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Guide of Port Vell Marina Area of Barcelona

Once a thriving trading port, today redeveloped tourist hot spot with boat tours, museums, sailing ships, old buildings & shopping complex

Updated: Mar 13, 2024 by: Barcelona Travel Hacks Views: 2.2k

About Barcelona Port Vell Area

Barcelona's Port Vell, is a great place to spend half to a full day when in Barcelona and offers a little of everything with museums, shopping, sailing trips, walking and good food if you know where to go.

Barcelona port can be found at the bottom of Las Ramblas starting from the Columbus monument and reaching to Barceloneta to form a modern marina called Port Vell that was extensively redeveloped for the 1992 Olympics. The port today contains and island shopping centre, called Maremagnum. Maritime tourist attractions such as sailing ships and coastal boat tours can be found here.

The maritime port of Barcelona dates from the 4AD. The port was active as a crucial frontier trading post throughout the Middle Ages because of its location on the border between Muslim southern Spain and North Africa and the Christian world of Europe. However, the region suffered powerful storms which damaged the ships while docked in the port. From this period the Drassanes Reial Shipyard (royal shipyard), which was used to build and repair sailing galleys, survives and today houses the Barcelona Maritime museum. Originally the Drassanes Reial Shipyard building was on the sea front with a long ramp leading out into the sea to launch the boats, but everything in front of this building is today modern land reclamation to build the modern port.

On the landward side of the Marina between Drassanes and Barceloneta is Moll de Fusta. Moored alongside Moll de Fusta is the sailboat Santa Eulalia which is a living exhibit of the Maritime museum and is included in the MMB (Museo Maritim de Barcelona) entry ticket. Also here is the Port Authority - Admiral Historic Authority building, built 1902, to handle port taxes. Today this building is being refurbished.

Attempts were made throughout the centuries to create an artificial sheltered harbour which could shield boats from the storms. In the 15th century Barcelona began to build breakwaters on the spit of land today known as Barceloneta and today the port is enclosed on three sides. From the 18th to 20th century Barcelona port was very industrial with many brick dock warehouses, modelled on the Warehouses of East London. Only one survives today, The Palau del Mar, and is now the History of Catalunya museum.

In the middle of Port Vell and Maremagnum. Construction of this island shopping centre started in the 1980s and was finished for the 1992 Olympic games. The whole port area underwent a huge urban renewal to transform it from a derelict industrial port with railway lines into a public space with boulevards. Interesting fact is that Maremagnum is the one of only a few shopping complexes in Barcelona that is permitted to open on Sunday's due to it being exempt from the normal trading laws because of its location "in the sea"!

Linking Maremagnum and the "Island in Port Vell" to Las ramblas is a white steel and wooden decked swing bridge that was built as an extension of Las Ramblas called Rambla Del Mar. Pedestrian traffic is stopped over this bridge sometimes to allow the sailing vessels to pass out of Port Vell. It is around here that you will find the Sailing cruises and Las Golondrinas boat tours.

Between the Columbus monument and Barceloneta neighbourhood Are several buildings of historical interest such as the Post office and telegraph building which still has the old radio telegraphy antennas on the roof. It is an active post office that can be visited and still retains the splendid customer hall. Also on the landward side of port Vell is Our Lady Of Mercy Baroque style basilica which is an incredibly ornately decorated church that can be visited. Inside the Christopher Columbus monument is a lift which can be taken to a small viewing gallery at the top that provides spectacular views on a clear day of the port and Cuitat vella areas of Barcelona.

The Barcelona aquarium, next to the Maremagum shopping centre, is a child friendly museum that is full of tanks with many Mediterranean fish species and habitats. Between Maremagnum and the Aquarium you will find some outdoor bars and crepes stalls. These are tourist traps and I do not recommend eating there.

The Port has many old historic buildings such as the clock tower Torre del Relotge from the 18th century and Capitania General d'Espanya former military barracks. These buildings are not open as tourist attractions but can be viewed from outside.

Once you have finished exploring the Port Vell area, I recommend visiting El Bosc de les Fades for tapas and drinks. This is a theme bar decorated like an enchanted fairy tale forest and is child friendly having indoor fountains and caves to explore. The bar is Part of the Barcelona Wax museum.

For a detailed breakdown of the attractions in Port Vell Marina, click on any of the images below.


Happy Exploring!

10 Things to do and see in Barcelona Port Vell Area

Events in Barcelona Port Vell Area

Tickets for Attractions in Barcelona Port Vell Area

Getting to Barcelona Port Vell Area

Nearest Metro stops that serve the port Vell area are Drassanes on the green line (L3) and Barceloneta on the yellow line (L4).

Car parking in Port Vell

Where to Eat Barcelona Port Vell Area

Maremagnum Shopping Complex

The restaurants here are targeted at the tourist market and are the usual branded chain restaurants. I would not recommend eating here unless you specifically want junk food.

Correos Post office Area

Palau del Mar / History of Catalunya museum Building

The restaurants here are targeted at the tourist market but do serve good food, if slightly overpriced. The location is premium with views over the Marina.

Documents for Barcelona Port Vell Area

Click on any one of the 2 PDFs to view in full screen and download.

Weather for Barcelona

What to take with you for Barcelona Port Vell Area

Wikiloc Trail for Barcelona Port Vell Area

BCN04 - Historic Port of Barcelona

City walk in Barcelona in Old port area via Maritime museum, Torre Colon, Maremagnum shoping centre, Boat tours, Post office, Our lady of Mercy Basilica and Wax museum.

Distance: 3.69 Km

Difficulty: Easy

Return Travel Fare: T-Casual Zone 1

Transport Network: Metro

Where to stay overnight for Barcelona Port Vell Area

How much does Barcelona Port Vell Area Day Trip Cost?

The Port Vell Area is free to walk in with the below attractions charging an entry fee.

Description Adult Adult Discounts Child Child Discounts
Barcelona Wax Museum € 21.00 Adult is over 16 years old € 17.00 6-16 years old. Free for under 6 year olds
Barcelona Maritime Museum € 10.00 17-29 years, Over 65, €5.00 FREE For under 17 years
Schooner Santa Eulàlia € 3.00 or FREE with the Maritime Museum ticket € 3.00
History of Catalonia Museum € 8.00 Over 65, €6.00 FREE For under 16 years
Barcelona Aquarium € 25.00 Over 11 years old € 18.00 For 5-10 years. Under 5 enter FREE
Barcelona boatride tours € 13.00 Prices from €13 and higher depending on the tour booked FREE
€ 80.00 Adult Total € 38.00 Child Total

Things to do near Barcelona Port Vell Area

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