The Perfect 4-Day Barcelona Girls' Trip
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
Food & Wine
Arts & Culture
Barcelona has so much to offer: art, music, culture, food and of course shopping. We had a lot to squeeze into four days. Here is my guide to Barcelona. Pack some sturdy shoes, throw that diet out of the window, grab a credit card or two and get ready to have a great time with your friends.
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Where to stay
Kimpton Vividora Barcelona Hotel
Standout property located in Barcelona’s famed Gothic Quarter known for its contemporary luxury.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
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Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona
This grand hotel on the Passeig de Gràcia combines global luxury with authentic Catalan sophistication.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection
Refurbished 19th century boutique hotel in Barcelona with wood paneled walls and floral installations.
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Day 1: Explore El Born to kick off your Barcelona girls' trip
We arrived exhausted after 17 hours of travel from Denver. If you're flying from the East Coast, it's a very quick flight, but not having a direct flight makes things much harder.
We stayed at the new, chic and centrally-located Kimpton Vividora. One of the Fora perks is early check-in, so we were thrilled that our room was ready at 9 AM! No hanging around in plane clothes for this crew!
After getting a little bit of rest, we headed out to walk around the very trendy El Born district. This neighborhood's medieval streets are dotted with designer stores. We were starving, so a quick stop at Tapeo del BORN for some tapas and our first of many glasses of Cava.
The Born is also home to the Picasso Museum. This museum does get very busy during peak season, so purchase tickets in advance. We could have spent hours in the museum surrounded by many of Picasso's masterpieces, but jet lag was getting the better of us and we decided to walk around, experience the narrow streets and pop in and out of stores.
We could barely stay awake by dinner time, but nothing was going to stop us from making it to our reservation at Cal Pep. If it's a smaller group of two to three people, wait in line and get a seat at the bar, but if it's a large group you can make a reservation online. Their food is amazing. I could eat their fried artichokes for lunch every day. I know that people complain that it's a little too touristy, but set that criticism aside and eat here!
Day 2: Shopping, food & museums
On day two, we were most excited about meeting our guide arranged by Alder & Marlow. They have some of the best guides, with intimate knowledge of the locations they work in. We were set to do a half-day tour of the highlights of Barcelona.
Our guide Danahe picked us up from the hotel and we headed to the Sagrada Familia. Adler & Marlow had arranged for advance skip-the-line tickets, which avoided the long lines outside the church. This unfinished church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. It is a feast for the eyes and a masterpiece by Antoni Gaudi. It is had its fair share of controversy, which you can research online, but visit it and bear witness to a master artist.
After a few hours at the Sagrada Familia, we drove to Montjuic. There is a ton of stuff to see and do in Montjuic. You can take in incredible views of Barcelona, and visit the Fundació Joan Miró or the National Art Museum. During the summer if the Magic Fountain is open, kids and families always enjoy that. Or simply walk around and explore the area around the Olympic village and the gardens. You can easily spend a half day in Montjuic, and if you want to avoid driving, take the cable car from Barceloneta to get to Fundació Joan Miró.
After our half-day tour, we were dropped off for lunch at the exquisite Restaurant Lasarte. This is a three-star Michelin restaurant, so don't plan to rush out of there. They do require reservations, but it is worth the planning. Every single thing we ate and drank was spectacular. The service is precise without being overbearing and we stumbled out of there three hours and two bottles of wine later.
Lasarte is located half a block from Passeig the Garcia, which is filled to the gills with designer boutiques. Unlike Paris, you won't find the snobbery associated with designer stores. We went in and out of Loewe, Prada, Celine and Burberry, had loads of friendly conversations with the salespeople, tried on clothes and of course, bought stuff. After all, you do get the VAT refunded, so in a way, you are getting paid to shop!
My favorite store was Santa Eulalia. They have a great collection featuring some of my favorites like Amina Muaddi, Toteme and Cult Gaia. Their salespeople are very helpful, and it's also super convenient that they process tax refunds on-site and give you a form. So when you get to the airport, all you need to do is to head to a kiosk and scan your code and the refund magically appears on your credit card. This is a small, but super well-curated store, but if you want a one-stop shop, look no further.
After our overly indulgent lunch, dinner seemed unnecessary, but who can turn down food in Barcelona, so we ended up heading to El Nacional. You can try lots of different types of foods here, but all we had room for was a glass of vermouth and some tapas from La Taperia.
Day 3: Visit Park Güell and Casa Vicens
Gaudi's architecture is visible all around Barcelona, so today we decided to do a half-day tour to visit Park Güell and Casa Vicens. Park Güell is an enormous park that was to be a planned suburb of Barcelona, designed by Gaudi. The project was supposed to have 60 luxurious homes, but it failed and only two homes were built. The park is beautiful, with many details and delights. It's worth a visit, but try to get the first tickets in the AM to avoid the crowds.
Following Park Güell, we went to Casa Vicens, in the Garcia neighborhood. This home was built by Gaudi and is considered his first major project. It was built as a summer home for a wealthy merchant. Like all of Gaudi's work, this home is sensational.
After a visit to Casa Vicens, we walked around the Garcia neighborhood. It was a Saturday, and many of the main roads were closed off to traffic, allowing people to shop freely and enjoy the day.
We had made a brunch reservation at Les Filles, to give everyone a break from tapas. It's a good place to get some salads and regular brunch food.
Post-brunch, we ended up at the Born to do some shopping. Because most stores are closed on Sundays, we had to get gifts and anything else in. Keeping lunch light, meant that we could indulge for dinner, so we headed to Martinez. They have some great views and seafood. It felt like more of a lunch place to enjoy the views. If you want to check it out, pair it with a visit to the sights of Montjuic and enjoy lunch there.
Day 4: Relaxation & ending your Barcelona girls' trip in style
After three nonstop days, we decided to sleep in. A late wake-up, a walk to a local coffee shop and we checked out some flea markets. They can be very crowded, so if that's not your thing, skip it entirely and walk down to the pier instead and enjoy a walk on the beach.
On this particular Sunday, there was a huge feast in the Gothic area in honor of Santa Eulalia. The streets were thronged with people and the highlight was the procession of Laies. If you have young kids, hold on to them. It is chaos, it is fun and it is easy to lose little ones.
We had a lunch reservation at Cheriff, which serves some delicious paella. It is a little more formal than what you would expect, but it is very high quality and fresh.
Because the Kimpton doesn't have a spa (it does have a wellness room that offers massages and yoga classes), and no girls' trip is complete without a spa, we had some treatments booked at the Mayan Secret Spa. It is located in the Hotel Claris, and it has some great facilities, including a traditional Mayan temazcal.
After the spa, we headed back to pack up, and walked around some more, and ended up for drinks at Paradiso, currently ranked as the world's best bar. And yes, it does live up to the hype. The cocktails are very creative and tasty, and once again their service is incredible.
On our last night, we had dinner at Boca Grande. This is a fun restaurant, with a great ambiance and food. End the evening with drinks at their lounge upstairs called Boca Chica.
Need to Know
Looking for more Spain travel tips? Check out Ashtin Robinson's guide: The Classic 10-Day Andalusian Road Trip Itinerary.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Barcelona.