Barcelona has transformed itself from smug backwater into one of the most dynamic and stylish capitals in the world. Summer is serious party time, with week-long festa fun. But year-round the city sizzles - it's always on the biting edge of architecture, food, fashion, style, music and good times.
The buildings, many the work of an eccentric genius named Gaudí, will blow you away. The art, with significant collections by Picasso and Miró, will make you clammy all over. The people, with their exuberance, their duende, their persistent egalitarianism, will fascinate you.
Barcelona's enviable position between the mountains and the sea ensures year-round outdoor fun. It is a city that is inconceivable until you get there, unbelievable while you walk its streets and unforgettable after you've gone - if you ever manage to tear yourself away.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track