This expansion has not come at the expense of seaside paellas or the rich, sticky stews popular with local palates. It certainly hasn’t touched the high echelons of gastronomy and this city of 1.7 million people continues to rack up an indecent number of Michelin stars (29 in 2022).
The essence of Barcelona, however, lies not in its achievements but in its differences. Time a trip to coincide with one of the many festivals and you might see dizzying human towers, heavy fiberglass giants or fire-breathing dragons. Head to the cathedral on a Sunday morning and you’ll see circles of heads gently swaying as beribboned feet dance the sardana.
It is a city where eccentricity is embraced, where artists like Picasso and Gaudí could flourish. Barcelona scores well in all quality of life surveys, but where it outperforms other major cities around the world is in its unwavering zeal for the game.
Europe’s most exciting city for foodies
By Isabelle Noble
After months of pandemic-rooted woes, Barcelona’s food scene is bouncing back, with hyper-local produce, bustling neighborhood markets and a cuisine that pushes the boundaries and shows no signs of slowing down.
Sevillian celebrity chef Rafa Zafra, who brought us Estimar (in Madrid and Barcelona) and Casa Jondal and Heart in Ibiza (alongside the Adrià brothers), is behind this much-anticipated arrival of laid-back luxury. Launch on the 26thand April, Amar celebrates Mediterranean seafood, refreshed Catalan classics and elegant wines at the sumptuous El Palace Hotel in L’Eixample. hotelpalacebarcelona.com
Hidden away in the boho-chic Casa Bonay de L’Eixample, Giacomo Hassan’s fabulous new tapas and natural wine center puts a creative Italian spin on the freshest Catalan produce. Temptations on the seasonally changing menu might include stracchino salad, grilled pork jowl and buttery sage gnocchi. casabonay.com