Our favorite thing about Barcelona is that it has a little bit of everything. A visit to this beautiful Spanish city means a healthy dose of culture, more art and amazing architecture than you’ll know what to do with, some of the most renowned restaurants in the world, quick access to the beach any time you’d like, and an incredibly rich history. Sounds pretty perfect to us! If you’re considering a trip here with your girlfriends, take it from us: You can’t go wrong with a trip to Barcelona. Oh, and did we mention the wine?
Here’s how we’ve broken the guide down for you…
WHERE TO STAY:
Budget Hotels (less than $150/night)
Mid-range Hotels ($150-300 night)
Treat Yo’self Hotels ($300-500 night)
WHAT TO DO:
Relax and Indulge
WHERE TO EAT:
Best Eats Under $10
Best Dinner and Brunch Spots
Drinks with the Girls
Where to Stay:
Budget – Under $150/night
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better, more-stylish bargain than the Hotel Praktik. Located centrally close to the metro, the property is an easy walk to several of our favorite sights in Barcelona. Though there’s a lot to love about the hotel, our favorite feature is the sitting area leading to the outdoor terrace. You’ll feel worlds away from the rest of the city, and it’s a fun, well-designed place to have a glass of wine before ending your night. Other highlights include beautiful unique artwork in each room, an affordable breakfast in their ultra stylish kitchen every day, and a friendly and helpful staff.
The name really says it all when it comes to this location: Chic and Basic is one of your most affordable options in Barcelona. Take note though, basic doesn’t mean boring or bland in this instance! With a few different properties throughout the city, you can choose which location fits in best with the sights you’re visiting. Each hotel houses fun, ultra-modern touches and even has bike rentals available for guests.
It’s hard to believe that Villa Emilia is at the price point that it is. With stylish rooms, a great hotel bar, and fantastic perks, Villa Emilia feels like a far cry from budget accommodations. The hotel offers free wifi and free afternoon snacks and beverages, a perfect opportunity for tired travelers to refuel mid-day on the cheap. It’s located close to the metro, but the property is so close to many of Barcelona’s sights that you may find yourself walking everywhere anyway!
Located in the Raval area of Barcelona, Casa Camper is one of our absolute favorite properties in all of Barcelona. The decor is minimalistic, and yet it feels like no detail was overlooked. In addition, it’s a great option for travelers looking to save a bit on food costs. In addition to complimentary breakfast, the hotel also has a complimentary permanent buffet that is stocked regularly with fresh snacks free to all guests. Work off all of those treats at their 24 hour fitness center, an amenity that can sometimes be hard to come by in some budget and midrange European hotels. Still need convincing? Some rooms come with hammocks!
Located in one of our favorite neighborhoods of Barcelona, El Born, this property is perfect for those who want to be in the center of it all. It’s an especially good place to stay if you’d like to be close to the beach. The hotel’s restaurant, Senyor Parellada, is a great option for travelers looking for authentic Catalan cuisine. Spacious and well-appointed rooms and suites top off the Hotel Bayns Oriental experience.
Bright rooms, an amazing swimming pool, free wifi… need we go on? Olivia Balmes is a hotel packed with all of the best amenities and features. There is a restaurant and bar on sight, and the location is central to many Barcelona favorites. The property offers discounts for longer stays so be sure to check on any deals if you’re staying for several days.
Splurge – ($300 – $500 per night)
A lux property with breathtaking sea views, the W Barcelona is a good pick if you want to stay as close to the beach as possible. You’ll spot the hotel’s iconic architecture from a mile away, and things only get better once you get inside. The property is made up of 473 rooms, and houses an incredible rooftop bar, one of the best pools in Barcelona, and views you really can’t beat. In typical W style, rooms are comfortable and modern. Several rooms have views of the Mediterranean. We recommend booking one of those if you can swing it!
Hotel 1898 exudes elegance, personality, and style from the moment you walk in. Located in a historic building, the colonial style rooms are beautiful and well appointed. You’ll enjoy large marble baths, comfy beds, and a stunning rooftop terrace. Head to the terrace in the evenings to enjoy tapas and cocktails under the stars.
The Mandarin Oriental brand is synonymous with luxury, and the Barcelona property is no different. Housing a Michelin star restaurant, a world-class spa and stunning views, this hotel is truly worth the splurge. Rooms boast goose down bedding, daily turndown service, and several even have balconies. While there are a few different food and drink options on the property, the highlight is Moments, a 2 Michelin star restaurant that serves food inspired by the Catalan culinary scene.
What to Do
FC Barcelona Fútbol Game
Spain is a fútbol (soccer) country, and if you’re a soccer fan or if you’re just curious about one of the most important facets of Spanish culture, do yourself a favor and head to a game. Barcelona’s football stadium, Camp Nou, is one of the most famous in the world, and a must-see if you can swing it. Check to see if you’ll be visiting Barcelona during fútbol season and if you’re lucky enough, head to an FC Barcelona game. Find tickets here.
Barcelona Ghost Tour
If you’re looking for a totally different look at the city that still includes some education and history, consider a ghost walking tour! Whether you’re a believer in the paranormal or not, the tours still allow you to explore the city after dark and view some lesser known spots around the city.
If you’re lucky enough to have extra time in Barcelona, venture just outside of the city to experience some of the region’s most famous wine and cava. We recommend this wine and cava tour which showcases three different wineries including Freixenet Cava sparkling wine (Beyoncé was a spokesperson!). You can try different food pairings at each stop, and they have you back with plenty of time to hit the beach before dinner.
One of the most famous museums in Barcelona, this spot is an absolute must. Travel through the museum to get a real insight into Picasso’s life, his approach to art, and his special relationship with the city of Barcelona. Some of his most famous pieces are housed here and it is a truly breathtaking collection. After touring the museum, visit the stunning courtyard that is sure to take you back in time. Visit on any Sunday after 3:00 p.m. or the first Sunday of each month to enjoy free admission!
As you may already know if you’re reading this guide, Antoni Gaudí is responsible for dreaming up some of the most famous sights in Barcelona. As result, it would be impossible to pick just a few for our guide (though we do have some favorites). Among our must visits is Park Güell, a park that is unlike any other that you’ve visited before. Explore the park’s architecture and enjoy a picnic in the gardens. Other favorites include the Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic church and UNESCO heritage site, and La Pedrera, a residential building that will put your apartment complex to shame.
Art lovers will love spending an afternoon visiting the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (also known as MACBA). Housing some of the most key Spanish and Catalan art pieces, the museum makes for a great opportunity to learn more about art from this part of the world. A big plus: Guided tours are included in your admission price. Just remember the museum is closed every Tuesday.
There is so much to see in Barcelona, and unless you’re there for an extended stay (lucky you!), it’s impossible to catch a glimpse of everything. That being said, a bike tour is a great way to see more of the city than you’re able to on foot. Don’t worry if you aren’t necessarily a seasoned biker. The Fat Bike tour takes a slow pace, stopping at sights as you pass, and the area you tour through is quite flat making the tour accessible to all regardless of your biking abilities.
What trip to Barcelona would be complete without a trip to the beach (unless you go in the winter, of course!)? A beautiful spot to relax, people watch, or join locals in a pick-up game of volleyball. Want a bit more action while staying by the water? Head just outside the city for more kayaking, sailing, and watersport options.
If you don’t mind stepping out of the city, Montserrat is a perfect option for an adventurous day trip. The area is rich with history, and a key attraction is old monastery where you can listen to the famous choir boys at 1:00pm daily. A quick train ride from Barcelona, Montserrat feels like an entirely different world from the city life in Barcelona. Though you can relax on your train ride there and enjoy a cable car up the mountain, there are lots of hiking options in the area as well. There are several hikes varying in difficulty and length accommodating all skill levels.
For one of the best views of the city, head to Montjuïc. You can hike there in about an hour (there are bus lines available as well) but the view is worth breaking a sweat over. In addition to a great hike and a killer view, you can also visit the Magic Fountain and the national palace while on the hill.
Relax and Indulge
Aire De Barcelona is located in the Born neighborhood, and is a totally transformative spa experience. During the weekdays, you can visit their thermal baths (they’re known for these!) for a very reasonable price or treat yourself to a massage treatment. They have several different treatments that are meant to address different issues so take a look at their site beforehand to see what is best for you.
Getting your nails done while traveling may seem a little out of the ordinary. You have a long list of sights to see, places to eat and shops to check out; why waste your time in a nail salon? Hear us out. If you’ve been traveling for longer than a week, you start to feel a bit ragged, your nails are chipping, and you’re in need of a bit of TLC. Enter: The Pink Peony. Stop in for a quick manicure and you’ll find yourself feeling a bit more put together in no time.
If a relaxing in a beautifully designed spa completed with a pool is your idea of heaven, head to the Metropolitan Sagrada Familia. Housing a spa, gym, pool, etc., it’s got a bit of everything. Trainers and staff are always on hand to help, and it’s a fun (and healthy!) way to spend an afternoon with friends.
Espadrilles are some of the most iconic shoes out there. Nothing says summer quite like they do, and lucky for you, Barcelona is the perfect spot to get an authentic pair. Locals, tourists and celebrities alike flock to La Manual Alpargatera for a handmade pair of espadrilles. Head in to choose from a variety of colors, patterns and styles to find the perfect pair for you. The shop is something to behold with shoes lining the walls from top to bottom.
Boqueria Market is one of the most famous food markets in the world, and with good reason. It’s a great place to wander around, try fresh and local foods, and even buy a few food-related gifts for your lucky friends back home (because what foodie friend of yours wouldn’t love some olive oil from Spain?). If you’re staying in an apartment or hostel that has a kitchen, it’s a great spot to pick up some ingredients to cook up a Catalan feast of your own. Just be warned, it can get pretty crowded so watch your bag while shopping!
With a few locations in the city, La Central is the perfect stop for bookstore lovers. Stocked with beautiful, unique books and an amazing selection of art and design coffee table books, this store will leave you wishing you had a bit more wiggle room in your baggage allowance. Barcelona is an arts city through and through, and what could be a better keepsake from your trip than an amazing design book? The Eixample location also features a great, quiet cafe upstairs.
Where to Eat
Best Eats Under $10
Tarannà is one of those cafes that is just entirely too beautiful to believe. With unique touches and beautiful fixtures, it seems straight out of the most perfect Instagram you’ve ever seen. It doesn’t end at a great interior though. The cafe is a fantastic spot for an affordable sandwich or pastry. Everything there is high quality, the coffee is great, and tables on the main level and the basement means you’ll always be able to find a spot.
Sharing ownership with arguably one of the best wine bars in the world, Fast Vinic is an affordable yet delicious spot for a quick sandwich and a glass of wine. Though prices are low, the ingredients are incredible high quality, locally sourced and changed seasonally. All of their wines are selected by the incredibly knowledgeable staff at the famed Mon Vinic next door meaning you’ll get the cream of the crop at a fraction of the price.
Cheap eats and cheap cava (champagne)? We’re in! This fun, boisterous spot is a favorite for both tourists and locals. Don’t expect lots of personal space or the world’s most amazing service. Instead, head in ready to make a few new friends (it’s hard not to at a place so packed), grab some cheap (but delicious) snacks, and enjoy all the cava your heart desires. At prices starting at 1-2 euros, it won’t break the bank. We guarantee, it will be one of the most memorable experiences you have in the city!
Best Dinners and Brunches
On a busy night, you might find yourself waiting in a lengthy line for a table at Tapas 24, but we promise it’s worth the wait. Order a few small plates to share with your party and a glass of wine for best results. The food is fresh, and the staff is more than willing to help you navigate the menu. Try to get a seat at the bar for a good view of their incredibly talented chefs. Hoping to avoid their lines? Get there early to beat the crowds.
Across the street from Bodega 1900 is Tickets, one of the most renowned and difficult reservations in all of Barcelona. Luckily, Bodega us under the same ownership, and allows you to experience the mind-blowing genius of the Adrià brothers without the long wait list. Though the restaurant is a splurge, the cuisine and service is some of the best that you’ll find in the city. Opt for the tasting menu if you have a bit extra to spend, and want to try a little of everything.
Milk is the kind of place you’ll want to duplicate and transplant back to your hometown. Laid back, located in a fun neighborhood and friendly, this is a great locale for a lazy brunch whether you’re looking for a healthy option or an “I’ll have the greasiest entree possible” option. A variety of delicious yet relaxed dinner and drink options make it an easy option for just about any hour. Totally unpretentious, it’s a great place to go when you want a break from the fancier options in Barcelona.
Not to be missed, Sauc is a Michelin-starred restaurant located in the Ohla hotel. Catalan cuisine is featured here, and there are phenomenal specials that change daily. And after dinner, head upstairs to the rooftop bar for great city views. If Sauc is beyond your budget, La Plassohla is its counterpart: a more affordable but equally wonderful tapas restaurant. Head over on a weekday to enjoy their special lunch menu.
Best Spots for Drinks with the Girls
Wine connoisseurs are practically required to visit this place while in Barcelona. Widely considered one of the best wine bars in the world, Monvinic boasts a mind-boggling selection of wines along with a host of knowledgeable sommeliers. The spot is easy to access, and impeccably designed and furnished. Even casual wine drinkers will appreciate the passion and dedication put into this establishment.
Oviso is the quintessential relaxed, people watching bar. A great, low-pressure (read: wear some jeans and comfy shoes) place to spend an evening, Oviso boasts great prices and an expansive outdoor seating area. Grab a table outdoors in George Orwell Square, settle in with a drink, and enjoy the prime people watching. Can’t manage a seat outside? Luckily, the interior is equally intriguing.
The perfect spot to end a long day at the beach, Surf House is a good choice if you’re hoping for a drink with a sea view. Hip locals flock here for the relaxed, seaside ambience, and killer view of the Mediterranean. Head over after a long day at the beach, scope out an outdoor table, and have a drink while enjoying some of the most beautiful views in Barcelona.