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Barcelona: arguably Spain’s most avant-garde city.

If you’re looking for a sophisticated city weekend break, then try Barcelona. Spain’s second city is a healthy rival of its capital, Madrid, not only in football. Both cities have a veritable trove of must-see places, a red-hot nightlife, some unforgettable bars and restaurants and great art collections. So if you’ve ‘done’ Madrid, now is the time to head for Catalonia’s main city, the 4th most visited in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome. Barcelona is at the forefront of European fashion, entertainment and the arts.

Pablo Picasso spent his formative years in Barcelona, studied and began his career as an artist here and a visit to the Picasso Museum (www.museupicasso.bcn.es) is a must. Lovers of modern art will also enjoy the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, the Fundació Joan Miró, and Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

The city is home to Europe’s largest Gothic quarter (Barri Gótic), the town’s old centre, where many buildings date back to medieval times. But what you can’t fail to miss is the town’s extraordinary ‘moderniste’ (Art Nouveau) architecture, especially the flamboyant work of architect Antoni Gaudí. His massive Sagrada Família, Park Güell and Palau Güell, are all World Heritage Sites.

With a severe recession lingering in Spain there are some good hotel deals to be had, and Easy Jet offers low cost flights to Barcelona while Ryanair flies to Barcelona/Girona.

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