Spain is a land of passion and untamed beauty that begs to be discovered. You will feel it in every step of a Flamenco, every note of the guitar, every colourful dish and every wild coastline or mountain ridge. Its sun kissed land has so many stories to offer that Spain will inspire you to make it a part of your own. If you listen closely, the country’s call will tease you into understanding the passion and pioneering spirit that led not only to the Age of Discoveries, but to some of the World’s greatest works of art, culinary dishes and cultural monuments.
There are a lot of ways to spend a three-day trip to Spain. The most famous will take you to Barcelona. The capital of Catalonia has everything to offer, from spectacular architecture to some of the best restaurants in the world; from a seemingly endless promenade to one of the best football clubs in the history of the sport.
Spend your day in search of Antonio Gaudí for whom Barcelona was a canvas. Stroll through the Parc Guëll, search for some of his most famous buildings throughout the city and be baffled by the monumental Sagrada Familía.
If you are not into architecture, take a walk down Las Ramblas. Even if it is frowned upon by the locals as the most touristy thing to do, a walk in the shade of the big trees on Las Ramblas will take you gently from the city’s Plaça de Catalunya to the waterfront. When there, settle on the beach or visit the Aquarium of Barcelona. And after some rest, make your way to La Boqueria, the buzzing food market of Barcelona. The sounds and smells are amazing. While you are here, round off your visit with some fresh tapas and a beer in one of the food stalls. To finish the day, head to Gràcia. Although part of the city, Gràcia does not feel like it. Surprisingly, it was able to preserve some of its serenity throughout the years. It is the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon coffee or tea.
Another favourite city trip takes you to Spain’s capital, Madrid. The city is rich in history and as a visitor you can feel the importance of its role throughout. The Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace or the Plaza Mayor stand witness to Spain’s glory and history of the last millennium. The city dresses proudly and tells her stories to the attentive visitor through buildings, statues and parcs.
If you are looking for a more modern approach to the city, head to the Mercado San Miguel to discover some of Spain’s most exquisite tastes and flavours. Try some of the pimenton or why not buy some Saffron. Once your shopping is done, relax at one of the stalls with some tapas and a vermouth.
If you visit Madrid during a weekend, you will most definitively see some fans of Real Madrid, arguably the best and most famous football club in the whole world. Their home is the Santiago Bernabéu stadium. If you are into football, try to score some tickets and treat yourself to an atmosphere you will never forget.
And if after that, you still have time on Sunday, head over to El Rastro on Ribera de Coritodores and Plaza de Cascorro. This is the largest flea market in all of Madrid. 3,500 stalls sell ods and ends, and you will surely find some trinkets for yourself.
Eating late – While in Spain, you need to adapt to the lunch and dinner schedule of the Spaniards. Although a lot of restaurants have adapted to the tourist’s schedule, you will need to adapt once you are off the beaten path. Here, lunchtime is around 14.00 and dinner starts at around 21.00. In any case, it will be difficult to find restaurants that serve dinner before 20.00.
Siesta – Ah, the famous siesta! Against popular believe, Spain does not sleep every day from 14.00 to 16.00. The siesta is more of a late lunch- or family time. During this break, most shops and businesses will be closed, but once they reopen, they will usually do so until late in the evening.
Speak some Spanish – If you want to fit in a bit more than the standard tourist, some words of Spanish will take you a long way. Kick off a friendly conversation with Hola (Hello) Buenos días (Good morning) or Buenas noches (Good night). Ask for a person’s well-being with Cómo estás (How are you?). Leave away the “s” at the end for a more formal greeting Comó está. And, of course, always use por favor (please) and gracias (thank you).
Getting around – Spain is really well organised in terms of public transport. Buses and trains are usually on time and their schedule is a lot more reliable than in other parts of Europe. You should consider public transport as a serious option to get around since its pricing is highly competitive too! Riding the AVE, the high-speed train, will be affordable and get you to almost every major city in Spain in a couple of hours.
August is holiday time – Yes, August is the month were most of us are planning our getaway to Spain, but this is also the month that most Spaniards will be on holiday too. Tourist destinations or attractions will of course be impacted far less, but off of the beaten path, you may encounter a lot of closed restaurants or businesses. If you plan on going to Spain during the month of August, check ahead if everything you want to do is open and available during your stay.
Madrid is a surprising destination when you are in love. The weather is usually very mild and the city in itself is easy-going. If your interest lies with art and culture, Madrid has a lot to offer. However, if you are looking for a special scenery, take your loved one to see the sunset at Templo de Debod in the Parque del Oeste.
Additionally, if, like us, you are convinced that the way to a person's heart is through the stomach, saunter through the streets of Madrid, sit down to have some churros con chocolate and dine at one of the many restaurants that offer a Flamenco show. This dinner comes with a passion guarantee! You are welcome!