The vibrant and colourful capital of Catalonia has stunning architecture, captivating galleries and an invigorating lifestyle

Language: Spanish and Catalan

Main airport: Aeroport del Prat

Currency: Euro

Best time to go: Year round

What to do?
Take a casual stroll down La Rambla, one of the most famous boulevards in the world, where tourists, artists, musicians and the like stretch for a mile. Barcelona is also famous for Gaudi’s gothic architecture, so venture forth to the breathtaking Sagrada Familia in all of its beautiful yet eerie glory. Take the time to visit Museu Picasso as well, a gallery that’s home to the artist’s works. Pablo Picasso was indeed inspired by the city and referred to it as ‘beautiful and bright.’

For shopping, make the 30-minute trip just out of the city to La Roca Village where you’ll discover more than 50 discount outlets that sell designer clothing at bargain prices.

The city really comes to life at night and the ideal way to embrace this is by witnessing the flamenco dancers in full swing. Popular venues for this are El Tablao de Carmen where notorious stars display their talents, and Los Tarantos, which is popular among tourists.

Where to stay?
For a touch of class consider Hotel España, which was redesigned by Lluis Domènech I Montaner, the same architect behind the infamous Palau de la Musica concert hall. Located in the historic centre the four-star hotel has retained its rich history, having opened in 1859, yet simultaneously embracing its modernised new look.

Hosteria Grau is a charming option as it’s run by a family and has warming touches, such as the open fire for winter visitors. Based in the centre of the Raval the rooms are clean, spacious and homely, while there are apartments available for families who wish to have more space and their own kitchen should they wish to prepare their own meals.

Where to eat?
Flourishing with fresh seafood there are several restaurants to bear in mind. Botafumeiro offers a superb selection and the platter of seafood (for two) is highly recommended. Served by impeccably dressed waiters it can be difficult to secure a table, so try to book in advance.

The Cinc Sentits, headed by the highly praised chef Jordi Artal, is the place to go for a real taste of true Catalan cuisine. This Michelin-starred restaurant has stayed true to local classics, with a pinch of personalised gastronomy. If the sound of Palamós prawn in ajoblanco (garlic soup), flat coca bread with foie gras and crispy leeks, and duck magret with apple is not enough to whet your appetite then nothing will.

By James Massoud

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