Barcelona is Spain's second-largest city and the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia, in the north-east of the country. Sightseers, shopaholics and lovers of fine architecture are drawn to Barcelona throughout the year to visit attractions that include Gaudi's statuesque unfinished cathedral, Sagrada Familia, the Gothic Quarter, the Olympic Park and Las Ramblas.
Placa Catalunya is the attractive heart of Barcelona and the starting point for a walk down Barcelona's most famous street, Las Ramblas. This Old City area with its Gothic Quarter and cathedral is a maze of ancient narrow streets and squares, which when lit in the evening provide a memorable backdrop for a stroll and maybe some souvenir-hunting in the lovely specialist shops.
Hotels along Las Ramblas and close to Placa Catalunya will suit every budget, from basic no-frills accommodation to the 5* Meridien Hotel. A central location, excellent transport links and beautiful, interesting historic streets make the Old City an excellent area to stay.
Example is full of wide tree-lined boulevards and up-market shops, restaurants and bars. Along Barcelona's most expensive and elegant street, Passeig de Gracia, stand two fine examples of Gaudi's architecture, Casa Mila and Casa Batllo. Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's famous unfinished cathedral contains a museum dedicated to his work and the crypt where he is buried.
This area is known for many upmarket hotels, including the 5* Mandarin Oriental, on Passeig de Gracia, where residents can take a dip in the rooftop pool or eat in the Michelin-starred restaurant.
Montjuic hill overlooks the harbour area of Barcelona and is home to the National Palace and Illuminated Fountains. The 1992 Olympic Games were held here and the Olympic Staduim is open to the public daily throughout the year. The Spanish Village is a must to visit in Montjuic, with its church, central square and craft workshops promoting handmade products. Lovers of modern art will enjoy the Miro Foundation, displaying the work of Barcelona-born artist, Joan Miro.
Due to its location away from the centre of the city, Montjuic is a quiet and relaxed environment. Close to public transport links, central Barcelona is only minutes away, but the choice of hotels here is equally good. Ranging from small 2* establishments to the 5* luxury of the Miramar, visitors can choose according to their budget.
Gracia is an area of contrasts, being the home of Gaudi's Park Guell and also the week-long Gracia Festival which takes place in August each year. Park Guell is one of the most visited places in Barcelona. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated at the top of a steep hill and the park is full of the fairytale buildings and curvaceous structures for which Gaudi is renowned. The streets and squares of Gracia are generally peaceful until the third week in August, when the Gracia Festival takes place. The streets of Gracia are filled with a riot of colour as each street adopts a different decorative theme and music plays in all the squares. It is advisable for visitors wishing to stay in this area during August to book early.
There are nine beaches in total, all approximately fifteen minutes by metro from the city centre. They are a major tourist attraction and will be very busy during the peak summer months.
The most famous 5* beach hotel is W Barcelona, next to Barceloneta Beach. Its impressive sail-like structure is hard to miss and offers incredible views across Barcelona. Many chain hotels can be found near the beach front, in addition to beautifully designed boutique hotels for those with deeper pockets.
The Festival of Saint Joan celebrates midsummer in Barcelona with fireworks, street parties and all-night celebrations. For a great view of the fireworks make sure you are in the beach area and be prepared for a late night.
Festes de la Merce takes place in September when the entire city celebrates Catalan traditions and folklore with huge processions and pageants throughout Barcelona.
Festival del Grec is a cultural celebration which brings together performers from all over the world and can be enjoyed between late June and early August.
Many Barcelona hotels are small, locally-run establishments which offer good value accommodation that is clean and comfortable. Tourists requiring more up-market hotels also have a wealth of choice, whether they are looking for some shopping therapy or rest and relaxation on the beach. The majority of visitors choose to stay in the central areas, as Barcelona's excellent public transport system whisks them around the city in a matter of minutes. Compare the price of hotels in Barcelona using Travel Supermarket's tool and save money by booking in advance.
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