At a Glance
When to Go
Madrid and Barcelona are both well-connected international airports served by the metro. A plethora of taxis is always waiting outside. Upon arrival, use your card at an ATM in the airport to save on conversion fees and hit the town with the correct currency.
One of the best and fastest railways in Europe, the AVE train connects Barcelona to Madrid in a mere 2.5 hours; nothing is out of reach. The buses are also well-priced, comfortable, and have free Wi-Fi (pronounced wee-fee here). Car rentals are readily available, though prepare to pay somewhat hefty tolls on highways (autovías) and to park on windy, narrow streets, as many small cities don’t allow cars in the center. Domestic flights are inexpensive via RyanAir, EasyJet, and Iberia airlines.
Food and Drink
A proud people, Spaniards celebrate a history that is long and full of lore. Monuments to Christopher Columbus (here called Colón), the royal families, and conquerors are plentiful and adorn the streets. Food, art, wine, and nightlife are the essence of Spain. Be prepared to stay out a little later than normal, as the country really comes alive after dark. Soccer (fútbol) is very nearly a religion in Spain, with the favorites being Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atlético Madrid. If you’re walking down a street and car horns are blaring, people are screaming, and flags are waving—don’t worry, it’s likely just the scoring of a goal.
Spain loves to party! Any excuse for a long weekend is taken, and many of these fall in the spring or during Christmastime. Holy Week (Semana Santa) and Three Kings Day are major national festivals, while many communities celebrate their own traditions such as the infamous Running of the Bulls, Las Fallas, and San Isidro festivals.
What the Locals Know
Brandy Bell is a travel writer currently living in Madrid, Spain, where she dabbles in everything from nunchucks and hula hooping to street art. She is on a quest to build a recycled cello, perfect a French accent, and is currently planning a trip to South Africa where she hopes to skin dive with Great Whites. Follow her journey at Itsoneworldtravel.com.