I can’t believe it’s been a full 24 hours since I’ve been back from Cuba. I feel like the past few days flew by and I can’t wait to share all of our amazing adventures from Havana over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m wrapping up all things Spain with a super comprehensive (aka long!) travel guide recapping some of the highlights from our five days in Barcelona and Ibiza. Read on for some of my favorite moments, travel tips and more!
WARNING: This is a long post. If you aren’t planning a trip to Spain, scroll down to the bottom for some cool pics or bookmark for later!
Before I dive into it, I thought it might be helpful to provide a little background. Let me be clear – five days is NOT enough time for the full Spain experience. I made the decision super last minute to join B’s sister abroad for a leg of her trip and as much as I loved getting to experience Barcelona and Ibiza for a few days, it just wasn’t enough. There is SO MUCH I still want to explore and I may or may not already be planning my next trip with B (fingers crossed for 2018!). I say all of this because today’s travel guide isn’t a super comprehensive, don’t-look-anywhere-else guide to Spain. I am however sharing all that we accomplished in our quick trip and offering a few other suggestions for anyone planning a trip to Espana.
So here we go!
Spain Travel Guide | Two Nights in Barcelona
STAY: We booked out hotel extremely last minute – as in the day before – but totally lucked out. We stayed at the Renaissance Fira Hotel which was absolutely amazing. It was super modern, had an awesome rooftop pool and bar and the entire hotel is covered with greenery and modern features. It was one of the coolest hotels I stayed in and for it to be a Renaissance, well I was pretty impressed. The only downside was the location. We were at least a good 15-20 minute taxi ride from some of the more popular areas and there wasn’t much around our hotel. Something to note if you want to be right in the middle of everything.
GETTING AROUND: I have a question for Barcelona – where are the ubers?? We tried calling an uber at least five times and it appears that my favorite car service doesn’t have a presence there. We ended up taking taxis everywhere and they were not cheap. I think the minimum we paid was 25 euros. There is a public train, like the Marta or Metro, but we never had a chance to really figure it out. I’m sure it’s definitely the cheaper route so if you’re there for a few days, I would definitely get familiar with it! Also, if you go out at night – which I’m sure you will – plan to wait a while for a taxi. We left the W by the Barcelonta beach around 4am and couldn’t catch a taxi for the life of us (we had to be at the airport at 6am by the way). Apparently, it’s almost impossible to find one between 3-7am. We had to pay over 100 euros for a bike taxi to take us all the way back to our hotel…it was a 45 minute ride. Lesson learned.
EXPLORE: One of my favorite neighborhoods was the Gotchic Quarter. We visited on our last day and I wish we could have spent more time walking the cobble stone streets. The Gothic quarter definitely has that more Spanish feel with older architecture, narrow alleys and streets and lots of flare. In addition to a ton of cute shops and restaurants (make sure you stop at BE CHOCOLAT), you can visit the Barcelona Cathedral which is absolutely breathtaking.
I also loved the Las Ramblas neighborhood. To be honest, it reminded me of Paris. There are cafes all down the center of the street where you can grab tapas and a pitcher of sangria for 12 euros. There is also a Zara on every street corner…and the Zara there is WAY better than in the States. Make sure you leave some extra room in your luggage.
Make sure you visit Sagrada Familia – the famous cathedral designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. Guadi stated the design and construction over 100 years ago and it still isn’t complete! It was seriously stunning and full of history – I still can’t believe they aren’t even finished with it yet. Beware: there will be lots of tourists and even more selfie sticks. Cross the street and head into the park to get the best shots!
If you’re looking for a beach, I’d have to say I wasn’t super impressed. We walked along the Barcelonota Beach area which was SO crowded and while it was still beautiful because we were at the Mediterranean, the beach wasn’t anything special to experience. There are a ton of restaurants and things going on which was a plus, but we decided to catch some rays at our rooftop pool instead of setting up shop at the beach. A few folks told us there was another beach a few minutes outside of the center of the city (Castelldefels) so I’d definitely check it out if you have time.
EAT: By far my favorite restaurant in Barcelona was Salt at the W. I know what you’re thinking – who goes all the way to Spain and eats dinner at the W, a place you go literally anywhere else. Y’all – it was SO good. Salt is right on the back and has an amazing view of the water, lots of people watching and one of the best sangrias I had in Barcelona. The best part however was the service. I have never felt more welcomed than by the staff and team at Salt. We weren’t there for my blog or invited guests – but they rolled out the red carpet for us. They also have a beach Club directly across from the restaurant that has a DJ, the best cocktails and the most adorable sitting area. I just loved everything about this place.
One of the restaurants I couldn’t wait to try was Ceconni’s. We got reservations for our first night and were pretty pumped to experience the restaurant at Soho House. As beautiful as this place was, the service was absolutely horrible. Because everyone eats SO late in Spain (like 10:30 – they’re crazy), we ended up getting to the restaurant around 11:00. We ordered food and drinks almost immediately and were initially impressed with the décor, the attractive waiters and just the overall vibe. It took a turn for the worse. About 45 minutes later, around 12:05AM, the manger came over to us and told us that the kitchen closed and that we could only order off of the late night menu – which was a pizza and some sort of seafood appetizer. We weren’t happy about it, but we decided to get the pizza and just chalk it up to the true Barcelona experience. Fast forward 30 minutes, we still hadn’t gotten food and our waitress didn’t come back over to our table until 1:00am…after we had to continuously beg other staff. People were rude. We left hungry. And it just wasn’t at all what I expected it to be.
IF you’re looking for a good restaurant with a good view, head to Barcelonta beach (where Salt is). There are about ten restaurants all in a row with amazing food and even better vibes. We walked around and found a delish late night spot before heading out for our last night. You can’t go wrong with this little stretch of beach!
PLAY: We only had two nights to live it up in Barcelona but you better believe we made the most of it. If you follow me on Stories, you probably saw that we had a little too much fun at the W Barcelona on our first night – it was cirque night! We danced literally all night along and made so many new friends from all over. By far one of my favorite nights. For our second night, we ventured over to this group of Clubs right by the water. We checked out Opium, Carpe Diem and another really good hookah place that I can’t remember the name of – but they were all next door to eachother. The Clubs were crowded but the beach was even better. People were sitting in the sand and on the steps with bottles of wine and lots of music. It was the perfect place to head out after a night dancing!
Spain Travel Guide | Two Nights in Ibiza
STAY: This should come as no surprise, but we booked our hotel for Ibiza two days before we arrived. We sort of lucked out and ended up getting a good deal at the Hard Rock Hotel…but, when we got there it turns out we only paid for two guests instead of three. So word to the wise, when booking a hotel in Ibiza – most of them charge per guest, not per room. If you’re using a booking site make sure you double check you have the right info! Other than this minor hiccup and 200 euros later, the hotel was absolutely amazing. We had two pools, a private beach and the perfect location. I’d definitely suggest calling the Hard Rock home on your next trip.
PLAY: This is by far the most important section of today’s post #duh. Let’s be real, you don’t come to Ibiza to rest and relax. As soon as we arrived in Ibiza, we changed into our swimsuits and made a beeline to the swim up bar at the Hard Rock. After grabbing a few drinks by the pool, we grabbed a taxi and ventured over to the Blue Marlin Beach Club. This was probably one of my favorite places we visited during the entire trip. There was a DJ, fog machines, five+ bars, cabanas, gorgeous people, amazing hand crafted cocktails and the best part – it was right on a private beach. Everything was literally perfect and such a great way to kickstart our stay in Ibiza. My favorite night of the trip was our last night. Our hotel was right next door to Ushuaia which is a true party hotel if I ever saw one. Every night they have a party with resident DJs, all the dance music you can muster and TONS of people. We lucked out and were able to score tickets to see David Guetta. He apparently performs at the hotel every Monday during the summer – cool job alert. I can’t even explain how much fun we had. It was the definition of Ibiza. That’s the only way I can even explain it! If you only make it one night in Ibiza, this is where you need to go.
EXPLORE: In between going to the pool and Blue Marlin, we spent both days walking down the beach and around town. The location of our hotel was absolutely perfect so we didn’t have to take a taxi to do some exploring. Whether you’re looking for a bar, a good restaurant, new friends or just want to see what Ibiza has to offer, staying in Playa d en Bossa (where we stayed) is your best bet. Another thing you HAVE to do when visiting Ibiza is taking the ferry to Formentera. The beach is way better – I’m talking turquoise water, less tourists and more private. It definitely has a sleepier vibe but we loved lounging around on the beach (aka recovering from the night before) and exploring the small island. We rented a car (about 40 euros for six hours) and it was such a good call. We drove to Cala Saona which is about 15 minutes from the main port. It was a little less crowded than the main beach everyone goes to and I had the best coconut ice cream of my life at the little restaurant right on the beach. After a few hours at the beach, we hopped in our car and drove a few minutes to Cap de Barbaria. This lighthouse is a little off the main road so you have to walk a good 20-25 minutes to see the actual lighthouse. It is so worth it. Once you get there, you can crawl down into a cave that lets out to the most amazing view. We climbed around the ledge (be careful!) and were seriously blown away by the endless view of ocean. By far one of the best experiences.
(my first official pitcher of Spanish Sangria)
(cocktails at Salt)
(the best streetcorn…at Salt!)
(a hidden view of Sagrada Familia)
(another view of the epic church)
(I was obsessed with our rooftop pool at the Renaissance Fira)
(the view from the ferry ride to Formentera)
(cabana living at the Hard Rock in Ibiza)
(gorgeous view of the beach at Cala Saona)
(all of the boats lined up at Cala Saona)
(endless ocean views from the cliff at Cap de Barbaria)
(the Barcelona Cathedral in Gothic Quarter)
(still day dreaming about these white flowers in Las Ramblas)