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Art by Joan Míro in Barcelona.

Barcelona is one of the world’s ultimate city break locations. No matter what time of year you choose to visit Spain’s second largest city, you will find fabulous sights, fine food and a carnival atmosphere. Bursting at the seams with unique experiences, world-renowned works of art, spectacular architecture and sporting excellence, Barcelona is one of Europe’s richest cities and has established itself as a hugely popular global brand. Here are ten things to do in Barcelona.

1. La Rambla

Despite becoming a major tourist hotspot, La Rambla has retained its unique atmosphere and the kilometre stroll from Placa de Catalunya down to the harbour is the perfect introduction to the city. Whether you make a few purchases or just absorb the atmosphere, you’ll carry the memory of La Rambla with you long after you leave.

2. City Beach

In the summer, when the hotels and hostels of Barcelona fill up, the more adventurous tourists like to make the short walk down to the beach to find a comfy resting place. During the day, the beach is alive with people and has an atmosphere to compete with any city beach in the world. Alternatively, you can take a bus or train (about 30+ minutes) to Sitges. Read my post about what to do in Sitges.

Parc Guell

3. Festival de Sonar

Officially a festival of ‘Advanced Music and Multimedia Art, Sonar has evolved into one of Europe’s premier music festivals. If you enjoy a bit of a dance to the sounds of artists like Devo, Goldfrapp, Scissor Sisters or The Chemical Brothers, then Sonar could be for you. Usually held around the middle of June, it’s a hot one, so bring your sunscreen!

4. Parc Guell

Amongst the most striking and memorable sights in Barcelona are the works of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. His Parc Guell is a garden he designed and built in the first 14 years of the 20th century and, like so many of Barcelona’s most exciting attractions, entry to the park is free. Cheap holidays in Barcelona are wonderfully easy to plan and a picnic amongst the surreal architecture and animal sculptures of Parc Guell on a sunny day is an experience not to be missed.

5. Camp Nou

F.C. Barcelona are regarded by many as the finest football team on the planet at the moment. If ‘Barca’ have a home fixture during your stay in the city, the match will be an experience to savour. If not, the team’s stadium, Camp Nou, is a spectacular sight in itself and stadium tours are popular for good reason.

6. Casa Mila

The idea of a building with no supporting walls, made entirely from natural stone seems almost impossible. Take a look at Gaudi’s Casa Mila and it only seems more impossible, with its dramatic curved balconies and wobbly walls.

Magic Fountains Montjuic

7. The magic fountains of Montjuic

In the summertime, up a large hill to the south of the city, a performance takes place that sums up the magic of Barcelona. The spectacular ‘magic’ fountains of Montjuic explode into life in the summer, shooting into the air in an array of colours and lights. Again, those planning cheap holidays in Barcelona will love the price of this attraction – entry to Montjuic is free.

Palau de la Musicana Catalana

8. Palau de la Musica Catalana

The Catalan art nouveau architect Lluis Domenech I Montaner created this spectacular palace and his manipulation of light and space is life affirming in its beauty. The gargantuan stained glass roof of the Palau de la Musica Catalana is worth a visit on its own merit.

9. Sagrada Familia

Perhaps the most famous building in Barcelona – and it’s not even finished yet! Gaudi never finished the Sagrada Familia but this perpetually changing symbol of modernism is still a sight to behold.

Sagrada Familia

10. Festes de la Merce

The quintessential Barcelona party is the Festes de la Merce, or “Fiesta Mayor”. It is the largest festival in the city’s busy calendar of carnivals. Typically held in the last week of September, the festival features ‘Gigantes’ – giant figures of noble characters who dance through the streets, ‘Correfoc’ – a procession of fire-breathing dragons, and ‘Castellers’ – huge towers of people who assemble in the Placa de Sant Jaume.

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