You can’t go wrong with a spot of authentic Spanish tapas, but there is more to Spanish cuisine than patatas bravas. The country’s rich culinary history means there are countless traditional dishes you can try in cruise ports ranging from Bilbao to Barcelona.

Why not start with these five delicious Spanish dishes?

1. Paella

A stone dish full of seafood paella in Spain

Paella might be done to death back home, but you haven’t tasted anything until you have sampled an authentic helping.

Originating in Valencia, paella is available right across Spain and traditionally comes in one of two forms: paella Valenciana with rabbit and chicken, or seafood paella. If you are visiting Valencia then paella Valenciana should be your dish of choice, while nothing compares to a beautifully fresh seafood paella once you reach ports elsewhere.

2. Gazpacho

A pan of gazpacho topped with vegetables and bread

sunny mama/, CC BY-SA 2.0

Cold soup might go against everything you believe in, but there is nothing more refreshing than a bowl of gazpacho after taking in the sights of a searing Spanish city.

Gazpacho is primarily made using tomatoes, but also includes sweet peppers, fragrant garlic, fresh bread and plenty of olive oil. Delicious!

3. Jamón Serrano

Jamon Serrano and artisan cheese on a wooden chopping board

seanchicoine/, CC BY 2.0

This succulent cured ham is a staple in Spain – you are bound to spot it hanging from the ceiling of some Spanish bars and restaurants, drying out to achieve that characteristic melt-in-your-mouth texture.

A variation on jamón Serrano is jamón Iberico. This ham comes from black Iberian pigs and is more expensive. It is well worth it, however, thanks to an incredibly lengthy curing process.

4. Fabada

Bowl of Spanish fabada stew complete with black pudding and pork

Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/, CC BY-SA 2.0

This one-pot feast is a popular dish throughout the majority of ports you will visit on cruises to Spain. A rich stew made using white beans and saffron, it commonly contains a mixture of pork meats including chorizo, pork shoulder and black pudding. Flavoursome and comforting, fabada is the perfect dish to enjoy on a cool evening after a day of exploring.

5. Leche frita

Spanish leche frita with ice cream and syrup

Javier Lastras/, CC BY 2.0

If you thought you couldn’t fry milk, think again. Leche frita is a popular dessert that might sound odd, but is absolutely delicious!

Milk, egg yolks and flour are whipped together before being left to chill and solidify. They are then coated in breadcrumbs and fried before being topped with sugar and cinnamon. The final result is a beautifully sweet dessert that pairs perfectly with a scoop of ice cream.

Does any of this popular Spanish food take your fancy? Perhaps we have missed off your favourite food to try during cruises to Spain? Let us know in the comment box below.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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