The "other" Barcelona, for when you're going to Barcelona
Why it's so cheap: Picture the location of Barcelona (well, an hour and a half up the road) and all its Catalan charms, minus the price tag and the crowds. A fancy hotel in Girona will cost you anywhere from $85 to $250 on any given Saturday night, and the city’s airport is well-served by low-cost airlines bringing visitors from all parts of Europe on flights that cost less than $100, one way. It's the discount-hunter's best first stop on the way to Barcelona.
Why you should go: Those looking for "old Europe" will find it in Girona. Medieval architecture rules the old city center, with a stunning cathedral and winding, stone-lined alleyways. It's also at the heart of Catalonia's world-renowned culinary tradition: El Celler de Can Roca, currently the "best restaurant in the world," is here, and while dining here will certainly set you back a few euros, it pales in comparison to what a similar meal would cost in Paris or the States. But even the not-famous restaurants pull from a storied cooking pedigree and the nearby Mediterranean sea, as well as the Catalan farms that ring the city. A mere 20 minutes away is the Costa Brava, delivering prime beaches and more medieval towns where you can chow down on inexpensive, fresh seafood till your heart's content. -- Jackie Bryant, Thrillist contributor