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Art, architecture, fabulous food and beautiful beaches – Barcelona really does have it all. This colorful, cosmopolitan city is the second largest in Spain, and as the capital of the autonomous Northeastern region of Catalonia, it boasts a distinct culture and an intriguing juxtaposition of old and new.
The city is divided into ten districts, or barrios, with Ciutat Vella (the old town), Eixample, Gràcia and Sants-Montjuïc among the most popular with visitors. La Rambla, a bustling boulevard stretching from the harbor to La Plaça Catalunya is a great place to start exploring, while the Barri Gòtic is the city’s oldest neighborhood, with buildings dating back 2,000 years to Roman times.
Barcelona really comes alive at night, with locals typically sitting down to dinner between 9 pm and 10 pm. Tapas, and particularly pintxos (bite-sized morsels served atop a piece of bread) offer the perfect way to sample the vast array of local specialties and are best enjoyed in the traditional manner – alongside a cold glass of vermouth. Afterwards, take a seat on the terrace of one of the city’s many cafes and bars and watch the world go by.
Barcelona is at its best in spring or fall, when it is warm enough for a dip in the Mediterranean, but not as hot and humid as at the height of summer. However, relatively mild temperatures and dry, bright days also make the city an enjoyable winter destination.
Set on a hillside, Parc de Montjuïc is more than just a pretty park offering panoramic views of the city and harbor, it is a cultural destination in and of itself. After taking the funicular to the top, meander back down the hill with stops at Palau Nacional, home to the Museu Nacional d’Arte de Catalunya, and the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, a striking minimalist building, which was originally designed by the German architect for the 1929 International Exhibition. The highlight, however, is the Fundació Joan Miró, an airy, modern space dedicated to the work of the Barcelona-born artist best known for his surrealist paintings and sculpture.
Just an hour’s train ride from Barcelona, Montserrat feels like a world away. This jagged mountain range (Montserrat translates literally as ‘serrated mountain’) is one of Catalonia’s most popular tourist destinations, and one of the area’s most important religious sites thanks to Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey that was founded in the 10th century and set high among the rocky peaks. The monastery is also home to a museum with artwork by the likes of Picasso, El Greco and Salvador Dalí, and a publishing house with one of the oldest printing presses still operating today, which dates back to 1499.
Born in the nearby city of Reus in 1852, the architect Antoni Gaudí was a pioneer of the Modernisme movement and the creative force behind many of Barcelona’s most famous buildings. His masterpiece is, of course, La Sagrada Familia, an imposing basilica combining Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, which has been named to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites despite the fact that it is still being built. Another of Gaudí’s key works is Park Güell in the city’s Gràcia district, a fantastical space that was initially designed as a self-contained suburb for the wealthy but is now a public park filled with fairytale-like structures. Though less radical, other buildings such as La Pedrera, Palau Güell, and Casa Batlló are likewise not to be missed.
If there is one thing that sets Barcelona apart from other city destinations, it’s the array of beautiful beaches that can be easily reached from the center of town. The most famous, and therefore busiest, is La Barceloneta where locals and tourists alike sunbathe and swim in the Mediterranean Sea before enjoying fresh seafood and cold drinks at one of the many chiringuitos, or seaside shacks. For a more relaxing experience, head to Bogatell Beach, which is smaller and quieter than its neighbors, but just as beautiful.
For the perfect place to stay, look no further than our selection of luxurious apartments and villas in Barcelona and nearby Sitges.
Whether you’re looking for a modern penthouse overlooking the sea, or a city center pied à terre with period features and plenty of charm, our stylish and comfortableBarcelona luxury apartments provide the perfect base to explore the city like a local. Accommodating between two and six guests, we have something for everyone, whether you’re visiting the city as a couple or with your family.
Further down the beautiful Costa Dorada, just 26 miles south of Barcelona, you’ll find the cosmopolitan seaside town of Sitges. Though its larger, more famous neighbor is within easy reach by either car or train, Sitges is a destination in its own right, offering 17 sandy beaches, acclaimed restaurants, and hikes in the mountains of the nearby Parc Natural de Garraf, which sits just behind the town. OurSitges vacation rentals are ideal for anyone looking to enjoy the charms of Catalonia without the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. From contemporary villas with views of the surrounding hills to historic manor houses, these luxurious villas offer all the space and amenities you’ll need for a truly relaxing trip.
With fantastic restaurants, world-class museums, stunning architecture and an unbeatable location on the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, a honeymoon in Barcelona is sure to be memorable. After a long day of sightseeing, followed by an evening spent soaking up the city’s famous nightlife, what could be better than returning to an elegant villa in the heart of the city, or a modern penthouse just steps from the beach?