Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, is up there with the most visited urban destinations in the world – and it really is worlds apart. But what makes this city special? According to so many glossy tourist magazines and travel guides, visitors should dwell enthusiastically on outrageous and otherworldly architecture, hip bars and designer boutiques – and they're right; but Barcelona is more than the in-thing. Far exceeding the flavor of the moment, Barcelona nurtures its artistic refinement, strength of culture and long line of ancient history with pride, whilst taking a sure-footed step into a future of self-renewal and progressive attitudes. Barcelona does all the important bits that make up the world's most visited metropolises, and does them with flair, and with soul.
Think Barcelona, and one particular name might spring to mind. Gaudi's fantastic architecture further seduces visitors and solidifies the city's image as an eccentric, energetic, creative, and stylish hub, simultaneously telling the tales of the past and reinventing itself. The Güell Palace is one of the main bucket list items to be ticked off during a visit here, and Barcelona's pièce de résistance, the Sagrada Familia, is an enduring symbol of the city – its Modernista legacy.
A vibrant history and full-bodied culture, a mastery of unique Mediterranean gastronomy, crystal clear seas and lively beaches, mountains nuzzling up to its northern edge; Barcelona is blessed with geographical genes, but it doesn't stop there. Let us lead you around Barcelona's neighborhoods as you wander through the buoyant, revamped port area and the atmospheric, medieval streets of the Barri Gòtic; be awestruck by the modernist buildings of Eixample and be spoiled for choice by a host of treasure-filled museums. The city centre and the main square, Plaça de Catalunya, offer the city's unique juxtaposition of new and old. Stroll along La Rambla, admire the Casa Calvet’s façade or the Casa Mila designed by Gaudi, visit the Market of la Boqueria or shop at El Corte Inglés. Despite the fact that it's not a national or international capital, Barcelona has become one of the coolest and most cosmopolitan cities on the planet, with its coastal zone and historical quarters offering trendy shopping, bohemian design cafes and restaurants, and nightspots for an effortless in-crowd mixed between architectural wonders.
As one of the most travel-friendly cities in Europe, Barcelona's locals see tourism as both a curse and a blessing, and we'll take you through how to make the most of its true charms and move to the beat of the authentic Barcelona, without falling prey to tourist traps. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Catalonia's regional capital will be like anywhere else in Spain: yes, there are parallels, but Catalan culture is markedly separate, and we'll show you why this once independent region of the Iberian Peninsula and its fiercely proud people define themselves as different.