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Arty-smarty in Barcelona.

Barcelona, Spain’s second city, makes for a great sophisticated urban break. The buzzing town has a veritable trove of must-see places, a red-hot nightlife and some unforgettable bars and restaurants, which explain why it’s the 4th most visited city in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome.

Much of what makes the town so special has to do with its heritage as a centre of avant-garde art and architecture. Be prepared to be wowed by the extraordinary ‘moderniste’ (Art Nouveau) creations of architect Antoni Gaudí, whose flamboyant works such as the massive Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Palau Güell, and the Casa Milá apartment building are all World Heritage Sites.

And if the recent Tate Modern exhibition of Catalan Surrealist painter Joan Miró has whet your appetite, visit the Fundació Joan Miró, set high on the hills above town. This cool building contains well over 10.000 of the artist’s works. The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, located in a jaw-dropping early modernist building are also must stop sites, as is the Picasso Museum (www.museupicasso.bcn.es). Pablo Picasso spent his formative years in Barcelona where he began his career as an artist.

Squeeze in an out-of-town trip to Figueres, birthplace of eccentric genius Salvador Dalí, home since 1974 to the amazing Dalí Theatre Museum, the world’s finest collection of his works. It’s fun and inspiring and well worth the two hour train journey. 40km away in Púbol lies the imposing 14th century castle the artist bought and restored for his wife and muse Gala.

Low cost flights are easily found to Barcelona with Easy Jet flying to its main airport and Ryanair flying to Barcelona/Girona. Rest assured, it's a great way to spend a weekend!

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