The capital of Catalonia and well-known as Spain´s most cultured city, Barcelona is a feast for the senses. From the bustling La Boqueria market, just off of the Las Ramblas boulevard, to the soaring Gaudi buildings in all their colourful glory and the warm breeze that comes in from the coast, it is a capital blessed with a unique combination of attractions which tempts millions of visitors every year. Pinned between the Mediterranean sea and the jagged Montserrat peaks, the city has been one of Spain´s most important ports for centuries and has a long and established history as a successful capital in its own right, before the separate regions of Spain were united under one flag. But Barcelona still boasts a proud Catalan culture, demonstrated by its bilingual signs and the St George´s Flag (Catalonias Patron Saint) which flies from municipal buildings.
Art lovers could easily end up with a sore neck from looking up at so many spectacular buildings designed by Antonio Gaudi, the city´s favourite son. The still-unfinished Sagrada Familia, with its four sky-scraping peaks, is obviously the jewel in the crown, but it seems like every street has a colourful building, decorated with gargoyles, unusual balconies and twisted balustrades.
The touristic heart of the city is the Barrio Gotico, or Gothic Quarter, where the cathedral, built in the last century dominates the many winding streets, which criss-cross revealing pretty plazas that are perfect for an al fresco drink or dinner.One side of the Barrio Gotico is lined by Las Ramblas, the enormous boulevard that is like a cross between Madrid Paseo del Prado and London Covent Garden. No matter what time of day or night there is a steady stream of visitors and locals strolling down to find a bar, or shop at the many market stalls.
For those looking to do more than wander and soak up the atmosphere of Barcelona, the Picasso museum offers a fascinating insight into the man who adopted the city as his home. Beyond that, Montjuic , a hill topped with a fortress and the Olympic stadium, from the 1992 Olympic Games, is a great stop-off for views across the city.
But if you are more interested in the good things in life, take to the promenade by the marina area, stop-off at the many glorious restaurants that line the walkway and gawp at the stunning super yachts of the rich and famous.