Tarragona: Catalonia’s culturally rich alternative

With a new terminal under construction, the port’s popularity among cruise guests is soaring

Tarragona: Catalonia’s culturally rich alternative
Unesco has declared the ruins of Tarraco, a Roman amphitheatre built in the second century, as a World Heritage Site

By Richard Humphreys |

Located in the Catalonia region of north-east Spain, Tarragona is a destination on the rise.  

Its cruise port regularly records year-on-year growth, it will soon have a new cruise terminal, and the city, Poblet Monastery and ruins of Tarraco have all received individual recognition from Unesco. 

There is no shortage of shore excursion options for cruise passengers visiting Tarragona, including visits to world-class wineries and a museum dedicated to architect Antonio Gaudí, which is located a short drive away in Reus. Just south of Tarragona is the PortAventura theme park and Ferrari Land, which can be included among the other excursions on offer. Meanwhile, historical sites such as the ruins of Tarraco, a second-century Roman amphitheatre, have transformed the city into an open-air museum that visitors can explore easily. 

All these elements combined mean that the city of Tarragona is fast becoming a culturally rich alternative to the more well-known city of Barcelona. For example, it has been ranked number 31 on The New York Times’ list of 52 best cities to travel to in 2023, with its tourist and gastronomic attractions being cited as the main draws. Tarragona also offers guests multiple opportunities to immerse themselves in traditional Catalan culture by watching the famous human tower (castell) displays, trying the romesco sauce that is often served with locally sourced fish, and exploring the Serallo, a maritime neighbourhood. 

To accommodate the increasing number of cruise guests visiting the city, the port is building a new cruise terminal, which will be ready for the 2024 season. The single-storey terminal building will be self-sufficient and sustainable. “This operation represents a great additional boost,” says Saül Garreta, president of the Port Authority of Tarragona. 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.   

Contact author


Subscribe to the Cruise & Ferry newsletter

  • ©2024 Tudor Rose. All Rights Reserved. Cruise & Ferry is published by Tudor Rose.