Quirky, eccentric and fiercely patriotic. Barcelona has it all -- beaches, great nightlife and amazing shopping and sight seeing.

Why go now?
Visiting Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city, is like going to another country altogether. With its own language (Catalan), laws and traditions, people are here are fiercely proud of their city. Eclectic, dreamy, and super trendy -- Barcelona is less oppressive than the capital city, Madrid, and much more quirky. Being on the coast, temperatures are also great all year round.

It's my first time
Avenue of Las Ramblas
The brouhaha along the broad Avenue of Las Ramblas makes it one of the most exciting in streets in Spain. You can pick up a tweeting bird (in its cage), flower bouquets, printed t-shirts or stop for a cana (small beer) and listen to the street music.

 

Grab a breath of fresh air at the city’s waterfront only a short walk from Las Ramblas. On Sunday mornings, local families and tourists rub shoulders, strolling along the sand and dipping their toes in the somewhat chilly Med. Order a fragrant dish of seafood paella or fried calamari at La Mar Salada (Passeig Joan de Borbó).

I've been before

Parque Guell

Eccentric artist Antoni Gaudí’s colorful and crazy Parque Guell is a great way to spend the day. Bring a picnic and see some of the artists’ most creative designs — the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Culture is the heart and soul of Barcelona, so dropping by the Museu Picasso (museupicasso.bcn.es) is a must. Some of his greatest work is on display here.

Where to shop
Head to the antiques market held in front of a cathedral on Plaça Nova, in Barrí Gòtic district. It’s a beautiful place to buy all sorts of bits and bibelots; dramatic manila shawls, posters, sturdy jewelry and the odd dusty old typewriter. Haggling isn’t an option, it’s a must.

 

Established in the 18th century, the bustling Mercat de la Boqueira (La Rambla, 91) is great for a not-so-ordinary afternoon shopping. Fresh fruit and vegetables form vivid pyramids of colour and stalls sell pretty much everything Spanish and delicious, from fresh cheeses, to breads and cuts of meat.

Where to go out
Standup tapas bar Quimet & Quimet (Poeta Cabanyés 25) is a great way to start the night. The cramped space manages to remain cozy and all sorts of cans and bottles cover the wall from top to bottom. Its “New York meets Catalunya”­ vibe spreads to the delicious menu of cream cheese (all cheeses are overwhelmingly used as the leading ingredient here), beef and sweet tomato jam.

 

The wine selection is particularly good. Watch people fill their glasses or even bottles with wine pouring (not literally) out of the oak barrels at Bar Bodega Teo, a local fixture since opening in 1951. The interior design is flashy and fabulous- fairy lights and insect lamps are there to keep you out of the dark.