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Best ports to explore independently


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We'll be on an Atlas RT Barcelona cruise in May and have to decide which excursions to use our shipboard credit for.  Ideally, these would be those where it's more difficult to fill a day on our own.

 

We're looking for Roses, Mahon/ Menorca, and Peniscola, Spain, and Sete/ Montpellier, Collioure, France.  Out of these five places, which are good to wander around independently?  

 

Thanks!

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Hi

 

How long are you going to be in each port?

Which are your preferences?

 

For instance, Peñíscola is a village with a huge castle. That castle is a must (not in the village but for any people on holiday 50 km around Peñiscola) but after it nothing to do except beaches

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Thanks so much for sharing the photo!

 

We have a full day in each port.  It looks like an excursion might make sense for Peniscola; otherwise we will find a way to get to the castle.  Could we find a ride near the port or would we have to arrange it in advance?

 

We are not interested in beaches.  Out of the other four ports, are there any others where we would have to travel to see the best sites, for example architecture and markets?   If we need transportation for more than a few km it makes more sense to book an excursion.

 

Thanks!

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On 4/12/2024 at 6:20 PM, mlmdaisy said:

Thanks so much for sharing the photo!

 

We have a full day in each port.  It looks like an excursion might make sense for Peniscola; otherwise we will find a way to get to the castle.  Could we find a ride near the port or would we have to arrange it in advance?

 

We are not interested in beaches.  Out of the other four ports, are there any others where we would have to travel to see the best sites, for example architecture and markets?   If we need transportation for more than a few km it makes more sense to book an excursion.

 

Thanks!

 

 

About Peñiscola, just to visit, only castle but it is MUST for everyone 50 km around.

Castle's origins are on Temple. Later it was used by the non-declared Pope Benedict XIII

 

There was a while that Church had THREE Popes, one in Rome, one in Avignon, last one in Peñiscola. As far as two of them died, it remained only one and Church was not broken like in other cases

 

Here you can read more about that non Declared Pope

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipope_Benedict_XIII

 

because part of Peñiscola history was about holding a Pope residence

 

 

So, if you sail to Peñiscola, book for castle, search for a lot of tips about it and.... after visiting, just a walk around old streets, port and back to ship

 

 

 

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About Rosas (Roses in Catalan, Rosas in Spanish)

 

It has Greek ruins.

Yeah, Ruins coming from that old Greece. Do not expect to find Parthenon but.... it was founded, at first by Greeks who wanted to explore Mediterranean and to have trade and commerce along all the Sea.

Greeks founded Roses and the near town of Ampurias

and BTW, Phoenicians founded several towns more to make trade. One of them the well known of Cadiz

 

In 1992, Olympic torch arrived first to Ampurias and Roses (From Olympia) as remembering their past.

 

Back to 2024, if you are in Rosas, ask for a taxi and move to Cadaques. It is beautiful and you will visit where Salvador Dali was born (and his inspirational village) as well as his museum.

 

A lot of people calling in Palamos port ask for Cadaques. You are going to be in the same cape.

 

 

 

 

Cadaques painted by Dali

 

Vista de Cadaqués desde Es Pianc | Fundació Gala - Salvador Dalí

 

 

 

 

Cadaques

 

Qué ver en Cadaqués en un día - Guía Completa • Empordà Turisme

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Posted (edited)

This is very interesting, muchas gracias!  We have lectures every evening on our ship and I do hope to learn about the history of every port.

 

Also Alserrod, your English is mas mejor than my Espanol!

Edited by mlmdaisy
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Hi, I have surfed to know more about your itinerary.

 

I register here to search for information about the cruise I am going to have within two months and I realized I am the only one, nowadays, who answers about Mediterranean Spain.

 

About French ports.... ask there, please

About Palma, you should find more information in other threads, as well as there are local forumers (and I can tell you my plans for June in my cruise, as well as it is one of my ports)

 

About Barcelona... I wrote somewhere about the city. I will try to point and link it.

 

And.... Rosas and Peñíscola.

 

I was surprised, I didn't know there could be ports of call.

 

But... let's go

 

More info about Peñiscola

Last time I was in Peñiscola (remember to write Ñ in google... it sound like the GN in French or in Italian) it was last December. Christmas lights were incredible. They won the "Ferrero Rocher award" two years ago and they paid all Christmas lights for the town. They increased some years later.

 

Last summer I was there, having a bath besides the castle.

 

And, just remember you will find a huge castle to visit. Just to focus. I have searched the "must" in the region of Valencia (From southern Alicante to northern Peñiscola)

Over 25 sites, Peñiscola is the 2nd, Valencia city is the 10th and Alicante is the 20th

 

https://www.viajeroscallejeros.com/que-ver-en-la-comunidad-valenciana/

 

 

As said, only a castle, but an important castle.

 

After visiting it, walking around the old beach is so beautiful.... but just walking. There aren't many other sites to visit there.

 

And if you with, book on a restaurant and eat a paella. Find good reviews about the restaurant but Valencian region is where paella comes from. They will cook for you a genuine one. Nothing compared about what you will find elsewhere.

 

 

So... I guess Peñíscola will be a very nice hidden gem and you will enjoy a day port there

 

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Peñíscola castle

 

This is official Castle web

 

https://castillodepeniscola.dipcas.es/en/

 

It will open 9:30 to 21:30 and it just costs 5 euro

 

 

According to this newspaper, best restaurant for rice in Peñiscola is "El Pescador Ermitaño"

 

https://www.elperiodicomediterraneo.com/castello-provincia/2021/10/19/10-mejores-restaurantes-comer-paella-55796340.html

 

It is located here

https://www.google.com/maps/place/El+Pescador+Ermitaño/@40.3744564,0.4035176,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m6!3m5!1s0x12a0468c2e5427d5:0x55d5a990b3b9e48e!8m2!3d40.3744523!4d0.4060925!16s%2Fg%2F11b6dnpp9t?entry=ttu

 

 

You will find tapas, seafood....

 

go directly to rice (arroz), even paella, even other dish.

There are more seafood in the world, but not more local paella elsewhere

 

 

Just to know, I have glanced prices. Despite having so many reviews, it is not luxurious at all, or at least, prices are quite normal, not expensive

Prices for a rice dish are per person but you have to ask for two portions at least of same rice

This is, you cannot ask one portion of Valencian paella and another one of lobster rice. Two portions of Valencian paella or two ones of lobster rice (or what you prefer) at least.

 

 

 

 

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And more and more about Peñiscola

 

There have been five films or series recorded in Peñiscola.

 

In 1961 the movie "El Cid" was mainly done in Peñíscola beach, with Chartlon Helston

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Cid_(film)

 

Last one, part of Game of Thrones series

 

 

Peñiscola tourism office gaves more information for people who want to spot where movies where recorded

 

https://www.peniscola.es/peniscola-in-film

 

 

 

 

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This is fabulous!  Thank you again.  I don't know where your cruise goes, Alserrod, but I am learning a lot about options by searching through excursions offered by Atlas.  We will choose a few of those since we have the shipboard credit and all beverages and gratuities are already included.  We also have an included "epicurean" tour included in Mallorca.

 

I will assume that we can get a taxi when we want to explore independently, but if the attractions are more than a few km away, it may be better to go with a ship group.

 

We've been choosing these smaller vessels not only because we enjoy the intimacy; the Atlas yachts have a capacity of 198 and we've been on Windstar cruises with fewer.  The smaller vessels tend to visit more interesting ports, a different one every day, and they stay at each one for at least 8-10 hours.   

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7 minutes ago, mlmdaisy said:

This is fabulous!  Thank you again.  I don't know where your cruise goes, Alserrod, but I am learning a lot about options by searching through excursions offered by Atlas.  We will choose a few of those since we have the shipboard credit and all beverages and gratuities are already included.  We also have an included "epicurean" tour included in Mallorca.

 

I will assume that we can get a taxi when we want to explore independently, but if the attractions are more than a few km away, it may be better to go with a ship group.

 

We've been choosing these smaller vessels not only because we enjoy the intimacy; the Atlas yachts have a capacity of 198 and we've been on Windstar cruises with fewer.  The smaller vessels tend to visit more interesting ports, a different one every day, and they stay at each one for at least 8-10 hours.   

 

 

 

My plans are strongly different to yours.

This year my parents will have 50 married years together. We will sail all the family, my parents, wife, brother, sister (w/ husband/wife), daughters, nieces, nephews... to total 14 people together.

 

So I am planning excursions that fit to my parents and fit to my small nephews.

It is in a greater cruise ship, bigger than yours. As said, different plans. We should wanna have somewhere to have all kind of activities and just choose.

Itinerary: Barcelona - Cannes - Genova - La Spezia - Civitavecchia (Rome) - at sea - Palma - Barcelona

to start by the end of June

 

 

About taxis, I haven't found any webpage about Peñiscola but surely there are taxi service (I have seen it!!!).

As a rule, taxis would be quite cheap to prices you would be used to.

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We have 60+ euros left over from a trip to the Azores, I think enough for what we need, especially if taxis take cc, and I know they do in Barcelona.  Our credit cards have no foreign transaction fees.  One phone will have an esim and the other I can use an international plan any day I need it (for 10 USD).  I am hoping to get by with hotel and cruise ship wifi for most of what I do.  Our passports are good for another year plus.  I hope that I'm not forgetting anything.  We travel frequently. mostly to Central America, so I know some of the big mistakes.  

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11 hours ago, mlmdaisy said:

We have 60+ euros left over from a trip to the Azores, I think enough for what we need, especially if taxis take cc, and I know they do in Barcelona.  Our credit cards have no foreign transaction fees.  One phone will have an esim and the other I can use an international plan any day I need it (for 10 USD).  I am hoping to get by with hotel and cruise ship wifi for most of what I do.  Our passports are good for another year plus.  I hope that I'm not forgetting anything.  We travel frequently. mostly to Central America, so I know some of the big mistakes.  

 

 

Hi, I answered you here

 

 

just because I guess this information could help more travellers

 

 

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This is all incredibly useful information.  I am now ready to study the excursions offered by Atlas and decide where we are comfortable going independently.  I would be reluctant to go too far by taxi unless I'm assured we can find one afterwards to get back to our port.

 

For example, if we went to Cadaques on our own, would it be easy to find a ride back to the port in Roses?  We know enough Spanish to ask our driver if he could come back for us at a certain time, but there's some risk to that.

 

The same would be the situation to visit the castle in Peniscola.  The only other port in Spain I need to plan for is Mahon, Menorca.  Alserrod, do you have any ideas for there?  I would be so grateful!

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2 minutes ago, mlmdaisy said:

This is all incredibly useful information.  I am now ready to study the excursions offered by Atlas and decide where we are comfortable going independently.  I would be reluctant to go too far by taxi unless I'm assured we can find one afterwards to get back to our port.

 

For example, if we went to Cadaques on our own, would it be easy to find a ride back to the port in Roses?  We know enough Spanish to ask our driver if he could come back for us at a certain time, but there's some risk to that.

 

The same would be the situation to visit the castle in Peniscola.  The only other port in Spain I need to plan for is Mahon, Menorca.  Alserrod, do you have any ideas for there?  I would be so grateful!

 

 

Hi,

 

I have glanced... a taxi from Rosas to Cadaques costs 30 euro. Just grab a taxi in Rosas and, when arriving to Cadaques, ask him to be for return by the time you prefer.

Surely he will be there.... it is an assured journey for taxi driver.

 

Cadaques (I will surf for information) is a small shore village pleasant to walk around. Salvador Dali was born there and they have some museums.

 

Peñiscola doesn't require any taxi to go to the castle. It is (depending of corner that leaves you the ship) about 500-700m only from the port. You could need a taxi, maybe to go to a restaurant. I recommended one that is 1,5 km away (it is 20 minutes on foot just walking around the beach, it is nice weather I would go walking indeed).

 

Mahon.... I would surf here on cruisecritic. There are more threads about Mahon and Menorca. Read there.

 

Palma.... there's a sticky thread. One local forumer will give you further information.

 

 

 

and.... for Barcelona

 

 

- Transport in Barcelona

- One day in Barcelona: Gothic quarter

- One day in Barcelona: Montjuic mountain

- One day away from Barcelona: Visit Zaragoza

- Railway in Spain, how to move

 

 

Please, specific questions .... write them in these threads. Answers could help any other people too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is all great, but I wonder about this: "Mahon.... I would surf here on cruisecritic. There are more threads about Mahon and Menorca. Read there." 

 

Is there a better place for me to ask my questions?  I did start a thread on the France board, too.

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Hi, for Mahon.... this is its English official tourist webpage

https://www.menorca.es/en/Menorca_town_by_town/12566

 

I haven't been, I cannot recommend you something, but AFAIK, I would book an excursion with the ship. It is a destination that worths to have a bus a go to different corners in the island (not to walk just from the port, not to take a taxi to a single destination)

 

 

Regarding Palma, I was there some years ago, my parents just come to be there and.... it will be my last port of call in June.

 

I will go to Soller in the old Belle Epoque train

https://trendesoller.com/eng/index

We will book tickets for Soller train (it includes train Palma - Soller and tramway Soller - Port de Soller) and will stay there.

We are wondering if carrying up some towels because there is a nice beach in Port de Soller to have a bath

And I have pointed some streets to walk around there

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Once again, Alserrod, you are very helpful.  I am identifying which ports to book a ship's excursion with.  Then it's easy to choose from the Atlas offerings.  They all seem quite good and not unreasonably priced.

 

We've found, much to our surprise, that the more upscale cruise lines don't charge more for their excursions than Carnival, NCL, or the other companies do.  Of course the costs are marked up from what you'd pay independently, but it's good to know that the ship won't leave without you.   

 

As for swimming, haha, we're accustomed to tropical waters.  It's been too long since I've swam at NYC beaches.  The water in May would be muy frio for us. 

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Got it, I didn't remembered that it was by May. Not warm enough for a warm

 

Having a second thought, if I were you I would book the excursion on the ship for Peñíscola. It will be quite more expensive (just remember castle entrance is just 5 euro) but it will have a guided tour. They will not need any transport. Castle is just in front of the port. 

And, as I guess you will have free time after visiting the castle, I will go for a restaurant based on rice and paella. I pointed one that isn't expensive at all. Surely you will have some gratuities greater than that bill.

 

Rosas.... ask for a return taxi to Cadaques. (30+30 euro total) and walk around Cadaques and Dali museums.

 

 

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If the Peniscola castle is right by the port, I am less inclined to book a ship excursion.  We can study up on the history on our own.  Sometimes we opt for private guides, but I'm not a big fan of group tours, although we will do a few.

 

We'll think about Roses.  It would be a disaster if, for some reason, the driver didn't come back for us.  I will price the ship's tour that includes Cadaques (I know there is one).

 

As for tipping, Atlas fares include gratuities (which we may add to), all beverages, and an epicurean tour in Mallorca.

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Hi

 

It is said "In Rome do... as Romans do". I would add... in Mediterranean do...

 

I just say this because when an European citizen go on a cruise, he considers that the ship is.... a "ship with a lot of food and entertainment" but not a "destination" (despite most Caribbean cruises where people considers the ship as a destination indeed).

 

This is due because all ports of call are destinations indeed. Always cities with a lot of culture, heritage and so on. People who, in case of going for a week, will choose THOSE ports for a week stage and visit something.

 

In Atlas case, they are quite curious ports of call because smaller than usual. Not bad at all. They do not have infrastructure to receive a ship over 2000 passengers but a vessel like yours fits fine there.

 

So... I would think always that all these destinations are cultural destinations. Surely you will be able to have snorkel or a small ship journey around the shore but do not forget that ports of call have been chosen because culture they can give you instead of water activities options.

 

BTW, when I was 9 years old I was in Peñiscola for 15 days with my parents and I remember being in a journey ship around the shore.... but nothing compared with the castle (and their food).

 

So... if your excursion fits with castle visit, go there. Even you can go back to the ship, have lunch and back to the castle as far as it is just in front of the ship   (or no more than 25 euro/person you have a great paella with a white wine)

 

 

Rosas... you have taxis in Cadaques too. I just pointed you can book a return journey but for sure you will not have any problem there. 

There are two very important things to do there

- visit Dali museums

- walk around the village

 

if your excursion do it, go... and if it doesn't... choose DIY

 

I love DIY excursions because I love planning holidays. I enjoy them and I always think myself in destination some weeks before

 

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I totally agree with you and, yes, these are cultural destinations.  The small ship experience is very different, indeed.  Even when we choose a Caribbean cruise, we try to visit the small, lesser known islands.  

 

I was attracted to this Atlas itinerary because I prefer small cities and try to avoid crowds.  This is why the Azores appealed so much to me, and we will be back there someday.  

 

That said, we look forward to our time in Barcelona, but especially in Granada after the cruise.  I also very much enjoy planning travel, and I voluntarily do so for others as well, on a forum elsewhere.  DYI is very much my thing.  Costa Rica is very familiar, but Europe is all new to me, and I do hope to do what the Romans do.

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How long will you be in Spain after cruise?

 

Barcelona worths all days you want

Granada.... it has the most visited monument in Spain (second is Sagrada Familia in Barcelona but first remains in Granada). I was visiting it for a short stage last month

and I always encourage to do a one day stop in Zaragoza

 

Do you know you can move by high speed train, don't you?

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