Barcelona is a great destination for a short break. It is the capital of Catalonia, a region with its own language, character and history. It is on the Mediterranean Sea and is quirky, cosmopolitan and a very cool place. The city is full of life.
Barcelona is actually set on a plain which rises gently from the sea up to the wooded hills behind the city. It is one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean and is Spain's most cosmopolitan city. The restaurants and bars are busy all year round and the seaside is packed in summer.
We just loved all the buildings in the city and the architecture is varied and fascinating. The old centre of Barcelona has one of the greatest concentrations of Gothic architecture in Europe. As well as this though, there are also some of the more bizarre buildings in the world - surreal and unusual, especially the Sagrada Familia church.
The architect Gaudi is everywhere in Barcelona - his houses and architectural creations, tiled mosaics in the shape of dragons and chimneys with faces are marvellous.
As well as these incredible buildings, there are lots of world class museums in the centre. There is also cutting edge contemporary architecture in the newer part of the city.
Barcelona also has sophisticated shops, lots of trendy restaurants and many sleek hotels.
The setting is wonderful - the wooded hills at the back, combined with lots of parks and sandy beaches which extend north from the port area. It is really an unusual city where you can combine wonderful architecture with a gorgeous seaside setting.
The city is also loud, vibrant, beautiful and bustling. We travelled there with our 8 year old son and found it to be a great place for a family holiday. There is a playful atmosphere in the city and our son soaked it all up from the moment we arrived. The climate is also good for children - mild and sunny, but also there are good beaches, lovely parks, a big amusement park and wonderful food to try.
When we explored Barcelona, we found that you really did have to pause and discover its charm in small details - the hidden courtyards of Barri Gotic are particularly special and the first glimpse of the Sagrada Familia.
There are 3 million inhabitants in this city. The climate in summer can be humid and the streets are extremely congested, busy and have lots of rush hour traffic jams. Despite all this however, it is easy to see why Barcelona is one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations. The architecture, museums and wealth of culture, combined with the ease of exploring and fun things to do, make it a wonderful city to visit.
We loved drinking wine and sangria in the lively tapas bars, eating the seafood and wonderful fish in Barceloneta and just soaking up the atmosphere of this vibrant and cosmopolitan city. We had a wonderful time!