Barcelona is the ideal setting for long, lazy days of sightseeing or shopping, broken up by a siesta before heading out for a jug of Sangria and a plate of paella.

Here are TNT’s top five things to do in Barcelona.

1. Check out Gaudi’s architecture

From the soaring spires of his (famously unfinished) church to the magical grottoes and walkways of Parc Güell, Antoni Gaudi’s architecture is an essential part of Barcelona’s visual DNA. Don’t miss the fascinating La Pedrera, an apartment block designed by Gaudi with a great museum in the attic, and the nearby Casa Batlló (House of Bones) which resembles a mermaid’s palace.

2. Visit the Palau de la Música Catalana

Check out Palau de la Música Catalana, a concert hall with the most elaborate interior imaginable. You can only see it on guided tours, and these tend to sell out so get in early.

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3. Eat some tapas

There are tapas bars galore in Barcelona. Tapas can be simply a handful of olives, or more elaborate meat and vegetable dishes, such as Calamares a la Romana (deep fried calamari rings). The idea is to pick a variety and have tapas as a meal rather than a snack.

Whether you’re self-catering or just enjoy the atmosphere of a busy city market, be sure to drop by Mercat de la Boqueria, just off Las Ramblas. It’s easily recognisable by the striking stained glass facade.

There’s a range of succulent delights on offer, from colourful fruits and vegetables to massive fresh prawns, which go perfectly with allioli, the local garlicky mayonnaise, and a bottle of Cava.

Tapas, Barcelona

4. Drink sangria

You won’t go thirsty in Barcelona. There are plenty of great bars to choose from with the pick found in Barri Gòtic and El Raval. In terms of what you’ll drink, Sangria is a favourite but you can expect the full gamut.

Sangria is typically made up of red wine, fruit pieces (such as apple), brandy, carbonated water and a sweetener (such as honey). While it’s refreshing, be warned that the use of cheap ingredients can lead to a pretty nasty hangover.

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5. Party all night

Nightlife is the essence of Barcelona. As the clock hits 11pm, the city picks up tempo like nowhere else – the streets pack with young people, the bars overflow and the clubs heave. Head to the waterfront centre for techno and house, Jamboree for jazz or Mojito for Latin. And if you’re looking for a wild New Year, Barcelona goes off something special.

Essential information

WHEN TO GO: Any time. Barcelona has hot summers and cool winters.
GETTING THERE: EasyJet and Ryanair both fly direct to Barcelona from London.
VISAS: South Africans need a Schengen visa.
CURRENCY: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.18 EUR.
LANGUAGE: Spanish.
GETTING AROUND: Barcelona is spread out, so jump on the metro or splash out on the hop-on, hop-off Bus Turistic (€28 for two days), which visits the main attractions.
GOING OUT: A beer is €4.
ACCOMMODATION: Dorm beds from €15. Private hotel rooms from €24.