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

Spain is one in all the world’s most-visited international locations, drawing greater than 83 million vacationers in 2019, in accordance to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization.

In phrases of worldwide arrivals, that makes it second solely to France.

But the Spanish are additionally avid vacationers inside their very own nation, with practically 93% selecting to travel inside Spain in the first quarter of 2022, in accordance to Spain’s National Statistics Institute.

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

Northern Spain 

Spanish Hotelier Pau Guardans acquired to know his nation as a baby, when his household would spend holidays road-tripping in a crimson and white Volkswagen “Kombi” van, a well-liked bus-style car in the Seventies.

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

“I would recommend visiting any of its beautiful ‘calas’ [coves] and eating in its ‘chiringuitos’ [beach bars] with good fish and rice dishes. In the interior, it is worth discovering the magnificent gastronomy of the area with products from the countryside,” he stated.

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

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

Further inland, he suggests Eth Triton, a restaurant in a valley in the Spanish Pyrenees known as the Val d’Aran, for “good food in a family atmosphere — and a good wine cellar!”

Northern Spain can also be residence to two of the nation’s wine areas. “For autumn trips, without a doubt, I love to visit 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 in the La Rioja area in northern Spain. The space has greater than 500 wineries, round 80 of which welcome guests.

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For summer season, Alonso stated she prefers the Asturias area alongside the Bay of Biscay, noting the sheltered Playa de Toro seaside in the city of Llanes as a specific 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 constituted of the vineyards surrounding the metropolis of Jerez de la Frontera. Cadiz is a part of the autonomous group of Andalucia, the area most visited by Spaniards.

Alonso advisable the well-liked windsurfing seaside Valdevaqueros, shut to 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, shut to the city of Tarifa, the most southerly level in Europe.

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The Cadiz province can also be a choose for Fabian Gonzalez, the founding father of travel convention Forward_MAD whose dad and mom reside shut to the area’s capital metropolis, which can also be known as Cadiz.

“Cadiz province has probably the best white sand and crystal water beaches in the Iberian Peninsula, as well as an incredible fish-based gastronomy. When in Cadiz province, a must is Casa Bigote restaurant, in Sanlucar de Barrameda, where you can try the best prawns in the world,” 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 in the province of Alicante is a choose for Marina Valera, a social media supervisor residing in Madrid. “Although it’s very crowded in the summer, Javea has a landscape that is worth the visit — it inspired the paintings of the famous Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla, and Cristobal Balenciaga spent his last days there,” she instructed CNBC.

“It doesn’t have the usual flat landscape that you might think because of the Montgo, a mountain that dominates the skyline for miles around,” she added.

Enjoying paella by the sea is a should, Valera stated. The chiringuito Montgo di Bongo is correct on the seaside, and its web site boasts day by day opening hours of 10:30 a.m. to dawn. Valera recommended making a reservation effectively in advance.

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

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“Right next to Montgo di Bongo, La Siesta … is the place to see and be seen with beautiful people, fancy decorations and dance music. If you prefer something more down to earth, my favorite is [Taverna] Octopus, a bar located on El Arenal beach with rock music and good vibes,” she added.

Valera’s tip for avoiding seaside crowds? “I’d recommend going super early! And of course, September is better than July and August … I also prefer going to Benisero beach: as it is a pebble beach, it is not as comfortable as the sandy beach of El Arenal, but there are fewer people.”

What to do in Madrid

Alonso advisable Matadero Madrid, on the banks of the River Manzanares in Spain’s capital, an arts improvement in a former slaughterhouse and cattle market. She described it as having a “typical Spanish atmosphere,” in which guests can get pleasure from 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.

Cristina Arias | Cover | Getty Images

Gonzalez, who lives round 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) exterior Madrid, likes to keep in the metropolis a few occasions a yr, “as if I were a traveler,” he stated, attempting out inns resembling The Edition and the Four Seasons – each new to the metropolis — or the just lately restored Mandarin Oriental Ritz.

“Del Prado or Thyssen museums, the Musicals of Gran Via or an authentic flamenco show in El Corral de la Moreria are my best recommendations to enjoy the vibrant city like a local,” he stated.

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

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

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“Having brunch at Jardines de Sabatini aparthotel, which has one of the most beautiful views of the city, is a must,” Gonzalez added. The lodge’s roof terrace overlooks Madrid’s Royal Palace and has its personal basic automobile museum.

What to do in Barcelona

Barcelona, the place hotelier Guardans lives, could 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 city surrounded by two mountains and the sea — with its old 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 working 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 National Museum of Catalan Art, has a rooftop terrace included in its 2-euro ($2) entry worth.

“Barcelona is a city that can be discovered very well on foot. It has a human scale, and its architecture is the best open-air museum. I would recommend getting lost through its beautiful streets, full of history,” Guardans stated.

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

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

The Sant Medir Festival, often known as a feast of sweets, is widely known on March 3. Meanwhile, 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 will have no choice but to come back to the city to continue savoring their exquisite desserts!” Guardans stated.

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