PortAventura World, on the sunny Costa Daurada, is a massive, awesome theme park and resort that might just become your next favourite European destination.
It’s an absolutely perfect family holiday spot, but you don’t need to have kids to enjoy it. Some might even say it’s better without them, but I couldn’t possibly comment on that…
Suffice to say that if you or your kids like your holiday a little fast and furious, you couldn’t pick a better place to spend a few days.
And being the giver that I am, I spent four days there recently… all for you… just to figure out how to get the very most from it.
It was tough going but I managed it somehow, and now I’m bringing you my ultimate top tips so that your trip to PortAventura is the absolute blast it should be…
The last thing you want to do at a theme park is queue, for anything, for even a moment longer than is absolutely necessary. And while queues are an inevitable part of that Theme Park life, there are solid ways to reduce the time you spend waiting around.
The first unnecessary queue you can avoid is the one for tickets. If you’re not staying on site, buy your tickets online in advance to avoid having to get in line at the entrance to the busy park.
You can stay off-site and visit PortAventura for the day, but it’s really worth checking out the various hotels in the park. There are a range of great hotels with lovely pool areas for you to relax in.
Access to the theme park is included in your room rate, and you can get discounted offers on Express passes etc. Staying on-site pretty much guarantees you can easily be among the first in the park when it opens in the morning and the last there at night, when queues are smaller.
Staying half-board means you can fill up on a good breakfast and dinner at your hotel.
PortAventura is a big place, and Spain is a hot country. You are guaranteed to do a fair bit of walking as you make your way around the park. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, and stay hydrated (you can bring a water bottle into the park with you to fill up as needed).
Aside from protecting yourself from the sun, walking and queuing in Spanish heat can get a bit tiring, so bring light clothing and shoes, and make sure to take breaks and stay in the shade during really hot periods.
Our master plan was to hit the park early, then have lunch and take a little siesta by the pool during the hottest hours, before heading back to the rides once the day started to cool again. It worked for us…
The food here is not as outlandishly expensive as you’d expect from a theme park, and what’s more, the quality available is really quite good.
Each area of the park has its own appropriately themed dining options, so when you’re in the Far West you can expect steakhouses and burger joints; in Mexico it’s burritos and nachos.
My personal favourite area to eat was the Mediterranea, where you can get tapas, pizzas, and pasta (starting at a reasonable €10), as well as a few tipples in the well-stocked wine bar…
It’s not a very difficult park to find your way around, but it’s big. There’s a lot to see and do, and a good few things you’ll want to see again.
My advice, if you plan to get there early in the day, is head straight to the back of the park (China), and try to hit Shambala and Dragon Khan while the queues are still bit shorter.
From there you can work your way back through the park, which is the opposite direction to the main crowds. This gives you lots of time to go back to the rides.
Ok this is subjective but for me, Shambhala was the clear winner. That said, Furious Baco, Dragon Kahn and the Hurakan Condor were all strong contenders.
Tukuti Splash is as refreshing as it is thrilling, and I don’t care what anyone says – the teacups are absolutely delightful.
Ferrari Land is PortAventura’s newest addition to their world, and you might want to check out its brand new shiny red rides – in particular, the Red Force, which is Europe’s highest and fastest rollercoaster, and thirty of the most intense, mind-blowing, high-octane seconds you’ll ever experience.
Another way to beat the queues.
Here’s the thing – these can seem quite expensive when you’re buying your tickets for the theme park, however there are multiple options available to choose from, and trust me that when you are faced with a long queue on a hot day to ride on Shambhala, that express band is worth every last cent.
If you can stretch to get one of these, it’s really worth it. Even the basic one (Express Max, €33) will get you the to the front of each main ride once, which if you’re only in the park for a short time can make a big difference to your day.
I didn’t bring any children with me to Portaventura, but I did witness lots of disappointed children being turned away at the top of long queues for the main rides. These have height restrictions – they are there for safety reasons and are non-negotiable.
If you’re feeling particularly organised, you can have a look at various height restrictions online before you go – but more importantly, know your kids’ exact height and make sure they know there are some rides they can’t get on.
Caribe Aquatic Park is worth seeing while you’re here, particularly when it’s hot. Entrance is separate to the main theme park, but you get a whole new experience.
There are lots of sunbeds (arrive early to get one), a big wave pool, and lots of water slides and attractions to suit all ages. It does get busy, so again my advice is to get there early and hit the busiest rides first. Lockers are available to rent for keeping your valuables safe and dry.
If you’re staying in one of PortAventura’s hotels, it’s worth venturing off-campus to go and see Salou. The beach is beautiful (if busy), and it’s got a buzzing nightlife, loads of shopping, and endless places to eat.
The best of these places, in my opinion, is La Morera, a superb little restaurant away from the main strip that offers really fantastic food, in a really special atmosphere, and at absolutely reasonable prices.
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- Dee Murray