Destination Deep-Dive 6 MINS READ

The Complete Guide To La Tomatina Festival, Spain

The Complete Guide To La Tomatina Festival, Spain

Destination Deep-Dive 6 MINS READ

From the April Fair of Seville to the Canary Islands’ Carnival, Spain hosts a range of lively traditional festivals that puts locals and travelers in a joyous atmosphere thanks to a profusion of music, dance, and soulful typical dishes. But, surprisingly enough, one of the most fascinating festivals in the country revolves around a messy food fight.

Well-known across the globe, La Tomatina happens every year on the last Wednesday of August. The festival takes place in the city of Buñol, in Valencia, and it brings thousands of people who gather to basically throw tomatoes at each other for an hour. Fun, and chaotic, this worldwide praised tomato fight is a great item for travelers to include —and check off — their bucket list.

To help you make the most out of the festival, we created a comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about Buñol’s annual tomato fight. Added bonus? A few Valencia travel tips, which are guaranteed to keep you entertained for days. Have a look!

Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.

Traveling To Valencia, Spain

About Valencia

Aerial view of Valencia's coastline dotted with historical buildings, in Spain

Located on Spain’s southeastern coast, on the banks of the Turia river, Valencia is a lively port city adorned with a profusion of ancient Moorish buildings and Gothic constructions. Valencia is located within just an hour and a half from Madrid and three hours from Barcelona by train, and it’s widely known for hosting traditional festivals and celebrations, such as the Fallas and, of course, the famous La Tomatina festival.

With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, Valencia is a great destination all year round. If you go during the summer, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the city’s finest beaches. But, in case you want to avoid crowds of tourists, try to go during the offseason, between May and June when the weather is still pleasant and warm.

What To Eat And Drink In Valencia

Paella valenciana.

Worldwide known as Spain’s staple dish, paella originated in Valencia, and it’s a must-try for travelers who are visiting the region. But, differently from what many people think, the Paella Valenciana does not carry seafood, and it’s actually made with other typical ingredients, such as rabbit, chicken, bomba rice, and garrofón (a type of large white bean) among others.

For trying the best paella in Valencia, make sure you stay away from touristy restaurants where the dish is pre-made, frozen, and reheated. A flavourful and authentic paella is always made to order, and it takes at least 30 minutes to get done. Also, it should be served in the pan it was prepared in, and the bottom layer of the rice usually has a crispy caramelized crust, which is called socarrat. Some of the most praised paella restaurants in Valencia are the Restaurante Levante, La Pepica, Casa Roberto, Restaurante Navarro, and Casa Carmela.

Aside from trying the traditional paella, make sure you also sip in the staple drink of Valencia: horchata de chufa. Refreshing and perfect for hot summer days, this non-alcoholic creamy beverage is made with the milky juice of tiger nuts, and it originated in Valencia in the 13th-century. The drink is so popular across Spain that there are special “horchataria” shops dedicated to serving it.

Where To Stay In Valencia, Spain

Aerial view from Serranos towers on the old town of Valencia, in Spain

To enjoy Valencia to the fullest, rent an apartment in the city center. You can choose a modernist Spanish apartment in the El Carmen historical neighborhood, which is quite central. Other well-located areas for you to stay in Valencia are Ciutat Vella (Valencia Old Town), L’Eixample, El Cabanyal, Poblats Maritims, and Benimaclet.

Traveling To Buñol

Aerial view of the historic center of Buñol, in Valencia, Spain

Buñol is a small town located in the province of Valencia. As the festival is the main attraction of the city, most people opt for staying in the capital city of Valencia, which offers more options for things to do during a trip to Spain. Both cities are located within 40 minutes from each other, and a great idea is to can rent a car and travel from Valencia to Bunõl. You just have to take the A3 highway towards Madrid/Aeropuerto, and then take exit 322 towards VP-3031/Buñol. For your day trip to Bunõl, you can also get the train in the Estaciò Nord. The journey takes around 1 h 7 min.

A Guide To La Tomatina Festival

The History Of La Tomatina

A woman covered in tomato juice during La Tomatina Festival, Bunol, Spain

Ever wondered why Spain hosts a food fight festival where people just have fun while throwing tomatoes at each other? We explain. While the origins of the festival are unknown, there’s a popular story that tells it all began by accident in August 1945. There was a religious parade taking place in Buñol, and a group of teenagers started throwing tomatoes that had fallen from the bed of a passing lorry. The tomato throwing became a thing, and it continued for a few years until it was banned in the 1950s by city officials. Later on, in 1957, the people of Buñol held a ceremonial tomato burial, tucking a tomato into a coffin to express their discontent. In 1959 the ban was lifted and La Tomatina became a Festivity of International Tourist Interest in 2002.

What Happens In La Tomatina?

Two girls and a group of male friends covered in tomato juice during La Tomatina, in Spain.

La Tomatina is now held in honor of St. Louis Bertrand — the patron saint of Bunõl — on the last Wednesday of August. Regarded as the biggest food fight in the world, La Tomatina starts at 10 am with people gathering in the Plaza del Pueblo. At 11:00 am, a gunshot indicates the start of the tomato throwing, which lasts until 12:00 p.m., when another gunshot signals the end.

La Tomatina Survival Guide

People covered in tomato juice during La Tomatina, in Spain

Here are some thoughtful tips and advice you need to know to make the most out of The Tomatina Festival.

  • Squash the tomatoes before throwing them at your target. This reduces the impact, and avoid bruises;
  • Avoid wearing flip flops. First, because someone can accidentally step on your foot, and you might get hurt. Second, because you can easily lose them during the festival;
  • Wear clothes that you’re willing to throw away afterward;
  • Leave the selfie stick at home. If you want to take photographs, but don’t want your phone covered in tomato juice, take a waterproof camera instead;
  • Do not rip other participants’ clothes;
  • Wear clothing with sealed pockets where you can keep a few things, and dress comfortably. You can even ziplock some cash and pocket it;
  • Don’t target the buildings, only other participants;
  • Use eye goggles to protect your eyes.

Fun Facts About La Tomatina

Battle of tomatoes during La Tomatina festival, in Spain.
  • More than 120,000 pounds of tomatoes are thrown in La Tomatina, known as the “world’s biggest food fight”;
  • The food fight lasts for just an hour;
  • La Tomatina only starts when a ham is retrieved from atop a greased pole in the main town square. The moment the slice of ham is dropped from the pole, trucks loaded with tomatoes enter and the fight begins;
  • La Tomatina has inspired similar celebrations around the world, and today other cities such as Colorado, USA, Sutamarchán, in Colombia, and Dongguan, China, host tomato fights;
  • The festival brings together around 20,000 people, including locals and travelers from all over the world.

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Canary Islands 8 MINS READ

The Ultimate Guide to Lobos Island, Spain

The Ultimate Guide to Lobos Island, Spain

Canary Islands 8 MINS READ

Lobos Island, or Isla de Lobos, is a small paradisiac island that many travelers don’t know much about yet. The islet is part of the Canary Island archipelago, and it’s located just about 100 km west of Morocco, and only 2 kilometers north of the island of Fuerteventura.

Surrounded by idylic beaches, the Lobos Island is true heaven for travelers who are seeking to spend some time in the nature. With a pleasant warm weather, the island is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in Europe, and it harbors over 130 plant species, as well as a great variety of seabirds and fishes. For this reason, the Lobos Island has been designated as a protected zone and a special protection area (SPA) for birds.

Thanks to its stunning natural features, this pristine island makes just about the perfect sojourn destination for those who are seeking maximum calm and relaxation. Plus, Lobos Island is suitable for all types of travel, from family-friendly getaways to romantic escapes.

To help you plan a memorable trip to the Canaries, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to Lobos Island. Take a look!

Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.

About Lobos Island

What to Expect from the Lobos Island

Aerial view of Lobos Island, Canary Islands.

Spanish Islands are well-known for their gorgeous playas with crystal clear water and white sand. And Lobos Island has all of that, but without being overcrowded with tourists. Instead, the island offers a more authentic experience for nature-lovers and those who are looking for a more chill atmosphere.

In Lobos Island, you’ll be able to experience nature at its best. You can soak up the sun on the local beaches, climb rocky cliffs, and check the view of the island, swim with exotic fish species, hit hiking trails, and more.

Lobos Island: A Brief History

The wooden jetty of the Isla de Lobos in the Canary Islands, Spain.

Lobos means “wolves” in Spanish, and the island was named after a large number of sea wolves that once lived in the area. Throughout the centuries, Lobos Island has preserved its natural beauty, and only recently it started attracting inhabitants, which are mostly nature enthusiasts and geologists from all around the world.

Lobos Island was once part of the Roman Empire. However, Romans were there only for a short season, and it’s believed that they have established a settlement on the island to obtain the purple dye, which is produced by several species of sea snail. In the 15th century, the island served as a base for the French explorer Jean de Béthencourt in his conquest of the near Canary Island Fuerteventura. However, the only inhabitants of the island in modern times up until 1968 were the lighthouse keeper and his family, who were operating Faro de Lobos lighthouse at the Northern tip of the island. In 1982, Lobos was the first Canary Island to have an area designated as a natural park.

When the Spanish discovered the island, there were only a few inhabitants. And even though a lot has changed since then, nature still dominates the island. The best part of being a visitor to Lobos Island is the fact that nature is not commercialized yet, which means you can hike the trails and watch sunsets right from the cliff without hordes of tourists behind you. So plan your visit while you can!

A Day Trip In The Canary Islands

A boat on the blue-green ocean of Lobos Island, Canary Islands.

A great idea for travelers who plan a trip to the Canary Islands is to include Lobos Island on the itinerary as a day trip getaway. The island is part of the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria municipality, also known as Las Palmas, and it’s a great destination for a short trip, especially for couples.

What makes Lobos Island so different from the other surrounding islands, like Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, or La Gomera, is the fact that the islet of Lobos is one of the flattest ones, with the highest peak on Caldera de Lobos raising only 126 meters above the sea level. This means that Lobos Island offers easier tracks for climbers, as other volcanoes in the Canaries, such as Mount Teide, in Tenerife, or Roque de Los Muchachos, in La Palma, are much higher.

Keeping one entertained on Lobos Island is no challenge. From dolphin watching to local music concerts, Lobos is filled with fun activities that will keep you entertained.

Things to Do in Lobos Island

Visit The Mount Caldera

View of Lobos island from a Beach in Corralejo, Canary Islands, Spain

Lobos Island is a good option for those seeking an easy-to-hike route, as its relatively new volcano, the Caldera Mountain, has the highest point of 127 meters. Even though the hike is not the most challenging one, we would still suggest you bring some extra water bottles in your bag, as the sun and desert climate can be tiring especially during the summer. While climbing, you’ll be able to check amazing views of the island, and when you reach the peak of the mount, you will have a stunning panorama of the entire Lobos Island.

The Caldera Mountain hike will take you through the whole island. You’ll get to see the Greek-looking El Puerterito houses with white-washed walls and romantic narrow streets. You’ll also be able to see 8-meter high agave plants. If you wish to lay down and just enjoy the views or catch some sun, stop at the Faro de Martino beach, known for its white sand and hornitos, which are small pointy hills that were once crater pipes. The beach is located at the Northern tip of the island. After returning to the main path, make sure you stop at Playa de la Concha beach, a sanctuary of sandy dunes and blue waters.

Some practical information:

  •         Free toilets are available at the Centro de Visitantes (tourist information center);
  •         It is forbidden to step off the walking pathway;
  •         You can learn more about the history of the Caldera Mountain at the visitor center;
  •         If you are in a wheelchair or with a stroller, the Caldera Mountainis not accessible.

Cycle Around The Island

A man cyclist on the beach during the sunset.

To get around the small island faster, you can also rent a bike (or take one with you on your ferry when you come to the island) and cycle around and explore the island with less effort.

Easy Riders offer 5 types of bikes, from heavy-duty, mountain X-trail to road bikes, so you can choose one yourself for €10 per day. You can cycle the same China Cove Trail on  Lobos Island to save time getting around, and choose the place you want to spend the day at. Cycling around the island is the perfect option if you are just visiting the island for a day.

Culture Events and Festivals

Woman dressed on festive costumes and dancing during the famous Carnival the Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

Lobos Island is hardly inhabited and it’s known for its preserved nature. This basically means that the island is not a party destination, and the only concerts and music festivals that happen nearby are held on the 2 kilometer-close Fuerteventura island. If you happen to visit the Canary Islands in June or July, make sure not to miss the typical fiestas and festivals, which are one of the best ways of experiencing the local culture. One of them is Fiesta de San Juan (read: Hogueras de San Juan in Spain), which happens on the last week of June to celebrate the Midsummer Solstice. You can also go to the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which is held in seaside towns on the week of July 16th. You can also schedule your trip to attend the famous Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which is held every February in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Go To Corralejo Natural Park

The Sand Dunes at the Corralejo  Park, in the Canary Islands, Spain.

These are the famous dunes of the Canary Islands, and one of the best things to do if you’re visiting Lobos Island. Along with Lobos Island, Corralejo Natural park is a Special Protection Area of Birds, and this sandy sanctuary encompasses 2,600 hectares of protected space. The Corralejo Natural Park holds the most extensive dunes of the Canarian archipelago, aside from being home to beaches of golden sand, and crystal clear waters.

Places to Stay in Lobos Island

View of a seaside hotel surrounded by palm trees in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

Staying on Lobos Island is not possible, so a good idea is to stay in Lanzarote or Fuerteventura, which are nearby locations. There are several sustainable nature and eco-conscious sustainable hotels near Lobos Island to choose from, and you also have the option of booking an apartment in the Canary Islands if you want to feel at home.

Find Hotels in the Canary Islands, Spain | Find Homes in the Canary Islands, Spain

Eat and Drink in Lobos Island

Grilled cheese with canarian sauces on a white plate.

There are no restaurants on Lobos Island, so a great suggestion is to pack a few healthy snacks for your day trip. You even buy some fruits, such as papaya, mango, apple, pineapple, and banana, some nuts, water, and you’re good to go.

In case you want a Fuerteventura offers some good restaurants for those looking for a light, inexpensive great meal. To make the most of the natural Canarian vibe, visit Casa de la Naturaleza for lunch. This restaurant is placed at a fantastic old farmhouse, and it serves everything from beer and Canary island wine to almond cakes and Canarian tapas.

How To Get To Lobos Island, Spain

A white and red ferry transporting people.

The best way to get from the mainland to Lobos island is by taking a ferry. And, if you are used to kayaking in the sea, you can get from Fuerteventura to Lobos.

To go to Fuerteventura, you have several options. We suggest taking a train or driving to Huelva, and then taking a ferry to Arrecerife (ferries go once a week) and then to Fuerteventura Puerto del Rosario. However, if you are very tight on budget, direct flights may turn out to be a better choice, saving you over €100 one way.

Visiting Lanzarote is slightly cheaper if you go by train and ferry via Cordoba, but flights from Sevilla and Malaga cost around the same as to Fuerteventura. In the low season, you can get to Lanzarote for as little as €75, and the best time to travel for the cheapest tickets in October.

How to Get a Permit to Visit Lobos Island

Aerial view of Lobos Island, Spain.

To visit Lobos Island, you will have to get a permit, as the capacity of the island is limited to 200 simultaneous visitors. Therefore, before planning to go to Lobos, go to Cabildo and Fuerteventura’s online page, and request a permit to visit Los Lobos.

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Destination Deep-Dive 13 MINS READ

The Top 13 Spanish Cities to Visit in 2021

The Top 13 Spanish Cities to Visit in 2021

Destination Deep-Dive 13 MINS READ

Wondering what the best cities to visit in Spain for 2021 are? With the new year quickly approaching, there is one thing we have on our wish list that lives there all year round: A trip to Spain. With incredible summer deals, fall escapes, winter getaways, and spring festivals to explore, Spain is a country you can visit any time of the year. Whether you’re in the market for an amazing dining experience full of tapas or want to explore cultural activities like flamenco dancing, you can never go wrong with visiting Spain. Looking for the best place to start planning your vacation to the Iberian Peninsula?

Start with this list of the top Spanish Cities to visit in 2021. This guide takes you on the getaway of your dreams from north to south. From hidden gems like Bilbao and Cadiz to world-famous cities like Barcelona and Madrid, we’ve got you covered on the best places to visit, and some of the best-known things to do there. Whatever type of vacation you’re looking for, from romantic city escapes, amazing outdoor excursions, or relaxing beachside vacations, Spain will have something for you.

Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.

Why Visit Spain

View of Madri's buildings.

Spain is a soulful and diverse country. And is exactly the reason why it’s a top destination for many travelers in Europe. Most cities in Spain, such as Barcelona, Madri, and Seville, have pleasant sunny weather all year round, aside from housing a showcase of cultural attractions, amazing tapas restaurants, and Instagrammable spots.

Many don’t know about this, but Spain is one of the countries with the most Unesco World Heritage Sites in the world – a total of 48 sites. The beautiful Old City of Salamanca, for instance, was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Another advantage is that Spain is home to destinations that appeal to all types of travellers. Culture and architecture enthusiasts can go to Barcelona or Bilbao, for instance. If you love the beach, try planning a trip to places like the Balearic Islands, which is filled with beautiful beaches. In case you want to visit a cosmopolitan dynamic place, head over to Madrid, which is Spain’s largest city and one of the liveliest cities in the country. Fancy the cold weather? Make your move to the Sierra Nevada or to the beautiful Basque Country, which are the best places to visit for some crisp windy climate.

Of one thing we’re sure: Spain has some of the best cities in the world, and there’s plenty to see in do in the country. You just have to do some research and find outr what are the best cities in Spain for you.

The Top cities to visit in Spain

Bilbao

bilbao spanish cities

The beautiful city of Bilbao is not one to miss next time when you visit Spain! Located in the North of Spain in the Basque Country, Bilbao offers a unique insight into Spain’s more modern sides. Bilbao offers a rich, historical, medieval atmosphere combined with modern skyscrapers and a reflection of the country’s industrial history. One of the greatest cities in Spain for architecture and art enthusiasts, Bilbao houses one of Europe’s most famous art institutions, The Guggenheim Museum. Make sure you take a stroll along the Nervion River after a delicious breakfast of churros and cafe. Definitely one of the hidden gems, we consider Bilbao one of the top places to visit in Spain in 2021.

And in case you’re looking even a less touristic city to visit in Spain, you can stretch your trip to Bilbao and go to other cities in the Basque Country. This beautiful mountainous is an autonomous community located in northern Spain, along the Atlantic coast. An amazing city to visit in the region is Getaria, a green paradise, filled with verdant slopes and hills covered in verdant forests. From the region, you can even take the Northern Camino de Santiago.

San Sebastián

spanish city san sebastian

If you enjoy lying on sandy beaches with beautiful views, then San Sebastián is the perfect Spanish city holiday. The beautiful city is tucked right into the Bay of Biscay and it is very well known for its lavish resort hotels and vacation offerings. The northern coast of the city is green all year long with a rainy winter season and a warm, sunny summer. Visitors will love indulging in the upscale shopping, gourmet restaurants offering “pinchos”, and exploring up to Monte Igueldo to get the panoramic views of the whole city and La Concha Beach. If a more laid back vacation is what you are searching for, yet something that offers all of the whimsy of the city meets beach life, San Sebastián is definitely one of the great places for you to visit in Spain.

Barcelona

Hands-down the number one of the best places to visit when traveling in Spain is Barcelona. The Catalonian city is famous for its nightlife, sandy beaches, city, and incredible views. You can’t go wrong packing a picnic and hiking up to The Carmel Bunkers to enjoy manchego cheese and vino with an unforgettable view of the coast of Spain. But before you go exploring, you will want to plan a bit as there is so much to do, see, and eat in this cultural hub. A great thing about Barcelona? How well-connected and easy to get around it is.

Visitors will adore strolling through the Gothic Quarter over the cobbled streets. Elaborate plazas filled with restaurants offer everything from tortilla española (omelets) to paella (Spanish rice with seafood) to tinto de verano (wine with lemon soda). Discover the great live music scene and contemporary street art. You can even plan ahead by taking a virtual tour of several cities in Spain before your visit. 

Before travelling to Barcelona, Spain, make a list of the best places to visit in the city. Make sure to include to the list visits to places like the La Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, the Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona, and Playa de La Barceloneta beach. Barcelona is definitely one of the places to visit in all of Spain in 2021, and we highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to the country.

Valencia

The historic city center of Valencia, Spain.

Spain third-largest city and most famous destination for eating paella, the iconic seafood dish, is the coastal city of Valencia. Located south of Barcelona on the Mediterranean Sea, this beach town is a summer hot spot to visit in Spain. After spending a day at the beach and eating freshly-made paella, you can try Valencia’s horchata almond drink. However, one of Valencia’s biggest events happens every March leading up to Easter Weekend. It is called Las Fallas. Parades of large hand-built structures and people dressed up in costumes fill the streets, culminating in the burning of many of these magnificent creations. This event commemorates Saint Joseph. When looking for cultural events to attend during your trip, be sure to plan to see this one. You also cannot miss visiting the City of Arts and Sciences, strolling through the Turia Gardens, and checking out the Cathedral. For a cultural experience, the city is definitely among the best places to visit in Spain.

Salamanca

The city of Salamanca, Spain.

Salamanca is one of Spain’s best cities, especially for student travelers. Popular for how close it is to Madrid and for its gorgeous Spanish outdoors, Salamanca wows everyone who visits. Especially those who are fans of cheap beer and fun nightlife. It also happens to be one of Spain’s safest cities which is another reason it boasts visits by the youth. From visiting Casa Lis, Salamanca’s Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum, or house of Shells, tourists love the art experiences offered in this city. After all, Salamanca was the center of great minds in historic Spain. This city is definitely on the list of the best places to visit in Spain, especially for younger travelers.

Madrid

Puerta del Sol square filled with people.

The capital city of Spain is Madrid. Although there is a big debate about whether to visit Barcelona or Madrid, both are quite different, so it is very hard to choose. That’s why the only choice is to visit both and the other Spanish cities on this list! Madrid will give you a more contemporary vibe and will be easier on the budget for a longer trip.

Aside from being the capital city, Madrid is the largest city in Spain and it will allow you to explore Spanish history and life in the city. It is also the best city for connecting you to the rest of Spain as it is in the middle of the country. There is a magnificent selection of affordable hotels and rentals in Madrid that will make you never want to leave. From visiting the lively Puerta del Sol, uncovering the history of Plaza Mayor, and taking long walks through Retiro Park, to going to the Royal Palace, Madrid has so much lust and charm you will fall madly in love with. We know we do! 

Toledo

spanish cities toledo

Madrid’s neighbor, Toledo is one of the best cities in Spain, a truly off the beaten path city that you must visit during your trip. Located just a short ride by bus or train south from the capital, Toledo offers nature and town life for those looking for an escape. Set in central Spain on a hill above the plains of Castilla-la Mancha, it is well known for the old city architecture and mannerism.

A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986, Toledo is known as the “City of the Three Cultures”, because it showcases a mixture of the three main cultures that have passed through Spain: Jewish, Muslim and Catholic. So in case you’re seeking some well-deserved culture-fix, you can take an architecture tour of the city. Visit the 13th-century Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, also known as Toledo Cathedral, go to the Mosque of Christ of the Light, built in the 10th-century and visit the surroundings of the Alcázar.

Also, don’t forget to enjoy a glass of wine and wander through the winding streets on the hilltop. You’ll love looking at everything from the Moorish Bisagra Gate to Mudejar Sol Gate. The city has so much to offer especially no crowds. If you are looking to experience classic Spain for a better price and in a quieter setting, then Toledo is for you. We know we can’t wait to visit again soon.

Granada

From Moorish architecture and serene patios to tapas and drinks that will fill you up with joy, Granada is a must-visit in Spain. Some of our favorite things to do when visiting this historic mountain town include: Hiking up to St. Nicholas Church to enjoy a glass of wine or chilled beer while watching the sunset over the spectacular Alhambra.

While walking around through Granada, make sure to pay enough atention to your surroundings, because the city carries a lot of history. That way, you’ll easily spot buildings dating back to the Moors and Romans. For some history class, take a free walking tour on Albaicin, which is the historical Moorish quarter of the city and the oldest neighborhood of Granada. Home to narrow Moorish streets and medieval constructions, this area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, along with the Alhambra.

And in the wintertime, people come from far and wide to enjoy the mountain fun to be had in the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the spring, visitors will see the trees and bushes bloom with vibrant color that goes hand in hand with the magical feel this city gives off. Pro tip: when you order a drink at any restaurant in Granada, they also come with a small tapa so be sure to find the best bars in town. 

Cordoba

spanish cities cordoba

Tucked in Andalusia only about 30 minutes by train from Spain’s southern capital, is Cordoba. This beautiful town is famous for its mix of Roman and Islamic architecture spanning from the early 1st century BC. La Mezquita Mosque is one of the town’s main attractions and welcomes millions of visitors a year. Especially during spring when people gather in the city to see the famous patios filled with colorful flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors. From Roman bridge to Palacio de Viana, the architecture of the city is definitely worth a visit, and if you enjoy wandering through Spanish cities and their romantic narrow streets, then Cordoba should be added to your bucket list.

Once the largest cities in the world with a population three times its current, Córdoba was the capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba, which for several hundred years controlled most of the Iberian peninsula. This was mainly because, after Córdoba was captured and destroyed by the Muslims, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān I a member of the Umayyad family took the leadership of the Spanish Muslims and made Córdoba his capital in 756. Córdoba grew enormously and became the most cultured city in Europe. The Umayyad family filled the city with palaces and mosques, which can still be seen to te present days.

Curious fact: did you know that Cordoba’s old town is a Unesco World Heritage Site? Yes. And a very beautiful one. So when visiting the city, wander around its central neighbourhoods, such as the Judería quarter, which are filled with history.

Are you a Game of Thrones fan? You can visit Cordoba’s GOT Spain filming locations during a road trip through Spain.

Seville

The city center of Seville viewed from the top of the Metropol Parasol.

Seville is the heart of Southern Spain, both physically and emotionally. If you are fond of flamenco, olives, and oranges, and floral scents, and incredible views from its many rooftops and buildings, Seville is the perfect place for you. Orange blossom perfumes are sold on every corner, along with painted tiles and traditional feria dresses.

Aside from being a beautiful city, Seville boasts a rich cultural heritage. Capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region, the city used to be the capital of Muslim Spain and, thanks to the ʿAbbādid and the subsequent Almoravid and Almohad dynasties, it became an important cultural and commercial centre in Europe. In the 12th-century, Seville flourished, and one of the most sumptuous constructions from these golden days is the Alcázar Palace. Historically known as al-Qasr al-Muriq, the Royal Alcázars of Seville became even more famous with Game of Thrones, as it was the setting for the city of Dorne.

During your trip to Seville, do not forget to walk around the Maestranza bullfighting ring and take long walks along the Guadalquivir River. You can also go to a Flamenco concert, as the city is commonly linked to this dramatic, soulful and beautfil Spanish art.

Also, if you are already planning your Easter holiday, then we highly recommend you add Seville to your itinerary. The Easter processions are one of the most beautiful in the whole Spain and they attract millions of tourists. In fact, it’s believed that the Seville celebration has existed since at least the 16th Century, and from From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, the streets of Seville host these processions.

Seville is definitely among some of the best places to visit in Spain for its classic Spanish culture and atmosphere that you won’t soon forget.

Cadiz

View of the historic white and orange buildings by the blue ocean in Cadiz, Spain.

Spain’s southernmost city, Cadiz is truly paradise. Lovers of seafood and beach vibes will be very fond of everything Cadiz and its beach towns have to offer. It is also one of many European’s favorite vacation destinations, and usually brings in thousands of visitors every year. The Costa del Sol offers painted white towns running along the shore. This allows visitors to experience many of Spain’s beautiful spots all summer long. We suggest starting with Cadiz capital and taking a road trip along the coast. On a clear summer day, you can even see Morocco from the hilltops. Of all the other Spanish cities to visit, Cadiz is an absolute must.

Palma de Mallorca

Palma de Mallorca is the capital of the Balearic Islands, and one of the most amazing vacation cities in Spain. Located in the western Mediterranean, the city is well known for its gothic buildings and paradisiac beaches. If it’s your first time in Palma de Mallorca, take some proper time to uncover the city center, which is home to the cobbled medieval streets, old townhouses, art and, of course, the famous Cathedral de Santa Maria of Palma, also known as the La Seu Cathedral. After visiting the old town, which is walkable and compact, go to the 19th century Mayor Plaza, which is still in the city center. During the summer, soak up the sun in the Palma City Beach and stroll by the blue ocean on the Paseo Marítimo, a seafront promenade in Palma.

Malaga

Located on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, Malaga is a summer paradise occupied by resorts and welcoming sandy beaches. To get started, visit Malaga’s old town, which carries a rich cultural heritage since the city has a fascinating history marked by Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. And speaking of culture, also include visits to the city’s hilltop citadels, which are the Alcazaba and the ruined Gibralfaro, with remnants of the Moorish rule. You can also go to the oldest monument in Malaga, the Roman amphitheatre, dating back to the first century. If you’re in the mood for some art, a visit to the home where Picasso was born, in Plaza de la Merced, is highly recommended. And, of course, take a tour on some of Malaga’s finest beaches, such as Playa de La Malagueta and Playa de La Caleta, which are close to the heart of the city.

Which Spanish Cities are you adding to your travel itinerary? For more Spain inspiration check out our Game of Thrones Spain travel guide, and the best travel destinations to celebrate New Year!

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Europe 9 MINS READ

Spain Culture Travel Tips for Seniors

Spain Culture Travel Tips for Seniors

Europe 9 MINS READ
 


Wondering what you should know before visiting Spain for the winter holidays? Well, first of all, Spain is one of the most well-known countries for cultural travel, and also one of the most sought-after destinations in Europe. From north to south the country is filled with friendly people, gorgeous destinations, world-class attractions, delicious food, and photogenic spots. This means there’s always something to see — and do — across Spain.

The land of siestas, flamenco, Pedro Almodóvar, tapas, and wine, Spain boasts a laidback and relaxed lifestyle. This is, by the way, one of the top reasons why travelers from all around the globe love the country. And there’s more: Spain is quite inexpensive, which means you can experience the Spanish way of life without having to dig deep in your pocket.

If traveling to Spain in a near future is on the books for you, it’s good to have some handful advice on where to go, what to pack for Spain and how to act and behave in Spain while on holiday as an American tourist.

Note: Make sure to double-check COVID 19 precautions, protocols, and operating hours before you visit any of these sites.

Things to See and Do in Spain Culture Travel: Tips and Tricks

Architecture

La Sagrada Família surrounded by buildings in Barcelona.

Heaven for architecture-lovers, Barcelona is the tourist magnet of Spain. Aside from displaying world-renowned urban planning, the city is home to true architecture gems designed by the legendary Antoni Gaudí. So, when visiting the capital of Catalunya, make sure to take a tour throughout Gaudí’s works, which are spread all over Barcelona. Places like La Sagrada Familia, Casa Battló, and Park Güell are sure to give you an overview of Gaudí’s picturesque architectural style, which was strongly influenced by nature.

Barcelona is also linked to the Catalan Modernism, which is a cultural movement that began at the end of the 19th century. The movement had an important impact on architecture, introducing revolutionary designs, organic shapes, asymmetry, and colours. If you’re curious to visit a masterpiece of the Catalan Modernism, head over to the Palau de la Música Catalana, by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

Another amazing destination for architecture-lovers in Spain is Seville. Capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia, the city is brimming with architectural gems of a wide range of style. In the city, you’ll find gothic constructions, such as the Cathedral of Seville, mudéjar palaces, like the Alcázar of Seville, and even contemporary sculptures like Metropol Parasol, by the German architect Jürgen Mayer.

Music

A flamenco dancer woman performing in Seville, Spaing.

Spanish music and dance are commonly associated with flamenco and classical guitar. Flamenco is a soulful Spanish art form made up of guitar playing (“guitarra”), song (“cante”), and dance (“baile”). Native to Andalusia, Flamenco has a great appeal and often practised as a social dance on streets. If you’re travelling to Seville, which is the Andalusian capital of Spain, don’t forget to immerse yourself in a true Flamenco experience. There are several places for you to watch an authentic performance, such as CasaLa Teatro, on the Triana district, and La Carbonaria, on Calle Céspedes.

As for classical guitar: even if you do not buy a Vicente Amigo concert ticket, you can enjoy amazing music concerts all over Spain. From small bands playing live in restaurants during the night to buskers on streets, the Spanish classical guitar is something you must see and experience whilst in Spain.

Modern Art

The Gugghenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Paintings, sculptures, modern ceramics, and cinema, are some of the art forms that truly reflects the Spanish modernist spirit. Spanish artists are well known around the world, and the people of Spain take good care of it. So when travelling through the country, immerse yourself in a full-on modern-art experience by visiting some of Spain’s most renowned museums. In Barcelona, for instance, you can visit the Museu Picasso, which gathers an extensive collection of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. Still in the city, you can also go to the Joan Miró Foundation, a museum of modern art dedicated to the work of Joan Miró.

Madrid also showcases an excellent selection of museums where you can have a glimpse of the most iconic works of art in the world. Dedicated to 20th-century art, the museum is home to the Guernica, by Pablo Picasso, and L’homme Invisible, by Salvador Dalí.

There are other modern-art destinations in Spain apart from Madrid and Barcelona. Bilbao, for instance, is well known for its art Guggenheim Museum which is housed in a one-of-a-kind modern architecture building. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building became an icon in 1997 when it first opened to visitors. The glass and titanium boat-shaped structure represents the industrial and seafaring heritage of Bilbao, and home the museum is home to bold sculptures like Puppy, by Jeff Koons, and Richard Serra’s installation, The Matter of Time.

When to Visit Spain

Like most touristic cities in Europe, Spain can get largely overcrowded when vacation time strikes. During the high travel season — between June and August — the country gets packed with tourists from all around the world, and it gets harder to fully enjoy the Spanish culture, architecture, food, and museums. This is particularly true especially if you want to explore cities like Madrid and Barcelona, which are filled with tourist attractions and the two most visited places in Spain.

Spain is a great year-round destination, but usually, the best time to visit the country is between March-May, during spring, and September-November, during fall. The weather is still pleasant, but it’s definitely less crowded.

But, of course, it all depends on the Spanish city you are planning to visit. Here are the best times to visit Spain according to your destination.

Northern Spain

Aerial view of Basque Country's mountainous landscape.

A great time to visit Northern Spain is in July and August when rainfalls are least likely to happen and it’s warmer. You can go to places like Santiago de Compostela, Oviedo or Santander, along with San Sebastian and even Bardenas de Reales (read: Spain Game of Thrones Road trip).

Another great Northern Spain destination to add to your travel itinerary is the Basque Country. From June to September, this autonomous community is bathed in sunshine, which is great to explore the region’s great outdoors. During the fall, the Basque Country hosts amazing festivals, including the San Sebastián Film Festival and the Wine Harvest Festival, in La Rioja.

Southern Spain

Plaza de España, in Seville.

In comparison to Northern Spain, Southern Spain is less affected by the bad weather, since it rarely rains and it’s usually hot and sunny all year round. During the summer, though, some cities like Seville, Granada and Alhambra experience severe heat waves, and temperatures can reach up to 40ºC. So if you are looking for more mild temperatures, a great time to visit Southern Spain is from March to May.

Another good tip when travelling to Southern Spain is to choose a period when the hotels are the cheapest and avoid the peak season. During spring and fall, you can easily find more affordable places to stay in Southern Spain. Also, you can enjoy the country’s culture, architecture, and cuisine even more.

When to visit the Spain Islands

Canary Islands

Aerial view of Canary Island's landscape with the ocean, white houses and mountains.

The Canary Islands are known to have the “best climate in the world”, boasting a hot desert climate which is well balanced with the cool Canary wind currents. The best time to visit the Canaries Islands, though, is not during summer. Instead, the region can be great for a Spanish spring or fall tri. Just make sure to learn everything you need to know about Travel Medical Coverage Outside the US before your trip.

Balearic Islands

Aerial view of Balearic Island's landscape wth forested hills by the ocean.

The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean – Menorca, Mallorca, Ibiza, and Formentera – are the best places to visit during spring. If you take a trip to these places in summer, you might struggle with overcrowded places. If it’ss autumn, try to book your trip in October, but not too late in the month, as the later you go, the colder and more rainfall there is. Remember that activities such as swimming, walking and cycling are much more enjoyable when the weather is mild and not yet too cold.

Festivals and Holidays in Spain

Depending on what time you want to plan your trip to Spain, a good idea is to learn when the Spanish holidays fall into. The country hosts a multitude of vibrant festivals, which are worth the check, since they are the perfect opportunity for you to experience the Spanish culture, food, music, history and dance.

The Falles, or Las Fallas, in Valencia

The city of Valencia during the celebration of "Falles", a traditional festival.

If you are planning to visit Spain in March, you might wanna participate in one of the liveliest and most popular festivals in the country, the Falles. Held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in Valencia, the festival was declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity and it combines tradition, satire, and art.

The “Fallas of València” happen from March 15 to March 19, and its origins date back to the Middle Ages when carpenters celebrated the arrival of Spring by burning pieces of wood that were used to prop up their lights during the cold months. This authentic Spanish cultural festival has firework and light shows, plenty of music, and paper-mâché statues erected throughout Valencia.

The Seville Fair, in Seville, Andalucía

Colorful fireworks at night during the Seville Fair.

The Seville Fair is one of the most popular festivals in Spain. It usually begins two weeks after the “Semana Santa”, which is the Easter Holy Week, at midnight on a Saturday of April. The whole city gets into a very festive atmosphere, with people of all ages dancing the sevillanas, drinking Sherry, and eating tapas until late at night.

Easter in Spain

Man wearing a traditional religious costume during an Easter procession in Spain.

Together with the Seville Fair, Easter in Spain is one of the best experiences you get in Spain in April. Spanish people have a strong tradition of celebrating Christian holidays, and during this time of the year, it’s common to spot religious processions around Spain. This holiday is celebrated mainly on Easter Sunday, and to celebrate it, people usually eat dishes like Torrijas which are pieces of bread fried with olive oil and served with honey and sugar.

Typical Museum and Culture Costs in Spain

Spain senior travel best tips and tricks for museums cuddlynest

While some Spanish museums may prove to be costly, with tickets ranging from $27.00 in Gaudi’s Casa Batlló or $37.00 in Barcelona Museum, the private tours in Bilbao are much less expensive, with only $34.00. However, if you’re planning to stay in Barcelona or Madrid for longer, we suggest you trying out city passes. The Barcelona City Pass, for instance, will cost you $110.00, and it includes 20 attractions. Needless to say, there is a lot to see in Barcelona, and you can surely take advantage of staying in the city for longer.

There are other great tips for saving money with cultural activities in Spain. The first one is to check for free admission dates in museums. The Prado Museum in Madrid, for instance, is free to visit from Tuesday to Sunday from 6 pm to 8 pm, and on Sundays from 5 pm to 8 pm. The Reina Sofia Museum, also in Madrid, is free on Monday, and Wednesday to Saturday from 7 pm to 9 pm, aside from Sunday from 1:30 pm to 7 pm.

The second one is to participate on a free walking tour on the city you’re travelling to. These tours are usually led by a knowledgeable local guide, which will take you uncover the most important neighbourhoods of the Spanish city you’re at, to learn more about the history of your destination, and to discover things you wouldn’t by yourself.

Best Places to Book Free Art Tours and Transportation Tickets in Spain

Spain senior travel best tips and tricks for museums cuddlynest

To book a free art tour when during your culture travel in Spain, we suggest you to check the official tourism website of the city your travelling to. Some of the most touristic Spanish cities, like Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, Bilbao, Valencia and others have dedicated pages for free art tours or city tours. These tours are very popular and will take you to uncover Spain’s hidden secrets. The tours are usually in Spanish or English, but you can also book them in French, Chinese or Italian, depending on the supplier.

What are your best tips for enjoying culture in Spain?

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Destination Deep-Dive 4 MINS READ

Explore Europe’s Offbeat Vacation Destinations

Explore Europe’s Offbeat Vacation Destinations

Destination Deep-Dive 4 MINS READ

Are you planning a trip to Europe this summer?  While there is a possibility your vacation may look a little differently than you had in mind, do not worry. As many of Europe’s destinations begin welcoming tourists, there are a few locations we suggest putting at the top of your list. Start with the best offbeat vacation destinations Europe has to offer. Instead of your overcrowded tourist spots, swap that for a getaway to a secluded beach or an isolated hilltop house. With so many beautiful and hidden locations, you will forget that you are even in some of the most popular locations.

Find your offbeat vacation destinations:

a view of slovenia's lake
Summer nights will be unforgettable when visiting Bohinj, Slovenia.

Swap a city break for a visit to the great outdoors in Bohinj, Slovenia

What’s not to love about Slovenia?  Slovenia is famous for being one of the greenest places on Earth. It will come as no surprise that Slovenia’s northwest municipality, Bohinj, is the European Best Destination’s “best destination for sustainable tourism in Europe.” As summer tourism picks up now more than ever it is vital to practice ecotourism. So by booking your vacation to Bohinj, you can help stimulate eco-friendly travel in the great outdoors. Sounds to us like a great plan! The isolated town is located in the Julian Alps and boasts incredible views, hiking and trekking, and warm days by the lake. It is also only 40 minutes away from Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana. Find the perfect vacation rental or hotel near Bohinj, Slovenia.

corfu greece beaches
Indulge in a beach getaway in Corfu, Greece.

Instead of a crowded beach in Santorini, visit secluded Corfu, Greece.

While tourists around the world usually flock to Santorini and Mykonos for summer, we suggest switching it up by visiting Corfu, Greece instead. Did you know Greece has 6,000 islands in the Ionian and Aegean Seas? Corfu is on the northwest coast in the Ionian Sea and is famous for its incredible beaches and ideal resort location. This is the perfect island to catch up on your rest and relaxation with incredible views, and ideal seclusion for a socially distant getaway. We recommend spending your day at the spectacular beaches in Kavos, Kontokali, Paleokastritsa, Glyfada, Kontokali, and more. In the evening take a stroll through Corfu’s old town which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll absolutely fall in love with this island.

the beach in malta
Enjoy the sunset over Marsaxlokk, Malta.

Craving an island escape? Give Malta a visit!

If sitting by the sea drinking a glass of chilled wine is something you are interested in, then Malta is the perfect destination for you. The entire area of Malta is about 95 square miles, 246 square kilometers. You can have breakfast in the south and dinner in the north, on the same day. The close proximity from the city and beaches to the next to make it a great island to take a road trip on as well. We recommend staying in the capital city, Valetta. Pro tip: you can take a ferry boat or boat cruise to enjoy the turquoise blue waters of the blue lagoon in Cominos Island. Malta will prove in seconds why it’s one of the best locations for an offbeat vacation.

zagreb capital in Croatia
Discover the delicious cuisine in Zagreb, Croatia.

Have you heard of Game of Thrones? If you’re a fan, Croatia is for you!

Now we know what you are thinking… Croatia has too many incredible places to visit, how can you choose just one? From its charming capital of Zagreb to the beach towns of Split, this Balkan country has so much to offer visitors. But we recommend going off the beaten path to visit some of its more secluded and hidden gems like Cavtat and Rijeka, too. The best part about taking an offbeat vacation to Croatia is you will have an opportunity to explore it all. And, after trying some of the traditional Croatian cuisines, you will never want to leave. Find your one-of-a-kind affordable accommodation in Croatia, here.

azores island portugal
Soak in the incredible views from the Azores Islands.

Take a road trip through Portugal.

From north to south, Portugal is a country you do not want to miss visiting, especially in the summer. With incredible sites to go winetasting at in Porto to the stunning beaches in the Algarve, you can experience it all by taking a road trip. If you really want to explore offbeat Portugal, then you need to book a stay on the Azores Island. There are many trails to explore offering beautiful views of the entire island. With dozens of national parks to visit you will adore your offbeat vacation alongside the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll want to visit again and again.

warsaw poland center plaza
Enjoy a coffee with a view in Warsaw, Poland.

Explore the historic streets of Poland.

Looking for another European country to cross off your bucket list? We recommend a visit to Poland. Not only is Poland incredibly budget-friendly, but it is also one of the safest destinations to visit in Europe. The charming towns and cities boast historic architecture and monuments to admire. Looking for traditional Polish food to try? Grab a pint and order a pierogi, you’ll want to eat a dozen. A visit to Poland will leave you with a deep appreciation for the history Poland and Europe have.


Excited to visit these locations and more? Find the perfect hotel or vacation rental on CuddlyNest. We are working hard to update our blog with the best places to visit this summer. Stay tuned for more!

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Barcelona 6 MINS READ

The Top Legendary Barcelona Attractions

The Top Legendary Barcelona Attractions

Barcelona 6 MINS READ

Barcelona is not one of the most sought-after European destinations by chance. Capital of the autonomous community of Catalunya, in northeastern Spain, Barcelona is a major cultural center filled with picturesque constructions, quaint tapas bars, world-class museums, Gothic churches, and charming cobbled streets. Not to mention the perfect location facing the Mediterranean, which turns the city into the perfect summer retreat in Europe.

Barcelona is home to a showcase of attractions, so you’ll never run out of things to do and boredom won’t be a problem. But just in case you’re making your move to this soulful Spanish city in the future, it’s good to know what are the top attractions in the city. That way you can your trip according to your interests, which will help you experience the best things Barcelona has to offer.

If either your a first-timer in Barcelona or just someone who really likes this destination, this post is for you. We’ll break down the top 7 must-see Barcelona attractions.

Barcelona Travel Tips

The capital of Catalunya is the most-visited city in Spain, so in case you want to experience a less crowded Barcelona, try to book your trip for May or early June. During the summer, Barcelona gets filled with tourists from all around the world, and you might not get the chance to fully enjoy the city’s best attractions. If you don’t mind a little bit of cold, you can also go in February, when the average precipitation is not that high, and temperatures range from 15ºC to 5 º C.

To fully enjoy Barcelona, it’s also recommended that you spend 4 or 5 days in the city. There are a lot of things to see and do, and if you have more time, you’ll be able to get a true feel for the city.

The Legendary Barcelona Attractions

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is one of the most precious landmarks of Barcelona. Located in the Eixample district, this Roman-Catholic Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its construction is still in progress after more than 135 years.

The beginning of the construction of La Sagrada Familia dates back to 1866, when Josep Maria Bocabella I Verdaguer, the owner of a religious bookshop, decided he wanted to build a church inspired by the Basilica Della Santa Casa, in Loreto, Italy. The first project of La Sagrada Familia was designed in Gothic-style by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano who resigned after a while. The project was then given to Antoni Gaudí, the master of Catalan Modernism.

Gaudi dedicated all his final years to the construction of La Sagrada Familia. Not only he worked exclusively for the Expiatory Temple day and night, as he also lived very next to his workshop during his final months. In 1925, the first bell tower was constructed, but unfortunately, It was the only one Gaudí would see in his lifetime. Gaudí died in 1926 when the basilica was between 15 and 25 percent completed. He was buried in the basilica he helped to build, in the chapel of Our Lady of Carmel.

But Gaudí’s death is not the only reason why the basilica is not finished. After World War II, and during the 1960s, Spain was suffering from grinding poverty, which seriously impacted donations. But interestingly enough, other European churches also took a lot of time to be built. Notre Dame, in Paris, took 182 years, Saint Paul’s, in London, took 200 years, the Reims Cathedral, in France, went through different stages spanning 264 years, and the Cologne Church took 600 years.

But what makes La Sagrada Familia so special? Well, this gorgeous construction is the perfect synthesis of Gaudís architectural evolution. The interiors were conceived in an organic style to resemble a forest, with inclined columns representing branching trees. The height of the building is also pretty impressive and, when finished (in 2026 hopefully), it will be the largest religious building in Europe.

Bunker del Carmel

The famous Bunker del Carmel is said to offer the best views of the Barcelona sunset. When climbing the spot, BCN city is seemingly infinite, ending at the coastline of the Mediterranean. From Bunker del Carmel, you can see La Sagrada Familia, and even the Palace of Montjuic surrounded by numerous mountains.

Also known as El Turó de la Rovira, or simply The Bunker, the Bunker Del Carmel also has a special story to it. This place has been occupied throughout centuries, but only recently by tourists. In the 1930s, during the Civil War, the Bunker was used to defend the city from aerial attacks and thereafter was adapted for slam housing, which was only disbanded in the 1990s with the arrival of the Olympics. 

Today, you can see much less of the old-age stone walls, but still, the place has one of the most magnificent views of the city, which you can’t miss when visiting Barcelona.

But before you take off to the Bunker del Caramel to watch the sunset, make sure to pack a couple of bottles of cava or a few beers, and a bunch of snacks, as once you get up there there are won’t absolutely any facilities around: no visitor center, no shop, no toilet. But on the other side, you won’t face huge lines like you would in other famous Barcelona attractions.

Parc del Laberint d’Horta

The park is one of the most different from any other attraction you may find in Barcelona. 

Although a little tricky to get to, the Parc del Laberint d’Horta is one of the best non-touristic attractions in Barcelona. You can wander the greenery of the formerly private park, or even have a picnic there. Since 1971, when the park was opened to the public, it has been carefully restored and protected. With both neoclassical and romantic parts, Parc del Laberint d’Horta was designed in 1792 by the Italian engineer Domenico Bagutti, and it’s Barcelona’s oldest garden.

What clearly distinguishes this 55-hectare park from all others is the numerous sculptures inspired by Greek mythology and folklore, as well as a multitude of fountains, springs, and pools. The pavilions of the intermediate terrace were chosen by poet Joan Maragall to represent classic plays, and in 1898 the tragedy Iphigenia in Tauris by Goethe, translated by Maragall and directed by Adrià Gual, was first played here.

The name of the park comes from the lower terrace with the hedge maze that gives the park its name, made up of 750 metres of trimmed cypress trees. At the entrance of the labyrinth, there is a marble bas-relief depicting Ariadne and Theseus. 

Having a capacity of 750 people at a time, the park won’t make you feel like you’re in a crowded touristic place. 

The Cat of Raval

The legendary Cat of Raval will bring you luck, as you brush the chubby cat. And who doesn’t want good luck?

El Gato de Ravel isn’t the only artwork sculpture in Barcelona, and you can see Terminal 2 of Barcelona El Prat airport to see Botero’s oddly shaped horse.

Old Street Art of La Carbonería

The street has a special aura not only because of the artistic drawings on what previously was a coal factory.

During 2008 – 2014, the building was a significant part of the Barcelona Okupa Movement. Over the years, anti-capitalists have occupied many empty buildings to protest to their rights, but the squatters were eventually made to leave La Cabonería by the police in 2014.

While the building was once thought to be brought down to make space for new buildings, the city council protected it as a site of historic and artistic interest instead.

Hospital Torax de Terrassa

If there is any place you would like to explore only by day, it is Hospital Thorax. Set in the suburban Barcelona, it was once a hospital opened next to a pine forest in the 1950s and housed patients with respiratory diseases, at least officially.

The rumours are not as bright, though. During its operation, it had the highest suicide rate of any institution in Spain. The story goes, patients were driven mad by struggling to breathe and the isolation they felt near the forest. The garden is now nicknamed ‘The Jungle’, as it was a common combination to jump off the balcony into the garden. Want it to get greeny – darkish? Listen well and you may hear the sounds of screaming and loud thuds to that of primal jungle noises.

While “The Jungle” sounds more like a rumor than truth, what may very well be true are the inhumane experiments. Claimed true after a patient obtaining a fetus in a jar from the 5th floor of the Hospital de Torax, the place was eventually abandoned by 1997 and has received a lot of attention from ghost hunters ever since.

Barcelona 5 MINS READ

7 Wonders of Barcelona: Legendary Places to Visit in Catalan Style

7 Wonders of Barcelona: Legendary Places to Visit in Catalan Style

Barcelona 5 MINS READ

A journey through centuries on Barcelona legendary city streets.

While Catalonia associated with uniqueness is a hot topic in Europe, just as the Spanish sun is, it indeed holds a special vibe.

Barcelona or BCN is probably the most famous for the centuries-old “work in progress” church Sagrada da Familia and football. However, the capital of Catalonia has so much more of the legendary vibe that you could expect. From cafes frequented by Picasso and Dali to bunkers and best-view spots of the city from far-away (and slightly secret) places, you can dive into Barcelona magic when visiting these 7 wonders of Barcelona.

CuddlyNest Vicky Christie Bar Places to Visit Barcelona travel advice
Vicky Christie Barcelona (2008) – film still

The Bar Marsella

Want to have a glass of absinthe in a historical atmosphere, with tiles worn out by centuries of Catalonians stepping in and out, sitting and drinking absynthe while enjoying bohemia of Barcelona nightlife? Opened in 1820 in El Raval, and famous for its drinks, the Marsella Bar is now a cult spot for tourists. However, the legendary spirit of Picasso and more recent visits by Hemingway are the bets tell-teller signs that there is something about the place, not just a tourist-booklet blown-out cult place.

If you are not visiting Barcelona just yet, you can get the vibe from Woody Allen’s movie “Vicky, Christie, Barcelona” where the two (and some handsome Spanish men) are dining just before going to listen to Spanish guitar troubadour in the park. The Bar Marsella is one of the best places to go after midnight, and while you cannot spot any prostitutes and thieves right outside as in 19th century, the sleaziness of Barcelona’s nightlife has not changed much since then. As for that, you should take out cash – there is no-credit-card policy there. 

Also, keep in mind that no singing or dancing is tolerated. If that’s a bar, it’s for drinking, talking and enjoying food. There is a cult status, and you shall be in line with it.

CuddlyNest Barcelona travel advice

Biblioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona

Barcelona is the centre for culture and arts, but also for knowledge. The  Library of Catalonia is housed in a historical building of Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu de Barcelona. 

BCN Library of Catalunya Building Architecture

While the hospital has been around for long, built between the 15th and 17th centuries, the library itself found its place here only in 1939. Once being the largest hospital of Catalonia, it is also one of the most important gothic ensembles you can find in the city. The first stone was laid in 1401, but it took 13 years for the hospital to resemble the one you can see nowadays. Later, after a century of functioning, the hospital was optimized, and the building was upgraded.

The Legend of the Don Quixote, Roomed

What to see in the library? There is a lot of legendary pieces to be found – from Don Quixote to the oldest texts in Catalonian, the place is full of legends.

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, or El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha is probably the most interesting for those who used to read Don Quixote and his loyal servant’s Sancho adventures in their childhood days. 

With one of the widest public collections worldwide specialized on Miguel de Cervantes’ work, one can easily find the manuscripts of the century-old writings of over 8.000 volumes, including originals of all first editions, except for La Galatea, and the 6 first editions of the Quixote from 1605, bibliophile copies and also publications of the Cervantine work in more than 20 languages.

What’s probably even more interesting, is the serial of manuscripts songbooks. Leather-bound on wood and with metallic corners, these are huge books, bounded in 16th to 19th centuries, and sized from 80 to 50 cm in width. Successfully resued during the Spanish civil war, these are must-sees, carrying history and culture throughout the centuries.

The Oldest Writing in Catalonian

The Homilies d’ Organya, the oldest Catalan language text is the oldest literary evidence dating 800 years back. The legend holds that the Homilies were written for being preached by canons of the collegiate of Santa Maria d’Organya during Lent by an anonymous clergyman, who was worried at communicating the word of God in a comprehensible manner. The manuscript, written on parchment and bound on a booklet of eight leaves still sits in the Biblioteca de Catalunya today.

Work in Barcelona Library for Freelancers

Today, the building houses 3 million documents, and you can also visit the library to catch up with your work during travels. The library is open from Monday to Saturday, and you can check the opening hours of Biblioteca de Catalunya before going.

Want to get into the mood? You should know that during the first years of the Franco regime, as told by the librarians, all library cards issued from July 1936 to February 1939 were retired, as indicated at the book of records as unusable, hence needed to be destroyed  “Los números señalados al margen con una línea de lápiz encarnado que son desde 26.423-26.667 han sido inutilizados por ser de época roja y las tarjetas retiradas y destruidas”. You will easily find these and other historical curiosities of the Spanish Civil War all around Barcelona.

The Carretera de Les Aigües

While there is a lot to do in the city, Barcelona also has one of the best parks and nature spots to enjoy the views of the city. From afar, you can enjoy the city views at the Collserola ridge.

The name of the place originates in the water pipes that once ran along this path, retaining the horizontal layout. The 10 kilometres long trail stands 450 metres above the sea level at its highest point and is with a reason one of the most popular spots for cyclists and runners to enjoy the fresh air.

From Sant Pere Màrtir to the Carretera de la Rabassada, you can see Barcelona views as nowhere else. Go by the route of locals and get to see the sweeping, matchless views of the city, paved by water pipes. In the backdrop, if you want to get more of nature, is the Collserola Natural Park – a definite must-visit in case you are looking for a day in the woods.

The article will be continued – to read about other legendary places in Barcelona, click on the 7 Wonders of Barcelona: Why is Sagrada Familia still a Work in Progress?

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CuddlyNest Barcelona travel advice

Activities & Adventure 6 MINS READ

Must-See Game of Thrones Locations in Spain

Must-See Game of Thrones Locations in Spain

Activities & Adventure 6 MINS READ

August 18, 2019/in EuropeSpain

 Ever wanted to find yourself at Dragonstone Castle or visiting Dorne, the Water Palace of Sunspear? We already set you up for a guided visit to Dubrovnik, Croatia, where the majority of scenes for King’s Landing is set. But if you want to explore the real-life locations of the Seven Kingdoms and wander around other Game of Thrones Season 7 shooting locations, then look no further, as we’ve gathered this 7-day tour of Spain Game of Thrones locations for you. Now you will be able to visit all the incredible filming locations in just one week. So, let’s get started!

Days 1 and 2: Visit Seville 

It’s clear why the directors chose to shoot some of this series in Seville – it is one of Spain’s most beautiful and historically rich cities, with architecture ranging from the Gothic cathedral and Mudéjar (Moorish) palaces to churches in baroque style. If you don’t have a lot of time, then at least visit María Luisa Park and Plaza de España – these two wonders tell the story of the Andalusian capital throughout the centuries.

Game of Thrones (film still)

Royal Alcazar of Seville, Game of Thrones Spain, Dorne

This part of the series is set in the very center of Sevilla, the Royal Alcazar of Seville. To shoot here, the film crew had to get special permission to close half of the palace for the time being, which is not an easy task, as the palace is the tourist hotspot and the general policy is against movie shooting here.

However, the Dorne scenes were shot here, capturing the summers of the royal Martell family. Before you go to Seville, watch Season 5, Episode #2, showing the Water Garden. From there on, you can see almost every corner of the Dornish Palace. From Ambassador’s Hall where Jamie Lannister, Doran Martell, and Ellaria Sand are resting on the royal couches, to the real-life Golden Ceilings which Jamie Lannister walks under. You can also climb down to the Moorish Baths of the Alcazar, where Myrcella Lannister was killed by Ellaria and Sand Snakes.

Open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily, the palace is a top attraction for tourists. We suggest you go there in the early hours to have enough time to explore everything and skip the crowds taking over the palace starting at noon.

Look up more information on the museum website.

Game of Thrones (film still)

Italica, Game of Thrones Spain Dragonpit

Just outside Seville, in the ancient amphitheater ruins featuring Roman columns and beautiful floor mosaics dating back to Roman times in Iberia, the production of Game of Thrones season 7 and season 8 was set. In the series, you can recognize the amphitheater as the King’s Landing Dragonpit. Once used to hold over 25,000 spectators, this indeed a must-visit for all GOT fans, especially if you want to take a short break from the tourist crowds in Sevilla.

How to get here?

Get on a bus from Sevilla Villanueva Serena to Santipoce. The ticket costs 10,34€ – you can buy it from the company website or get on the bus.

Day 2. Visit Osuna and Castillo de Almodóvar del Río

To continue your explorations where the filming of Game of Thrones occurred, go to Osuna and Castillo de Almodóvar del Río, which you will recognize as Daznak’s Pit and Highgarden.

Game of Thrones (film still)

Osuna, Daznak’s Pit

About an hour ride from Seville lies Osuna, a small but extremely beautiful historic town. In the series, the bullring hosts a scene where Daenerys settles a score with Meereen slave masters in the Dance of Dragons.

You will not only be able to visit the scene where the crew spent 12 days shooting the scene (requiring hundreds of re-shoots), but you’ll also be able to immerse yourself in the Spanish bullfighting tradition, brought to Spain by the Moors hundreds of years ago. Traditionally on feast days, Moors would kill the bulls while riding on horseback. Modern-day Matador style bullfighting, though, came around only in the 18th century. Contrary to popular belief, the tradition is not banned entirely, but has lost its popularity with 93% of young adults opposing the practice.

Game of Thrones (film still)

How to get here?

Take a train to Almeria from Sevilla Santa Justa to Osuna. The train runs every hour and costs Є11.50. We suggest planning the early arrival, so you can take your time in Osuna and make it to the Highgarden shooting location the same day.

Game of Thrones (film still)

Game of Thrones (film still)

Castillo de Almodóvar del Río, Highgarden

The 8th-century medieval castle serving as the set of Highgarden in the series will astound you with its magnificent sights. First screened in season 7, the castle hill finds itself under Lannister rule.

Just like in the series you can see it from far away – the castle hill stands out in the landscape, as it is the only hill for miles. There is an easy and scenic trail, and you can climb the towers to see the amazing views of the surrounding flatlands.

Game of Thrones (film still)

We recommend to come here either by bus or – if you rent a car – then know that parking space is limited and will cost you Є9.00. The castle is open on weekends from 11 am to 8 pm, but beware the weekdays – the Spanish siesta takes place from 2.30 om to 4 pm, and the castle is open to visitors only in the mornings and evenings.

Game of Thrones (film still)

Day 3. Visit Game of Thrones Spain Los Barruecos

The nature reserve Los Barruecos is located just near Caceres, a 3-hour drive away from Madrid, where Game of Thrones filmed the Loot Train Attack. You can recall how, in this scene, Daenerys released her dragon against the Lannisters for the first time.

To get from Highgarden to here, we suggest you go by BlaBla car and get a ride-share through Merida. Or, you can skip the public transport hassle and head straight to Castillo de Zafra via Madrid.

Game of Thrones (film still)

Days 4 – 5. Longstop in Madrid and Castillo de Zafra

Either coming from Caceres or Cordoba, there is no way to avoid Madrid, the capital of Spain, on your way to Castillo de Zafra, where the Tower of Joy which first appeared in Season 6 is located. Located between Madrid and Barcelona, the Tower of Joy houses Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark after their secret wedding. It was also the birthplace of Jon Snow.

The Zafra Castle – Bastion of Molina Manor is a magnificent 12th-century building and became one of the strongest castles in the kingdom by the 16th century. Originally an Arab fortress, the castle is only open to visitation from the outside.

Game of Thrones (film still)

Days 6 – 7. Stay in Zaragoza and Game of Thrones Spain Bardenas Reales

As the Bastion of Molina Manor is located near Zaragoza, we encourage you to share a ride on BlaBlaCar to Zaragoza and visit its beautiful city center, and then ride to the Bardenas Reales. By car, it takes around 1 hour to get to the breathtaking landscape. After seeing the soaring canyons, sandstone cliffs, and rocky outcrops, it is clear why the film crew chose the location to shoot the Dothraki Sea. The Spanish badlands made from clay, chalk, and sandstone have been molded by water and wind for centuries, turning the landscape into an otherwordly location for some scenes from Season 6.

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