Popular City: Barcelona

Arguably edgier and more bohemian than Madrid, Barcelona is Catalonia’s bastion of urban cool. And as you’d expect from a city that enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, living takes place very much outdoors. From dining on tapas alfresco on La Rambla to basking in the sun on Barceloneta, out is the new in, and being cooped up in Gaudi-inspired, Gothic-style buildings (however breathtakingly beautiful) is only for the old, retired or, dare we say it, muertos.

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, the northeastern region of Spain that has fought to maintain cultural, lingual and political independence from the rest of the Iberian Peninsula for centuries. Although this sovereignty was threatened during Franco’s years of dictatorship, Spain’s post-fascist era has reignited Barcelona’s separatism. But don’t be alarmed, the same romanticized images of sensual women, late-night debauchery and progressive art make Catalonia’s capital akin to its Spanish neighbors, with just a pinch of difference.

“Edgier and more bohemian than Madrid, Barcelona is Catalonia’s bastion of urban cool.”

Because of the city’s love affair with the outdoors, sport is big business — most notably in the form of the Barcelona Football Club, housed inside the third largest stadium in the world, with a capacity of 110,000. Games are beloved by city dwellers and visitors alike, and the stadium’s due for a refurbishment, with starchitects Foster + Partners set to take on the project. And it’s not just professionals who enjoy the active lifestyle; the beach provides access to water sports and beach volleyball for all, while Piscines Picornell comprises both indoor and outdoor pools for swimming, diving and general horseplay.

But Barcelona’s not just about toning up, and the city knows how to let its hair down, with help from plenty of places to work up a sweat away from the playing field. Drinking and dancing is a way of life here, and disco divas and dance-floor dons come from the office to the bar every night of the week. Cocktails reign supreme in this city of nocturnal sin, from the rooftop environs of Eclipse Bar at the W to the boisterous dance floors at Razzmatazz.

For tourists wanting a pit stop in Spain, Barcelona is usually the go-to. Still revamped due to a major face-lift for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, tourism has skyrocketed in the last two decades, aptly providing superior public transportation, economically diverse lodging and English-language convenience.

During the summer, people bask in the outdoors, whether in public parks or on the patios of small restaurants that constitute Catalonia’s culinary uniqueness. For a call to tourism, trudge through the street performers, artists and vendors on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famous pedestrian boulevard that ends at Placa de Catalunya, the city’s portal to the Mediterranean. Once the smell of sea salt wafts into your nostrils, Barcelona’s true beauty materializes: Here is a city of art and history that is much more desirable when you can feel the sand between your toes.

And when it comes to explorability, it doesn’t get better than Barcelona. With everything from wide, tree-lined boulevards to narrow cobblestone streets, pedestrians need only take a stroll to soak up the city’s stunning aesthetic.

Montserrat, Gaudi and Modernism Small Group Day Trip from Barcelona
The Montserrat, Gaudi and Modernism tour is a unique chance to combine two of Barcelona’s most iconic attractions: the stunning Montserrat and the extraordinary genius of Anton Gaudi. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 15 people on this small group tour, ensuring you’ll receive personalized attention from your guide.
Hiking in St Miquel del Fai
In St. Miquel del Fai, waterfalls tumbling from rocky cliffs combine with medieval architecture to create a magical mix. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 8 people on this small group hiking tour, ensuring you’ll receive personalized attention from your knowledgeable guide.
2-Day Southern Catalonia Tour: Sitges, Tarragona and Santes Creus
Escape Barcelona on a two-day tour to southern Catalonia’s most famous destinations: Sitges, Tarragona and Santes Creus. Combine history, beach fun and great wine as you admire Roman remnants in Tarragona, explore the fascinating coastal village of Sitges and enjoy a wine tasting at Bodegas Torres, one the most famous wineries in Catalonia.
Montserrat Royal Basilica Half-Day Trip from Barcelona
Getaway to the Montserrat mountains on a half-day trip from Barcelona. You’ll visit the Royal Basilica with its 12th-century carving of the Black Virgin and perhaps hear the children’s choir sing.
Barcelona Hop-on Hop Off Tour: East to West Route
See Barcelona at your own pace on a one-day or two-day hop-on hop-off tour. With two interconnected routes, this tour is the easiest way to get around Barcelona and see all the sights. Get a bird’s eye view of the cobbled medieval streets of Las Ramblas, discover the Port Ol?mpic beachfront promenade and see the famous F.C. Barcelona football stadium.
Barcelona Gourmet Food and La Boqueria Market Walking Tour
Walk through the Old Town as you discover Barcelona’s most emblematic gastronomic establishments. Learn about Catalan gastronomic culture, an essential ingredient of its cultural heritage.
Flamenco Night at Tablao Cordobes
Feel the passion of the flamenco at Barcelona’s legendary Tablao Cordobes, where some of the greatest names in flamenco have performed. Entertained by an internationally renowned flamenco group, you’ll discover why the traditional dance of Spain is so popular. You’ll also have the option of dining on a traditional buffet meal or simply ordering a drink to enjoy while watching the show.
Salvador Dali Museum, Figueres and Cadaques Small Group Day Trip from Barcelona
This is without doubt, one of the most complete Salvador Dal? tours available. Spend the morning at the unique Dal? Museum in Figueres and finish the day either on his beloved Costa Brava, visiting his home in Port Lligat and the magificent Cap de Creus, or at the castle he built for his wife. It’s a complete surrealistic experience. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 15 people on this small group walking tour, ensuring you’ll receive personalized attention from your guide. And by booking ahead, you won’t waste any time waiting in line!
Barcelona Photography Walking Tour: Walk Thru The Ages
Join a photographic adventure in Barcelona, one of the most vibrant cities in Europe!
Montserrat and Artistic Barcelona Day Trip
Montserrat and Artistic Barcelona Day Trip combines two best selling tours at a discounted price. Start the morning with a tour to Montserrat’s Royal Basilica before spending the afternoon exploring Barcelona’s special artistic heritage. If time is tight and you’d like to travel beyond Barcelona, this full-day super saver tour gives you a delicious taste of Catalonia, Spain. Even better, you’ll enjoy a 5% discount when you buy these tours in this way.

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Restrictions: 3-day & 5-day pass travel by 9/30/2011
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