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Barcelona: Hike to the Montserrat monastery

Less than an hour outside the city, via a train from Espanya station, is the Montserrat monastery. Perched fantastically high on a spectacular, rocky mountain, you can get up there either on foot or by cable car. The monastery is impressive and the hiking trails around the mountain massif are numerous. Once the sun sets you’ll be left to enjoy the mountain views only with the deer who live up there. Settle down and watch the city lights come on below.

Level of Difficulty: Medium (if you're going to bivvy, Easy if you're just going for a day hike).

What to pack: Warm clothes (check the weather forecast!), woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag.

Best time to go: late spring or early summer - the mountains are high and chillier at night than you might anticipate.

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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. 

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easyJet holidays to Barcelona

Whether you’re travelling for culture, beaches or a romantic getaway, easyJet holidays can provide everything you need for an unforgettable holiday to Barcelona. Experience one of the jewels of Europe by selecting from a variety of great holiday packages with easyJet holidays. Choose from all-inclusive beach resorts or self-catering city-centre apartments with easyJet holidays' variety of accommodation options. The perfect holiday package is waiting for you, and easyJet holidays will have you soaking up the Spanish sun in no time. The Mediterranean is calling, so get booking - no matter the time of year.

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Shopping


The hipsters of Barcelona love nothing more than a vintage market, especially when it comes with food trucks and a fiesta atmosphere. Taking place on the first Saturday and Sunday of every month Palo Alto Market throws on live music, DJs and a vermouth bar as an aid to arts & clothes shopping. www.paloaltomarket.com


To the unwary foreigner Catalonia's Christmas traditions can seem a little bizarre. Firstly, there's the peasant who likes to poop in the nativity manger (look out for celebrity versions of Obama and Messi at the Xmas markets), and then there's Tio de Nadal, a log you beat with a stick until it deposits presents.


Get the lowdown on Catalonia's best beers, whilst visiting the new wave of bars that sell them, on a Tapas & Beers craft beer tasting tour (www.tapasandbeers.com). The guide is a master brewer and connoisseur of the scene. Foodies might prefer their tapas crawl of the Gracia district.


For several years now Sala Montjuic has screened new and classic films onto the side of the castle wall up on Montjuic hill. The idea is to take your own picnic up and enjoy a concert before night falls and the projector starts to whirl. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in July. salamontjuic.org.

Sightseeing


Three days of electronica-induced bedlam kicks off on the 15th June, as Sonar raises its hedonistic head once more, by day and by night. Amongst the headliners in 2017 are Justice, Nicolas Jaar, Moderat and De La Soul. www.sonar.es


The aforementioned Casa de les Punxes (House of the Needles) opened its doors to the public for the first time in 2016 and is on a par with many of Gaudi's own when it comes to creativity. Visitors will discover wonderful ceramics, ironwork and stained glass windows and enjoy magnificent views over Barcelona from its rooftop. www.casadelespunxes.com


The Barcelona Jazz Festival, currently celebrating its 48th edition, continues into December, finishing with a concert by The Black Heritage Choir on the 21st of the month in the wonderful Palau de Musica Catalana, one of the city's foremost architectural wonders. www.jazz.barcelona


Two giant music acts arrive in Barcelona in November, but one is Justin Bieber. So book yourself tickets for The Cure on the 26th and sing along to classics like Boys Don't Cry and Friday I'm in Love.... they play at Palau Sant Jordi.


The 49th edition of International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia takes place in Sitges between 7-16th of October (www.sitgesfilmfestival.com). As usual premieres of horror, sci-fi and fantasy, along with the highly entertaining "Zombie Walk", will bring cinema freaks together in Spain this autumn.


Every September Barcelona celebrates being rescued from a plague of locusts by Our Lady the Virgin of Mercy with the largest festival of the year. Between 22 and 25 September, expect parades of giants and dragons, human castles and fire-jumping to be taking place around town - as well as a series of free concerts by well-known bands For more information visit bcn.cat/merce.

Key Areas


One of Barcelona's most innovative parks, Diagonal Mar was completed in 2002 and is a potent symbol of the El Poblenou district's regeneration. Different eco-systems are produced by a variety of plant life, which in turn brings diverse wildfowl and other birds to the area. Gaudi-inspired sculptures show an appreciation of heritage.


The former industrial zone of Barcelona, Poblenou, continues to evolve: the latest development is a car-free "superblock" making the zone increasingly attractive. Tourism highlights include Park Diagonal Mar and the buzzing Rambla del Poblenou thoroughfare.


The narrow winding lanes of La Ribera are the perfect place to discover a quiet slice of Barcelona for yourself. The area is full of low key cafes and bars beloved by locals, whilst Lluís Domènech i Montaner's splendid Palau de la Musica Catalana can hold its own versus Gaudi's finest.


A day exploring Montjuic may necessitate a few extra calories for breakfast, but with treasures such as National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC), the Magic Fountain, Joan Miro Foundation, the Olympic Stadium, Poble Espanyol and the castle to discover this sprawling hill is arguably the city's richest treasure chest.

Day Trips


A popular spot for kitesurfing, Castelldefels is a great spot for watersports in general like wake boarding or sailing. There's also the 16th century castle to explore and some fine beachside restaurants. You can arrive within 25 minutes by train from Barcelona. www.castelldefelsturismo.com


Known as Tarraco during Caesar Augustus' reign, the coastal town of Tarragona was the most important in the region and sheltered the Emperor himself during his Cantabria campaign. Well preserved remnants of the Roman forum, amphitheatre, aqueduct and Augustan palace are highlights. www.tarragonaturisme.cat/en


The sacred mountain of Montserrat is one of Barcelona's most popular day trips. Its jagged limestone peaks are home to the Benedictine Santa Maria abbey, which in turn houses the famous 12th-century Black Virgin statue along with one of the oldest printing presses in the world. Take a train, or join an organised tour.


Take the train (35 mins) to Sitges, the beautiful and hip coastal resort on the Costa Dorada, for the town's famously raucous Carnival celebrations (21st February to 1st March). Fancy dress is a must, but bear in mind you'll be outside most of the night, and it ain't Rio... Chewbacca could be a great choice.


The spa town of Caldes de Malavella is only an hour or so away from Barcelona by train and is home to two elegant spas from the fin-de-siecle period. Balneari Prats' outdoor pool is filled with the town's mineral-rich thermal waters, great for staving off the season's chills.


The preserved medieval town of Besalu barely looks a day older than it did back in its 11th century heyday, and crossing its fortified Romanesque bridge over the Fluvia river for a spot of exploring is a real pleasure. It's about 1.5 hrs by car from Barcelona. www.besalu.cat

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