Barcelona

What you need to know before you go

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    Cosmopolitan Catalan capital Barcelona makes an enchanting first impression, thanks in part to outlandish landmarks by legendary Modernist architect Antoni Gaudi. The flamboyant, fairy tale-like Sagrada Familia church is the city's most astonishing sight, but the multi-hued mosaics and surreal structures of Park Guell give it a run for its money.

    Sizzling summers provide ideal conditions for lazy days on buzzing Barceloneta beach, and al fresco feasts of tasty tapas dishes like succulent grilled razor clams and rich Iberico ham. And Barcelona continues to heat up after the sun goes down, with bohemian bars and pulsing nightclubs to explore.

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    A Barcelona city break can mean relaxing on sandy beaches, strolling through medieval streets and bar-hopping from dusk ‘til dawn. Book a Barcelona hotel to see the best of the city by day and by night.

    Get your bearings

    Barcelona flows inland from the promenades and marinas of Port Vell and Port Olímpic on the coast. The lively tree-lined avenue of Las Ramblas runs for 1 km southeast through the old city centre, the Ciutat Vella. The Gothic Quarter, known as the Barri Gòtic, and the nightlife hubs of La Ribera and El Born meander east of Las Ramblas. The suburb of Eixample, with its sought-after Art Nouveau Modernista architecture, leads north to the spiky towers of Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família church. Overlooking Barcelona to the south, Montjuïc mountain is topped by a crop of museums and sporting facilities from the Summer Olympics, held here in 1992.

    Centuries of history and culture

    Barcelona has almost two millennia of history and culture to explore. Follow medieval lanes winding through the Gothic Quarter to the old city’s focal point, the 13th-century cathedral, and see Roman-era ruins at the City History Museum. Barcelona once thrived as a maritime power and the revamped waterfront is now linked by palm-lined promenades running northeast from Port Vell to the seaside restaurants of Barceloneta. Discover Barcelona’s role as a powerhouse of Catalan culture on a stroll through Eixample to admire 19th-century Modernista architecture, and see early masters at the Picasso Museum in La Ribera.

    Tapas bars and more

    Barcelona specialises in atmospheric wine bars in the medieval backstreets of the old city and alfresco paella restaurants by the beach in Barceloneta. Get the taste for tapas in the Gothic Quarter, and savour traditional Catalan dishes or the more experimental pairings of new Spanish cuisine in La Ribera. For multicultural fare from the subcontinent and Africa, head to El Raval on the western side of Las Ramblas. While you’re here pick up fresh produce in the bustling, colourful Boqueria Market.

    Family fun

    Families make a bee-line for the sandy beaches on Barcelona city breaks, stretching northeast from Barceloneta to Port Olímpic and beyond. Away from the coast, Eixample has an urban play beach in summer, complete with sand and lifeguards. See sharks swim overhead at the Aquarium at Port Vell, and get a taste of history at the city’s Chocolate Museum. Hire rollerblades to glide along the seaside promenade and landscaped walkways of Ciutadella Park, or book tickets to see FC Barcelona play at Camp Nou Stadium, west of the city.

    Made for relaxing

    Sit back and soak up Barcelona’s holiday atmosphere, whether from your towel at the beach or from a café table in a Gothic Quarter courtyard. For panoramic views of Barcelona, visit Gaudí’s eccentric Park Güell gardens in Gràcia, north of Eixample, or ride the cable car from the port to Montjuïc. Take a break from the action on a sightseeing cruise of the harbour, or wind down in an Arab-style hammam or with a luxurious massage at a Barcelona hotel.

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