Explore the super-stylish Catalonian capital
In a nutshell...
This cosmopolitan and progressive city is THE most popular destination for a weekend break, and it's easy to see why. The city's regeneration for the highly successful Olympic Games in 1992 added hordes of superb modern bars, restaurants and clubs -- the perfect place to retire to when you've had your fill of the many and varied cultural attractions.
Not that you will tire easily. Ever since its role as a bastion of the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War, the city has developed a reputation as a centre of radical architecture and design; not least because of the architectural splendours of Antoni Gaudi, the city's most famous son. Then there is the art of Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso, who also lived here, fine seafood to keep your energy levels high, perfect tapas and plenty of romantic places to hang out. And if the capital of Catalonia really becomes too much, why not head to the local beach and bask in the sun with a bottle of cava or two?
- The Ramblas Every tour of the city should start on this wide pedestrianised street that runs through the heart of the old town. It is lined with street cafes, interesting stalls and non-stop live entertainment provided by a colourful mix of ingenious street performers, musicians, and artists.
- Sagrada Familia This church, designed by Gaudi, has become a symbol of the city, even though Gaudi himself was killed by a tram before he could complete his splendid structure with its eight fairytale towers. Climb the 400 steps to the top of one of the towers for views of the city.
- Picasso Museum Barcelona's most-visited museum is a beautiful medieval palace full of Picasso's early classical work.
- Montjuic There is a spectacular view of the entire city and the Mediterranean from the top of this mountain, and Olympic venue. Visit the stadium up there and relive the moment when Linford Christie took the 100m gold medal.
- Sitges Take a 20-minute train ride out of town and spend a day on this wonderfully sandy beach, eating ice cream and frolicking in the waves. It's much nicer than the crowded beaches in the city itself.
- Palau Nacional Take the cable car to the top of Montjuic at night and watch the light and music show at the illuminated fountains in front of the Palau Nacional, centrepiece of the 1929 International Exhibition.
- Barceloneta The long narrow streets of this harbour-side area were home to the sailors and fishing folk, and the area is still a working fishing district with nets being mended and boats waiting to sail. Come here for the great seafood restaurants and sit outside for fantastic view of the city.
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