Where are the best places to travel in Spain? See what locals say


Spain is likely one of the world’s most-visited international locations, drawing greater than 83 million vacationers in 2019, in keeping with the United Nations’ World Tourism Group.

When it comes to worldwide arrivals, that makes it second only to France.

However the Spanish are additionally avid vacationers inside their very own nation, with nearly 93% choosing to travel within Spain within the first quarter of 2022, in keeping with Spain’s Nationwide Statistics Institute.

From the place to eat to new luxurious lodges in Madrid and desserts celebrating completely different saints’ days in Barcelona, Spanish residents instructed CNBC the place they like to go.

Northern Spain 

Spanish Hotelier Pau Guardans bought to know his nation as a toddler, when his household would spend holidays road-tripping in a crimson and white Volkswagen “Kombi” van, a preferred bus-style automobile within the Seventies.

Now, he likes to go on trip to the Costa Brava area of Catalonia on Spain’s northeast coast.

“I might advocate visiting any of its stunning ‘calas’ [coves] and consuming in its ‘chiringuitos’ [beach bars] with good fish and rice dishes. Within the inside, it’s price discovering the magnificent gastronomy of the realm with merchandise from the countryside,” he stated.

The Val d’Aran within the Pyrenees mountains, a spread that runs alongside the French-Spanish border.

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Guardans, founding father of Unico Resorts, a luxurious group that features the Grand Lodge Central in Barcelona and the Principal Madrid, advisable consuming at Can Salo, a restaurant in a Sixteenth-century farmhouse within the village of Palau-Sator.

Additional inland, he suggests Eth Triton, a restaurant in a valley within the Spanish Pyrenees referred to as the Val d’Aran, for “good meals in a household ambiance — and a superb wine cellar!”

Northern Spain can be residence to 2 of the nation’s wine areas. “For autumn journeys, indubitably, I really like to go to the wineries in Ribera del Duero or La Rioja,” Patricia Alonso, a marketer residing in Madrid, stated in an e mail to CNBC.

The village of Brinas within the La Rioja area in northern Spain. The world has greater than 500 wineries, round 80 of which welcome guests.

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For summer time, Alonso stated she prefers the Asturias area alongside the Bay of Biscay, noting the sheltered Playa de Toro seaside within the city of Llanes as a selected favourite.

Southern Spain

Alonso stated she additionally loves the south of Spain, and the province of Cadiz is a favourite, identified for its lengthy sandy seashores, whitewashed cities and the sherry made out of the vineyards surrounding town of Jerez de la Frontera. Cadiz is a part of the autonomous group of Andalucia, the area most visited by Spaniards.

Alonso advisable the favored windsurfing seaside Valdevaqueros, near the city of Tarifa, the southernmost level of Europe. She additionally likes Bolonia, a large curve of pale sand with dunes, and the stays of Baelo Claudia, an historical Roman city proper by the seaside.

Bolonia seaside, near the city of Tarifa, probably the most southerly level in Europe.

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The Cadiz province can be a decide for Fabian Gonzalez, the founding father of journey convention Forward_MAD whose mother and father reside near the area’s capital metropolis, which can be referred to as Cadiz.

“Cadiz province has in all probability one of the best white sand and crystal water seashores within the Iberian Peninsula, in addition to an unimaginable fish-based gastronomy. When in Cadiz province, a should is Casa Bigote restaurant, in Sanlucar de Barrameda, the place you possibly can attempt one of the best prawns on the planet,” Gonzalez instructed CNBC by e mail.

Gonzalez additionally advisable the bluefin tuna at Taberna de el Campero in Zahara de los Atunes, a fishing village round an hour’s drive south of Cadiz metropolis.

On the southeast coast, the city of Javea within the province of Alicante is a decide for Marina Valera, a social media supervisor residing in Madrid. “Though it is very crowded in the summertime, Javea has a panorama that’s well worth the go to — it impressed the work of the well-known Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla, and Cristobal Balenciaga spent his final days there,” she instructed CNBC.

“It does not have the standard flat panorama that you just would possibly suppose due to the Montgo, a mountain that dominates the skyline for miles round,” she added.

Having fun with paella by the ocean is a should, Valera stated. The chiringuito Montgo di Bongo is correct on the seaside, and its web site boasts every day opening hours of 10:30 a.m. to dawn. Valera recommended making a reservation properly prematurely.

The seaside cove Cala Granadella in Alicante is well-liked with Spanish folks. Locals advise going early within the morning or low season to keep away from crowds.

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“Proper subsequent to Montgo di Bongo, La Siesta … is the place to see and be seen with stunning folks, fancy decorations and dance music. If you happen to desire one thing extra right down to earth, my favourite is [Taverna] Octopus, a bar positioned on El Arenal seaside with rock music and good vibes,” she added.

Valera’s tip for avoiding seaside crowds? “I would advocate going tremendous early! And naturally, September is healthier than July and August … I additionally desire going to Benisero seaside: as it’s a pebble seaside, it isn’t as comfy because the sandy seaside of El Arenal, however there are fewer folks.”

What to do in Madrid

Alonso advisable Matadero Madrid, on the banks of the River Manzanares in Spain’s capital, an arts growth in a former slaughterhouse and cattle market. She described it as having a “typical Spanish ambiance,” by which guests can take pleasure in a standard cana — a small glass of beer.

The foyer of the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid. The lodge, which is greater than 100 years previous, reopened after a three-year renovation in April 2021.

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Gonzalez, who lives round 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) outdoors Madrid, likes to remain within the metropolis a few instances a 12 months, “as if I have been a traveler,” he stated, making an attempt out lodges comparable to The Version and the 4 Seasons – each new to town — or the lately restored Mandarin Oriental Ritz.

“Del Prado or Thyssen museums, the Musicals of Gran Through or an genuine flamenco present in El Corral de la Moreria are my greatest suggestions to benefit from the vibrant metropolis like a neighborhood,” he stated.

The Museo Del Prado holds Spain’s nationwide artwork assortment, whereas the close by Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum homes Outdated Masters in addition to trendy artwork. El Corral de la Moreria has nightly flamenco exhibits with dinner choices.

The Palacio Actual (Royal Palace) seen within the background in Madrid.

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“Having brunch at Jardines de Sabatini aparthotel, which has probably the most stunning views of town, is a should,” Gonzalez added. The lodge’s roof terrace overlooks Madrid’s Royal Palace and has its personal basic automotive museum.

What to do in Barcelona

Barcelona, the place hotelier Guardans lives, may be very well-liked with abroad guests. To get oriented, he advisable seeing it from a excessive viewpoint to see that it is “a small metropolis surrounded by two mountains and the ocean — with its previous Roman quarter and its spectacular modernist ‘Ensanche’ district.”

Ensanche, or Eixample, is notable for its octagonal block construction and grid-like look with a diagonal avenue operating by it, whereas Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is residence to the stays of the Roman Temple of Augustus.

Residential buildings in Barcelona’s Eixample district.

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The Palau Nacional, or Nationwide Museum of Catalan Artwork, has a rooftop terrace included in its 2-euro ($2) entry worth.

“Barcelona is a metropolis that may be found very properly on foot. It has a human scale, and its structure is one of the best open-air museum. I might advocate getting misplaced by its stunning streets, filled with historical past,” Guardans stated.

A number of saints’ days are celebrated in Barcelona, and every comes with a commemorative cake.

In the course of the pageant of Sant Jordi (St. George), panaderias — or bakeries — are stuffed with pastries embellished with the crimson and yellow of the Catalan flag, for instance. Guardans advisable La Colmena within the Gothic Quarter, which was based round 1849, or the pastry store Mauri, in Eixample, with its Nineteen Twenties painted ceiling.

The Sant Medir Pageant, often known as a feast of sweets, is well known on March 3. In the meantime, the Revetlla de Sant Joan, celebrated on midsummer’s eve (June 23 in 2023), is marked by bonfires in addition to a bread-style cake, often known as a coca de Sant Joan, that’s made with candied fruit.

“You’ll have no selection however to return again to town to proceed savoring their beautiful desserts!” Guardans stated.

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