Get ready to pack your bags for Barcelona: it's a city break and beach holiday all in one.
5 reasons why you should travel to the city of Barcelona
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, has it all. From its beautiful Mediterranean beaches and bright blue sea to its fascinating architecture and booming restaurant scene, here are several reasons why Barcelona is truly unmissable.
You can admire some of Gaudí's most famous works
Unique to Barcelona are the Modernista buildings designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the most impressive of which is the Sagrada Família whose fairytale-like spires dominate the city's skyline. Construction began over 135 years ago but the church is not expected to be finished until 2026. In the heart of Barcelona is another of Gaudi's masterpieces: Casa Batlló. Locals refer to Casa Batlló as the casa dels ossos (house of bones) or casa del drac (house of the dragon). Face to face with the house's facade, it's easy to see why. The balconies jutting out from the mosaicked exterior wall look like the bony jaws of some large and strange beast whereas the arched tiled roof resembles the back of a magnificent dragon. To see even more of Gaudí's work, head to Park Güell tucked away on the northern side of the city. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, the public park is enclosed by an undulating serpentine bench, the back of which forms a balustrade overlooking the city. Not only is this the perfect spot to have a quick breather, but the bench also serves frames a spectacular view of the entire city. And because the park is one the most popular attractions in Barcelona, tickets sell out fast, so it is essential that you arrive earlier in the day.
You can soak up the sun at Barcelona's beaches
Barcelona has the best of both worlds: it has a massive host of sights and attractions in its city centre as well as beautiful beaches on its coastline. Playa de La Barceloneta is the most popular as it is within walking distance to both La Rambla (Barcelona's most famous promenade) and the city's port. Escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and kick back relax on the beach's wonderfully golden sands. If you're wanting somewhere quieter, hire a boat for the day and discover Costa Brava's secret beaches. El Crit, a sandy cover enclosed by giant rocks, lies well-off the beaten track. And like many of the hidden beaches in the Costa Brava, El Crit is only accessible by foot.
You can explore Barcelona's maze-like Gothic Quarter
Barrio Gótico, Spanish for Gothic Quarter, is one Barcelona's oldest and most beautiful districts. It is a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets full of small bars, trendy restaurants and shops. A visit to Barcelona's gothic cathedral here is a must. Ride an elevator to the cathedral's rooftops for a spectacular 360 degree view of the city. But it's the district's unique quirks that really gives this part of Barcelona its charm. On the underside of the neo-Gothic Pont del Bisbe (Bishop's Bridge) is a carved skull and dagger. Legend says anyone who crosses beneath the bridge and lays eyes on the skull will be cursed. Meanwhile, adoring the wall of the medieval La Casa de l'Ardiaca (House of the Archdeacon) is an ornate mailbox. Legend dictates that anyone who touches the turtle on the bottom-right hand corner will be granted good luck (and therefore cured of the skull and dagger's curse!).
You can sample delicious Barcelonian cuisine
Barcelona will have you sorted for breakfast, lunch and dinner! At breakfast time, grab a deliciously flaky pastry at a pastisseria or sit down in an open-air bisto with a plate of pa amb tomàquet, a Catalan staple of bread rubbed with the juice of a tomato. Enjoy seafood paella for lunch coupled with a glass of crisp white wine. And finally, rub shoulders with locals at an authentic tapas bar in the evening. Bomba, a deep fried ball of mashed potato and pork topped with spicy sauce, is a must try. On the outskirts of the Gothic quarter you'll also find Barcelona's most famous food market: La Boqueria. If you're feeling peckish, make a pitstop at one of the numerous bars inside and choose from a selection of mouth-watering pintxos, a Basque twist on the tapas.