza on its Iberian Peninsula itinerary, whereas Princess Cruisesheads to Mallorca’s capital Palma. Most cruises going to Menorca will dock in its capital city Mahon too – Marella Cruises runs a number of trips heading in that direction.
The third largest city in Spain, Valencia factors in a little bit of everything – greenery in the form of wetland reserve Albufera Park, beaches, incredible nightlife, art galleries and museums, age-old castles and a smattering of futuristic buildings like the famed City of Arts and Sciences, which looks like it’s just popped out of a sci-fi flick. Valencia is also the birthplace of paella, so you can sample one of Spain’s tastiest dishes straight from the source.
Marella Cruises operates a special Spanish Delights cruise that hits a number of Spain’s highlights, including Valencia. P&O Cruises will take you on an exclusive journey that hits Portugal and Spain, while excursions include exploring Valencia’s caves and unique flavours.
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago headlined by the famous Tenerife, La Palma, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. All add their own unique flavour to the mix – Tenerife is known as family-central, though it definitely has a wild side. It’s also home to the Teide National Park, which features the highest point in Spain. Gran Canaria is renowned for its variety of landscapes while La Palma, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are delightfully rugged with pine forests, windswept beaches and towering volcanoes as far as the eye can see.
P&O Cruises offers voyages that hit nearly all of the Canarian highlights, sandwiched by days in some of Portugal’s biggest cities. There’s trips that tack onto other Spanish hotspots as well. Princess Cruises goes along a similar route with a round-trip from Southampton, porting in the Canary Islands, as well as Vigo and Lisbon.
Cadiz is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in Spain and possibly all of Europe, and it shows – we mean this in the best way, of course. Often used as a gateway to the city of Seville, Cadiz will have you wondering if you’ve been transported back in time. Ancient walls, a Roman theatre, Baroque churches and neoclassical houses all mingle together to show just how storied this Spanish city is. The Old Town is almost completely surrounded by the sea, so you’ll have plenty of spots to catch some rays, too.
Marella Cruises offers a number of trips heading out to Cadiz by way of Portugal and even Morocco. Once docked, you can jet off to nearby Seville for glimpses of Christopher Columbus’s tomb in the Seville Cathedral or marvel at the local Moorish castle, the Alcazar of Seville.
Cast in the shadow of the formidable Castle of Santa Barbara, Alicante is a coastal port city found in Spain’s popular Costa Blanca. The city is dominated by beautiful Spanish architecture and a scenic port, though that hilltop castle will give you a run for your money. Located at the top of Mount Benacantil, the Castle of Santa Barbara dates all the way back to the 9th century and is free to visit. Trips here afford incredible views of the city all the way out to sea.
Cunard and Marella Cruises both offer trips that dock in Alicante. Daytrips here are all about the beaches, from the swoon-worthy shores of La Playa de San Juan to the rocky coves of Cabo de las Huertas. Some might see this city as a mere gateway to wider Spain, but it’d be a real mistake to miss out on a visit while you have the chance.
We’ve only scratched the surface with these gorgeous Spanish destinations. Take a look at the best of our Spain cruise deals for more.
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