You’ve never visited Spain before, but you’ve been dreaming of the day you can finally go and experience it all in person. As you prepare to go on your first visit, there are some things you should know before leaving the U.S., including how to adjust to the time difference, how to get around the country once you arrive, and what restaurants to visit if you do make it out into the world beyond your hotel room. Here are some expert tips on visiting Spain and getting the most out of your trip!
Things to do in Madrid
Head to El Retiro for some peace and tranquility. This garden was designed in 1760, and at the time, it was used exclusively by the royal family. It wasn’t open to the public until 1837, but since then it has become one of Madrid’s most popular sites. It’s worth a visit during any season because El Retiro is beautiful under both rain and sunlight.
Get lost in Madrid’s museums. There are over 30 different museums in Madrid, so there’s bound to be something that will catch your eye. The Prado Museum is the best place to start if you’re looking for art from Spanish masters like Goya and Velazquez. Also, check out the Royal Palace which houses more than 10,000 works of art!
Madrid is a bustling city, so make sure to walk off all of those tapas and sangria with a hike up to El Pardo Mountain. It’s only about 30 minutes outside of Madrid, and there are trails for walking and biking that wind through pine forests. Make sure to catch the sunset from one of its many scenic lookouts!
Things to do in Barcelona
Known as the Jewel of the Mediterranean, Barcelona is a must-see destination that offers an exciting blend of food, fashion, culture, and style. Beyond all the fun and friendly vibes, there are plenty of things to see in this cultural capital.
If you want to experience some famous Catalan cuisine, stop by for lunch at El Raco de Can Fabes, a restaurant ranked number 3 on a list of the world’s best restaurants according to La Guia Michelin.
If you want to enjoy breathtaking views of Barcelona head up to Montjuic Mountain where on a clear day you can see for miles. The site is best known for its Olympic Stadium, built for the 1992 Olympics, and a funicular to get you there with incredible views along the way.
If you want to party then Barcelona has a huge nightlife with hundreds of bars and clubs. An area known as The Raval is popular for those who like alternative rock music.
Things to do in Granada
In Granada, head to the Alhambra, one of the best-preserved medieval Islamic monuments in the world. It’s very easy to take public transportation from other cities and towns nearby for a day trip and even more accessible if you have a car.
Other interesting and historical cities in Spain include Barcelona, where you can see Gaudi’s works such as Sagrada Familia, a church that was under construction for more than 100 years. Madrid has museums like Prado Museum and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Museum, which are must-visit places while you’re there. Besides art and history, Spain is also famous for bullfighting, flamenco dance, and Flamenco music as well as bull running.
Things to do in Seville
Day Trips: If you’re looking for a day trip that doesn’t require too much driving, it’s worth exploring the nearby Andalusian mountains of Sierra Nevada. To get there from Sevilla, take a 2-hour bus ride to Granada, then head west on Highway A7 past Baza and up into the mountain ranges. There are plenty of good hiking trails in this area with breathtaking views over the plains below and some cool rock formations thrown in for good measure.
Spend a day in Carmona and see an example of a Moorish town. Explore Seville Cathedral and its Giralda bell tower, named after its architect, al-Jami. Spent some time in Alcázar de la Puertas Des Alhambra, a historical fortress used as a residence by Christian rulers from 1248 to 1492.
The Medina Azahara is also worth seeing for its site-specific architecture.
Take a dip in El Chorro, a village in a rocky gorge that cuts through the Sierra Nevada. This is where, at 25 meters (82 feet), Spain’s highest waterfall can be found, with some of its river water diverted to Seville via an aqueduct. Visit Jerez de la Frontera, renowned for its sherry production and Andalusian flamenco music.
Other Tips for your Trip
We hope these tips help to make your trip more enjoyable. If there’s anything else you think would be helpful, let us know in the comments!
1) Be aware of public transportation strikes: These happen frequently and can cause significant delays.
2) The water quality is questionable: Don’t drink tap water and avoid salads unless they’re cooked or have vinegar dressing on them.
3) The sun is powerful: Wear sunscreen and a hat every day, even if it’s cloudy outside!
4) Avoid crowded places: There are usually alternatives that aren’t as busy.
5) There are cheap public and free private parking lots in most cities. If a public lot is full, try a private one instead.
6) Be prepared for a language barrier: Your mobile phone and any ATM cards can be useful to communicate in case of emergency.
7) Barcelona and Madrid are both huge: These two cities are good for getting lost and discovering new places but can feel overwhelming to newcomers.
If you’re thinking about booking a trip to Spain, it’s best to do your research beforehand. Check travel advisories and weather predictions, see what the accommodations are like, and make sure that the area is safe. Even though these things can’t be planned for, having some knowledge on how to take care of yourself in a new environment will help ensure that your stay is as enjoyable as possible.
If you are traveling to Spain for business, there are a few important things to note. Depending on what your line of work is, it’s possible that not all of your business expenses may be tax deductible. Always make sure to contact an accountant and discuss options with them beforehand so as not to miss out on potential deductions.