Tampa ranks third among the ten largest cities in Florida. The Tampa Bay city was home to around 378.000 people in 2016, and the Tampa metropolitan area is home to more than three million of Florida's 20 million residents.
Spanish conquerors discovered the Tampa region in the 1520s. Led by Hernando do Soto, they were looking for gold and precious stones as well as settlement space for permanent Spanish settlements. The search for something valuable failed, the indigenous population was exterminated as a result of imported diseases, and the settlement conditions were initially so unfortunate that permanent settlement of the region was only possible at the beginning of the 18th century.
After Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, all of Florida was secured by fortifications. A fort was also built in the Tampa area. In January 1849 Tampa, which at that time only had 200 inhabitants, was given the status of a "Village".
After the discovery of large phosphate deposits in the region, the connection to the rail network and the development of the port, the city gained increasing importance. There was a real boost between 1950 and 1960. During this time, the population rose from around 125.000 to 275.000.
Tampa is the capital of Hillsborough County, a university city and a major economic center. The residents and their guests are offered a wide range of cultural offers. The region is also blessed with many tourist attractions.
Tampa's cruise port
In direct comparison to the world's three largest cruise ports, Miami, Port Canaveral and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), the cruise activities emanating from Tampa appear rather modest. Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean offer 4-, 5-, 7- and 14-day cruises from Tampa with a few ships. The AIDAmar has already been to Tampa as well as Phoenix 'Amadea and AIDAvita. In the 2016 financial year, around 813.800 passengers embarked on multi-day cruises on 180 ships.
With the Channelside complex adjoining the cruise terminals, an attractive center with bars, shops, restaurants and event venues has been created for cruise guests and Tampas residents.
Tampa - Channelside Plaza next to the Cruise Terminal
In contrast to passenger shipping, the freight volume is astonishingly high at 37,5 million tons. Almost a third of all freight to and from Florida passes through Port Tampa.
Attractions in Tampa
Cruises departing from Florida mostly lead to the attractive destinations of the Caribbean. In view of the many attractions of the "Sunshine State", it can be assumed that cruise ship guests from Europe also use their time to discover the greater Tampa area. The beaches, bridges or museums undoubtedly justify a “break” before or after the cruise.
The Florida Aquarium is within sight of the cruise terminal. The modern building is dedicated to the marine world of Florida and the earth. Themed areas such as “Wetlands Trail” or “Bays and Beaches”, to name just a few, bring visitors closer to living spaces.
Next to the aquarium is the Mariners Museum with the American Victory Ship. It is one of four US ships from the time of World War II that are still seaworthy. The marine transporter can be viewed in its entirety. The ship sets off on tours twice a year.
Downtown Tampa is the historic Ybor City district. It originated in the 1880s when thousands of immigrants from Cuba, Spain and Italy moved to Tampa. The development of Ybor City came from the Cuban Vicente Martinez-Ybor, who founded cigar production together with others in Tampa. The multi-ethnic district has blossomed into a trendy residential and business location. Ybor City's Cigar Museum and Visitor Center provides information about cigar production in the past. The cruise terminal and the district connect historic trams.
Attractions outside of Tampa
Orlando's amusement parks
The distance between Tampa and Orlando's amusement parks (Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando) is less than 110 kilometers.
Dalí Museum, Saint Petersburg
In neighboring Saint Petersburg, the fourth largest city in Florida, The Dalí Museum attracts with the largest collection of works by the brilliant Spanish artist outside of Europe.
Ringling Circus Sarasota
Tampa and Sarasota are separated by nearly one hundred kilometers. This is where the great legacy of circus entrepreneur John Ringling can be found. In 1927 he made the city of Sarasota the winter quarters of the world-famous circus company. In addition, he created a palatial residential complex. The exquisite exhibitions of the State Art Museum of Florida and the Ringling Circus Museum as well as the Ringling Historic Asola Theater are located in and in neighboring buildings.
The theater was built in Asolo, Italy in 1798 and relocated to Sarasota in the early 1950s.
Sarasota - The Asolo Theater
And then there are the beaches. The wide, seemingly endless and fine sandy beaches are always worth a visit. Our favorites are the stretches of beach at Siesta Key near Sarasota, Anna Maria Island near Bradenton or the many beaches on the Gulf Coast off Saint Petersburg. Madeira Beach with its busy 335 meter long boardwalk is particularly recommended there.
Sunshine Skyway Bridge
You should drive over this bridge structure with a rental car. It is the 8,9 kilometer long Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The huge cable-stayed bridge spans Tampa Bay. It runs on Interstate Highway 275 and connects Terra Caia with Saint Petersburg.
Sunshine Skyway Bridge near Saint Petersburg
Update April 2021