PortAventura is the largest amusement park in Spain. Located in Salou, about an hour from Barcelona, it will also host Ferrari Land in 2021, a theme park dedicated to the Cavallino team. This guide tries to offer some useful information on how the park really works, and how to best organize a summer excursion in a single day. This guide completes the official information, with ticket costs, hotel prices and so on, available on this page.
What to bring to PortAventura?
Let's start with the simplest part, which is what to bring (and what not) to better face the day.
- Footwear: There will be a lot of walking, so comfortable footwear is essential. Now, sneakers would be ideal, but in hot weather it's not a great choice. Better to bring open shoes with some closure: I personally found myself very comfortable with rock shoes (you can find them at the Decathlon for a few euros). There are those who go with flip-flops, but before getting on the roller coaster they will let you leave them in dedicated deposits, as they tend to fall, and it is not easy to recover them later.
- Clothes: essential light and comfortable stuff, which can dry quickly. The climate is beach-side and you can safely go in your swimsuit for some attractions such as Angkor o Tutuki is highly recommended. But women have to put a t-shirt over their bikini top if they ride a roller coaster. Caps and sunglasses are highly recommended.
- Sunscreen: bring a lot. You will get a lot of sun doing the queues, better to avoid burns.
- Water and food: bringing drinks and food into the park has always been forbidden, but until a few years ago the controls were non-existent, while now they check all the backpacks. Now you can only bring food for babies. Have a nice breakfast, because eating in the park is expensive.
- Backpack: one big enough to put everything inside, but that you can put on the front when you get on the rides. Bring a large plastic bag so you can put your backpack in, and prevent it from getting wet when you go to attractions where you can get wet, like the Tutuki Splash.
- Money and cards: the ATMs inside the park are located near all the bathrooms. Regardless of your bank, a commission will be charged which can be very high, so it is better to withdraw the money before entering the park, or use the card directly for payments, since it is accepted almost everywhere.
Entrance fees and tickets for PortAventura
PortAventura opens at 10am, you should arrive around half an hour before it opens if you need to get your tickets on the spot.
Basically there are in PortAventura two types of ticket:
- il Admission real, which allows you to enter the park and do the normal queues for all the attractions;
- il Pass Express, to be paid separately, and which allows you to get on the main attractions only once by making a much faster preferential queue. There is also the Pass Express VIP, which allows you to get on the attractions as many times as you want: obviously it costs more. Both Express Passes are sold in the Max version, which allows you to get in the front row on a roller coaster.
Since you are in high season - and by high season I mean July and August - if you want to tour all the attractions at least once and the park is full then the Express Pass is essential. It is not that there is no queue with the latter, but the waiting time is reduced from one hour to 10 minutes.
My advice is to buy the normal ticket to enter and see how the situation is: if the lines are long then buy the Pass Express in one of the many kiosks inside the park, the price is always the same. Consult the updated prices of the various tickets.
A trick: if you want to save a bit of queuing, go to the ticket offices and look for the information room, located in the square on the right in front of the park entrance, where they check the tickets. Come up with some questions and then buy your ticket there.
Discounts and reductions
As for the entrance ticket, you can take advantage of various discounts: some are available online, others are found in various products. I found some in certain promotions with some products: packs of 6 cans of Nestea, at Mc Donald, inside the 6-bottle pack of Cacaolat, Estrella Damm beer, Chupa Chups lollipops. It is better to go already prepared, but if you do not find anything you can try to recover some in the parking lots, or even in the queue for the ticket offices: there are illegal sellers, like scalper at the stadium, who offer various discounts.
A few years ago you could buy the 2 × 1 offer for around € 12-16, but it is a type of promotion that has not recently been renewed. For the sake of completeness, I must add that on a couple of occasions I have seen tourists take sound rip-offs, so if you do it is at your own risk. As for any online offers - certainly safer - if we find them we will post them from time to time on the general page on PortAventura.
There are 2 constant offers: one is with the Barcelona Card, with which you can have a 20% discount on the entrance ticket. It only makes sense in case you decide to go to PortAventura at the last second and have already done the Barcelona Card; the other, cheaper, is with Renfe - the Spanish train company - which offers an entrance and a return ticket from Barcelona for only 45 €.
Saving money in PortAventura
Let's face it, PortAventura is expensive, especially if you go and come back in one day. To get an idea of the costs, a bottle of water costs € 1,80, a small Coca-Cola € 2,50 and the various gadgets - such as souvenirs and souvenir photos - have exaggerated prices: € 7,50 for a souvenir photo made on the attraction, € 14,90 for the Shambhala video, € 19,90 for the souvenir t-shirt. My suggestion is to drop all the gadgets, have a big breakfast and look for some promotions.
Forget the restaurants, they have a reputation at least sinister, and take sandwiches in the kiosks, you will spend much less. Of course, if you can afford it, the best thing would be to stay and sleep in one of the hotels in the park: there is a swimming pool, the entrance to the park is included in that of the accommodation, and you can visit everything in 2 days. for example a trip to Ferrari Land - or to the water park - with much more calm.
When to go to PortAventura?
In the summer, when the schools are closed, the best days to go to PortAventura are during the weekend: Friday, Saturday, and especially on Sunday. The lines are shorter, with less waiting times. When the day is cloudy it is perfect: there are far fewer people and you do not cook in the sun, but beware: if there is a lot of wind some attractions remain closed.
Once the schools reopen the situation is reversed, so it tends to be very crowded on weekends and freer on other days. Pay special attention to bridges (24th June, 11th and 23rd September, 12th October): they all have a black stamp and should be avoided like the plague.
There are pros and cons to going in high and low season: it is true that in high season there are more people, but it is also true that the park closes later - at midnight - so there is more time available. In the low season there are fewer people, but if you catch a rainy day you can only attend the shows: it's not cheap, but you're not going to PortAventura just for that.
Inside the Park: best strategy for attractions
In summary, the Pass Express allows you to get on a series of attractions - the best - by taking a dedicated queue. With the Pass Express you can go through the special queue only once, and then you have to do the normal queue; with the Express VIP you are always entitled to a quick queue.
- Just entered you will see electronic panels with the duration of the various queues for the most popular attractions, more or less those where the Express Pass is required. Self furius Bacon has a short line (less than 20 minutes), so enter and queue normal, otherwise continue.
- Once inside the park my advice is to go directly to China, to immediately queue up for Shambhala and Dragon Khan. If the queue is longer than 30 minutes, use the Pass Express, otherwise, the normal queue.
- At this point you can go to Angkor, and start getting wet, or continue to Mexico and queue for the Hurakan Condor (there is no dedicated queue with the Pass Express, so it will take some time).
- Whichever choice you make, continue with the nearby attractions: the park is large and it takes a lot of time to go from one end to the other.
- Near each attraction where a minimum height is required there are graduated signs to measure the height of the little ones. Are the children shorter than the minimum size? Don't waste time queuing, because they won't let them through. It's a question of security, period.
- If you go with younger children (less than 110 cm high), keep in mind that most of the attractions dedicated to them are located in the area of Sesame Adventure: here the queues are all normal, so the Express Pass is not needed.
- To eat, in the Far West area there are some of the cheaper options in the park: a Hot Dog kiosk and a fast-food restaurant called Stampida Chicken.
- After lunch do not immediately jump on any attraction, but stop and watch one of the many shows, in order to give yourself some rest.
- Lo fireworks show midnight is nice, but if you are in your car and leave half an hour earlier, you will save yourself some traffic when exiting the parking lot.
In conclusion, get ready for a long but exciting day, and don't worry too much. The park is large, there are many things to do, and fun will be guaranteed.