Shore excursions in Bar Harbor

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Useful information for excursions in Bar Harbor

Below you will find information about the most beautiful sights, a map of the cruise port in Bar Harbor as well as many useful tips and information for your cruise excursions in Bar Harbor.

The most beautiful sights in Bar Harbor

The small town of Bar Harbor, located on Mount Desert Island, is a modern fishing village in the US state of Maine. The town appears very diversified in its appearance. On one side there is the beautiful Acadia National Park, which is characterized by dense forests, rocky beaches and glacier-shaped peaks. This includes Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain on the east coast of America. The extensive nature area creates a pleasant ambience that invites you to relax.

On the other side there is the downtown Bar Harbor. The cityscape there is characterised by pretty little shops, first-class hotels and a large selection of diverse restaurants. The variety of restaurants offers something for every palate, from international to local cuisine, everything is available. In addition to Italian, Cuban and Asian cuisine, you will find restaurants that offer local dishes on their menus. And since Bar Harbor is a fishing village, the main ingredients are lobster, fish and seafood. Along the pier you will find a wide variety of lobster dishes, including lobster hot dogs, burgers, cocktails and even lobster cakes.

Bar Harbor has only about 5,000 inhabitants and is located in southeastern Maine on the Atlantic Ocean. The city was founded in 1769 under the name Eden, until it was finally renamed Bar Harbor in 1918. From then on, the small town developed into a popular holiday destination for wealthy American families such as the Rockefellers and Astors. In 1947, however, a fire destroyed most of the town and it had to be rebuilt. This is also the reason why downtown Bar Harbor looks so modern, as the buildings were rebuilt not too long ago. On West Street, along the Eddi Brook River, you can still see buildings that were built before the fire.


Would you like to learn more about the history or nature of Bar Harbor? Then you should definitely explore the city’s museums. In the city center there is for instance the “Abbe Museum”. It tells the story of the Wabanaki who once lived in Bar Harbor. Wabanaki is an alliance of five Algonquin tribes that are culturally and linguistically related. Besides regularly changing exhibitions, the Abbe Museum also hosts special events, workshops and archaeological training excavations.

Those who are more interested in nature and want to learn more about the native flora and fauna should visit the “George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History”. The exhibitions you will find there were designed by former and current students of the local college. But it’s not just the classic exhibitions, because when you visit the Natural History Museum, you also have access to a marine aquarium where you can see marine life up close.

St. Saviour’s Church

Historical buildings are of course also to be found in this multifaceted city. For example, St. Saviour’s Church, a bishop’s church built in 1877. Over time, the parish grew larger and larger and so did the church. After several enlargements it finally took on its present form in 1900. What is special about this church are the so-called “Tiffany” windows, twelve of which were incorporated into the church walls. The rest of the magnificent windows were designed by other American and European artists.

Which part of the church grounds is also worth a visit is the adjacent cemetery. There you will find the graves of the earliest settlers. These date back to the 17th century and each grave tells its own unique story.

Stewman’s Lobster Pound

The state of Maine is one of the most important lobster exporters in America. Every year several tons of lobster are caught in Bar Harbor and therefore the lobster is one of the main sources of food in Maine. Therefore you should not miss a visit to a lobster restaurant! Here you will not only be served the classic lobster, but you can also choose between lobster steaks, hot dogs, lobster mac and cheese and many other variations.

A place that is often recommended in this regard is Stewman’s Lobster Pound. In Bar Harbor there are two of them, both are located directly on the water, so that you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Atlantic Ocean while dining. The menu of the maritime lobster restaurant is almost exclusively lobster and fish dishes as well as other seafood delicacies – after all, that’s what Stewman’s Lobster Pound chefs specialise in! One of the desserts on the menu is naturally the blueberry pie, which is very well known in Maine. So immerse yourself for a moment in the world of the seamen and enjoy the local specialities!

Acadia National Park

Besides sights like museums or historical buildings, the Acadia National Park is probably the biggest attraction of Mount Desert Island and at the same time the landmark of the city and the whole island. On an area of 192 km² you have several possibilities to spend your leisure time and at the same time be close to nature and its diversity. A total of 200 km of hiking trails pass through Acadia.

Acadia forms a varied mixture of mountains, cliffs, forests and waters. You can take advantage of the many hiking and cycling trails to discover as much of the National Park as possible in a short time on a rented bike. Besides simple walks you can do many other things. These include activities such as kayaking or canoeing, climbing, horse riding or a carriage ride. The carriage ride is combined with a guided tour of the city or the national park. While you sit comfortably in the carriage, your guide will give you facts and insider knowledge.

Thunder Hole is a special place in Arcadia National Park where you can feel the “thunder of the sea” on the rocky coast of Maine. Thunder Hole is the name given here to the naturally formed indentation in the rock face where the waves break again and again. At the end of this indentation is a small cave. When the waves are strong, the process that gives the cave its name begins here. As soon as the sea starts to make waves, water and air are pressed out of the cave, creating a thunder-like sound. This is how the name Thunder Hole came about.

One of the most spectacular sights of the Acadia National Park are the Otter Cliffs. The cliff is about 11 km away from Thunder Hole and about 33 m high. Through all natural phenomena, such as glacier movement or swell, this beautiful scenery has been formed over several centuries. But not only during the day you can enjoy a wonderful view. As the day slowly draws to a close and the sun sets, the rock face is bathed in warm sunlight while the background is already dark – a contrast that you will not experience at any other place during sunset.

A 43 km long Park Loop Road begins at the Acadia National Park Visitor Center and leads past many attractions to Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain on the North American Atlantic coast. From Cadillac Mountain, which is 466 m high, you have a breathtaking view over the Atlantic Ocean and the other islands off Mount Desert Island. From up here you can be the first to watch the daily sunrise in the USA. There are also numerous hiking trails up here.

Whale Watching

In Bar Harbor, on the east coast of the USA, you can watch the largest of all sea creatures – the whales. In the months from June to October, the whales are especially drawn to the coast. If you decide to go whale watching, you will experience much more than just whale watching. The waters of Acadia National Park and the air around Cadillac Mountain are home to many fascinating species of animals. During your trip, experienced biologists will be on board and provide you with interesting information about the marine world and its inhabitants. For example, in addition to fin whales, humpback whales and minke whales, you may also be lucky enough to observe the giant tuna, dolphins and various species of shark. But you can also see creatures of the air, such as the bald eagle, the falcon and other remarkable bird species.

Map of the cruise port in Bar Harbor

Although Bar Harbor is the largest city on Mount Desert Island, it has only about 5,000 inhabitants and is therefore a relatively small town. The harbor of the city is accordingly small, as there is no cruise terminal here. In the harbor, only boats with a maximum draught of 5 m can dock, thus there is no quay for big ships. This is the reason why the cruise ships anchor at the Frenchman Bay right at the coast of Maine. From their berth in the roadstead, the passengers are taken by tender boats to the mainland, more precisely to the Town Pier. The trip with the tender boat takes only a few minutes.

The city center is within walking distance. The Town Pier is only a few minutes walk from the beautiful city center, which welcomes its guests with colorful wooden cottages. On the way from the pier to the city center you walk straight towards Main Street. Before entering Main Street, however, you will pass Harbor Place.

Worth knowing about shore excursions in Bar Harbor

Cruise companies and routes

Relative to its population and size, Bar Harbor receives an enormous number of tourists each year. In 2020, there will be a total of 197 ship arrivals and approximately 296,000 passengers from a wide variety of cruise companies. Bar Harbor is served by both national and international cruise lines. The national ones include American Cruise Lines, Crystal Cruises and Princess Cruises. And to the international P&O Cruises, MSC Cruises and Compagnie du Ponant. German cruise lines such as AIDA Cruises, TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises also have Bar Harbor on their list. However, AIDA Cruises will completely cancel all cruises to North America from 2021.

Entry and Visa

You need a valid passport in combination with a visa or an electronic entry permit (ESTA) to enter America. If you only have a temporary passport, it will not be sufficient only in combination with the ESTA, in this case, a visa is required. In addition, your passport must be valid until the end of your trip, including the day of departure.

If Bar Harbor is the first American port of call on your cruise and you are arriving by sea, the so-called “facecheck”, a security check by the US border authorities, will take place before you are allowed to enter the mainland. The procedure, process and duration may vary depending on the cruise line.

It is also advisable to obtain additional information from your cruise line about the valid entry requirements for your cruise.

National currency

The currency in Bar Harbor is the US Dollar ($). In the USA credit cards are very common and are accepted almost everywhere as a means of payment. You can also use your credit card to easily withdraw cash from an ATM or exchange money for a fee at an exchange office.

Taxi and public transports

Bar Harbor is only a small town, so a particularly well-developed public transportation network is not necessary. You can reach most places in the city on foot from the pier. For example, you can reach the city center within 5 minutes on foot!

However, the popular Acadia National Park is too far away from the city center to be reached on foot. At least if you are only making a day trip and have little time, because the distance from the Town Pier to Acadia is about 11 km. For routes to the National Park and other places along the way, the city has of course set up buses, the so-called “Island Explorer”. On a total of ten different routes, the buses Bar Harbors take visitors and local people free of charge to small shops in the city center, hiking paths, beaches and of course up to the Acadia National Park.

Taxis in Bar Harbor don’t just get you from A to B. You also have the possibility to take the taxis on your own. This has the advantage that you can choose your route freely and are not bound to the bus routes. The taxi company “Bar Harbor Coastal Cab” charges 100$ per hour for private tours. On top of that there is the fee charged by the Acadia National Park.

Booking a rental car for Bar Harbor is rather less sensible. What is common in the small town, however, are rental bikes. There are several places where you can rent a bike, two of them are located directly from the Town Pier to the city center. You can use the bikes to explore the city as well as for a sporty tour through the national park.

Travel Time

The months best suited for a trip to Bar Harbor are July through September. At this time there is a pleasant temperature and there is hardly any rainfall. In July to September, the average temperature is 23°C, whereas in January it is -1°C.

The cruise season in Bar Harbor starts in April and ends in November. It is clearly noticeable that the main season for cruise ships is from June to October. During this period, sometimes three cruise ships anchor simultaneously in Frenchman Bay.

Website of tourist organization and guides

Impression from Bar Harbor

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