SPAIN travel advice

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please try to get yourself to san sebastian
that is my #1 suggestion

― La Lechera, Tuesday, January 24, 2012 2:24 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink


I wound up there sort of by accident and only for a day during a trip to France and it was amazingly lovely. I really want to go back. I have no other advice about Spain because S Sebastian is actually the only place I've ever been to there. LL otm though. If you can go there definitely try to.

ENBB, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:02 (six years ago) Permalink

now i really want to go to san sebastien but it seems on the opposite end of the country from where i need to end up (murcia)!

― bene_gesserit, Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:43 PM (22 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

Oh shit, only just saw that now. Bummer. I'm sure the rest of it is great too though.

ENBB, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:06 (six years ago) Permalink

well i can recommend cartagena as a beautiful town, heavy roman influence still v apparent, they're currently doing up the amphiteatre and the harbour area is spectacular

teaky frigger (darraghmac), Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:14 (six years ago) Permalink

i live in madrid and know galicia, castilla y leon, extremadura, and andalucia pretty well, but nothing of the basque country or catalonia. how long are you going to be in spain, bene?

craigorio, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:15 (six years ago) Permalink

about 9-10 days! i'm definitely spending some time in madrid, and flying in/out of there, so madrid recommendations are welcome!

bene_gesserit, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:26 (six years ago) Permalink

No-one repping for Lanzarote? It's great.

I don't know the eastern side of the country at all, but if you head south-then-east you can visit some superb towns - Toledo, Cordoba and Granada are all excellent, and places like Seville and Malaga would be just about within reach too. Gibraltar's really interesting and spectacular.

Stay in a ye olde parador if you can afford it. They're converted historic buildings and some of them are really amazing. Jaen (east of Granada) is a castle perched on a crag above the town.

I loved driving in Spain because it's big and empty, like a mini-America. This may be less impressive to an American, granted.

Ismael Klata, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:29 (six years ago) Permalink

Gibraltar's really interesting and spectacular.

really? my parents have an apartment about an hour from malaga and a trip to gibraltar is always an option when i go with friends, but all i've heard about it is that it's one of the worst shitholes in the universe.

When a German communicates, you listen (LocalGarda), Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:33 (six years ago) Permalink

The bay and the rock and the view of Africa are incredible. Historically and politically it's pretty interesting. There are apes. No doubt it's full of tat - but I didn't really notice tbh.

Ismael Klata, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:37 (six years ago) Permalink

God, yes, Gibraltar is awful. We hare down there, pick up cheap fags and booze and get the hell back out. The caves and that are ok, I guess, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to visit it.

ailsa, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:42 (six years ago) Permalink

my tip is: avoid Gibraltar

Ismael Klata, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 21:56 (six years ago) Permalink

go to the rock, get out

teaky frigger (darraghmac), Tuesday, 24 January 2012 22:07 (six years ago) Permalink

a few days in and around madrid then visiting a couple cities in andalucia (i second cordoba and granada!) before ending up in murcia sounds awesome. not sure renting a car would be much cheaper or worthwhile though. you're going to have to pay for gas and parking and will be driving around half the length of the iberian peninsula. you don't necessarily have to take the ave everywhere--if you like seeing the countryside then the avant trains are a lot cheaper and go through random towns. and there's always the bus. you could also just rent the car in granada and drive to murcia. cabo de gata natural park is between them (on the coast) and a car would be handy there.

in madrid i highly recommend you visit goya's tomb.

craigorio, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 23:04 (six years ago) Permalink

i went to goya's tomb, it was cool

mizzell, Tuesday, 24 January 2012 23:25 (six years ago) Permalink


teaky frigger (darraghmac), Wednesday, 25 January 2012 00:54 (six years ago) Permalink

thanks craigorio that is all really helpful! i'll look into costs of train/bus from madrid to granada. cabo de gata looks lovely!

bene_gesserit, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 18:05 (six years ago) Permalink

alsa will be the bus line you want. it's about 20 euros, 5 hrs across la mancha, and there will be a bus leaving pretty much every hour all day long from madrid.

craigorio, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 21:13 (six years ago) Permalink

ok, i've just worked out some of the details, and i think we are going to take the bus to granada as you recommended! is there a specific town on the coast between granada and murcia that you would recommend spending a night in? we definitely want to spend some time in cabo de gato and take are time going up the coast.

bene_gesserit, Saturday, 28 January 2012 20:39 (six years ago) Permalink

alright - i've fully booked all my hotels so i could use some itinerary specific advice:

days 1-3 madrid - staying at a pension in the the universidad neighborhood, i definitely want to visit the prado but otherwise i could use advice on what to see/eat!

day 4 granada - staying in the downtown area but closer to the alhambra. definitely want to visit the alhambra but not sure what else. planning on renting a car here for the rest of the trip.

days 5-6 - cheaping out everywhere else on hotels, but splurged a little and booked two nights at parador de mojacar ( which was still not all that expensive (came out to ~$70 per person per night) this is close to cabo de gata but could use advice on other towns to explore in the area)

days 7-8 - murcia - we will probably be at the music fesitival (watching PULP) most of the time

day 9 - need to find a budget accommodation near the madrid airport for an early flight home

bene_gesserit, Friday, 10 February 2012 23:09 (six years ago) Permalink


Aerosol, Friday, 10 February 2012 23:32 (six years ago) Permalink

I'm considering going for a week in March. I was going to do Madrid and Barcelona, but my friend is trying to convince me to concentrate on one city, and not try to do too much. Thoughts? I am leaning toward Madrid. Also, is it an okay place to travel alone in?

Virginia Plain, Friday, 24 February 2012 04:42 (six years ago) Permalink

you should come in march instead and hang out with me!

bene_gesserit, Friday, 24 February 2012 14:26 (six years ago) Permalink

i mean may

bene_gesserit, Friday, 24 February 2012 14:26 (six years ago) Permalink

I wish I could; your trip sounds amazing.

Virginia Plain, Sunday, 26 February 2012 15:58 (six years ago) Permalink

xpost if you have a week that should be sufficient for two cities... but I say that as someone who's generally happy with a few days per city when I travel, guess it depends on your own travel style!

Personally Barcelona was far more memorable for me than Madrid but either of them will be okay for solo travel.

salsa shark, Sunday, 26 February 2012 17:45 (six years ago) Permalink

It takes 8 hours to get from Madrid to Barcelona by bus

curmudgeon, Sunday, 26 February 2012 19:13 (six years ago) Permalink

my travel advice is eats lots of food because it will be delicious

a life ___________ (Lamp), Sunday, 26 February 2012 20:17 (six years ago) Permalink

my advice is take the train.

nickn, Monday, 27 February 2012 03:36 (six years ago) Permalink

I have never been to madrid but I suggest you don't miss barcelona

iatee, Monday, 27 February 2012 03:47 (six years ago) Permalink

it is cool

iatee, Monday, 27 February 2012 03:47 (six years ago) Permalink

Thanks for the advice. I just jumped the gun and went for both Madrid and Barcelona, with a high-speed rail connection in-between. I'm going to start fasting now so that I can eat way through.

^^although San Sebastian sounds like my cup of tea

Virginia Plain, Monday, 27 February 2012 04:12 (six years ago) Permalink

I was underwhelmed by Madrid (and never made it to Barcelona)

curmudgeon, Monday, 27 February 2012 04:35 (six years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Flying out this week for a 2-week sojourn that will include Madrid, Rioja, Barcelona and points between. Happy for any/all recommendations. We won't make it to San Sebastian or Bilbao sadly, the itinerary just won't stretch that far

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Sunday, 18 March 2012 16:23 (six years ago) Permalink

Important advice: book in advance to go to the Alhambra, otherwise you won't get in.

The Reina Sofia art gallery in Madrid is well worth a visit, particularly the civil war section.

Lots of things close on Mondays, museums an ting.

PJ Miller, Monday, 19 March 2012 11:22 (six years ago) Permalink

how far in advance do you need to buy alhambra tix?

bene_gesserit, Monday, 19 March 2012 14:47 (six years ago) Permalink

i think really far in advance? like months iirc?

Laura Lucy Lynn (La Lechera), Monday, 19 March 2012 14:48 (six years ago) Permalink

The Prado is pretty amazing, too.

I also highly recommend this museum:

L'ennui, cette maladie de tous les (Michael White), Monday, 19 March 2012 14:51 (six years ago) Permalink

I ate here a couple of times:

L'ennui, cette maladie de tous les (Michael White), Monday, 19 March 2012 14:52 (six years ago) Permalink

ASAP for the Alhambra tickets.

PJ Miller, Tuesday, 20 March 2012 18:43 (six years ago) Permalink

Estamos practicando el espanol? Dejo este sabado.

Virginia Plain, Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:35 (six years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

i'm leaving friday!! beyond excited. any recommendations for 1) cheapish eats in madrid (specifically near universidad neighborhood)?

bene_gesserit, Monday, 23 April 2012 16:57 (six years ago) Permalink

2) translator apps for iphone?

bene_gesserit, Monday, 23 April 2012 16:59 (six years ago) Permalink

1) Underground chino (Chinese restaurant) in Plaza de España is incredibly cheap and tasty and pretty close to the Universidad. Just go down the stairs next to Calle Princesa/Gran Via. As for actual Spanish food, I'll get back to you when my friend reminds me the name of this one amazing spot.

2) Haven't tried this one, but looks pretty useful:

Charles de Gaul (Whitey on the Moon), Tuesday, 24 April 2012 00:11 (six years ago) Permalink

Here's that great Spanish restaurant: El Lacón Not exactly cheap but wonderful and a good value. I would recommend going for the tablas (platters of a wide variety of fish, seafood, veggies, etc) if you'll be with several people. 2 tablas and the complimentary bread was more than enough food for 4.

Charles de Gaul (Whitey on the Moon), Tuesday, 24 April 2012 21:37 (six years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Boy you werent kidding bout alhambra tix huh

bob_sleigher (darraghmac), Tuesday, 4 June 2013 02:12 (four years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

I can't wait to see that thing. I've booked a ticket for next month.

Does anyone have tips on other stuff to do in Granada? I have two days. It looks like some of the Alhambra grounds don't require tickets, so maybe there'll be more than enough to see once my hours there are up.

jmm, Friday, 24 October 2014 01:58 (three years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Hotel I'm staying in is pretty cool, I guess:

Had a terrific two days in Madrid and was sorry to leave. The Prado is a delight and going early on a Monday morning meant I had the best part of an hour with a dozen Raphaels and Goya's black paintings to myself. Also really loved the Reina Sofia, which seemed like a model of how a challenging contemporary art gallery should be curated - much more engaged politically than the Punta Della Dogana or the Centre Pompidou, which are amazing in their own way but feel more like a repository of stuff most of the time.

Idk why I have been to Moldova and Venezuela but it has taken this long to come to Spain.

Wristy Hurlington (ShariVari), Tuesday, 27 January 2015 22:43 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

In May and June I will be residing in San Sebastián as a writer in residence. I'm beyond stoked, and ever since the news got out I've been given plenty of tips about what to see, what to do. According to the Lonely Planet of Bilbao/SanSeb there are 17 (SEVENTEEN!) Michelin starred restaurants in San Sebastián alone. That's just crazy, and impossible to choose between.

I won't be traveling outside of the Basque Country a lot (I need my time there to write) but please give me some tips on things outside the obvious, to see, do, or where to eat. Looking at LG and LL especially since you both know the turf. (I've been to Spain loads - Catalunia, Almeria, Costa Del Sol etc) but never to Basque Country. Hit me up!

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 27 March 2017 19:41 (one year ago) Permalink

I've only spent a few days there but they were filled with the most amazing food.

(•̪●) (carne asada), Monday, 27 March 2017 20:21 (one year ago) Permalink

wauwauwau congrats LBI

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 27 March 2017 21:38 (one year ago) Permalink

tytyty tracer :)

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:06 (one year ago) Permalink

Any hotel/pension/airbnb recs for San Sebastian? I am trying to pull of trip for 4 nights to see La Femme at Dabadaba.

Hey, a ('merican) girl can dream, right?

Mid September, would be nice to be in Old Town I suppose? Need not be fancy, just comfortable and well located to great food/drink.

Flights to/within Spain is another matter. Need a friend with a Gulfstream, really.

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Friday, 21 July 2017 21:57 (ten months ago) Permalink

Dabadaba, nice! :D

Old Town, Gros, or even Antiguo, it doesn't really matter because "everything's a 20 minute walk away" as they say over there, and it's true. The great food and drinks are everywhere.

For flying, Bilbao is obv your best bet, but there probably aren't (m)any direct flights from the US? Otherwise you'll end up having a stop at Barcelona or Madrid. Bordeaux could be an option as well.

Le Bateau Ivre, Friday, 21 July 2017 22:10 (ten months ago) Permalink

Oh I had forgotten that Bilbao may be an option! I need to find a good balance between cheap/time-efficient as I am dealing with a short frame of time I can get off work.

I have been dreaming of San Sebastian since I visited in 1997 or '98? It made a huge impression on me, the food in particular but really everything about the place was just enchanting and so, so fun.

You are still there, LBI? If I can pull this off I hope to meet you in person!

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Friday, 21 July 2017 22:20 (ten months ago) Permalink

I'd love that and I wish I was, Quincie, but I'm back home again... It's been three weeks since my return and I've still not re-adjusted to life at home. I cannot get back into my rhythm here. Never thought it would affect me so severely, but still long for that city and life every day.

From Bilbao airport it's just one hour by comfy coach to San Sebastian. When it comes to time efficiency you can't beat that, really.

Also you must be La Femme's biggest fan in the whole world to fly over for their concert there! :)

Le Bateau Ivre, Friday, 21 July 2017 22:31 (ten months ago) Permalink

Well La Femme is an excuse, also I have two vacation days that I have to use between now and Sept 30; the world is a big place and it is hard to decide where to go when, so sometimes I have to just create tight boundaries and work within them!

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Friday, 21 July 2017 22:41 (ten months ago) Permalink

Any hotel/pension/airbnb recs for San Sebastian? I am trying to pull of trip for 4 nights to see La Femme at Dabadaba.

i've stayed in a few of the pensiones in the old town - they vary from v basic and cheap to quite fancy for a little more cash. i wouldn't distrust any of them, if you're in the old town you're surrounded by pintxo bars.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Saturday, 22 July 2017 10:29 (ten months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

I’m reviving all he Spain threads because we’ll be there for two weeks starting Friday. We’re going to Barcelona for the end of the Bowie exhibition and then???

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 19 September 2017 06:26 (eight months ago) Permalink

You'll be there at a truly historic moment. So jealous.

Are you planning on staying in and around Barcelona or will you be able to travel around more (rental car?)?

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 19 September 2017 09:21 (eight months ago) Permalink

barcelona is the best. can drop a few restaurant recs in if that appeals. how far are you willing to travel in your two weeks? i am not so familiar with the places in the immediate vicinity of barcelona, more with the north or south. depending on what you're into, i would try to see madrid as well, personally. barcelona gets all the hype but madrid imo is not to be missed. many spanish cities have a very distinct character and culture though - that is what makes it such a great country in which to travel.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Tuesday, 19 September 2017 09:36 (eight months ago) Permalink

Our habit is to just rent a car and take off somewhere... Definitely would like to go to San Sebastian and then loop around through Portugal and Andalucía and back up into Barcelona but really we're just letting ourselves wander around for a couple of weeks.

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 07:19 (eight months ago) Permalink

i've travelled that route before, i'd recommend it. vigo is v nice. a coruna too and gijon. it's quite a big gap from barcelona to san sebastien so you might want to think of stops along the way. never been to zaragoza but i'd be curious enough. same with pamplona. i dunno, i've ended up really enjoying some places others say are more backwatery, in spain.

biarritz across the border might be worth a day after san sebastien. it's a bit glitzy but it has its charms. bilbao is nice and v close to san seb. guggenheim etc. santander kind of boring imo but you would be passing through if you go along the north coast.

possibly not great weather this time of year, the north coast can be kind of rural and green, reminds me of ireland a little. there are some beautiful and affordable hotels on the cliffs outside gijon, with amazing views and nice paths along the sea into the town. (maybe a few miles' walk)

if you make it to porto the douro valley wine tours can be really good, a boat up the river and a lot of nice little stops along the way.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 08:47 (eight months ago) Permalink

the pamplona old town is lovely to walk about and impressive with the citadel and cathedral, definitely worth a stop, and bilbao is obviously classic

ogmor, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 09:36 (eight months ago) Permalink

Yeah, Pamplona, Bilbao (Guggenheim) and obv San Sebastian are great. Popping over to Biarritz is a good idea. Following the north coast from San Seb to Bilbao/Bermeo is a delight, wonderful scenery.

Ronan otm, it does look like Ireland at times. The climate makes it one of the greenest areas of Spain. In stark contrast with the heartland around Madrid.

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 10:40 (eight months ago) Permalink

Not to contradict any of the above, because it's all good advice, but Seville is one of my favourite places in the world and I will never stop recommending it.

Tim, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:07 (eight months ago) Permalink

i love the south as well - can't disagree with that. and prob good weather in seville at the moment. malaga is underrated also, lovely little city.

Bein' Sean Bean (LocalGarda), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:17 (eight months ago) Permalink

Seville is beautiful. And so is Cordoba. And Ronda. Man, two weeks just isn't enough.

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:42 (eight months ago) Permalink

Absolutely love Bilbao. Santander is not too exciting from the little I've seen. My partner's family live nearby but we never go there. Smaller interesting places in that coastal vicinity that I'd personally recommend, moving east to west from Bilbao through Cantabria to Asturias... Castro, Santillana del Mar, San Vicente de la Barquera, Llanes, Ribadesella.

brain (krakow), Wednesday, 20 September 2017 13:41 (eight months ago) Permalink

The “no” demonstration outside our hotel right now isn’t nearly as big as it looks on EuroNews. Probably should have read more Graham Greene books...

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 1 October 2017 13:40 (seven months ago) Permalink

Not to contradict any of the above, because it's all good advice, but Seville is one of my favourite places in the world and I will never stop recommending it.

― Tim, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:07 (one week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink


passé aggresif (darraghmac), Sunday, 1 October 2017 16:21 (seven months ago) Permalink

Video of La Femme at Dabadaba for mom tossed in kimchee:

Peter Miller, Tuesday, 3 October 2017 06:22 (seven months ago) Permalink

^^^god I would have loved to have seen that show! Alas, I could not make San Sebastian logistics work out :( Did a long weekend in Montreal instead, so no La Femme but at least *some* french!

mom tossed in kimchee (quincie), Monday, 16 October 2017 02:00 (seven months ago) Permalink

Not to contradict any of the above, because it's all good advice, but Seville is one of my favourite places in the world and I will never stop recommending it.

― Tim, Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:07 (one week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink


^^^^ indeed. Spent a few weeks in the Alameda de Hercules (iirc) neighborhood last year and loved it. My kids loved the plaza and touristy stuff; city is very easy to walk and skate around, and the food rules like Pink Floyd. Took some weekend side trips to the Sierra south of Ronda, can’t remember the town names right now, but would highly recommend. Also great hiking and running and eating in the hills around Aracena, to the NW of Sevilla. Ugh thanks for bringing this up - wish I could go back rn!!

tobo73, Monday, 16 October 2017 02:21 (seven months ago) Permalink

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