Travel

Hola España! Four Spanish Cities You Need To Visit

Easily one of my favourite countries that I have had the pleasure of visiting, Spain has a special way of making you feel at home while you’re thousands of miles away.

The various aspects that make up Spanish culture are so incredibly unique in comparison to the rest of Europe’s popular tourist spots. I’m not sure whether it’s the food, the people, the history, the monuments or a combination of them all, Spain appealed to me hugely during my two week adventure and I think it’s safe to stay that anybody who is planning on doing some travel around Europe must visit at least one of Spain’s incredible city’s.

HOLY TOLEDO

Toledo is a charming little city full of beautifully coloured buildings and curious narrow streets. It’s situated an hours drive south of Madrid and is incredibly authentic, surrounded by its own moat and built on top of a rather large hill.

I still remember the moment when I hopped out of the car to see this view..

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The charming, brightly coloured buildings give Toledo a special zing that gives the city an incredibly unique Spanish feel that is unlike anywhere else.

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Narrow street upon narrow street, this is a place that’s easy to get lost in. It’s full of character as the city’s residents love to show off their balconies with gorgeous flowers and plants.

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If you’re in the Madrid area, Toledo is the perfect day trip to experience a smaller city’s version of spicy Spanish culture.

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Toledo Notes:

  • You definitely do not need more than one day to explore – it’s literally tiny!
  • Allow yourself to get lost and only use the map at the end of the day to get back to where you need to be to leave the city
  • It’s situated on top of a mountain, meaning it is seriously HOT. If you’re visiting in the middle of the European summer definitely ensure you’ve got water on you at all times and wear a hat!

THE PROUD CAPITAL THAT IS: MADRID

Two words: Culture shock.

Madrid slapped me in the face with its unique Spanish culture the second I jumped out of my cab and into the heart of the city on route to my hostel. It’s compact, busy, horrifically hot in the summer (I personally thought the heat was worse than Rome!) and reflects its countries reputation beautifully with various boulevards and refreshing parks.

The culture shock mostly exuded itself through the lack of English speaking people. Literally EVERYBODY spoke Spanish, and only Spanish. After two months of travel through Europe where most countries spoke a lot of English, Madrid really knew how to make me feel uncomfortable. This aspect of the city was frightening, but an incredibly exciting challenge for a young traveller nonetheless!

Known for its art galleries, grand boulevards, unreal sunsets, exquisite architecture and manicured parks, Madrid brings a unique version of Spain that every traveller must experience at least once in their lifetime.

Cybele Palace

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Bank Of Spain

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Metropolis Building

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Temple Of Debod – An absolutely stunning sight, especially during one of Madrid’s incredible sunsets

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Monument to Alfonso XII (José Grasés Riera) – Buen Retiro Park

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Buen Retiro Park

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Madrid Notes:

  • If you’re into historic art, Reina Sofia is an insanely impressive gallery and holds Picasso’s incredibly famous emotional masterpiece ‘Guernica’, the gallery is worth visiting just to see it!
  • Be careful where you wander, Madrid has dodgy areas that are super easy to accidentally dawdle into
  • Visiting the Temple of Debod is an absolute must at sunset, bring some food and a picnic blanket and if you’re walking from the main square give yourself around two hours to walk, not only is this ideal because it’s easy to get lost but also because you see a lot of amazing monuments and streets along the way!
  • I stayed at Way Hostel – a seriously awesome, helpful and homey hostel centred right smack bang in the middle of the city! Would absolutely recommend it and they even organise day trips to and from Toledo!
  • I personally think two days is enough to see everything!

I say Spain, you say Barcelona!

Gaudí Gaudí Gaudí! What an incredibly fascinating man. The Catalan architect responsible for a huge amount of Barcelona’s iconic tourist attractions including the Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló and Park Güell.

The city is coastal, ginormous and bursting at the seams with Catalonian culture. From the cities most iconic street La Rambla to Barceloneta Beach, cafes and restaurants are inviting and vibrant serving an insane selection of tapas and red or white wine Sangria to indulge in during your days of endless sightseeing and exploration.

My favourite Gaudí landmark had to be the astounding Sagrada Família, a roman catholic church that currently remains incomplete.

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A few more of my favourite spots in Barcelona include:

Barceloneta Beach, theres only one word describe it: vibrant.

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The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya & Magic Fountain of Montjuïc

Try and get a young Kiwi girl to say those out loud.. maybe don’t..

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Casa Batlló

Another one of Gaudí’s mind blowing architectural wonders

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La Rambla and its side streets 

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Mercado de La Boqueria

A food market with an entrace situated on La Rambla

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Park Güell

A beautiful park complete with a Gaudí museum and plenty of colourful mosaic magicalness

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Barcelona Notes:

  • Give yourself at least a week if you want to cover all tourist attractions, have a couple of beach days, indulge in the shopping (it was my favourite in all of Europe) and allow yourself to be completely immersed in the city. You can do Barcelona in a couple of days said no one ever.
  • I stayed at the Generator Hostel which was absolutely awesome! The only thing is that it’s about a 40 minute walk from the Barcelona waterfront but it is super close to Park Guell and tops of the big main shopping streets
  • Beware of pick pocketing gypsies!!!

SAN SEBASTIAN! Unfortunately all of my photos from my 4 night San Seb trip have been misplaced, but I still want to give this super lush coastal city an honourable mention. First of all, do me a favour and search up San Sebastian on Pinterest.

It’s tiny and is made up of two halves, the old town and the city centre. The beach is absolutely gorgeous with panoramic island views and complete with a super cool pontoon to swim out to and jump off.

San Sebastian is known for its incredibly vibrant nightlife and felt super safe to wander around at all times. I couldn’t recommend it enough for either a day trip or for a couple of nights to fully explore the city as well as indulge in a beach day or two! A similar vibe to Barcelona but with less than half the stressful fuss.

Hope i’ve fuelled your travel bug!

Ash xx

 

 

  • Annmaree Janet Sanders

    This was such a good read Ash, the photos are perfect. I really enjoyed this post, and will look again.

    • Ash Owens

      Thank you so much! So happy to hear and thanks for the positive feedback 🙂