Photo: Pajor Pawel/Shutterstock (center), PrimaDonna, Vionic, Neutrogena, Suncloud

What I Packed for a Few Laid-Back Days in Barcelona

Barcelona Travel
by Morgane Croissant May 21, 2024

On my first trip to Barcelona, I had a solid schedule for my three days in the city. Thanks to my Go City sightseeing pass, I had booked guided tours of La Sagrada Família and Park Güell, and a ride onboard the Montjuïc cable car. I also made plans to visit the atmospheric Gothic Quarter and try out the Teleférico del Puerto (the port cable car). When it came to choosing a place to stay, I randomly picked the tourist-free, laid-back neighborhood of El Poblenou. With a main pedestrian street full of cafes, bakery, restaurants, and local shops, as well as a beautiful beach, Playa de Bogatell, it was the perfect location to get back to at the end of a day filled with tourist crowds. Of course, having planned this trip meticulously, I packed my luggage with the same mindset. A bathing suit to enjoy the 85-degree weather on the beach, a comfortable and casual pair of shoes for the many miles I planned to walk every day, weather-appropriate and fun outfits that could work for both day and night, and a book that would immerse me into the city.

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Where to stay in Barcelona’s El Poblenou


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At the northern end of El Poblenou, alongside the busy Avinguda Diagonal, Barcelona’s biggest avenue, is Meliá Barcelona Sky, a four-star ultra-modern hotel. The striking contemporary architecture of this luxury establishment, designed by renowned French architect Dominique Perrault, is only one of its many appeals. The sixth-floor pool, with its cabanas and loungers is a relaxing place to hang out, and so is the spa and the 24th-floor terrace from where you can get a bird’s eye view of the city. Book a room up high so you can wake up to vistas of the Mediterranean Sea. Meliá Barcelona Sky is 10 minutes on foot from the main pedestrian street of El Poblenou and less than 20 minutes to the beach.

Book Now from $297

What I packed for a few days in Barcelona

PrimaDonna Swim Marival

PrimaDonna is a lingerie brand that caters to all body types, with a very solid selection of swimwear and bras for women with busty, curvy bodies. The collections are always colorful and fun, with a variety of motifs and multiple versions of bikini bottoms and tops so that everyone can find the fit that works for them, no matter their size, preference, and comfort level.

Buy now from Glamuse from $231

Suncloud Metric sunglasses

I dislike wearing sunglasses but you really can’t go without when visiting sunny Barcelona. This classic tortoise shell, polarized Metric frame from Suncloud works for all occasions and is comfortable, making wearing shades a lot less of a chore for those who don’t care for it. Because the Suncloud Metric is an affordable, plastic-frame model for everyday wear, I don’t feel particularly worried about scratching them or putting them back in their case after every single use.

Buy now from Amazon for $43.96

Neutrogena Ultrasheer Dry Touch sunscreen

I am extremely fair-skinned, with freckles all over, and a tendency to burn very quickly and very intensely, so there is no way I can be out in the Spanish sun without protection. Neutrogena’s Ultrasheer Dry Touch sunscreen is the only sunscreen that does not leave me shiny and with white streaks. It’s light, very fast absorbing, and leaves a matte, transparent finish so you can wear it all over your body and face without feeling sticky and gross. Just remember to apply every two hours for the best skin protection.

Buy now from Amazon for $8.88

Pismo casual sneaker by Vionic

If you’re going to explore a city like Barcelona where the weather is hot on foot, forget the sandals and opt for a low-rise, casual sneaker like Vionic’s Pismo. You can walk many miles in them without discomfort thanks to their arch-support insoles and they still look good with a simple dress, a pair of shorts, or jeans. The Pismo sneaker comes in a variety of colors and motifs so you can make them match all your outfits. I own two pairs: one with a strawberry pattern and one plain navy blue, and I would not trade them for any other shoes. Also, when they get too dirty, you can throw them in the washing machine on a cold cycle (without the insoles) and they come out looking brand new.

Buy now from Amazon from $44.98

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind, or La Sombra del Viento in Spanish, is a work of Gothic fiction that takes place in Barcelona. Written by the late Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a Barcelona native, the story is a dark thriller with some elements of magic that is sure to suck you right in and make your spine tingle. Take it with you to the Gothic Quarter and try to match the real-life locations to those in the novel. And if you like this novel, there are four more that follow in the same vein — although they can all be read independently.

Buy Now from Amazon for $9.99

Marie Dress from Lucas du Tertre

For a casual, yet elegant look, I opted for a short-sleeved, knee-length, button-down shirt dress from Parisian brand Lucas du Tertre. Made of 100 percent light cotton, this dress is extremely comfortable for all body types, especially in hot weather. Both the blue gingham and the red stripes versions are equally beautiful and easy to wear.

Buy Now from Lucas du Tertre for $119.38

Wallaroo hat

Much like you need to protect your eyes with sunglasses and your skin with sunscreen, you need to protect your scalp with a hat. The Australia-based Wallaroo Hat Company makes UPF-fabric hats in a huge variety of models to suit everyone’s style. I travel with the stylish and packable Sedona Fedora in white, made of UPF-50, lightweight fabric. It has a long brim to shield your face and an inner drawstring to adjust for a perfect fit.

Buy Now from Amazon for $53

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