NOW is a great time to visit Barcelona for chilled-out beaches and sun-filled roof terraces, says writer Alastair Moir.
HOP TO IT
Barcelona is a city as enjoyable for kids as it is for grown-ups, overflowing with things to do.
The best way to get your bearings is to buy a 24-hour pass for the hop-on-hop-off Barcelona Bus Turístic.
Adult tickets cost £25, under 12s £13.50, under 4s are free (Barcelonabusturistic.cat). Start with the blue route, which takes in the iconic La Sagrada Família, Catalan-born architect Antoni Gaudí’s extraordinary temple, also known as the world’s largest unfinished church. Despite its uncompleted state, it’s spectacular both inside and out – entry costs £23 (Sagradafamilia.org).
The red route takes you past Camp Nou and the Olympic Stadium, before heading to the bustling Barceloneta beach, a strip of sand that’s hugely popular with locals – don’t miss the giant goldfish sculpture by architect Frank Gehry.
Looking for a quieter spot for a dose of vitamin sea? Bogatell beach near Poblenou is calmer.
Lunch on tasty tapas at beachfront cafe Vai Moana, where kids can tuck into mini versions of dishes for half the price or the obligatory chicken nuggets and chips if they insist (Panteabeach.com/vai-moana).
THE CITY AT YOUR FEET
You can get an amazing panoramic view from the city’s two peaks.
The Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car gives an incredible bird’s-eye view as you ride up the side of a mountain to Montjuïc Castle. Adult return tickets cost £12, under 12s £9, and under 4s are free (Telefericdemontjuic.cat).
Also perched above the city is Gaudí’s unmissable gem Park Güell. One of the largest green spaces in Barcelona, this park is full of multicoloured mosaics, spiral towers and unearthly organic structures designed by the artist.
Some of the park is free, but the best bits require a great-value monumental cove ticket, £8.40 – book in advance to guarantee your time slot (Parkguell.barcelona).
POOLSIDE TIIL BEDTIME
Autumn is a great time to visit the city, with temperatures still between 20-26°C, and fewer tourists.
Boutique hotel Ocean Drive Barcelona is in the heart of the Eixample District, a short walk from the iconic boulevard of Passeig de Gràcia, as well as restaurants, bars and stylish shopping streets.
This relaxing oasis is all sleek furnishings and natural materials, with a triangular-shaped rooftop pool that looks out over the city. Pack your binoculars and you’ll even spy a couple of Gaudí’s colourful casas in the distance.
Don your dancing shoes for a late-night rooftop party with live DJs at OD’s Sky Bar, but worry not, rooms are soundproofed if you just want some shut-eye instead. Double rooms cost from £187 per night (Od-hotels.com/hotel-ocean-drive-barcelona).
EAT, EAT, REPEAT
One of the biggest reasons to travel to the Catalan capital is the food, and no pilgrimage is complete without visiting Mercado de La Boqueria.
Super central – with an entrance on tourist hotspot Las Ramblas – this is a food market like no other.
Grab a freshly squeezed watermelon juice, £1.60, and try your best not to drool as you wander the stalls piled high with seafood, chorizo empanadas, chocolate and almond cakes and deep-fried calamari.
Back at Ocean Drive Barcelona, sample tapas such as patatas bravas, £5, or the speciality burgers, from £15, paired with a virgin mojito, £6, for holiday spirit sans hangover.
Barcelona is a great city to walk around, with 130 hectares of pedestrian-only streets, equivalent to about 260 football fields.
So pack your comfy shoes!