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Destinations: Barcelona, Spain

Here's your essential guide to getting the best out of a city-break in Barcelona.

Fast facts

Location nickname: Barna

Don't miss: La Sagrada Familia - Gaudi's famously unfinished cathedral

Best avoid: Flamenco shows - this is not Andalucia

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Don't miss: Tapas - get a flavour of the city

Best avoid: Tourist restaurants along Las Ramblas - poor value and quality

1 Camp Nou

That Barcelona has a football team will not escape any visitor.  Barça's home stadium has a capacity of almost 99,000 and the cheapest match tickets start at €19 - though you'll need to bring binoculars.  Self-guided tours, available on non-match days, include elements to interest even those who care little about the offside rule.

2 La Boqueria

Too often ignored by first time travellers, the city's market dates from the 13th century and offers an intensely colourful, fragrant and concentrated microcosm of Catalunya.  Awarded the title of the world's best market, from outstanding fruit and veg to charcuterie, fresh and salted fish, seafood, bread and wine, a quick visit is not an option.

3 La Sagrada Familia

Think you have a problem with builders?  Antoni Gaudi's unique gothic basilica was started in 1882 - its estimated completion date is 2026.  With eight spires reaching to 170m and a design that is as complex as it polarising, Barcelona's most recognisable landmark attracts long queues.  Skip the lines and learn more by taking a guided tour. 

4 Las Ramblas

This long drag runs from the airy Plaça de Catalunya via some fine examples of 19th century architecture, Miro's famous pavement mosaic and La Boqueria market, to the yacht marina.  Car-free for stretches, cafes spill into the street, whiles musicians, street entertainers and living statues play to the crowds.  Scammers and pickpockets too ply their trade - watch out!

5 Montjuïc

Parc de Montjuïc occupies a wooded hill overlooking the city, topped by Castell de Montjuïc.  Here too Fundació Joan Miró has an extensive collection of the Catalan artist's paintings, sculptures and drawings.  Nearby is El Poble Espanyol where 117 buildings showcase Spanish vernacular architecture, and Font Màgica, the city's largest ornamental fountains, both complement the MNAC gallery (see entry below).

6 Museu Nacional d'Art Catalunya (MNAC)

The museum's palatial building at Montjuïc was built for Barcelona's 1929 International Exposition.  It is now home to an exceptional Romanesque collection, Gothic works, Renaissance and Baroque masters, and extends to Catalan Modernism and photography.  Views inside are rivalled only by those from the museum's terrace which extend out over the city.

7 Museu Picasso

Pablo Picasso is an adopted son of Barcelona having attended its School of Fine Art from the age of 13.  The world's most extensive collection of the artist's work, over 4,000 pieces is displayed across five mediaeval palaces, and confirms there's much more to this 20th century artistic icon than just his Blue Period.

8 Park Güell

Designed by Gaudí before WW1 as a garden complex and an unrealised housing project, the park lies on the hill of El Carmel and is part of the artist's UNESCO site.  A remarkable fantasy of Modernist art, Catalan symbolism and nature it's now owned by the city, is free to enter, and is one of Europe's largest architectural works.

9 Seafood

Barcelona is justly renowned for its high quality seafood, and excellent restaurants exist all across the city.  However, beside the city beach the district of La Barceloneta, long associated with the fishing industry, has a particularly good selection.  Try El Racó del Mariner for memorable paella de marisco or simple fried squid or shrimps.

10 Tapas

For authentic tapas at reasonable prices head to Quimet I Quimet, Calle del Poeta Cabanyes.  But be warned, the place is tiny, crowded, has no seats and at a distance easily mistaken for an up-market off license.  Baffled by over 80 tapas styles?  Dig into a montadito open sandwich, perhaps salmon, yoghurt and truffle honey…

This article has been produced in association with www.talkholiday.com

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