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In the south-west of Europe lies the Spanish city of Barcelona. Situated on the Mediterranean coastline, it once played an important part in the trade and communication of historical Spain; nowadays, it is one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for beaches, parties, fashion and culture.
Throughout the summer months, daily life revolves around the city’s many beaches. Indeed, the Barceloneta beach—located in the central Ciutat Vella, or Old City, district—is completely filled with people 24 hours a day.
During daylight hours you can enjoy sunbathing, surfing and chatting with your friends. You can also patronise the cerveza fria, mojito and pizza vendors—people who walk up and down the beach selling cold beer, fresh mojitos and hot pizza for only 1 euro per item. This means that you don’t have to leave the comfort of your beach towel if you need some refreshments!
When the sunset arrives the beaches quickly turn into a plethora of open bars, pubs and discos. The majority of these chiringuitos, which rent beach chairs and sun beds by day, kick off their nightly entertainment when people arrive from all over the city to have a drink, to dance in the open-air dance halls, to sit on the seashore for a romantic night with their partner, or to have a good gossip with friends.
The Catalonian capital is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most famous places in the Mediterranean for party-lovers. It is said that in Barcelona it is possible to dance to a different kind of music in a different venue every night of the week. The city boasts some of the biggest discos and clubs on the Catalonian coast, all of which frequently host concerts and performances by internationally-acclaimed artists.
In addition to the commercial music that can be found almost every five-hundred metres, Barcelona is reputed for its drum ‘n’ bass, Goa trance, rock, folk, techno, house and Latin music. You can therefore relax with an aperitivo (a pre-dinner drink intended to stimulate the appetite) whilst listening to classical or chill-out music on a quiet little terrace, before moving on to an improvised concert in the Gothic Quarter.
Barcelona is also an ideal destination for anyone with an interest in fashion. It is the home of a number of famous design schools, its streets are lined with hundreds of shops selling contemporary and vintage clothing, and its weekly market stalls are heaving with home-made wares that will appeal to the fashion-conscious shopper.
There is no prescribed ‘uniform’, however, and every style seems to have its own particular meeting place: the skaters occupy the square in front of the MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art); the hippy gardens of the Parc de la Ciutadella are filled with jugglers, musicians and spectators relaxing in casual clothes; and the cosmopolitan district of Gràcia is where bohemian artists, painters and designers establish their studios and host creative workshops.
Like most European cities, Barcelona has its fair share of great monuments and sites of cultural interest. Perhaps most worthy of note is the celebrated Modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudì: his casas along the Passeig de Gràcia, an elegant avenue in the middle of the city; the Sagrada Família, the unfinished cathedral considered by many to be his masterpiece; and the Parc Güell with its spectacular view of the metropolis.
Other important historical buildings can be found in the Gothic and Borne quarters where churches and squares abound, and the famous Rambla—a tree-lined pedestrian mall, popular with tourists and locals alike—lies within walking distance. If you are a budding painter or an art enthusiast, you may also wish to visit one of the museums, houses or cultural centres dedicated to the numerous Spanish artists who were born or lived in Catalonia—Picasso, Dalì, Brossa, Tàpies and Miró, to name but a few.
There is a myriad of reasons to visit Barcelona: the culture, the music, the exquisite wines and tapas, the friendly people and the city’s innate sense of style. If you happen to be in Europe, you cannot miss it out!