48 HOURS:BARCELONA

by Edward Wilkinson-Latham

Travel Editor

SHARP for Men Magazine

Built on Spain’s north east coast of the Mediterranean, the Catalan capital of Barcelona is a stylish and energetic city with a medieval heart, known for avant-garde fashion, music, theatre and some eccentric festivities.

CHECKING IN

Located in the well-heeled Diagonal area, Hotel Granados 83 is a popular haunt for media and fashionista types. Rooms are splendid, as is the cocktail bar, restaurant and rooftop pool. Carrer Enric Granados 83 +34 93 492 9670 www.derbyhotels.com Rooms from €105 Metro: Diagonal

GOING GOTHIC

Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) is the centre of the old medieval city. A twisting warren of winding passages leads to a number of small plaças (plazas) with fountains and orange trees growing from the cobblestones. The area is packed with beautiful medieval buildings, museums, shops and restaurants. Metro: Jaume I.

MUSEUMS

Barcelona’s eccentricity includes museums devoted to funeral hearses, mechanical toys and perfume bottles. The Museu Frederic Marès in the Barri Gòtic houses collected by the obsessive hoarder and sculptor Frederic Marès. From Romanesque crucifixes, to, smoking equipment, luggage tickets, fans and nutcrackers. Plaça de Sant Iú 5-6 +34 93 310 58 00 Tue-Sat 10am-7pm; Sun 10am-3pm. €3 Metro: Jaume I.

The Museu Picasso near by, occupies a row of medieval mansions in the Gothic Quarter. Carrer Montcada 15-23 +34 933 196 310 Tue-Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 10am-3pm €9 Metro: Jaume I.

GO TO CHURCH

Gaudí's unfinished Sagrada Familía is the city's most striking landmark. 9am-8pm daily. €8 Metro: Sagrada Familía

TAPAS

Ir de copas, (going out for a drink) is a daily exercise for many Catalonians and always includes tapas, originally free snacks served on top of the drinking glass (tapa means lid). Taberna Basca Irati was one of Barcelona’s first tapas bars and serves mouth-watering pintxos (Basque-style tapas). Arrive early for the best selection. Carrer Cardenal Casañas 17 +34 933 023 084 Mon-Sat 12pm-12am Metro: Liceu

ABSINTH MINDED

Bar Marsella opened its doors in 1820 and specializes in the narcotic brew of absenta (absinthe). Past patrons include Dali, Picasso, Gaud and Hemingway to name a few. Carrer de Sant Pau. +34 934 427 263 Daily 6pm-2am Metro: Liceu

NIGHTLIFE

Barcelona’s world-renowned nightlife gets going after 1am. La Terrrazza is the city’s best-loved club and people queue to dance under the stars to a selection of house DJs. Pick up a copy of Guia del Ocio at newsstands for the week’s listings. Poble Espanyol, Avda Marquès de Comillas +93 272 49 80 Metro: Espanya.

MORNING RUMMAGE

The Els Encants is a huge open-air flea market where wily characters hawk antiques and bric-á-brac at bargain prices. You never know what you might find here from valuable paintings to old leather couches, stamps and chandeliers. Plaça de les Glories on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat from sunrise to sunset. Metro: Glòries.

BEACH LIFE

From La Barceloneta, the old sailor’s quarter around the port, a pedestrian promenade runs parallel to a series of long beaches, including a naturist area, tucked away behind a long hillock of rustling bamboo. For some glitz head to The Carpe Diem Lounge Club below the Hotel Arts, a beach club popular with soccer wives. Lounge on the terrace, or talk your way in to the VIP section if you can. Paseo Marítimo 32 +34 93 224 04 70 Tues-Sun 12am-3.30am Metro: Ciutadella-Villa Olimpica

SHOPPING

The city’s obsession with originality and design is echoed in an incredible number of boutiques and independent fashion labels. The best shopping is to be done along Passeig de Gracia and the streets southwest. Vinçon is known for furniture, household goods and art from designers all over the world. Passeig Gràcia 96 +34 932 156 050 Metro: Passeig Gràcia

MODENISTA

The wide tree lined boulevards of Passeig de Gràcia and Eixample were created as a grand backdrop for the radical modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi. The Modernista walking route takes the visitor through 50 of the most outstanding and important sights. Guide included. Passeig Gràcia 41 +34 934 961 245 Fridays, Saturdays 6.00pm in September 2 hours €10 Metro: Passeig Gràcia

FESTIVAL CITY

The Festes de la Mercè is Barcelona's biggest festival. The lunacy kicks off near the Barri Gòtic on the 24th September with a grand procession of paper mâché devils and dragons, who throw out lit fire works at the crowd like confetti. The craziness goes through the night, followed by the daring casteller competitions (human castles) and a swimming race across the harbour. Metro: Juame.I

ESCAPE THE CITY

The Corre del Bou (12-16th Sept) in Cardona, 20km from Barcelona is one of the most anticipated events in the Catalonian cultural calendar and dates back to the 16th century. The series of bovine sparring festivities take place, including 100 men and bulls enclosed in an area-the only way out is to climb one of the few ropes or scramble up the sides of the arena walls. Even better is the cargolera, where a man a wicker basket, with only his legs and head sticking out, must attempt to dodge a crazed bull from attacking him. Good times!

Central Car Rental Carrer Viladomat 212 Barcelona +34 934 392 538 Mon-Sat 8am-7pm Sun 8am-1pm Metro: Entenca

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