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.
This is an extract from a post that I did about top 10 Spanish towns:
“After we were certain that we had seen what there was to see in Besalú we returned to the main square and the shade of the pavement café parasols and as we watched guests arriving for a wedding in the church we agreed that this was one of the most attractive places that we had visited in Spain and excluding cities we started to compile a top ten and in no particular order this is it:
The fishing village of Cudillero in Asturias with its tiered buildings wedged into a wooded rocky cove and staying on the northern coast the stone built village of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria and then dashing south to Andalusia and the immaculate white-washed villages of Ronda and, close to Seville, the town of Carmona. I think we are happy to declare Extremadura as among our favourite places in Spain and from here the conquistador town of Trujillo must surely have a place in our top ten. Next I had to squeeze in the historic town of Ciudad Rodrigo in Castilla y Leon and finally four places in the centre of the country and all quite close to Madrid, Chinchon of course with its delightful Plaza Mayor and nearby Almagro and then the delightful town of Siquenza and finally, and this just might be the best of all, the mountain village of Pedro Bernardo once again in Castilla y Leon.”
Sounds wonderful, a Spain certainly is a blessed country. I must get my map out and plan something.
I was robbed in Barcelona and because of that it doesn’t make my top twelve!
I have enjoyed your run down of favourite Spanish cities. Just for comparison here is mine counting down from 12 to 1 – Alcala de Henares, Palencia, Santiago de Compostela, Cordoba, Caceres, Salamanca, Cuenca, Segovia, Seville – Top 3 – Merida, Burgos and Girona.
Like you mine is a skewed list because there are many cities that I am yet to try and visit.
Blimey – i have more to do than I thought! What was great about your top 3?
Merida has some of the finest Roman remains in Europe and is in Extremadura where there are very few tourists – You must go to Extremadura, Burgos is home to the legend of ElCid and has a wonderful cathedral and Girona is close enough to Barcelona without being Barcelona.
I forgot to confirm that I was right with my prediction of your no. 1 – I should have put a £1 on it at the bookies! I do like Barcelona, especially the Gaudi connection.
I have added your top 3 from your list!
There is a good book to read about Girona which I recommend to everyone – Albany Park by Patrice Chaplin.
I suggest making Extremadura a priority. It is difficult to get to with nearest airports in Madrid or Seville but it is well worth it. As well as Merida there is Caceres and the town of Trujillo, home of the Conquistadors. This is one of my favourites but I couldn’t put it in my list because it isn’t a city!