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So often, getting the perfect balance between great culture, even better food and a killer hotel can be all but impossible and somewhere along the line, you have to compromise on one essential feature to make the rest worthwhile. There are some places in the world, however, which magically deliver on all fronts, serving you up all of the essential ingredients for a perfect trip.
A city practically created by the vacation gods, Barcelona in Spain really does have it all. Balancing a healthy dose of Catalan culture, an incredible local dining scene and some of the best nightlife spots in the world, the city is a great place in which to get away from it all and catch up on some much needed r&r. Located on the Spanish coast, the city is large enough so you won’t easily run out of options and compact enough to make hopping from one spot to the next a real breeze. Easy.
Where to stay
First things first, getting a great hotel spot should be at the top of your agenda and luckily for you, the city more than delivers on the sleep front. No matter your budget, there is something unique on offer, which will blow all of your others stays out of the water. If you’re looking to save on the hotel, but still want somewhere with great interior design, then you need to set your sights on the Hotel Praktik. Located right next to a number of public transport options, the hotel is in easy distance of all of the best hotspots and restaurants. Each room is kitted out in its own unique artwork, while the outdoor terrace offers a little calm away from the buzzing city.
If you want a little more independence in your stay, however, you should set your sights on the city’s huge number of apartment rental schemes. While Airbnb is of course big news in the city, you might want to source a new type of stay and if this is the case, you can’t get much better than Chic and Basic. Sprawling across the city, the company has a number of different properties to choose from, each with a different interior design. Every rental also comes equipped with its own bicycles, making getting around the city a real breeze.
What to do
When it comes to activities in Barcelona, you’re incredibly well covered and no matter what you’re searching for, there is something that will really take you by surprise. While making a beeline for Gaudi’s various architectural feats is all part and parcel of the city experience, there are plenty of other things to get excited about, too. The city is full of artistic references and over the years, was home to many of history’s most enduring creatives. You can follow the Picasso trail by walking down the streets and neighborhoods which influenced the artist’s singular style, all before taking a stroll around the Museu Picasso, in which many of his most famous works are located.
If the arts aren’t your thing, however, you can try hiking up the Montjuïc mountain – a place that is rarely on the tourist trail. While it does take some effort to get to the top, by the time you get there, you won’t regret a thing. Looking out on the city, the park offers one of the best urban vistas anywhere in the area and offers a rural respite to the rest of the urban sprawl.
Where to eat
A coastal town, Barcelona has a huge number of great eating spots, all stuffed with the finest local fare and fresh seafood. If you’re on the hunt for a real showpiece of a meal, then you should head directly to the hugely popular Alkimia. Approaching classic Catalan cooking with a theatrical flair, the restaurant is renowned for its deconstructed dishes and experimental style of serving. It’s not just all appearances, either; the food, although in strange guises, utilizes all of the best ingredients from Spanish cooking, leaving diners feeling more than satisfied.
If you want to try your hand at the local tapas scene, however, you can try the incredibly popular Tickets. While actually securing a table at the sought after restaurant can be a little tricky, once you’re in, you are privy to some of the most incredible cooking you will ever taste. The restaurant follows traditional tapas menus but, by including seasonal produce and one off ingredients across a number of the dishes, adds a little something extra to the tasting experience. You might have to book some months in advance but if you manage to get in, make sure you haven’t eaten before.
Home to great culture, food and drink, Barcelona is one of the most vibrant places in Europe and it’s hardly surprising that so many people choose to make it their vacation destination. Ever changing and expanding, the city never stays the same so even if you’re visiting for a second or third time, you’re guaranteed something spectacular.