Barcelona is undoubtedly one of the world's shopping capitals with an endless swathe of big designer brands in tall, airy buildings. Down toward the water are shops and stalls of the souvenir variety, especially the famous La Rambla. That's where you'll find outdoor stands selling everything from succulent plants to key chains and sweet blocks of sticky turron.
Just off La Rambla is La Boqueria, an enclosed, outdoor market that's constantly swarming with locals and holidaymakers looking to pick up a little slice of Spain. At the stalls, you can pop by for fresh fish, tubs of sliced coconut or mango and marzipan sweets, or cosy up to a bar and stay a while for tapas and a glass of wine.
Antoni Gaudi is Barcelona's most celebrated architect, and certainly one of the most influential. He left his mark across the city with some of Barcelona's most iconic structures, including the mega famous Sagrada Familia, the expansive Park Guell and unassuming buildings like Casa Mila and Casa Calvet that, though you may accidentally stumble upon them during your holiday to Barcelona, you won't be able to ignore.
Construction on the Sagrada Familia began more than 100 years ago, but this giant sandcastle of a cathedral is still open to the public. You'd be wise to book your tickets in advance to avoid what are often lengthy queues. Sitting up in the hills is Park Guell, which acts as an incredible escape from the noise of the city. It's lined with Gaudi's characteristic mosaics that make the park not only a peaceful spot for a walk, but one with gorgeous views, too.
Barcelona’s beachy side
Barcelona may be a bustling city, but it still has its beachy side that offers a little slice of a relaxation. Barceloneta Beach is the most popular beach here, as it's especially convenient to reach, about 20 minutes from the base of La Rambla and running parallel to the boardwalk.
It's a golden, sandy beach that gets particularly crowded in the summer months, though more than four kilometres of space means you shouldn't have trouble finding a place to lay your towel. Nearby, the marina is packed with cafes and ice cream stands should you need a quick pick-me-up. That's the beauty of a big city – you'll never have to travel far to find what you need.
Tapas and paella
There's a reason Spain is famous for its cuisine, and Barcelona flies that flag of culinary excellence proudly. Being such a worldly city means you'll get a spread of just about everything as far as international cuisine goes, but you'd be wise to eat as the Spaniards do. We're talking about tapas of course, served in small plates and shared with your table. Paella is another favourite in Barcelona, typically topped with seafood and served in shallow cauldrons family style.
Those summer nights
Barcelona's nightlife scene is legendary, kicking off around midnight and going strong until the sun comes back around. A good place to start a night out is on La Rambla, where you can then fan out from there. The Gothic Quarter is known for its trendy bars, though an easier, more holidaymaker-forward spot is the Plaza Real, a big open space lined with cafes that offer up cocktails with a side of people watching.
But if it's big time clubs you're after, Barcelona is more than happy to oblige. The biggest clubs are peppered throughout the city, and will most likely come with a cover fee which usually gets you a few drinks.