City description

Is Barcelona really the “coolest city in the world” as some people say? Definitely! Tireless, dazzling and avant-garde, this cosmopolitan city of creativity and fiestas by the sea, with sunshine all year round, lives up to the ideal of the ultimate destination.

Start your visit by strolling through the charming little streets of El Born, the medieval part of Barcelona past the palaces of the Picasso Museum. Here, graffiti lives side by side with instrument makers and organic cafes. Next, head to the Barri Gòtic, the historic heart of the city, with its labyrinthine layout. As you step out of the narrow streets, you’ll arrive in the Plaça de Catalunya, from where you can hear the iconic hustle and bustle of Las Ramblas. This legendary avenue leads to Port Vell. You can explore the water on a Las Golondrinas boat, a popular treat for locals. But the Mediterranean can wait a little longer. Head in the opposite direction and discover the Gaudí masterpieces that are studded throughout Barcelona: the Sagrada Família, Park Güell and the Casa Museu Gaudí, Casa Batlló and finally, Casa Milà. Their whimsical, poetic shapes and explosions of Baroque colours give Barcelona its unique look. Put everything into perspective by heading to Barcelona’s soaring panoramic areas. There is a cable car that will take you up Montjuïc, home to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya and the Fundació Joan-Miró.

With your feet back on the ground, head to the MACBA, Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art, to remember that the city is still a popular haunt for artists. Far from resting on its architectural laurels, it is still committed to building some wild and wonderful buildings. Jean Nouvel’s Torre Agbar almost puts Gaudí in the shadows. But Barcelona’s strength lies in its subtle, well-balanced mixture of tradition and modernity. Ash Wednesday and its mythical procession gets the city’s heart racing, not to mention its festivals, Sónar and Primavera Sound, and the Camp Nou, where the legendary Barça fills the stands with passion and football fever.

A multi-talented city, fashion is also big in Barcelona, from its boutiques to its designer workshops, via trendy concept stores, like Boo and Materia Terricola, which set the tone of an arty city that moves with the times. The Movida takes the shape of recycling and eco-materials. In the city of prêt-à-porter, the home of Mango, Custo and Desigual, shopping is a religion. The big shopping centres such as the Maquinista are the epicentres of this obsession.

When the sun goes down, join the joggers dodging the crowds on the seafront on the Barceloneta, or on routes specially created by the energetic director of the Pullman Barcelona Skipper, a keen fan of the discipline. Next, it’s time to discover Dry Martini, one of the 50 best cocktail bars in the world, or a typical tapas bar, of which you’re bound to stumble across throughout the city. Several restaurants showcase this local classic by following the instructions of an exciting “nueva cocina española”: exuberance, quality and respect for the ingredients. Ferran and Albert Adrià, the city’s famous top chefs, add a few molecular delights at Tickets Bar, a popular haunt on Barcelona’s answer to Broadway. Barcelona has a wealth of nightlife venues which open late into the night, such as the Sala Razzmatazz, the best club in town, with an exciting, celebratory programme of events.
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