Like many people, I’ve spent very little time on a plane between 2019 and now, let alone taken an international vacay. So obviously, when presented with the opportunity to go to Barcelona for a Cosmo photo shoot—Shakira’s cover shoot to be exact—I jumped at the chance, even if it was a short trip and work-related (I meeean, vacation is vacation and Shakira is Shakira). I packed enough sandals and sunnies for a long weekend, and hopped on a flight with Cassie, Cosmo’s fashion director.
First of all, if you’ve never been, Barcelona is more than just a study abroad destination (although if you are doing a weekend trip from another spot in Europe, we have sightseeing recs for you up ahead). There’s so much to walk around and see and so many glasses of wine to consume once you’re on a non-college budget. Basically any type of croquette you eat in the entire city is going to be amazing too.
And yes, we worked hard AF to pull the shoot together, but we still found time to lounge by the rooftop pool of our hotel and take in *the best* views of the city...along with wading through thermal baths to fully cleanse ourselves from the business part of the business trip. It was very much a mix of work and play, okay? Between unpacking trunks full of photo shoot ’fit options and grabbing poolside tapas, here’s how we did a whole Barcelona vacation in just three days, plus what to throw in your suitcase, where to drink, and more.
(P.S. Just full disclosure, we got a media rate plus one comped night and a free meal to write this review.)
Your Barcelona Packing List
Where you’re staying
Highly recommend this move: We stayed at The Barcelona EDITION. Right when you walk in, it has a warm, cozy, aroma that makes you feel like you’re in your own living room. And aside from that, everyone there is so incredibly welcoming. The Edition has locations all over the world, so if you don’t stay at the one in Barcelona, it’s def worth going to in another city, like London, Miami, or Tokyo for the same A+ service.
But back to Barcelona. The hotel location was bomb. It was right in the center of the city, so exactly where you want to be to hit up the best bars and restaurants and just a prime spot for people-watching. We were also a 10-minute walk from the beach (told you to pack your bikini and sunscreen)!
Once we got up to the room, we had more than enough space, even though we had all of the trunks of clothes for the shoot in addition to our own suitcases for the trip. The room had moody vibes, with lots of wood paneling and super luxe details in the bathroom (basically, everything is gold and you will feel like a queen taking a shower with a gold shower head). Hands down, the best part of the room was the couch nook in the corner of the room, which gives you the perfect lil view of the city below you.
What you’re eating
Don’t you dare leave Spain without going to a tapas bar. Our go-to restaurant out in the city was Bar Cañete, where we sat at the bar and watched everything be prepared right in front of us. My fave thing was the lobster croquettes, which include their ~secret ingredient~. But honestly, honorable mention goes to the best dessert: Bar Cañete’s Cuban chocolate stick, essentially a chocolate truffle bar/cake hybrid served with a giant dollop of whipped cream.
There were other times when we wanted a drink but didn’t want to leave the hotel. For those moments, we sat at the hotel bar, Bar Veraz, right next to the lobby. The area is beyond stunning with lots of mood lighting and very Insta-worthy if I might add. Any of the tapas at the bar with a glass of wine is the perfect combo to end a day in Barcelona.
How you’re relaxing
I highly encourage you to spend your first very jet-lagged day by the pool like we did. We were there for work, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t Slack poolside, right? The Edition’s pool is on the roof of the hotel, which overlooks the entire city. We chilled on the daybeds, ordered glasses of wine obvs, and snacks like the Thai noodle salad and pho. Honestly, I could have spent the entire trip up there—it’s really the prettiest view ever.
When we did actually leave the hotel, we spent most of the time walking around and exploring, which is super budget-friendly, FWIW. Our first stop was Park Güell, a top tourist spot packed with cool sculptures and art that you literally cannot skip (think of it as the Spanish Steps of Barcelona). And then we checked out the giant basilica, La Sagrada Familia—another must-see if you’re in Barcelona, even for a whirlwind visit.
And because we needed some extra R&R after working, we ended our day at Aire Ancient Baths. Yes, we spent an entire night in their thermal baths, aka we swam in both extremely frigid and extremely hot baths. It’s more relaxing than it sounds, trust me.
When you’re going
We may have just gotten lucky, but mid-August seemed to be the perfect time to be in Barcelona. The weather wasn’t too hot or too cold, and the crowds didn’t prevent us from getting a restaurant res or seeing the top sites. Although summer in Spain can sometimes be sweltering, so you may be better off going with a late spring or early summer trip when it’s a little milder. (FYI, Barcelona has a giant 4th of July–level festival right around the summer solstice in June, when everyone parties on the beach all day until it’s time for fireworks.)
No matter when you book, Barcelona is a city you have to cross off your bucket list. By the end of our three days, I realized I literally could have stayed for another two weeks, but sadly, reality was calling! Would one hundred percent go back though.