Explore the Catalonian Capital of Barcelona

Travel & LeisureTravel Spot

  • Author Mathieu Quintart
  • Published December 1, 2011
  • Word count 712

Flights to European cities are now affordable and numerous and holidaying in one of these cities doesn't have to cost the earth, regardless of whether it's a weekend getaway, a few weeks backpacking, or just a rest during a working week.

With plenty of famous art galleries to visit, people proud of their cultural identity, architecture, wine and cheap grubs or gourmet meals to choose from, exhaustive shopping options, and warm weather with a beach on the doorstep, you have everything for a perfect vacation.

Barcelona is proud of the great painters and sculptors who lived in the city, and many of them have left their mark in the form of architecture and art galleries. Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro both have museums dedicated to their work and there are other art galleries to enjoy. Find out about the history of the city and its Roman origins, or visit the Santa Agata chapel right in the centre of the historical district.

It is only after UNESCO granted the World Heritage status to some of Guadi's works that the world fully recognized his work. The numerous installments exhibiting his signature style are preserved, and it's worth going to Barcelona just to see his finest pieces found all over the city. Any architectural tour should start with Gaudi as he was the best Catalan architect to live.

Gaudi also started the project Park Guell intending it as a place to unwind for the rich and upper classes. A dedicated learner, his love of nature resulted in the lack of straight strokes in his creations, obvious in the curved corners, twisted iron effigies and organic shapes he uses. There are some great elements in his art pieces in the park, as well as the famous Sagrada Familia, such as the centenary arches, coned shaped roofs and tree inspired pillars. The same can also be observed in Casa Museu Gaudi where he resided for most of his final twenty years.

The top of the park can be accessed by a steep climb but it's worth it for the 360 degree views of the park and city below. The fish sculpture overlooks the ocean and is breathtakingly big measuring 35m by 54m. Constructed from stone, steel and glass you can't fail to spot it as the surface is covered with shiny metal plates that change colour throughout the day.

Urban extensions are curbed so as to allow conservation and management rather than new expansion, enabling the city to retain its vibrant spirit. Bars in Barcelona start to fill up from 2am onwards but there's lots of late licensed bars that open around 10 and are open until late, some have a restaurant or live music. If you want to carry on partying after most of the other places have closed then these are the bars to look out for, but there's little disparity between them and the clubs, except the prices and opening times. Clubs generally start getting packed after 1am and close around 5, or even 7am, and if you still don't want to stop then check out the PR crews handing out leaflets for clubs that stay open until the afternoon. A few hours of sleep at your apartment or hotel and it's time to start all over again!

Look for cozy old fashioned Spanish bars, these joints may be termed local bars for local people but foreigners also drink here as there's no banging music or trouble.

Live a more interesting life this year and get away for a few days. A good network of low cost airlines and travel agents means it doesn't cost very much at all to add new adventures into your life, be spontaneous or book a few days away as a surprise for someone. A short trip is more affordable, instead of saving for a year to spend 14 days away, why not break the mould and visit different cities instead? Serviced apartments in Barcelona come in all shapes and sizes, from studio rooms to fully serviced with fitted kitchens and bathrooms.

Rental apartments often provide clean bedsheets and towels, fridge, a basic kitchenette, cable TV and WIFI internet access. The accommodation barcelona market in Barcelona is very well established, so do some homework and dig around to find out what is available.

Mathieu writes aboutgothic quarter apartment and Las Ramblas apartments.

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