As you can probably see from some of my posts, I really enjoy traveling. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, it is hard not to think about it, especially more than usual. Since I have been reflecting on traveling recently and thinking about new places to go when traveling becomes possible again, I want to share some of the best places to visit in Spain, a vast and wonderful country, as a student. When I did my master’s at LSE, I spent nearly two weeks traveling throughout the country. And last November, I visited Valencia, which you can read more about here, so I will not cover that in this post. However, I highly recommend you visit Valencia for a lower-key Spanish city!
The beautiful city of Barcelona is an obvious first destination when visiting Spain. The capital of Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain, Barcelona has a distinct “European” feeling to it, separate from the rest of the country. Its architecture, layout, and style are different in noticeable ways from other major Spanish cities. Barcelona is great to visit for a long weekend or as a first stop during a longer Spanish trip. As a student, there are so many things to do. On your first day there, I recommend renting a bike and riding around the city. It’s the best way to get acquainted with its beauty. Next, I’d recommend checking out the Gothic Quarter, one of the oldest parts of Barcelona, to learn more about the city’s fascinating history. In the evening, you must go to La Rambla, Barcelona’s hub of cafes and shops. This amazing tree-lined area and its many small side streets are the perfect place to have a delicious Spanish dinner. Other sights I recommend include Park Güell, Parc de la Ciutadella, and of course, Gaudi’s famous La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada Familia might be the most beautiful and mesmerising cathedral in the world.
After you’ve enjoyed Barcelona, I suggest hopping on a plane and flying down to Andalusia, the southern portion of Spain. Andalusia has an engrossing history with centuries of native Iberian, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Visigothic, Byzantine, Jewish, Romani, and Moorish influence all in this one area. It makes for an eclectic and absorbing history to dig into, which is one of the region’s main draws. I recommend visiting the cities of Granada, Córdoba, and Seville. All three of them have different things to offer, but if you love history as much as I do, Andalusia is the place for you. In particular, the architecture is truly unique and unlike anything you would see anywhere else in the world. The Spanish homes of Córboda are a case in point.
3. Madrid and Toledo
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a good place to finish up a long Spanish trip. To get the most out of Madrid, you should approach it “lifestyle city,” which means to really enjoy it, you need to experience Madrid as the locals do. Of course, you need to take a visit to the Prado, Spain’s national art museum, and see the Royal Palace, but I think the best way to bask in Madrid’s glory is to sit at a cafe, ride a bike around the city, and eat lots of great food. While you’re in Madrid, I recommend taking a day trip to Toledo, an ancient city not far from the capital. You should also take a half day and visit El Escorial, the world-famous Spanish palace and royal complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site near Madrid. No trip to Spain is complete without a stop at El Escorial.