I’ve already written fairly lengthy travel guides with lots of photos to all the cities I visited in Spain last summer where I discussed in detail many of the places we visited and ate at. But I thought I would do a quick guide to the best places for people who don’t really want to sit down and read a long blog post. This quick travel guide contains all my favourite sights and restaurants in Barcelona, Córdoba, Seville, Granada and Madrid.
See Antoni Gaudí’s beautiful architecture at Park Güell (go early!) and the Sagrada Família (book tickets in advance for both!).
Visit the Fundació Joan Miró for some modernist art.
Tour the Palau de la Música Catalana (reserve online in advance!) for one of the most beautiful theatres in the world.
Grab coffee at Nomad Coffee.
Have brunch at Casa Lolea, Brunch & Cake or Flax & Kale.
Eat tapas at Cerveceria Catalana and El Nacional.
Share some delicious pizza at Parking Pizza.
Go shopping in the El Born (La Ribera) neighbourhood.
Walk around the beautiful and colourful streets away from the central busy tourist area.
See the Mezquita – Catedral de Córdoba first thing in the morning.
Explore the flower covered patios of Palacio de Viana.
Cross the Roman Bridge at night to see the city all lit up across the river.
Grab breakfast on the patio at Maddow Coffee.
Relax with some Moroccan tea at Salon de Té.
Have a vegetarian lunch at La Libélula Coffee Shop.
Eat dinner at La Boca (arrive early or make a reservation on weekends).
Grab a late night tortilla with the locals at Taberna Bar Santos.
Have a fresh juice or a mojito at La Bicicleta.
See the palace and gardens of the Alcázar of Seville (book your tickets in advance!)
Explore Plaza de España and Parque de María Luisa.
Walk around the beautiful streets with all the colourful buildings.
Have breakfast or lunch and some great coffee at Torch Coffee Roasters.
Eat traditional tapas at El Rinconcillo and modern tapas at Ovejas Negras.
Shop for ceramics at Ceramica RUIZ and Ceramic Art Santa Ana.
Spend all day exploring the amazing Alhambra Palace (book 3 months in advance! See my full guide here.)
Walk around the medieval streets in the Albaicín neighbourhood and hike up to Ermita de San Miguel Alto church for an amazing view of the city.
Grab coffee and a pastry at La Finca.
Eat some tagine at Restaurante Palacio Andaluz Teteria Almona.
Visit the trio of museums: Prado Museum for Spanish and European masterpieces, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía for modern Spanish masterpieces and my favourite Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum for a relaxing walk through the history of art (get the discounted museum pass for all 3).
Explore Buen Retiro Park, stopping to see the Crystal Palace and Monument to Alfonso XII.
Grab coffee at Hola Coffee.
Have brunch at Pum Pum Cafe, Mur Cafe or Federal Cafe.
Have tapas at Mercado de San Miguel.
Go for pizza and craft beer at Brew Wild Pizza Bar.
Drink vermouth with the locals at Casa Alberto.
Stop for some famous churros and chocolate at Chocolatería San Gines.
Just a few quick practicalities for Spain.
Flying to Barcelona or Madrid’s airport is your best option for arriving in the country if you’re visiting the major cities. Both airports have convenient public transit options for getting into the city (bus for Barcelona and train for Madrid). You don’t need a car for getting around in the cities and public transit in Barcelona is really convenient with the T10 card that gives you 10 rides on the bus or metro on a shareable card. Spain’s high speed train runs between Barcelona and Madrid several times a day and is the best option for getting between those two big cities. Book in advance on Loco2 because it does fill up and the actual Spain railway website is difficult to use. The high speed train also runs between Barcelona and Córdoba and Madrid and Córdoba. Once in the Andalusian region it takes a bit more work to get between Seville, Granada and Córdoba but there are regional trains. This is why we rented a car from Madrid and drove down to the cities in the south. Parking in the cities is expensive and can be stressful, look in advance online for possible parking lot options. It is not advised to drive within the historic city centres.
Like most places in Europe hotels can be expensive so check Airbnb, but we aware that cities in Spain, especially Barcelona are becoming increasingly strict with these rentals. Apartments and hotels also book up fast in the high season.
For many sights it is useful to book in advance to avoid waiting in line or worse, having tickets sell out. Tickets for sights like the Alhambra Palace and Sagrada Família go on sale 3 months in advance. Getting somewhere a few minutes before opening won’t guarantee a ticket or avoid the lineups, especially during high season in the spring (in the south) and summer.
Thanks for reading my quick guide to Spain and you can see my full travel guides for each city on the blog!