Barcelona is the jewel in the crown of Catalonia. This gorgeous, sun-drenched, historic town abounds with culture and practically hums with energy. Whether you’re wanting to explore Modermisme architecture, indulge in gastronomical delights, get lost in medieval laneways or soak up the sun on Europe’s best urban beach, Barcelona will delight and surprise you. So put on your comfy shoes and get ready for 24 hours of non-stop fun.
The early bird catches the worm, or in Barcelona it sure beats the crowds. One of the best ways to start your day is to head straight for Park Güell where Anton Gaudi turned his hand to landscaping. The early morning light casts a beautiful glow over this whimsical wonderful full of the sorts of touches that make Gaudi so beloved. The entrance to the park is guarded by a colourful chameleon-like dragon. Behind it up the stairs you’ll find the Sala Hipóstila, a Doric temple with rows of playfully leaning columns that will tilt your perspective. Gaudi’s name is synonymous with Barcelona and his magical touch is everywhere. As amazing as Park Güell is, it’s but a precursor to the main event. From here head to Gaudi’s unfinished yet spectacular masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. This wondrous fairy-tale of a building seems to break all the rules yet soars gloriously high with its playful and intricate turrets. As you step inside you enter an enchanted forest of columns and curves. Light pours through vibrantly coloured stained-glass windows that are steeped in religious symbolism. La Sagrada will bewitch you for hours but when your tummy starts to rumble it’s time to head into town for a spot of lunch.
To get a real sense of Barcelonan life and cuisine there’s nowhere better to head for lunch than Mercat de la Boqueria, one of the city’s main markets. La Boqueria is a riot of activity with rows of fruit, vegetables, meats and traditional delicacies that will satisfy even the most refined of foodies. Try Jabugo ham or Asturian goat’s cheese, or if you’re feeling more adventurous pig’s trotters, goose-necked barnacles and snails are just some of the local delicacies on offer.
Once you’ve refuelled, head out onto La Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous pedestrian boulevard. It’s full of street performers, vendors, open-air cafes and people strolling about watching other people strolling about. Sure it’s touristy but the atmosphere is undeniably fun. When you’ve had your fill of the crowds, slip off into the narrow medieval alleyways of the Barri Gotic and spend the afternoon getting delightfully lost. Here you’ll find the magnificent 13th century La Cathedral, Barcelona’s main place of worship. Take the lift to the roof where you get to share the fantastic view of the city with the cathedrals many gargoyles.
By now, you’re probably ready for a refreshing cocktail or drink and there’s no better place in Barcelona than down on the beach. Barceloneta is considered one of the best urban beaches in the world and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a drink as the sun goes down. Barcelonans don’t even think about dinner until at least 9pm so take your time. Barcelona is one of the world’s best cities for food and dining and choosing where to eat will be one of your most difficult decisions. After dinner, it’s time to wander the streets and have a ‘gintonic’ at one of several specialist gin bars. If you’ve still got energy to burn, Barcelona is jam-packed full of specialist bars, nightclubs and late night venues to keep you partying on until the sun rises again. 24 hours in this 24 hour city will exhaust and regenerate you in a way only Barcelona can.
Spain uses Euros and has a developed banking sector, so you won’t have any difficulties finding ATMs in Barcelona, but for larger purchases and accommodation we recommend MasterCard’s Cash Passport. Accepted at ATMs, banks and major hotels, it’s the easiest and safest way to take your money travelling. With a MasterCard Cash Passport you can lock in the exchange rate before you travel and won’t have to accept what is offered at the airport.
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