The Black Girl's Guide To Barcelona
Life & Travel

The Black Girl's Guide To Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain, is a bustling city filled with stunning cathedrals, gaudy architecture (literally), and delicious cuisine— hello, tapas. It’s also a destination that perfectly blends land and sea, as it is home to golden sand beaches and lush green mountains that house some of the region’s best wine labels.

I recently popped into the Spanish destination to test drive the all-new Volvo EX30. Although I’m an avid traveler, I’ve never actually driven while abroad. So, I jumped at the opportunity to check something new off my travel bucket list while also exploring the area behind the wheel of the car brand’s smallest EV yet.

My second time in Barcelona, I was able to cover even more territory than my initial visit nearly ten years ago. From Black-owned restaurants to DIY upcycling studios to getting “the shot” in front of the famous The Cheetah Girls 2 movie backdrop. Here’s an insider’s take on what to eat, see and do while there.

Where to Stay

The key to any major city is staying in a central location. This way, you can easily get around, whether by foot, rideshare, or even public transportation. For this trip, I stayed in the ultra-trendy ME Barcelona. With gorgeous imagery of Black women rocking their natural kinks and coils filling its walls, the hotel is a dream for any Black girl that likes to feel seen.

The entire property is decked out in neutral tones and wood accents. There’s a rooftop pool for those visiting in warmer months, a late-night bar accented with pink florals hanging from its ceiling, and a delicious restaurant with tons of greenery splashed throughout.

What to See and Do

First and foremost, you’re in Europe, so retail therapy is a must. With the EU having the VAT (value-added tax) refund, it’s the perfect excuse to get in a little designer shopping while also saving a few coins in the process. With Spain being the home of fashion house Loewe (pronounced Loh-eh-vey), you’re sure to get your hands on some of the brand’s hottest bags and shades for a fraction of the price in the US. Oh, and there’s a nice designer outlet just 30-minutes outside Barcelona proper— you can thank me later. You can also find great shopping around Plaça de Catalunya, as well as the iconic La Rambla (Barcelona’s famous pedestrian strip).

For the artsy girls, add a visit to Upcycling Barcelona Shop (L’Escola d’Upcyling) for unique pieces as well as the chance to take one of the collective's daily DIY upcycling classes. The shop mostly works with denim, so you could walk away with your own custom piece. Also, no trip to the city is complete without seeing the various buildings and houses built by architect Antoni Gaudí. Words really don’t do these structures justice, so you’ll just have to see them for yourself.

Be sure to spend some time getting lost in the alleys of the Gothic District, which is filled with tons of street art and murals.

Were you a Cheetah Girls fan growing up? The city served as the backdrop to the second installment of the Disney film, and some of the most memorable scenes were shot in Park Güell. Pro Tip: If you want to get “the shot” get there early as the crowds can be overwhelming with everyone trying to snap photos of the landmark. Also note that there’s a 10 euro entry fee to even walk the park.

Where to Eat

Spain, in general, is famous for its tapas culture. Nearly any sit-down restaurant around the city will serve up an array of small, shareable plates for you and your group. Some of my favorites: the tomato bread with olive oil, fried croquettes, and grilled octopus.

If you’re on your Issa Rae vibe right now— rooting for (and supporting) everyone Black— check out Black-owned Spice BCN and Fori, both known for their African influences and cuisine.For a local vibe, make a reservation at Taberna Llamber tucked away in the city’s back alleys. This spot is popular for local residents, so keep that in mind because it can get packed.

For a unique spin on tapas, head to Fismuler, which also offers live music on most nights.

For the vino enthusiasts, Barcelona is known for its wine tourism as the country is home to the popular sparkling varietal, Cava. Add a full-day wine tour to your itinerary to partake in some of the region’s best labels.

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Feature image by DeAnna Taylor

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