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Europe » Spain » Barcelona

Barcelona sited between the sea and the mountains, has found a formidable balance: a foot in the traditional things and the other in the avant-garde. Barcelona has the reputation of being the most cosmopolitan, modern and avant-garde city in Spain and it has renewed for the 1992 Olympic Games.

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When it comes to treasures, Barcelona can be likened to the fabled riches of the isle of Monte Cristo! The city is positively overflowing with polished diamonds and rare gems, all ready to be unearthed by the intrepid explorer. A natural starting point for taking in Barcelona's attractions is of course the renowned Las Ramblas boulevard, the main artery of the city, which stretches from Placa Catalunya right down to the harbour. This huge thoroughfare is heaving 24 hours a day with tourists, theatre goers, party animals and of course those mischievous - and often bonkers - street performers. You can't and you won't miss it!

 

Either side of Las Ramblas are the two halves of the Old Town, La Raval and the Barri Gotic. The Barri Gotic (or Gothic Quarter) is certainly the most touristy part of the city and its popularity is well deserved. The area's labyrinthine alleys will lead you past Roman ruins, picturesque plazas and Catholic churches, not to mention all manner of funky boutiques and bars. Two unmissables for your itinerary are La Seu Cathedral, with its thirteen white geese, and Placa Reial, with it fountain and palm trees. Venture a bit further in the same direction to find the delightful Born district, which has much of the same vibe as the Gothic Quarter but without the hordes of digital-camera-wielding wayfarers. The Picasso Museum and the Ciutadella Park are two highlights, as is a beer on the Passeig del Born.

 

Step onto the other side of Las Ramblas and you will find the somewhat shabby district of Raval. Whilst some bits of Raval are far from wholesome, some of Barcelona's prettiest streets and outdoor cafes can be found here, and the MACBA hosts some of the best contemporary art in the city.

 

We've come so far and yet haven't even mentioned Senor Gaudi yet! Time to introduce the great man. Whilst his handiwork is dotted all across Barcelona you'll find the maestro's most familiar facades, La Pedrera and Casa Batllo, on the Passeig de Gracia (another of the city's huge boulevards, and a haven for high end shopping). For his masterpiece however you'll have to take the metro into L'Eixample ('The Addition') where you can witness first hand the overpowering architecture of La Sagrada Familia. Complete your Gaudi-themed tour with a trip to Park Guell.

 

Sick of sightseeing? Well chomp on an energy bar and get going again because there're plenty more attractions you can't go home until you've seen. Montjuic mountain with its castle and Magic Fountain, views from the top of Tibidabo, and lazy days on the beach at Barceloneta. There really is more to see than can be printed here so check out our district by district guide to find out more about Barcelona's abundant attractions, or venture further into Catalonia on one of these unmissable day trips.

 

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