The Balearic Island of Ibiza has long been considered a hot tourist destinations for the chic European. The island has served primarily as a vacation spot for mainland Spaniards and Catalans from Barcelona seeking respite from city life. As the EDM scene exploded around the globe in the 80s, Ibiza gained a foothold on the party scene, gaining a well-deserved reputation of day parties, debauchery and dance music. But what’s remained a well-kept secret is that Ibiza, like many people, including this author, has a dual personality; a shy, softer side that she keeps hidden and is only exposed to those who actually seek to experience her beauty and unveil mystery. Combining a trip to the island with a stop in Barcelona, a dope destination in its own right, is the perfect recipe for a cosmopolitan holiday with the BAE, a girls trip, or even a solo vacation because the destinations have so much for every traveler.
WHEN TO GO:
Summer travel season is almost here, so there’s no time like the present. The warm Mediterranean climate starts drawing tourists to Spain in late May, early June, known as shoulder season. If you’re looking for fewer crowds, the shoulder seasons in early summer or mid to late September are perfect. If your schedule is dictated by the traditional summer vacation schedule, expect the customary crowds of sunkissed tourists, but you’ll have plenty of time to sightsee and hit the beach with days averaging 11 hours of sunlight, and the traditional temps that soar into the 90s.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Barcelona has one of the lowest prices for any international hub to Europe, making it the perfect landing spot to get acclimated for a few days before heading to the beach to get your tan on. Norwegian offers non- stop service from 4 U.S. cities, including New York and Los Angeles for under $200 each way. Have a bit more coins to spend, upgrade to their Business Class (read Premium Economy) with larger seats, increased recline, curated meals and specialized wines and amenities for less than the cost of a regular economy flight on most U.S. airlines.
WHAT TO DO:
Barcelona is a city fabulously rich and reflective of its Catalan roots yetcaters to art, architecture, gastronomic, sartorial, and music enthusiasts, so there really is something for everyone. Spend the day walking through some of Barcelona’s best neighborhoods exploring the city as on foot as many of Barcelona’s sites lie in or near the city center, making it easy to see as much as possible without too much effort.
Barcelona has a thriving music and festival scene. I always look forward to catching one of my favorite artists on tour across the pond, and this summer’s music lineup doesn’t disappoint. Everyone from Sam Smith, to Bruno and Beyonce are making stops in Barcelona over the summer. Concertful has your entire summer music lineup and ticket information. There are also neighborhood festivals, Gay Pride, film festivals and festivals for just about every interest.
Passeig Gracia, Barcelona’s most expensive street and chicest shopping district, runs as a main thoroughfare through the city center. Several of the renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s buildings are located along this promenade, including Casa Mila, the last private residence designed by Gaudi and Casa Batallo, another Gaudi designed private residence that is now a museum. El Cortes Ingles, the Spanish retailer that sells everything from household goods to haberdashery, has its largest flagship store along the Passeig Gracia, and their newly opened rooftop restaurant and terrace makes it worth a visit for the spectacular city views alone. Pop in some of the Spanish retailers’ flagship stores like Mango, and Salvador Batachiller. And since this is Spain, you’ll find Zara every few blocks interspersed along chic boutiques such as Louis Vuitton and Spain’s iconic Loewe.
Foodies won’t want to miss La Boqueria market, the city’s largest, where locals and restaurateurs alike rely on this market’s butchers and fishmongers for their fare. Merchants from Catalonia’s countryside sell their fruits and vegetables alongside delicacies such as bamboo worms, cheese crickets, and Catalan cookbooks and souvenirs at this famous open air market located in La Rambla neighborhood, a touristy boulevard with shops and restaurants that ends at the city’s port.
Art and architecture seamlessly and effortlessly converge in Barcelona with La Segrada Familia, arguably Gaudi’s greatest masterpiece. Expressing Gaudi’s belief in spiritual elevation through art and architecture, this massive church which has been under construction since 1893 tells Christ’s story from the nativity to the crucifixion through architecture and design was Gaudi’s sole focus for the last 10 years of his life. Art aficionados will appreciate The Picasso Museum which houses a permanent collection of over 4,200 of the artist’s works that explore the city’s effect on Picasso during his years spent in Barcelona.
You can craft the perfect night around spirits which will lift yours. Stroll through the labyrinth that is the El Born district, home to many art galleries, and Barcelona’s famous Music Palace. You’ll come to the Cathedral of Barcelona, where chances are, you will find dancers performing la Sardana, the national dance of Catalunya, a symbol of national unity and identity, or stumble upon a religious ceremony in the square. End your night at Magatzem Escola, browsing their extensive collection of wine and liquor. Stay for a formal wine tasting in their cellar or tailor your own with the help of their resident sommelier and wine dispenser, which serves varieties of whites and reds on tap, doled out on demand based on your preference.
WHERE TO STAY:
Just a short walk from el Passieg Gracia in Barcelona’s elegant L’Eixmple District OD Barcelona is the perfect location to experience the city. The boutique luxury hotel has several dining options, Sunday brunch, master classes, a terrace garden and rooftop pool, make it a perfect oasis in the heart of the city. Located less than 30 minutes from Barcelona International Airport, it’s a hassle free choice for arrival and departures, making it easy to see other parts of Spain.
Lisa Bonner, a travel aficionado, is a veteran Entertainment Lawyer with offices in New York. Her work has appeared in theGrio, Yahoo! Travel, Ebony and Essence. Follow her on social media @lisabonner