Like something out of a surrealist dreamscape, the Catalan capital gets its mojo from Modernism, a cultural movement from the early 20th century that sets the tone for just about everything in this cosmopolitan city. The magical port on the Mediterranean is a bustling metropolis that clings relentlessly to its ancient Spanish charms.
The neighborhoods are as versatile as the city. Antoni Gaudí's monumental Sagrada Familia cathedral, which rises hundreds of feet above the downtown is at the center of this utopian melting pot, in the elegant L'Eixample district, filled with galleries, boutiques and cafes. Antiquity meets modernity in the Gothic Quarter, a mix of old and new in a labrynth of cobblestone streets. Walk the adjoining La Rambla, the most famous pedestrian promenade in Spain, a gradual one mile descent toward the sea. When it comes to an escape from the city, locals head to the "magic mountain," Tibidabo, for a ride on a 100-year-old Ferris wheel, or take the funicular to a monastery on Montserrat mountain, where choir boys sing on high.
With our curated guide to Barcelona, discover the many colors of Spain's coolest city, a hub of high culture and carefree bohemianism, where the uncommon awaits around every turn, each step offering the opportunity for new discoveries.