A Girl's Guide to Barcelona, Spain

july 26, 2018

I finally made it to the city renowned for tapas, siestas, cava, and way too many tourists. I wasn’t let down on any of these calling cards. This sunny, bustling city is perfectly balanced with shady sidewalks and long afternoon sleeps. My dear friend, Annika, and I spent a lovely four days babbling about boys, sipping bubbles, baking on the beach, and breaking through bands of tourists. Here’s where and how we got around town on our girl’s weekend in Barcelona…

Pro tip: Most touristy things can be booked ahead online. I definitely recommend doing this to ensure entry and avoid lengthy lines.

SEE // DO

  • Las Ramblas is the center of the touristic action. All the big name shops and hotels are here. Take a look and don’t look back.

  • La Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudi, is like no other place of worship you’ve ever entered. This Catholic Basilica began construction in the late 1800s and isn’t expected to be finished until 2028. The unique architecture, celebrating nature and religion is stunning both inside and out. Purchase tickets ahead of time to skip the line for this incredibly popular attraction.

  • Park Güell, a green space designed by Gaudi, makes for a nice artistic respite. The architect naturally marries the relationship with nature and man-made creation in this expansive park using statues, tilework, and other structures.

  • Casa Batlló, another Gaudi, is incredibly colorful and whimsical. We decided to forgo entry, as we had plenty of other things to do, the ticket times available weren’t convenient, and, finally, it was a little pricey for just entering a house in our opinion (nearly €30 with tax). But it’s definitely worth it to pop by the exterior for a photo op fo’ free.

  • Barcelona Beach, while the best beaches of the region are located outside the city limits, this beach does well for conveniency in a pinch!

 

  • Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya houses traditional and historic art from the Catalan region. The exterior is also stunning with statues, fountains, and a grand staircase. Locals camp out on the steps to catch the sunset.

  • The Picasso Museum is a must for art aficionados and really anyone that needs a little color in their life. Bonus: it’s free on Thursday evenings, but you must book ahead online beginning the Sunday before.

 

  • Stop into one of the fresh food markets: Mercat de la Boqueria and Sant Antoni Market. The former is a bit more touristy and crowded, closer to Las Ramblas. The second is indoors and a bit upmarket.

EAT // DRINK

For the view...

  • 173 RoofTop Terrace, on the roof of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, offers the best view, service, food, and drinks. This place is a bit off the tourist track and totally underrated. Come for dinner to watch the sunset and the city change with the colors of the night sky.

  • Restaurante La Isabela is a great place for daytime hangs, as their loungers invite you to sunbathe and sip cava for hours. I bared my bikini and soaked in the rays with no protests from the staff. The only downside is the pool area is reserved for guests of Hotel 1898.

  • Hotel Ayre Rossello’s rooftop has THE VIEW of the Sagrada Familia. There wasn’t anyone working the bar when we went up, so we enjoyed the outlook and a moment of shade for free! Although we wouldn’t have said no to a nice refreshing lemonade...

  • The rooftop of Hotel Condes de Barcelona is a nice lunch spot with a vast menu and plenty of shade from those sunny Barca days. Nice views and friendly staff.

 

For tapas and traditional bites..

  • Bodega 1900 is famous for it’s housemade vermouth and tapas. I let the waiter choose everything for me and was not disappointed.

  • Cafe Escac serves traditional tapas and drinks at a low price on a welcoming patio. Their convenient location (just off Passeig de Gracia) is icing on the cake.

 

 

 

For drinks and a vibe...

  • Bar El Born is the cutest little cocktail bar in the Gothic Quarter. There are several other lively bars on this strip, but something about this one kept us there all night.

  • Mr. Robinson is popular amongst expats for its hearty brunch options and late night atmosphere. All bases covered at this joint.

Shop // splurge

 

  • Passeig de Gracia is the main shopping street of Barcelona, housing all the big international luxury and fast fashion brands. The side streets coming off the main boulevard offer more boutique shopping. Don’t miss Dr. Bloom for feminine and fun clothing and accessories, La Manual Alargatera for espadrilles, and Claudine for boho looks and jewelry.

  • Passeig del Born, in the Gothic Quarter, offers more boutiques and concept stores. Spend the day here for a relaxed shopping experience with plenty of breaks at the charming, sidewalk eateries.

  • Vintage lovers will be satisfied with Flamingos Vintage located a few streets over from Las Ramblas. For a more retro focus, head to MI Vintage in the Gothic Quarter.

  • La Central del Raval has a wide selection of books in many languages, as well as a cutesy gift and souvenir section.

 

Getting There // Getting Around

 

The city is walkable if you have the time and energy, yet things are pretty spread out, depending on where you stay. The buses are reliable and inexpensive, but also a bit crowded. Uber and Cabify are valid options if you’re looking for convenience.

 

To get from the airport to the city center, the shuttle bus is the most convenient and affordable (€5,90 each way). A bus leaves every 10 minutes, yet there was still a little wait at the airport because of popularity. I lessened the wait by buying tickets ahead of time online. On the way to the airport, there was no line. Overall the shuttle was easy to find and a pleasant experience. Of course, one can always take a taxi, Uber, or Cabify.