Budget Travel: Best of Barcelona

By most accounts, Barcelona became a magnet for travelers in 1992, thanks to the summer Olympics, which the city hosted. The Games spurred infrastructure development that had been on hold since the 1970s and resulted in the clean up of blighted neighborhoods.

Today, 20 years later, it's hard to imagine that Barcelona has ever lived through any age other than its present golden era. Comprised of 10 districts that are further divided into barrios, each neighborhood has its own special feel and its own interesting attractions, from the coastal Barceloneta, lined with restaurants serving delicious, fresh seafood, to Montjuïc, the mountaintop neighborhood overlooking the city, where parks, museums, and many of the Olympic facilities can be found.

Most visitors make their way to Las Ramblas, Barcelona's strolling promenade, though locals tend to treat it like New Yorkers treat Times Square -- that is, they avoid it at all costs. 

Some of the other typical visitor activities include browsing through the city's lively, colorful food markets (such as the popular La Boquería), eating tapas at a bustling restaurant like Bar Velodromo, riding the funicular or the teleférico from the sea to the top of Montjuïc, and standing outside the unfinished Gaudí masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, a church that has been under construction since 1882.

All of these are worthy ways to spend your time in Spain's second largest city, but there are a number of other fun, inspiring, and interesting activities to enjoy during a visit to Barcelona. From exploring the city in a vintage car to taking a walking tour specializing in design and architecture, there are many ways to get to know Barcelona, now one of Europe's most visited cities. The activities in this slideshow could easily keep you busy for a full week, and will likely leave you wanting to explore still more.

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Julie Schwietert Collazo is a freelance writer living in Havana.

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