Barcelona is considered by many to be Spain's most cosmopolitan city. It's certainly one of the country's most exciting, situated in the heart of Catalonia's Mediterranean coast. It's one of Europe's busiest ports and lives as a port town should, staying up late and doing everything with energy and attitude.
The city has a hedonistic vibe, with bars and restaurants often buzzing until the early hours, and a confidence shared by its planet-conquering football team, FC Barcelona. But Barcelona is also a city full of culture, not least in its distinctive Modernist architecture and equally enchanting older buildings.
The labyrinth Barri Gotic - Gothic Quarter - is one of Europe's best-preserved medieval centres, and the city's cathedral, complete with intricately carved spires and mythical gargoyles is a truly impressive sight. This adventurous architectural style sets the tone for other parts of the city, where buildings bend and twist in shapes at all sorts of extraordinary angles.
Basílica Sagrada Família, Barcelona
Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona's most celebrated son, is the man to thank for much of this, creating a host of Modernist landmarks in the city, including two masterpieces that rank among Barcelona's must see sights - the Park Güell gardens and the iconic, and as yet unfinished, Sagrada Família church. Barcelona is also blessed with a number of excellent galleries, including the Museu Picasso in the centre of town and the superb Fundació Joan Miró in Montjuïc, which are both well worth a visit. Food is another highlight of a stay in Barcelona.
Barcelona at night
When it comes to eating, Barcelona is home to everything from fine-dining restaurants to tiny tapas bars. Steer away from the tourist traps on Las Ramblas and you're almost guaranteed to eat some of the freshest and most delicious Catalan cuisine going. The city rivals Paris in the quality and sheer diversity of its restaurants and is recognised now as one of Europe's gastronomic capitals.