Skyline panorama of Barcelona, Spain at sunrise

A Taste of Spain

Thursday, December 16, 2021
By Azamara

From Malaga to Vigo and everywhere in between, Spain is a rich tapestry of cultures and flavors. Shaped by geography and preserved by centuries of tradition, culinary customs and favorite dishes seem to change every time you find yourself in a new port. But one thing remains the same — in Spain, eating is always about getting together.

It would be a breeze to spend an entire visit tasting your way — bite by bite and sip by sip — through the diverse delicacies of this sun-drenched country. And that’s exactly what you can do when you cruise to Spain with us. Take your time getting to know the land as well as the sea with these food and wine-focused shore excursions, where authentic exploration is a promise, and bucket-list experiences become reality.

Taste of Seville

Seville, Spain, the Cathedral bell tower seen from the garden courtyard

Bullfighting, flamenco, sangria, and fiesta — of course, we’re talking about Seville. This jewel of a city has a tendency to seduce its visitors with a dizzying mix of baroque churches, buzzing nightlife, sprawling gardens, and ancient wonders. And the food? A stroll down any unassuming alley might just lead to the culinary experience of a lifetime. 

Tapas — a style of small, shareable plates — are a mainstay of Andalusian fare synonymous with Seville. Tapas can take endless forms, with popular choices ranging from croquetas (croquettes) to calamares a la Romana (fried squid) and patatas bravas (saucy fried potatoes). Ideally, these bite-sized delights are served alongside good company and lively conversation. You’ll be spoiled for choice in this city, where more than 3,000 tapas bars await in the area, some of them loved by locals for hundreds of years.

tapas in a typical restaurant in Spain

Embark on a shore excursion that takes tapas tasting to a new level with a Guadalquivir River tour. Board your private catamaran and get ready to sail the fifth-longest river in the Iberian Peninsula. You’ll cruise past Puente De Las Delicias (Las Delicias Bridge), Puente de San Telmo (San Telmo Bridge), and the iconic Plaza de Toros bullfighting ring before docking in Cabildo Square. Here, you’ll dive into traditional dishes like Andalusian fried fish, pork loin with patatas panaderas (classic Spanish potatoes), and rabo de toro (Spanish oxtail stew).

Taste of Malaga

Dig into the vibrant capital of the Costa del Sol and the gateway to Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain. For a distinctly modern city, Malaga boasts a rich cultural side. Brimming with museums, cathedrals, and historic markets, Malaga will satisfy anyone’s appetite for incredible artifacts — and all that exploring calls for frequent refueling. 

Malaga’s famously beautiful beaches and Moorish architecture are show stealers here, but in the heart of the city, a glance in any direction will delight with local fish shacks, upscale dining spots, and countless street vendors. Not sure where to begin? Join us on the Stroll Through Malaga & Tapas Tasting shore excursion for a little local guidance. Set out on foot through the historic streets of Malaga on a guided tour. You’ll leave from the Plaza de Merced, stroll past the former home of Pablo Picasso and the Alcazaba. Then, end at a favorite tapas bar to share carefully prepared dishes with new acquaintances.

Sardines typically grilled in Malaga, Costa del Sol, Spain

An authentic Malaga delicacy is the deliciously simple espetos: sardines grilled on a skewer over an open fire. As straightforward as it sounds, this dish holds profound cultural significance in its cooking technique, passed down from generation to generation. Another must-try dish in Malaga is fritura malagueña, a lightly fried melange of fresh-as-can-be seafood served with a lemon wedge for a splash of acid. Speaking of seafood, there’s no better way to taste the fruits of the Andalusian Coast than with an order of Gambas al Pil-Pil — spicy, garlicky prawns served sizzling in oil.

Taste of Valencia

It’s said that Valencia is the perfect blend of Madrid’s rich history and Barcelona’s high-style ambiance — and with fewer crowds. The narrow, winding streets of its historic Old Town, or Ciutat Vella, are made for wandering. Roam far enough, and you’ll come across the Valencia Institute of Modern Art, the ​​ancient Torres de Serranos, and The Cathedral — a stunning Gothic landmark promising incredible views over the city.

When you’re visiting the birthplace of paella, a few bites here and there just don’t do the dish justice. Instead, journey off the beaten bath to a traditional Valencian farmhouse on the Creating a Traditional Paella shore excursion. Here, you’ll get to know the owner (and the resident farm animals), learn about the local traditions, and enjoy a carriage ride to a historic house-meets-museum. Then, you’ll experience a lunch and learn like no other, beginning with an authentic paella cooking lesson using the farm’s bounty and ending with a meal of light fare with a drink to pair.

Long days strolling through this walkable city call for another local delicacy: horchata. An essential piece of Valencian culture since the Middle Ages, this sweet, refreshing drink is made from the milk of ground tiger nuts. If you ask the locals, a frosty glass of horchata isn’t complete without a side of fartons — a sweet, cigar-shaped bread covered with a sugar glaze — for dipping. 

Taste of Vigo

Located less than 20 miles from the north Portuguese border in the Galicia region, Vigo is a lesser-known port where lush beaches meet fascinating history dating back to the Middle Ages. Bursting with culinary personality shaped by the sea, a visit to this hidden gem of a port city will reward seafood lovers with the best octopus, mussels, and oysters imaginable — plus the perfect wine to pair.

Stroll down Vigo’s famous on Rúa da Pescadería — or better known by visitors as Oyster Street — where you can take part in a genuine Vigo tradition. This open-air market has seen local oyster farmers shucking on-demand since Roman times. But don’t expect any mignonette or hot sauce here — just a simple squeeze of lemon will do.

 Albariño wine region

Where Malaga truly shines is in its wine. Visit the village of Cambados, one of Spain’s most renowned growing regions and the charming capital of Albariño wine. This refreshing, coastal white is harvested on the Iberian Peninsula and is loved for its delightful notes of lemon zest, grapefruit, honeydew, and nectarine. Explore the storied cellars of Agro de Bazan Winery and sample an array of vintages alongside artisanal cheeses. Now that’s an afternoon worthy of a “cheers!”

Learn more about the Galacia Cellar Visit & Tasting shore excursion in Vigo.

Taste of Barcelona

Food in the La Boqueria market

Dynamic, limitless, and definitively delicious — it’s no wonder Barcelona is Spain’s most-visited city. This sun-soaked destination boasts miles of sandy beaches, artistic treasures, legendary architecture, and magnificent Medieval structures, all in a bustling, modern atmosphere. It’s truly a feast for the senses.

As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is the natural epicenter of Catalan food, a distinct world of cuisine specific to this region, focusing on simple ingredients that blend the best of land and sea. In humble eateries and over 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, Barcelona boasts gastronomic delights worth traveling for.

There are two important things to remember about dining in Barcelona: it happens late, and it happens together. So, settle into a wine bar for a glass (or two) of Cava and a meal made for sharing. Start with the popular Catalan snack pa amb tomàquet, a rustic bread drizzled with olive oil, rubbed with tomato pulp, and served with cheese, pâté, or cold cuts. Next, an order of bombas is a must. These flavorful mashed potato balls are stuffed with cheese, meat or vegetables, and lightly fried. For seafood dishes, try anchovies, deep-fried baby squids, prawns, sardines, and mussels. 

La Boqueria market entrance

One of the most authentic ways to experience Catalan cuisine is by exploring where it all begins. Immerse yourself in the culinary culture of this city with a guided ingredient-sourcing shore excursion through Barcelona’s best markets, followed by a cooking lesson from a local chef. You’ll learn how to prepare — then savor — some of the region’s most famed dishes. Think paella de marisco (seafood paella), gazpacho, baked onion carpaccio with Xató sauce, and crema catalana (Catalan Cream).

Savor Spain With Azamara

Hungry for more? Immerse yourself in rich culinary traditions and once-in-a-life experiences by joining us for a Spain-Intensive Voyage. Find itinerary inspiration by exploring our Spain food and wine shore excursions, find your dream cruise, and start packing your suitcase. Don’t forget to bring your appetite for adventure!

Explore our upcoming voyages to Spain.

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