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Barcelona is the city of Gaudi and the ultimate Olympic success story that consistently ranks high on lists of top travel destinations. The 1992 Olympics spurred a decade of redevelopment, particularly along the seafront and port area, that saw Barcelona morph into a vibrant metropolis.

The capital of Catalunya and Spain’s second largest city, it rivals Madrid as the cultural capital of Spain; breaking stereotypes with its eclectic, avant garde yet charismatic flair. Reinventing Spanish ethos, Barcelona seduces with its jumble of futuristic buildings and medieval streets and creative cuisine.

Although a very modern city, Barcelona is still a stronghold of traditions. Divided into 10 districts each with its own character, the Gothic Quarter is the old city and stretches from the seafront to La Rambla. It is here that you’ll find the city’s oldest buildings, narrow streets, churches and the cathedral, La Seu. It also has a good selection of cafes and some quirky independent stores.

La Rambla, the most famous street in the city, if not in Spain, runs through the heart of the city and was described by the Spanish poet Lorca as ”the only street in the world i wish would never end.” It’s a magnet for locals and tourists alike, and while its popularity has increased the number of tawdry tourist stalls and pickpockets, it still justifies its place as one of the first stops for visitors to the city.

The other big draw is the architecture of Antoni Gaudí - his most famous work, the as yet to be completed Sagrada Familia - can be found in the Eixample district. Parc Güell is a metro ride away on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district but there are many other lesser known buildings by the architect all within walking distance of each other.

If it’s fine art you’re interested in, Barcelona has some world-class collections. As well as being home to the Picasso Museum and the Joan Miró Foundation, there are also numerous smaller galleries displaying contemporary art and photography.

When it comes to retail therapy, Barcelona has it all. The trendiest district is Borne with its Bohemian chic atmosphere, independent shops and many cafes, ideal for when you need a break from exploring the narrow medieval streets. The area around Passeig de Gracia and Avingunda Diagonal is more chi-chi with brand names including top-label designers.

With so much to do in the city, it’s easy to forget that Barcelona is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area - in the north stands Mount Tibidabo while the nearby Pyrenees offer the opportunity to ski. If you prefer grass to snow or golf courses, it all adds up to the perfect holiday destination.