Before revealing my number one city in Spain, let me first explain that I have not yet visited Bilbao or Salamanca or San Sebastian or Merida or Segovia. They all look fabulous in their own right, so even if my number one will be tough to dislodge, I am sure my top twelve could change in years to come.
Back to my number one – it just has to be……………Barcelona of course.
What can one say about the capital of Catalonia that has not been written already? All that is said to be great about the city is all true – the uniquely decorated architecture of Antonio Gaudi (Parc Guell, Casa Batllo, Casa Milà, Sagrada Familia), the chilled Port Olimpic area with its golden sands and ambient bars, the lively street known as Las Ramblas with its eclectic entertainers and colourful food market, the medieval narrow streets & alleyways and picturesque squares of the Barri Gotic, the lively shopping districts and much more besides.
Port Olimpic Area
I have visited a dozen times including our honeymoon on the first visit in 2000 and for football matches for the last two in 2014 & 15. I never tire of the place, there is so much to do and such a special vibe to the city.
On the first night ever in Barcelona, we stayed at the gorgeous Hotel Arts where our lofty room looked out through huge windows to the Mediterranean far below. The Ritz Carlton hotel was damned expensive, but well worth it. I have never seen such beautiful flowers in a hotel, flowers that were changed twice a day to ensure that their form and aromas were always in peak condition.
Barcelona also contains our favourite restaurant in the world (El Gran Cafe in the Barri Gotic) as well as plenty of other excellent dining and drinking establishments. Great coffee too!
You can take a funicular up into the hills for stunning views, run side trips to the likes of party town Sitges or the serene splendour of Montserrat monastery or even visit a cava chateau on the city’s outskirts.
The best thing to do in Barcelona though is just to wander, hopping on the odd bus or tram to make sure you pack as much into your visit to the wonderful city as possible.
Deservedly number one of a fabulous bunch.