We were limited to 2 weeks in Spain, so had to prioritize our itinerary. In a country as big as Spain, 2 weeks means you can’t see everything so we had to prioritize our itinerary.
Additional pictures are available in our Spain gallery (Click Here).
We took an Aerobus shuttle from the airport to Placa d’Catalunya, where we went on the metro a few stops to the El Raval neighbourhood where our rental apartment was located. After dropping off our bags and grabbing a quick lunch, we walked to the Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter for a 3pm free walking tour with Hostel Culture.
We took a 45-minute regional train from the Placa d’Catalunya metro station to the small town of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, which is cava production centre in Spain. We did tours and tastings at two cava cellars, Cordunui (a large producer) and Recaredo (a small, organic producer). You can book tours in advance on the company’s website (highly recommended you book at least a week ahead of your visit). We also visited an amazing chocolate factory in the town, Simon Coll. We had just missed the English speaking tour so we just browsed around the shop and tasted samples – delicious! Back in Barcelona, we picked up delicious kebabs for dinner at one of the many kebab joints in El Raval.
Please see our full article on Sant Sadurni d’Anoia here.
In the morning, we climbed up the big hill (you can also take the bus) to the Montjuic neighbourhood. There are many attractions in Montjuic, such as the National Palace, the Olympic Stadium, the Magic Fountain, and the Castle. We spent a while walking around the stadium grounds and then over near the castle where there were incredible views of the city and the port area. Count the cruise ships – it’s pretty incredible how many ships dock in the city in any given day. In the afternoon, we jumped on the metro and headed to the Les Corts district, where we had tickets to the Barcelona Open tennis tournament.
Barcelona has an amazing waterfront and several beaches within walking distance to the busy city centre. We started out by walking along the Moll d’Espanya waterfront park and marina where we saw some incredibly massive yachts. Barceloneta Beach is the closest beach to the centre and definitely the busiest. It was packed with locals and tourists when we were there in late April. There are many street vendors along the boardwalk and plenty of beach bars to choose from. The next beach is Icaria beach, which was busy as well. You’ll know you’ve reached this beach when you see the big statue of a fish. The third beach along the boardwalk is Marbella, which is also known as the nudist beach though we found there were more people wearing clothes than not. This beach was noticeably less busy than the other two beaches. We rewarded ourselves to some cocktails at a beach bar as we walked back the several kilometres to Barceloneta.
On our last day in Barcelona, we visited the wonderful Ciutadella Park, which is basically Barcelona’s version of Central Park. There is plenty to see in this park including a lavish fountain, a zoo, a famous wooly mammoth staute, and the Parliament of Catalonia buildings. The park is also located close to the Arc de Triomf, not to be confused with the famous landmark in Paris of course! We had lunch at a very popular tapas restaurant in the Gothic Quarter and checked out the chocolate museum. In the afternoon, we decided to stroll one more time near Barceloneta and check out what the street vendors were selling.
We took a high-speed train approximately 6 hours from Barcelona to the south-central coast of Spain to Malaga. On our first afternoon in Malaga, we strolled along the shops and restaurants at the waterfront next to the marina. We then walked to the beach in town and enjoyed a platter of mixed seafood and a pitcher of tinto de verano (red wine and lemonade, mmm) on the patio of a beach bar.
In the morning, we walked through the narrow streets of the city’s beautiful old historic centre. It was fun poking into stores and checking out the huge assortment of restaurants and bars. We had an amazing tapas lunch at Tapeo de Cervantes (best meal we had in Spain!). We visited the old palace and spent an hour or so walking through the grounds before climbing the humongous hill up to the adjacent castle (It was worth it for the amazing views!)
You cannot go to southern Spain and not visit Granada and the famous Alhambra Palace. The problem is that you cannot get tickets to Alhambra without doing an organized tour because the tour guides buy all the tickets online as soon as they become available. We booked a group tour to Granada with Russadir Travel, which included transit to/from Malaga (about 1.5 hour drive from Granada). In Granada, we spent a couple of hours walking around the city centre, where we had a tapas lunch and checked out the Albaycin district (it almost seemed like we were in Turkey). Afterwards, we hopped back into the tour bus to Alhambra, where we spent several hours visiting the amazing palaces and grounds. It ended up being a long day, but it was well worth the time and cost.
In the morning, we took a train an hour to the city of Cordoba. We left our luggage in a locker and set out to the see the city. We checked out the remaining town walls, where we stopped to take some pictures before walking through the Muslim quarter. We next jumped in line to visit the famous mosque, Mezquita, which was so much bigger and impressive than we had expected. There were a ton of tour groups here, but the place is so large and the sights so spread out, that it wasn’t annoying. After Mezquita, we walked across the old Roman bridge at the riverfront, which was pretty cool. We next visited the site of an old inn from 1435 that is now being used to house the free flamenco centre, which was pretty interesting and had a neat interactive exhibit. We walked to the centre of the city, which had a couple of squares filled with patio restaurants and bars. We stopped to have lunch and a glass of wine. Overall, we liked this city – it was filled with orange trees and was not very touristy outside of the Mezquita and roman bridge.
We stayed in a rental apartment in the Macarena neighbourhood of Seville, which was close to Alameda de Hercules (great strip of bars and restaurants). On our first morning in the city, we walked the 15 minutes to Plaza de Nueva in the historical centre where we met up with Seville Walking Tours for a free tour of the city. While there were a couple dozen of tourists there for the tour, we turned out to be the only English speakers so we received a private tour – bonus!
We walked through the historical centre, checking out such sights as the town hall, massive cathedral, alcazar, and cigarette factory-turned-university. The tour ended at the beautiful Plaza de Espana in Maria Luisa Park. We spent some time walking around the square and then headed over the riverfront bridge to the neighbourhood of Triana, which is well known for having amazing tapas restaurants and flamenco clubs. After having an amazing tapa feast at La Blanca Puloma, we walked around Triana, stopping in to check out the amazing indoor market. We walked back over the river and went to the bullfighting arena to get a tour – while I personally wouldn’t want to see a live bullfight, the tour was very interesting.
Spend your second day in Seville checking out the sights you missed on the first day like the cathedral or alcazar. We spent more time walking through the maze of streets that makes up the city’s jewish quarter We also visited the weird square, Metropol Parasol, and checked out the old Macarena city walls. While there are tons of tapa walking tours on offer in the city, we decided to avoid these pricey tours and do our own tour in Alfalfa Plaza. We followed it up with some cocktails on a patio in Alameda de Hercules.
We took a high-speed train approximately three hours to the capital, Madrid. We stayed in a rental apartment in the El Rastro neighbourhood, which was walkable to pretty much everything. We were lucky enough to arrive on a Sunday when the neighbourhood hosts a huge flea market. It was fun walking through the streets and checking out the various stalls.
We walked to the wonderful indoor market, San Miguel, for some drinks and snacks. We walked through the wonderful, huge park of Park de el Retiro. We checked out the impressive Royal Palace and walked through the busy squares, Plaza Mayor and Plaza de Santa Ana. We enjoyed some churros at a local bakery.
We took the metro to the city’s main bus station and got on a bus to Toledo (it only takes 45 minutes if you take an express bus). Toledo is a pituresque, medieval town set on a hill above the plains of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain. Inside the walled old city, there is a maze of steep cobbled streets housing many tourist shops, synagogues, mosques, churches, museums and restaurants. We really enjoyed walking along the waterfront walking trail and checking out the large bridge and fortress remains. We later had lunch on a patio. This is a must-do day trip from Madrid.