Barcelona is an enchanting seaside city with boundless culture, fabled architecture, and a world-class drinking and dining scene.
The Catalan Table
Barcelona's great artistic traditions don't end at the canvas. The masters of molecular gastronomy – Ferran Adrià, Carles Abellan et al – are part of the long and celebrated tradition of Catalan cooking. Simple, flavorful ingredients – olive oil, jamón, seafood, market-fresh produce – are transformed into remarkable delicacies and then served up in captivating settings. You can feast on hearty, rich paella at an outdoor table overlooking the sea or step back to the 1920s at an elegant Art Nouveau–filled dining room. Barcelona's wide-ranging palate adds further complexity: Basque-style tapas bars, Galician seafood taverns, avant-garde Japanese restaurants and sinful chocolate shops are all essential parts of the culinary landscape.
The deep blue Mediterranean beckons. Sun-drenched beaches make a fine backdrop to a jog, bike ride or long leisurely stroll along the seaside – followed by a refreshing dip of course. You can also enjoy the view from out on the water while kayaking, windsurfing or taking it easy on a sunset cruise. Looming behind the city, the rolling forest-covered Collserola Hills provide a scenic setting for hiking, mountain biking or just admiring the view. Closer to the centre, hilltop Montjuïc offers endless exploring amid botanic and sculpture gardens, an old castle and first-rate museums with panoramic views at every turn.
The night holds limitless possibilities in Barcelona. Start with sunset drinks from a hillside terrace or dig your heels in the sand at a rustic beachside chiringuito. As darkness falls, live music transforms the city: the rapid-fire rhythms of flamenco, brassy jazz spilling out of basements, and hands-in-the-air indie-rock at vintage concert halls. Towards midnight the bars fill. Take your pick from old-school taverns adorned with 19th-century murals, plush lounges in lamp-lit medieval chambers or festive cava bars. If you're still standing at 3am, hit the clubs and explore Barcelona's unabashed wild side.
Arts & Architecture
Barcelona's architectural treasures span 2000-plus years. Towering temple columns, ancient city walls and subterranean stone corridors provide a window into Roman-era Barcino. Fast forward a thousand years to the Middle Ages by taking a stroll through the shadowy lanes of the Gothic quarter, past tranquil plazas and soaring 14th-century cathedrals. In other parts of town bloom the sculptural masterpieces of Modernisme, a mix of ingenious and whimsical creations by Gaudí and his Catalan architectural contemporaries, for which this city is so well known. Barcelona has also long inspired artists, including the likes of Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, whose works are in bold display in the city's myriad museums.
Why I Love Barcelona
I love the sea, and taking an early-morning jog along the Mediterranean is my favourite way to start the day. I'm also a bit of a history nerd, and relish strolling the cobblestone lanes of the Gothic quarter, thinking about all the people in past centuries who walked these same streets. And then there's the food and drink – the first-rate tapas bars, the abundant and inexpensive wine, the superb and reasonably priced multi-course lunches. Add to all this Catalan creativity (Modernisme, Miró, Dalí), bohemian bars and stunning nearby getaways and you have, quite simply, one of the world's most captivating cities.
Best places to stay in Barcelona
Barcelona city guide
Sun-kissed and lapped by the Mediterranean, Barcelona is packed with cultural treasures, from lamp-lit medieval lanes to glittering Gaudí masterpieces. By nightfall the city is a whirl of buzzing restaurants and tapas bars.
Festes de la Mercè (Festival of the Virgin of Mercy) - world's best festivals
'Barcelona Harbor' by papalars. Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs Location: Barcelona, Spain Dates: four days around 24 September. 20-24 Sept 2013.
Shopping in Barcelona
Barcelona's best bars and clubs
Barcelona could just be the coolest city on earth.
20 free things to do in Barcelona
Barcelona is a city blessed with cultural attractions, bars and life-changing Catalan cuisine. Yet this ‘having fun’ business can come with a hefty price tag, as all those entry fees and tapas bills add up. Fortunately for those watching their euros, Barcelona has a heap on offer that won’t cost you a cent.
Barcelona's best bargain hotels
La Sagrada Família, the Museu Picasso and La Rambla – we’ve selected the most iconic sights and the top experiences so you can enjoy the real Barcelona with the minimum of fuss.
Barcelona Card with Guidebook
See and do everything Barcelona has to offer with this great value city sightseeing and discount card. Choose from 2, 3, 4 or 5 consecutive day passes and receive free entry, great discounts and offers to Barcelona's major attractions. Whether you prefer museums or galleries, cathedrals or shopping - Barcelona has it all.
Montserrat Royal Basilica Half-Day Trip from Barcelona
Getaway to the Montserrat mountains on a half-day trip from Barcelona. You'll visit the Royal Basilica with its 12th-century carving of the Black Virgin and in the morning perhaps hear the children's choir sing.
Go wild at Festa Major de Gràcia, Spain's craziest block party
Barcelona has long been known as a hedonist's paradise but the refined neighbourhood of Gràcia can, to the casual observer, seem an unlikely place to find the city's biggest annual street party.
Barcelona - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Barcelona starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go, how much to budget, plus a guide to getting the most out of Modernista architecture.