Barcelona, the Catalan capital of Spain, is a rich and varied bu et for the senses: easily explorable, stunningly beautiful, by turns graceful and gritty. It is a place to be strolled, sipped, and savored. And the best way to do it is on the coast. Yes, there’s a shortlist of cultural can’t-misses and must-sees in the heart of the city, especially the modernist-meets-surreal work of architect Antoni Gaudí [see p.57]. But beyond that, glimmering in the distance, is the coastal zone where you can experience the best of the city, from ancient historical sites to an ultramodern superyacht marina and club at Port Vell (Old Port), within a walkable mile or so.
Begin your approach on Las Ramblas, the grand albeit overrun thoroughfare best used as a gateway to the sea. Turn and walk through the Barri Gòtic, home to everything from Roman ruins, molecular gastronomy restaurants, tenements, and tattoo parlors. It’s intense in the way only a port neighborhood can be and sets you up for more contrasts that await on the coast.
Despite these varied layers there will always be two main constants in Barcelona: tapas and art. Pay your respects to these traditions with a double dose on the historic Carrer de Montcada. Here a museum dedicated to Spain’s original bad boy Pablo Picasso sits just down the street from one of the city’s finest tapas bars, El Xampanyet, where the house cava and a plate of pulpo (octopus) doused with olive oil and spiked with pimentón will ground you. Make your way to tree-lined