Spain is so incredible you could spend a lifetime blogging about it. It’s geographically and ecologically diverse, but uniformly beautiful. As it’s a super popular destination and there are unlimited resources available on Spain, I’m only going to focus on a few quick hits and memorable spots.
I’ve listed some central and northern destinations below. Click on the links above to pages on Southern Spain and Tenerife!
San Sebastian is one of my all-time favorite cities for relaxing and eating! It’s an easy bus ride direct from Bilbao, Spain (departures leave from the airport). Coming from France, you can take a short bus from the spectacular beach town of Biarritz. It’s got the highest concentration of Michelin-rated restaurants in the world per square meter, and some of these rank among the world’s highest rated restaurants– if you’re willing to shell out some dough! (Book well in advance). Even when you put aside the fancy restaurants, there are tons of great restaurants with amazing tapas everywhere you go! I spent an entire day grazing on the various tapas options : )
When I wasn’t eating, I was laying on the beach. After several rainy days in Brussels, it was amazing. The waterfront had several pop-up restaurants and a local singer doing a musical performance — not sure if that’s a normal thing, but made the beach experience even better.
The downtown area also has very impressive architecture– cathedrals, bridges, and canals, with broad, pedestrian-friendly walking streets. Definitely put this on your list if you’re going to northern Spain!
I only went to Madrid for a conference, so I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I’d hoped. Still, a few things stood out to me. First was the great social scene. The small plates / tapas were done right– a small, delicious portion of food that you can set on top of your beer while you’re standing around with friends.
I also was very impressed by the large boulevards, huge plazas, and beautiful parks, such as the Casa de Campo, or the Estanque Grande de El Retiro. Plaza Mayor is the central spot to get your bearings, and a great place take in the local vibe and get some food. One evening we went to dinner and a Flamenco show– which was a lot of fun!
When I visited Barcelona a hundred years ago, I didn’t have my camera with me, so I won’t be able to post photos from here. But it’s such an amazing city — I will just mention a few highlights that you should make sure not to miss! First, of course is La Rambla, the lively street that has tons of bars, restaurants, and great (late) nightlife! For history buffs, there’s plenty of Roman ruins scattered around town, as well as a huge monument to Christopher Columbus. The Castle Montjuic offers great views of the city, and the Barcelona Fountain is beautiful — especially at night! Barcelona also has its own Arc de Triomphe.
Gaudi Architecture — Be sure to check out the famous architecture of Antoni Gaudi, notably the Sagrada Família cathedral. The surreal, modernist architecture is truly unique, and I love the curvaceous broken-pottery scenes in Park Guell, which also has the Gaudi House Museum. Other great Gaudi stops are the Casa Batllo and Casa Mila.
After several hours of walking around admiring the architecture, I was ready to go chill on the beach. Fortunately, there are plenty of public beaches only a short walk from the city center. Such a great city!