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City Spy: Barcelona

Tapas bars, nightclubs, the best sangria you’ve ever tasted, tapas bars, the beach, boutiques, tapas bars, mellow hipsters and did we mention the tapas bars? Barcelona basks in the Mediterranean sunlight by day; after dark, it becomes a nocturnal wonderland where things don’t even look lively before 9pm.

Barcelona is famous for its nightlife, but during the day visitors can chill-out with garden strolls and architectural adventures. Park Güell on Carrer d’Olot showcases the colourful, modernistic works of Antoni Gaudi in leafy green gardens with views of the city. Museu Picasso on Carrer de Montcada is a collection of Pablo Picasso’s earliest work, set in five mediaeval stone mansions – with courtyards and staircases just as breathtaking as the artist’s 3,500-plus masterpieces on display.

With giant wooden puppets traversing the streets, sporting events, music festivals, firework displays and of course, as much drinking as your liver permits, it would be impossible to resist Festes de La Mercè. Barcelona celebrates the city’s patron saint, the Virgin of Grace, at the end of September.

A fantastic mix of expensive boutiques for window-shoppers (or those in possession of a fat wallet), plus smaller, unusual stores for those searching for something different, can be found along Paseo de Gràcia. For something a little different, Salva G on Carrer d’Avinyó is a hair salon, cosmetics store, bar and music shop all in one.

Barcelona is a delicious destination, where brilliant food is served at some incredibly affordable prices. Head to Bubo for artistic tapas, sweet treats and perfect sangria. (We loved the almond-and-vanilla pastry topped with lime-infused vanilla custard and seasonal berries.)

There are four Bubo outposts dotted around the city, so sugary satisfaction is never far away. Join the long queues at Cal Pep on Plaça de les Olles, for exemplary tapas and hearty seasonal specials. For Heston-like magic, visit Tickets on Avinguda Paral-lel, where waiters are dressed as old-fashioned cinema ushers and you’re greeted by a gent in a top hat. The restaurant is run by the famous brothers behind El Bulli, Ferran and Albert Adrià: expect to be dazzled.

Drink up
If you’re keen to escape the tourist scene, Andú on Carrer Correu Vell is the best choice: a cosy wine bar (with excellent cured meats and cheeses) that makes for relaxed, conversational nights.

Crash out
It’s white. Really, really white. The high ceilings, stained-glass windows and art nouveau building date back to 1906; shots of modernism at El Palauet come via the sleek white furniture and decor. The fully equipped kitchen and dining room make you feel as though you’re in your own home – with added perks, though: a multi-lingual personal assistant is assigned to each of the two-bedroom suites.

To book El Palauet or another Smith boutique stay, just visit the Mr and Mrs Smith website or call our expert Travel Team on (Australia) 1300 896 627.

El Palauet Courtyard
El Palauet Lounge