Cheap flights to Barcelona
If you're looking for a city that's got it all you couldn't do much better than choose the Catalan capital Barcelona, Spain's second city, and one that's bursting with life at every turn. Whether you’re looking for a party town, laid back beach resort, or a cultural oasis in which to lose yourself this city has activities to keep everyone happy.
Not many European cities steeped in culture can also boast beautiful beaches literally right on their doorsteps, but Barcelona is no average city. Explore out-of-this-world buildings courtesy of famous local architect Gaudi, head down to Las Ramblas to find crazy street performers and market stalls selling everything from fruit and flowers, to birds, bunnies and snakes in cages or join the bikini set at Barceloneta Beach, a 15-minute stroll out of town and finish your day enjoying nightlife to rival Paris or London. This city has it all.
Loved La Sagrada Familia? From there take a walk up the pedestrianised Avinguda de Gaudi to the stunning Hospital de Sant Pau, one of the city's unsung architectural gems from the same period and also UNESCO listed. For more information visit santpaubarcelona.org.
If you only take home one seasonal souvenir from Barcelona make sure it's a Caganer, a squatting statuette of a peasant (traditionally) or a celebrity (21st century) doing a number two for good luck. Available at all good Christmas markets.
Biking around Barcelona's many bike paths in autumn feels great after a searing and sweaty summer. International company Fat Tyre offer well-priced tours to cycling sightseers, whilst local firm Steel Donkeys are a hipper alternative. Or simply rent and go!
The humble chiringuito (beach bar), once threatened with closure, is enjoying a healthy renaissance in BCN. You'll find a steady stream of these increasingly chi-chi shacks parked up on the sands of all seven city beaches. If you must drink sangria, these are the only acceptable places to do so.
For a night of vulgar verses by lewd lyricists, pull back the curtains of Barcelona's Prostibulo Poetico ("Poetry Brothel"), where private readings are shamelessly exchanged for cold, hard cash. Events are sporadic, and take place at various venues, so keep an eye on their Facebook page: facebook.com/prostibulo.poetico.3
Thought Christmas was over? Here in Catalonia locals exchange festive gifts on 6 January (Epiphany). The night before The Three Wise Men arrive in Barcelona by boat and lead a parade around the city. Head to Port Vell around 4pm on 5 Jan to witness the fun.
November sees a glut of international superstars jetting in to BCN to pack out the city's biggest concert venues. There's Madonna (on 24th and 25th), Foo Fighters (19th), Belle & Sebastian (11th) and, your dad's favourite, Supertramp (7th).
The International Fantastic Film Festival takes place in Sitges from 9 to 18 October, giving you the chance to see indie films like Coin Locker Girl, Experimenter and Turbo Kid before they go global. For more information visit www.sitgesfilmfestival.com.
Every district in Barcelona celebrates its own "Festa Major" (Grand Festival) during summer but La Merce is the Festa Major of the entire city. On 18-24 September noisy parades, correfoc (fire runs), live music, street theatre, castellers (human castles) and much more create Europe's biggest street party. merce.bcn.cat
During summer every barrio in Barcelona celebrates its own district festival or "festa major", but it's Gracia's that draws the biggest crowds year after year. Live music, street parties, human castles and insane correfoc (fire runs) are all part of the fun. Catch it on 15-21 August. festamajordegracia.cat
Rocking the mountain (well, hill) of Montjuic every Sunday during summer is Piknic Electronik, the one-day weekly electronic music fest that started in Montreal. Feel free to bring the family and your own food for this alfresco fiesta that features plenty of activities and diversions. piknicelectronik.es
Join another 300,000 revellers at one of the world's biggest carnivals in Sitges, just down the road from Barcelona. The action runs from 4-10 February with parades on the 7th and 9th at 8pm. Fancy dress is a must!
Torre Bellesguard only opened to the public in 2013 and its out of the way location means it's one Gaudi creation you can enjoy in relative quiet. Beautiful inside and out, with views over Barcelona, it's well worth the journey. For more information visit bellesguardgaudi.com.
Barcelona has a love affair with chocolate and even has a own chocolate museum. For something authentic track down a traditional granja and order churros to dip in your hot chocolate.
Formerly known only as the city's scuzziest roundabout, the area around Glories has enjoyed a serious revamp in the last year or so. Now you can recline in deckchairs by the Design Museum (museudeldisseny.cat) or shop under the gleaming metallic superstructures of Les Encants market's new home (encantsbcn.com), just for starters.
If you're not into low budget horror, sci fi and fantasy you could still sidle over to Sitges, a beautiful coastal town which manages to be bohemian, family friendly and gay friendly all at once. Just 35 minutes by train from Barcelona, it's a great place to unwind.
Around a two-hour drive from Barcelona, Pals is a quiet medieval town perched on a wooded hill, under which plains of crops and sunflowers spread out north towards the Pyrenees and a two-mile stretch of golden sands unravels before the Mediterranean sea. One of Costa Brava's most scenic spots. palsturisme.com
There are few places in the world that live up to their holiday brochure alter ego, but Cadaques seems to exist in HDR. Set your camera to panorama mode and get ready to enjoy cobalt blue bays of bobbing fishing boats backed by white-washed houses and their signature terracotta-tiled roofs.
The magnificent beach town of Tossa de Mar boasts the only surviving medieval fortress on the sea in this part of Spain. And while the city beach is nice, it's better to hike along the rugged coast to arrive at hidden coves and bays.