In June, I took the most incredible trip to Spain with my boyfriend. We had an amazing time enjoying the restaurants and museums in Madrid, exploring the stunning Alhambra in Granada, and relaxing by the sea in Nerja. If our schedules allowed it, we would have done a longer trip, but we managed to pack a lot into one week and enjoyed ourselves regardless. Here’s what we got up to, my recommendations, and what I would have done differently.
For outfit ideas, check out everything that I wore in Spain.
Day 1: Land in Madrid & Explore
By the time we flew from Toronto to Madrid, it was technically the morning of day 2. We barely got any sleep on the plane but were determined to make the most out of our day. We stayed at the H10 Villa de la Reina, which was located in a busy area of Madrid with lots of shopping (Zara, Mango etc.). The staff were super friendly and the hotel was nice minus a leaky shower.
We admired all of the beautiful architecture as we headed to the one of the major parks in the city, Parque El Retiro. The heat and jet lag hit us hard, so we went to the Ramses patio for some water and appetizers (but I would avoid this place due to the terrible service).
Once we were revived from our evening nap, we had dinner in the beautiful stone cellar of La Mi Venta, which serves traditional Spanish cuisine. We ordered wayyy too much food, including migas manchegas (a bread crumb dish), beef entrecote, and paella. Everything was amazing, but the steak definitely stood out!
After dinner, we explored the city some more. We caught beautiful glimpse of the Royal Palace and Royal Gardens at sunset. My only regret is that we didn’t get to see the interior (check the hours beforehand!). We ended the night on the stairs the Catedral de la Almudena, located across from the Royal Palace, listening to a violinist.
Day 2: Travel to Granada
The next morning, we walked to breakfast at El perro y la galleta retiro, a very cute local chain of dog friendly cafes and restaurants. I managed to squeeze in a little shopping at Zara before we caught a train to Granada. I was super impressed with the train system in Spain. Despite me only knowing a semester’s worth of Spanish, the trains were very easy to navigate and were fast, nice inside, and reasonable (VIA Rail take note).
We stayed at the Palacio de Santa Inés. The staff were helpful, it was located in a good central area, and we even had a glimpse of the Alhambra from our window.
The photos of Granada truly do not do the city justice. My jaw literally dropped when I saw the views of the mountains. We climbed the steep, narrow streets to a lookout with an amazing view of the Alhambra.
Granada has a lot of Arabic influence, so we knew that we had to have Morrocan. At Restaurante Arrayanes, we had mint lemonade, lentil soup, chicken pastela (a sweet and savoury pastry with cinnamon – don’t knock it til you try it), lamb tagine, and the best baklava I’ve ever had. This was one of the top 3 meals of the trip!
Day 3: Tour of the Alhambra
The next morning, we headed to the Alhambra for a 3-hour tour with a small group. We made the long journey to the top of a large hill to meet our tour guide and we’re already out of breath before the tour even started. I didn’t really look into the Alhambra much before the tour, so I didn’t know what to expect but I was absolutely blown away by the whole experience. The Alhambra is not only a medieval castle, but an entire village with a military fort. The tour guide explained the incredible history and pointed out so many details that I would have missed. It was super hot and there was a lot of walking involved, so I’d recommend good walking shoes, sunscreen, and a hat. If you visit Granada, this is a must do. The photos are beautiful, but it’s even nicer in person!
For the next leg of my journey, read part 2 of my week in Spain.