Barcelona never fails to excite, particularly in the summer, when it boasts one of Europe’s liveliest big-city beach scenes (and with a bit of sizzle, too, including not just family zones but also gay and even nude sections). And ground zero for aquatic antics is the Barceloneta neighbourhood, which sure has come a long way, baby. Up until the 18th century, the waterfront area of the Ciutat Vella (Old City) was a rather slummy part of town where death rates were high, but since a massive makeover for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, it has become quite the smart destination, between its sandy beach, seafood restaurants, and several attractions – all the while managing to preserve some sense of its traditional maritime, seafaring flavour.

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