Barcelona Travel Diary + Guide

Friday, July 7, 2017

After two weeks, some time off social media and catching up at work I finally had sometime to finish this Barcelona post {Valencia and Ibiza coming up!}. I wanted to share some of the snaps from our summer vacation along with tips on exploring the city. Let me start off by saying that Barcelona is one of the most vibrant cities I've ever visited. The people are so friendly, the shopping is AH-MAZING and the food selection is out of this world. Spain had been on my list of countries I wanted to visit so I was beyond happy when we booked this trip in early April. 

The Sagrada Familia Basilica has been in construction since 1882. It is expected to be completed in 2028. 


The atrium of my dreams. 
When going on vacation selecting the hotel is my absolute favorite thing to do. I am particularly obsessed with boutique hotels, the coziness and beauty of the small spaces always gets me. My husband prefers large modern buildings with tons of amenities and large rooms. For this trip we agreed I would pick the hotel in Barcelona and he would pick Valencia and Ibiza. I went for a wonderful historical property right at the heart of one of the busiest shopping districts {duh!}. 

We stayed at Hotel Granvia, an old palace from the 19th century in the city center. The atrium was filled with light and black and white photographs that I wanted to bring home. The staff was more than friendly and the food was delicious! The hotel offered daily live jazz performances and wine tasting with a local sommelier on the weekends. The price is ridiculously good too, rooms start at $150.00 dollars per night. 

Tip: Book directly on the hotel's website. They got the best rates. 

The business center was a lovely library with comfortable leather sofas and beautiful masculine decor. They served espresso and cookies every morning. 

To my surprise, the rooms were quite large. I have traveled to Europe a few times and I've always find the size of the rooms comical {particularly in Paris}. But Hotel Granvia has the largest rooms ever! We could not believe it! I was drawn to the decor in neutral tones and Picasso. The two twin beds pushed together is a common thing in Europe. It was kind of uncomfortable at first as the beds separate as you move but after a few naps {jet lag!} we got used to it. The bathroom was nice and clean and the water pressure was intense; a total must after a long day. Out room also had a large window/balcony with excellent views of the city. We had a few glasses of wine at night overlooking the night dwellers.

The tonal decor makes the room look so light and airy. 


Just eat it all. Really. You won't be disappointed. 

In all seriousness, I had some of the best meals in Barcelona. From the traditional pan con tomate {bread with fresh sliced tomatoes} to the jamon serrano, octopus, sangria and of course, paella. 

Barcelona Restaurant Highlights:

Yes, the name is random and makes no sense but the food, oh my god! The food! Southeast Asian cuisine with a Spanish flare. Every single dish we ordered was delicious. The Earth Curry, Shumai and Cantonese Fish were my favorite. 

Right behind the restaurant there is an adorable lounge bar with the best mid century decor. Looks like the living room I always wanted to have but could never quite execute. They also serve tapas and it's open all day every day. 

This is a massive department store, think of it as the Nordstrom's of Spain. They have a huge restaurant at the top floor with great views of the city. There is all kinds of food, from paella and steaks to salads and decadent desserts. The perfect place to grab lunch after a morning of snacking. 

Tip: Do not ride the elevator, it is super crowded and takes forever. Do the escalator to go up and regular stairs to go down instead. 

Delicious Paella. This dish is everywhere and you don't have to walk far to find a place that sells it. Beware tough! Fresh paella dishes take anywhere between 25-30 minutes to cook. Usually you start off with a glass of wine and an appetizer. If a restaurant tells you they can serve immediately you should run, it's most likely frozen and that is not what you traveled to Spain for is it? 

Tip: Wash it down with a pitcher of sangria. Yum! 

We had cocktails here followed by a wonderful lunch of paella and fresh fish. The hotel grounds are breathtaking and the service is impeccable. We agreed this is were we would be staying next time. There's also a L'Occitane Spa inside the building. What more can a girl ask for?

Outside Casa Bonay

There is SO much to do, but I don't want this post to be overly long so here are my top picks in Barcelona:

MUST DO. This place is incredible, the details, construction, history, everything! Make sure to purchase your tickets online ahead of time. We did the morning showing at 9:00 AM and it was perfect. I highly recommend going up one of the towers, the views are beautiful and you get to experience the basilica on a whole other level. 

Tip: Eat before you go! I made the mistake of not doing that got sick walking down the tower {you ride an elevator up but have to walk down a very slim enclosed spiral staircase}. 
Interior of the Sagrada Familia Basilica.

View from the Nativity Tower
This wonderful museum was around the corner from our hotel. Aside from the Sagrada Familia there are quite a few Gaudi works all over the city. Make sure to make time to check out at least one. His imagination puts any whimsical thing you have ever experienced to shame.

Barceloneta Neighborhood Beach
Barcelona beaches are beautiful and this area is great for people watching enjoying some cocktails and eating tapas. We did not go into the water while in Barcelona, but the beaches were filled with young people having a good time.

Tip: Watch your belongings! We were told so many times that this area is known for pickpocketers so always be very alert. 

So many good stores, so little time! My personal favorite was OYSHO. I went back and got something every day! My husband loved Massimo Dutti. ZARA Home also had some great picks as well as & Other Stories. But really, go out and explore Passeig de Garcia and all of its wonderful little shops.

Barcelona is a late-night town. Most of the nights we didn't even leave the room until 8:00 PM. Go to Las Ramblas, so many bars and restaurants and fun things to do at night.

Get Lost
My absolute favorite thing to do. Walk the city with a goal in mind, like find the best cup of coffee or a great bar to order a bottle of rose in...and then you turn the corner and find things like this:

Picasso Museum
Explore the early years of Pablo Picasso and some of his most famous works. Make sure to get your tickets and print them ahead of time. The audio tour is absolutely worth it.
Atrium at Picasso Museum


What to wear in Barcelona? Comfortable shoes for sure. If you go during summer make sure to dress for really hot humid weather, it is a beach town after all. Sunglasses and sunblock are a MUST. A large bag to carry your camera, phone, wallet and hair ties. 

Hope you enjoyed my little city guide to Barcelona, if you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email, I would be happy to help!

xx, Nicole 


  1. Barcelona looks like a beautiful place to travel to! It reminds me of the Cheetah Girls movie haha!

    xo, Hales |

  2. Wow! These photos are breath taking hun!! Now adding Barcelona to my list of places to go haha!


    1. Thanks Tiffany, it sure is a beautiful place!

  3. Your photos are absolutely beautiful!


  4. I have yet to visit Spain but your pics are amazing and make me want to see Barcelona now.

  5. Beautiful round up girl! I lived in Spain a few summers ago and it was the dreamiest. And! My boyfriend is in Barcelona today for work, he's already text me pictures of paella and I'm dying over here. Ha.

    Thanks for the post - definitely book marking for my next trip there!


    1. You LUCKY LUCKY girl! I missed living in Paris when I was in college and I still regret it. Tell your BF to bring you with him next time haha

  6. Holy moly!!! You are giving me such wanderlust right now! I loooooove booking hotels too -- I stayed at this one 'bed&breakfast' boutique hotel in Newport, Rhode Island and the decor alone made me never want to leave. Your photos are ammmmazzzzing! I hope you had a wonderful time (it sure looks it!). I can't wait to see your other photos from the rest of your trip!

    1. I get wanderlust everyday I check instagram. I wish I could travel all day every day haha

  7. I have always wanted to go there, amazing photos

  8. Oh, my goodness! I am blown away by your experience and your photography is so excellent. I feel like I am just there with you viewing them.
    xo Debbie |

  9. Wow! what an amazing architecture, even the interior are so beautifully design, I must add to my bucklist to see this place. Thanks for sharing.

    Lung |

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  12. Best of luck lovely. Family comes's a good move...night club barcelona


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