Barcelona Girls Trip | One of the Premier Holiday Destinations in Europe |
Barcelona is one of the premier holiday destinations in Europe, a bustling and vibrant city with a history that stretches back centuries. I recently went on a Barcelona girls trip to sunny Barcelona as part of my bachelorette trip and we had the most amazing time!
We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb with central location off Rambla de Cataluña, making it super convenient for walking around the city and sightseeing throughout our trip. It was large and spacious with contemporary style and city views, accommodating the group with two plush living spaces and X bedrooms. The whole place was clean and fresh, leaving us with a homely feel where we could just relax and enjoy our time in the city.
Here are a few of my recommendations for planning your own trip to beautiful Barcelona:
Sightseeing and Things to Do
Park Güell is a public Park in the Carmel Hill area consisting of a series of beautiful gardens and unique architecture. The site was originally intended as a housing development by Eusebi Güell, the park’s namesake and a successful Spanish businessman at the turn of the 20th century. He was inspired by the English garden city movement, a reaction to the industrial revolution in which urban planners sought to implement urban gardens to even the proportions of residential, industrial, and agricultural areas. He tasked Gaudi, a local artist deeply influenced by naturalist themes, with transitioning the development from residences to a municipal park.
The park is a beautiful place to spend a sunny afternoon and take in the Catalan culture. The architecture draws inspiration from nature as well as from Spanish mythology, complementing the dreamy and ethereal feel of its lush gardens. There are a number of mosaic accents throughout the park as well, including a giant salamander statue that locals call “el drac,” or “the dragon”. If you have time to spare on your trip to Barcelona, spend it wandering through Park Güell where you’ll get magnificent views over the city.
Another Barcelona monument designed by Gaudi, the Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, shortened to Sagrada Família, is a towering Roman Catholic church with a controversial history among Spaniards. Gaudi took on the project that juts above the Barcelona skyline as head architect in 1883, and oversaw it until his death in 1926.
Its construction has had numerous disruptions, including funding issues and the Spanish Civil War, and as a result, it is still in progress today with an anticipated completion date of 2026 — the hundred-year anniversary of Gaudi’s death. Though his influence is undeniable in the way the building combines Art Nouveau with Gothic style, many still feel that his original vision has been tarnished or even forgotten as so much time has passed since his involvement. Like Park Güell, Sagrada Familia is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site dedicated to Gaudi’s works, so this is a great stop for a mini-tour of art and architecture in Barcelona!
While we didn’t have a chance to go inside, we did pass by the Casa Batlló, a gorgeous modernist building in the center of Barcelona replete with shimmering tiles and mosaic patterns. Designed by Gaudi as well, the house is a redesign of a residential home known to locals as the casa del ossos, or the house of bones. It’s easy to see why they call it that — the building does have a skeletal quality, with balconies jutting out beneath windows like joints and a rounded, scaly roof between two bulbous turrets. Even just walking by this gorgeous piece of architecture was breathtaking. It’s easy to see why it’s considered one of Gaudi’s masterpieces.
Arc de Triomf
An iconic monument of Spanish architecture, visiting Barcelona would not be complete without seeing the Arc de Triomf. Originally constructed as a grand entrance to the 1888 Barcelona World Fair, the arch now sits above the central promenade of a city street, facing the Passeig de St. Joan, a major avenue. The Ciutadella Park now occupies the space where the World’s Fair was held, and it is truly impressive to behold. The building itself invites visitors to do so — font on the frieze reads “Barcelona welcomes the nations” in Catalan.
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya
Another opportunity to see some amazing art while in Barcelona is to visit the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, the National Museum of Catalan Art, an amazing building in its own right. Their holdings include an impressive collection of Romanesque paintings as well as Catalan art in the modernist and Art Nouveau styles. This blend of old and new makes the trip a vibrant and diverse experience as you walk through the exhibitions. For an outing on the quirkier side, check out the Numismatic Cabinet of Catalonia, an enormous coin collection of over 130,000 holdings. Some can be dated back to the 6th century BC!
While we did not have the chance to visit Tibidabo during our stay, I highly recommend it to any fellow travelers! This mountain overlooks Barcelona and will give you the best view of your entire trip. It does take a while to get there by bus, but it’s worth the trip. On top of Tibidabo is a sort of mini-theme park surrounding the Sagrat Cor (Sacred Heart) Church, which is perched at the summit. Between the park rides, mechanical figure exhibits, fair games, and food vendors, there’s enough to do in the amusement park to spend a whole afternoon exploring. Film buffs might also recognize Tibidabo as having been featured in a recent Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona!
Hop on, Hop Off City Bus
Short on time? The Hop On, Hop Off City Tour Bus helped us see a lot of the city in just a few hours! It’s one of the most affordable ways to get around the sprawling city of Barcelona, and with buses coming and going from 30 different stops along two routes, you can really personalize your tour.
Restaurants and Places to Eat
Though there might be a bit of a wait for this popular place, Vinitus is well worth it. They offer classic Spanish tapas with a twist, as well as a tempting wine bar with a number of local selections to pair with your meal. In addition to exemplifying their delicious food, Vinitus’ menu also offers the origin of the word “tapas,” which means “cover” in Spanish. The story goes that years ago, at an inn, a waiter set a slice of ham down on the top of a glass belonging to King Alfonso XIII, to prevent dust or debris from getting in. The King was so pleased with this idea that he asked for it again and again. Now, “tapas” is synonymous with small plates, of which Vinitus has a number, from tuna belly salad to traditional paella. You’re sure to find something to whet your appetite.
Margarita Azul is both a cocktail bar and a restaurant, and a great way to kick off an evening of bar-hopping. They serve Tex-Mex and Mediterranean food, and are known for their spectacular margaritas as well. Additionally, they introduce a new signature cocktail weekly and have a wide range of non-alcoholic refreshers for patrons who want a taste without the hangover. Their starters and salads are filling enough to serve as a meal all their own, but if you come feeling hungry, their entrées include delectable Spanish classics like fajitas, enchiladas and pollo with molé sauce.
Located just steps from the Barceloneta Beach and perfect for an easy afternoon of people-watching, Agua is the go-to destination for Barcelona seafood. They offer tapas and paella to share as well as delicious entrées with homemade pasta and fresh fish. For something a bit different, they serve a dish of monkfish tail with Santurce sauce, a kind of tomato base, or if you’re not in the mood for seafood, try the lamb confit.
La Boquería: Markets off La Rambla
There are a number of small places to catch a quick bite in La Boquería, the food market to the side of La Rambla. Fresh fruits and vegetables, pressed juices, as well as other vendors selling meats, cheeses, and baked goods, even tapas, which we had on a short visit during our trip. Make it a stop on your tour for a refreshing snack, or end your day with a glass of Cava (Spanish champagne) and a delicious dessert.
Inside the beautifully renovated bullring of Arenas de Barcelona is this hidden gem. While one might not necessarily think to go to an Italian eatery while visiting Spain, one meal at La Tagliatella might just prove you wrong. Their Reggiano pizzas offer unique topping combinations like bacon, eggs, and green pepper (the Tartufo e Guanciale) or salmon, cauliflower, red pepper and olives against a green pesto base (la Salmonata Genovese). For more traditional fare, they serve house made pasta and are highly recommended for their tiramisu.
Bars, Clubs, and Nightlife
By far the greatest draw bringing patrons to Opium is their phenomenal terrace overlooking the Barcelona beach and Mediterranean Sea. It’s next to the Hotel Arts, and offers a cocktail bar and lounge atmosphere perfect for a laidback night of drinks with friends. Seating is ample throughout the venue and Opium can accommodate groups of 10 to 12 people as easily as smaller parties of three or four. Their music scene is another killer asset — recently they’ve hosted acts like Avicii, David Guetta, and Tiestö.
Modeled after the modern style of the Ibiza club scene, Pacha is a club and restaurant located near the beach and in the city’s most lively downtown nightlife area. Their DJ rotation changes daily and reflects both the local and global music scene, and they are committed to providing a well-rounded entertainment experience. They also have a restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine, making it a great place for dinner and drinks or to spend a night of dancing.
An amazing spot for rooftop cocktails and an amazing view of the city, Skybar offers a lovely venue for a meal or a glass of champagne. The bar is smaller and more intimate, and it’s adjacent to a pool for a quick sunset dip. Try their tequila cocktails if you’re visiting on a bar crawl, or have a glass of local wine with your lunch mid-day.
Out of all of the venues we visited, the W Lounge had the most interesting decor and overall vibe! Punctuated by bright hues, unique shapes and eye-catching patterns, the look of the lounge is like a museum of undersea life shown in technicolor. It’s part of the W Hotel Barcelona, making it convenient to both downtown and other accommodations as well.
My girls and I had a great time exploring the gorgeous, active, historic city of Barcelona on our trip together. We sampled the local foods, ventured into the Spanish nightlife scene, and saw more sights than I could have ever imagined. The city was easily walkable from our AirBnB, and the Hop On, Hop Off Tour Bus helped us to see the outer reaches in a way that we would not have otherwise. I can’t wait to visit again someday — hopefully soon!
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