Travelling to Spain
Thinking of taking a holiday in Spain?
You’ve chosen a great place! Of course, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway for two, a crazy weekend at the clubs with friends, or somewhere to take the kids will all affect the kind of holiday you choose – as will a city break versus a relaxing few days on the beach. Luckily, Spain can cater for all of these types of holidays, so there’ll be something for you no matter what you’re looking for.
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The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is the perfect mix of buzzing city and beach destination (though for the best beaches, consider travelling a few miles out of the city, as the central ones are usually very busy). You could stick to the typical tourist hotspots – El Born, Sagrada Família, Parc Güell (they are definitely worth seeing, but make sure you buy tickets in advance to avoid long queues) – or you could make like a native and go for tapas on Carrer Blai, see Gràcia’s street decoration competition during August’s Festa Major, or have a vermut, which involves going to a bar around midday and sitting outside with vermouth and crisps (or the ever-delicious patates braves).
You can’t visit Barcelona without tasting one of the incredible thick hot chocolates for dipping churros into - try Granja M. Viader, which has been around since 1870 and still makes hot chocolates topped with a blob of thick, delicious cream. And if you happen to be there at Christmas, make sure you get yourself a Caga Tió (this is a little log with a smiling face that translates as ‘Poop Log’, and at Christmas children hit it with sticks to get it to ‘poop’ presents).
This enchanting city is the capital of Spain, with a population of 3.4 million. It's the perfect place for a city break, with more things to do than you’ll ever be able to squeeze into a weekend. We can’t talk about Madrid without mentioning the Parque del Retiro, which offers the city’s residents and visitors a lovely green space to escape the crowds, and Plaza Mayor, a beautiful outdoor area which is filled with shops and restaurants.
If you're looking for good eateries, we recommend avoiding the square itself as the restaurants there can often be tourist traps. Instead, try Sobrino de Botín, located just off Plaza Mayor, which opened in 1725 (making it the oldest continually running restaurant in the world) and was a haunt of Ernest Hemingway.
This is also a fantastic city for art-lovers, as it's home to three famous museums, the Museo del Prado, Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. These house some of the world's most valuable artworks, so they're definitely worth checking out.
When you hear Seville, you may think ‘oranges’, but we promise there’s plenty more to this beautiful city than that. For a start, the city contains the largest Gothic temple in the world, which is home to the resting place of Christopher Columbus and has also been featured in Game of Thrones. Behind this, you’ll find the Real Alcazar of Seville, which has been home to various different kings throughout Spain's history and is, in fact, the official residence of the current Kings of Spain, making it the oldest active royal palace in Europe. Seville is also a great destination for cyclists, with 170 kilometres of cycle paths to enjoy. Plaza de España is another must-see, with its system of mini-canals and bridges and boats that you can rent to row in the canal. It was also used in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, in the scene where Anakin, Padmé and R2-D2 walk on Naboo.
The Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands are a perfect choice for pretty much any kind of holiday. They’re packed full of stunning beaches and mountain scenery, and Mallorca’s capital Palma is stuffed to the brim with gorgeous architecture for those who want to do a bit of sightseeing. There are also some glorious beaches - hiking lovers should check out Es Coll Baix, which you'll have to walk a few kilometres to get to, and if you've got kids, Es Caragol is a great choice due to the shallow waters. S'Amarador is also worth a visit; it's an unspoilt beach in Mondrago Natural Park and is truly gorgeous to look at.
For the clubs, Ibiza is an obvious choice – and if you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten path, try Formentera, the smallest of the islands. You’ll have to fly into Ibiza and then take a ferry to get there, but if you’re looking for something slightly more remote and relaxing, it’s worth the extra effort.