I'm going to the north of Spain (Madrid, Galicia) in May. Any recommendations on not-to-miss sights/experiences? Many thanks!
Posted on Dec 23, 2010
In Madrid, all the usual stops are absolutely worth checking out. First, the museums - Prado (masterpieces everywhere), Reina Sofia (Picasso's Guernica!!), and the Thyssen (basically a tour of the history of art). If you're not art-ed out, the Sorolla Museum is great too (it's his original house, with the works displayed around it). Then, the Royal Palace is a must-see, especially the armory. El Parque del Retiro might seem a little touristy, but it's worth a stroll to see the Crystal Palace and the modern art exhibitions nearby. Wander from Sol (the central plaza) down to the La Latina or Lavapiés areas; Calle Cava Baja has great tapas and bars. The Templo de Debod is wonderful at night and beautifully lit up.
My favorite moments in Madrid were always at night or in the evening; sunset at El Retiro, dinner at Lateral in Plaza Santa Ana, nighttime adventures around Sol. Go to Joy Eslava (our favorite club, even if it is a little touristy) and then get the chocolate con churros at San Gines right next door around 3am. El Mercado de San Miguel, right off the Plaza Royal, is great for a cheap tinto de verano and a bite to eat before heading down Calle Cava Baja.
And for a little bit of serenity, my absolute favorite church/cathedral in all of Madrid was San Geronimo - right above the Prado (although it was being renovated as of August).
Posted Dec 23, 2010Add a comment
The Mercade de San Miguel is a beautiful building with great food. You can buy a reduced-price ticket for the 3 main museums - Prado, Thyssen (amazing Impressionist art), and Reina Sofia. And, I agree, the Sorolla Museum is well worth visiting. There's a wonderful maze of little plazas in La Latina with great restaurants and cafes - Plaza de la Paja, Plaza de la Cruz Verde, etc.
Posted on Dec 26, 2010
So I'm a bit obsessed with food I guess.
Go to El Tigre for sure. It's a bar where if you get a clara con limon (beer with a shot of lemonade), you get a plate full of delicious tapas.El Café de Schérezad (C. Santa Maria, 18) is a great way to experience the Moorish influence on Spain. You can smoke a shisha that tastes like peaches and they serve along with it the most delicious tea I've ever had and plates of fresh fruit. Eat churros dipped in thick hot chocolate. Those are some of my favourite things in Madrid:) Hope you have a great time!
Posted Dec 23, 2010Add a comment
Segovia is a small medieval town not far from Madrid with a high concentration of churches which adds to its scenic splendor. Can be done as a day trip or part of onward travel. I recommend at least staying overnight. It really has a flavor all its own.
Posted Dec 24, 2010Add a comment
I second everything Dan mentions re Segovia. I would add only one more item, though: Segovia is home to the most gorgeous Roman aqueduct this side of the Pont du Gard (France). I make it a point to visit Segovia whenever I am in Madrid (an easy day trip and worthy of an overnight stop, as Dan notes), and snap another few hundred photos of this extraordinarily photogenic piece of history. Really, a must-see.
Posted on Dec 26, 2010
Reina Sofia for Guernica is definitely a must. I am a huge FC Barcelona fan but if you're going to Madrid and don't have other allegiances soccer matches in Europe are a completely different experience from the US. I haven't been to Galicia but I would highly recommend the Basque Country, especially Bilbao (the Guggenheim!) and San Sebastian (for great food and swimming to the island if it's nice weather).
Posted Dec 25, 2010Add a comment
Do a Google search, and you will find many textual reasons to visit Toledo. Do a Google image search, and you will book a quick get-away. Toledo is an easy day trip from Madrid, but merits a minimum of one night's stay-over, Toledo should be, MUST be, on your itinerary.
Avila and Sallamanca also merit your time, each magical in its own way.
In Galicia, you must add Santiago (multiple nights stay-over) and a quick pop in to O Cobreiro. (O Cobreiro requires you have a car.)
I could continue, but will leave with this comment: I envy you your trip. You are about to discover a part of this world that traffics in magic. Enjoy!
Posted Dec 26, 2010Add a comment
Spain is just so chalk full of history and architecture. People covered Madrid and mentioned Segovia to the north of the city. If you take that route, do be sure to include El Escorial (a HUGE monestary full of history!) as well as Valle de los Callidos (Valley of the Fallen) which is a cathedral carved into the side of a mountain.
What folks haven't mentioned yet and a DEFINITE contender is the ancient city of Toldeo, about 45 minutes south of Madrid. I could be wrong on this, but I do believe it was recently designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. This is a DEFINITE day trip to take out of Madrid.
Our 3 weeks in Spain was spent south of Segovia, so I can't comment on the Galicia region. I hear it's beautiful though. Have a wonderful trip!!
Posted Dec 26, 2010Add a comment
Madrid is one of my favorite cities and every time I go there I find new thing to do and see. So in short, anything and everything you end up doing, whether it's simply walking the streets of Madrid or visiting all the museums, will be worth while. I would say however, that going on a tapas crawl is a must. The is no shortage of great tapas bars in the Puerta del Sol area so just hop on the metro, if you're not within walking distance, and start your night at any of the more crowded tapas bars. At the end of your night treat yourself to Madrid's dessert must-have. Just a short walk from Puerta del Sol metro station is Chocolateria San Gines, Madrid's most famous churros joint. If it's a warm night order your deep fried churros with a mug of rich, hot chocolate and a grab a seat outside on the sidewalk. If it's cold, cozy up inside either downstairs (a bit reminiscent of a ships hold) or upstairs at any of the small round tables. The waiter will bring your oder to your table wherever you go. Madrid is full of wonderful sights and things to do but it's the food and drink that will create your most lasting memories.
Posted Jan 01, 2011Add a comment
Have churros and hot chocolate at the chocalateria just of the plaza mayor... Any locals will give you directions.. Called st Germaine or something like that. In Madrid. Beside prado. Make sure you see the thyssen museum Great little bistro. On street across from prado. Same side as thyssen.
Posted Jan 02, 2011Add a comment
I agree with the bistro in the thyssen, great food in a beautiful setting and not bad for the price.
Posted on Mar 01, 2011
I would definitely recommend both Toledo and Segovia as good--and easy--day trips from Madrid. The Basque Country is a few hours north of Madrid via train and is a wonderful place. San Sebastian's crescent beach, markets and pintxas (tapas) are all excellent. Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum is another great bet!
Posted Jan 03, 2011Add a comment
I visited Finisterre for one day in June 2009 and loved it. Wished for more time in Oviedo, as well as more time to explore small towns on the north coast via the FEVE narrow-gauge railway. It seems that the provincial governments put effort into promoting rural tourism, homestays, and farmstays, much of which sounded appealing, but since I decided not to rent a car, most of it was inaccessible.
Posted Jan 05, 2011Add a comment
It looks like you have a lot of good ideas for Madrid and nearby (I strongly second Segovia -- make sure you see the main castle there).
I haven't seen anyone talk much about Santiago, though. If you're going to Galicia, I presume it's on your list. The cathedral there (and the square in front of it) is wonderful. When you go in the main gate of the cathedral, you'll see a hole in a pillar right there (you can't miss it). Inside it is a stone upon which each pilgrim following the Camino places his or her hand upon arriving. You'll notice that there is a hand-print worn into the rock over centuries by the salts from pilgrims' hands.
I notice someone else mentioned Finisterre, which I would also recommend. If you're driving from Santiago, make sure to take your time and roll the windows (or top, if you're lucky enough to have a convertible) down -- there are some truly beautiful hilly areas you'll drive through with many eucalyptus trees that produce a wonderful odor.
Also on Galicia -- the food is (in my humble opinion, and with the exception of jamon serrano) much better here. They use a lot more spices and rely more on seafood (much as in Portugal). Not to miss: Navajas (razor clams), gambas (large shrimp), and pimientos de padron (simple small peppers in oil and salt). Oh, how I wish I could find pimientos here in Atlanta...
Posted Jan 13, 2011Add a comment
I recommend a day trip to Segovia. It is only about 30-45 minutes by train, and it is an incredible medieval town with a wonderful cathedral, old castle, and one of the last remaining aqueducts in Europe. It is well worth the time to go see.
In Madrid, definitely see the Prado and Reina Sofia-two great but very different museums. Also, I recommend seeing a bullfight if you can. Granted, they can be a bit gruesome, but there is no better place to experience the history and culture of Spain than at a bullfight. The La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas del Espíritu Santo is the bull fighting stadium.
Posted Jan 17, 2011Add a comment
I second the churros & chocolate, especially in the small hours if you manage to stay up late.
There's a tapas bar at the south-end of Calle de los Huertas (take a left at the square you end up on) with the typical authentic azulegos and excellent tapas and sherry (try the Tio Pepe - it's more like really dry white wine).
If you haven't booked accommodation yet in Santiago de Compostela, try getting a room at the Parador. These are state-owned hotels that are usually converted old landmarks, for great prices.
And the food ... just go where it's busiest, but at the same times that the Spaniards eat! (so tapas around 7 to keep you going 'till 10pm for dinner)
Posted Jan 22, 2011Add a comment
I think anyone that likes food or shopping shouldgo to any of the Ingles Cortes. You can get two of three levels of shopping, then usually on the top floor there is a prix meals and then usually on the bottom level is a food emporium. Great for spending time indoors when it is too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter.
Posted Mar 01, 2011Add a comment
I just wrote two blog posts on Madrid: http://mlammers.com/category/madrid/
In Santiago be sure to drive out to Cabo de Finisterra. I had a great day exploring (and getting a little lost) driving out there. It's so gorgeous. If you are in Asturias, check out the cute little town of Ribadesella on the coast. And in Oviedo check out the Romanesque churches on the hill outside of town (the guidebook should have more precise info on them)
Posted Jul 02, 2012Add a comment