The Ultimate Guide to Madrid

Madrid is often overshadowed by its northerly neighbor Barcelona. There seems little reason for this though – with delicious food, beautiful museums, and tons of shopping, the capital of Spain deserves its own spotlight of fame! Madrid has an amazing fusion of history and modern, urban lifestyle. We felt it varied quite differently from Barcelona actually. Madrid had more of a large city feel to us, which is something we definitely enjoyed on our visit.

Madrid at sunset

What To Do

We spent four days in the capital of Spain eating amazing food, visiting museums, walking around the different neighborhoods, and enjoying some late nights at the many clubs and bars that populate the city. Here’s a few things that we recommend:

Visit the Royal Palace

Although it’s the official residence of the Spanish royal family, they actually don’t live here anymore. It is now only used for state ceremonies. At 1,450,000 sq ft, you could get lost in here all day! You can take guided tours or self tours of the grounds. We opted for a self-guided tour. Stephen’s favorite part of the Royal Palace was the Royal Armory, which houses a collection of medieval weapons and armour. We spent around 3 hours here.

Royal Palace of Madrid

Mercado de San Miguel

This is one of the most beautiful food markets we’ve ever seen! Home to a bunch of restaurants and food stalls, we ate here until our stomachs almost burst! It’s a fun place to relax for a couple hours and people watch.

Museo del Prado

The Museo del Prado is one of the best museums in Europe and boasts a huge collection of classical art that spans some of the most recognizable artists of many centuries. We opted for a self-guided tour with headphones. We spent about 2 hours here.

Puerta del Sol

The most famous plaza of the city and probably it’s busiest. It once hosted bullfights, markets, symphonies, and even executions! Now it’s home to many shops, cafes, and restaurants. It also has a lot of very talented street performers that keep you entertained!

The beautiful Puerta del Sol

Where To Eat

You really can’t go wrong in Madrid. The food here is amazing and it’s everywhere! Here are some of our favorite places we ate at:

  • Mercado de San Miguel
  • San Gines Chocolateria (chocolate and churros!)
  • Brunch Club
  • El Minibar (amazing tapas)
  • Maricastana
Drool…

Where To Stay

We stayed at a very cute Airbnb located right off of Gran Via Sol, which is a street located right in the heart of downtown Madrid. There were a ton of shops and restaurants located within walking distance. We highly recommend staying near here or at this location if it’s your first time visiting Madrid. Here is the listing on Airbnb: Duplex Gran Via-Sol

Our Airbnb located right in the heart of downtown!

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We Took a Trip to Ibiza!

There’s probably one word that comes to mind when everyone thinks of Ibiza: PARTY! While that is most certainly the case, this island off the coast of Spain offers much more than that. Now don’t get us wrong, the main reason why we decided to visit Ibiza was to indulge and celebrate our engagement, but if partying all day and night isn’t your thing, the islands’ absolutely stunning beaches, incredible restaurants, and overall vibe will suit any type of traveler.

We took a short one hour flight from Barcelona and stayed two nights on this island. We got to see world-famous DJ Martin Garrix perform at one of the largest pool parties in the world, take a yacht cruise in the Mediterranean Sea, and go to a club that didn’t open it doors until 1am and closed when the sun came up!

What To Do

Beach it up!

The beaches on Ibiza are out of this world. We have never seen sand as white and water as blue as we did here. There’s all different types of beaches to choose from: quiet beaches for relaxing, beaches with great spots to snorkel, or even beaches with tons of party spots! It’s very easy to spend an entire day at the beach lounging in the sand with a drink in hand.

Pool Parties!

Ibiza is well known for it’s day long pool parties, and rightfully so. They have tons of different places to choose from with varying types of pool parties. We decided to splurge a little and visit Ocean Beach and we were definitely not disappointed! If you like champagne-filled water guns, DJs playing incredible house music, and big parties, then you’ve come to the right place. But it’s definitely not cheap, so come prepared and be ready to spend some cash!

Yacht Cruise

Whenever we go to a country that is known for it’s beautiful coastline and ocean, we HAVE to get on a boat! Ibiza offers tons of half day or even day long cruises from it’s main port. From romantic sunset cruises to party boats, you seriously won’t be disappointed in getting on a boat and enjoying your day on the Mediterranean Sea. We opted for a party boat and went with a company called Boat Party Ibiza for a half day all inclusive party that was soo much fun!

Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea!

Club hopping

You can’t go to Ibiza and not check out one of their world famous clubs, right?! These clubs are all over the island, if you don’t know where you should go, just ask someone what they recommend and they won’t hesitate to help! On our last night in Ibiza, we went to Ushuaia, a huge open air venue, and saw Martin Garrix perform. It was epic! After that, we went across the street to Hi Ibiza, another massive club, and partied until we wore ourselves out. We recommend going online and checking out what DJs will be performing in Ibiza before your visit so you can plan accordingly. Note: most of these clubs don’t open until 1am in the morning, so hit the beach during the day or go on a yacht, take a nap after dinner, and then get ready to party all night!

Martin Garrix at Ushuaia

Where To Stay

Ibiza offers a wide range of hotels all the way from cheap hostels to incredible ocean front penthouses. We stayed at Hotel Maringa Ibiza, which was a fairly nice hotel that was only a 3 minute walk to the beach. It was close to a bunch of restaurants and shopping.

Four Days in Barcelona

Barcelona. The second largest city in Spain and one of the most popular destinations in the country. It is the capital of the Catalonia region, an autonomous community in the northeastern corner of Spain. The city’s cosmopolitan vibe makes it a favorite city for many people and is also known for its architecture and art. We hold Barcelona very close to our hearts because this is where we got ENGAGED! If you’d like to read more about our engagement story, head on over to the About Us section of our website!

We loved our visit here. The city has a beautiful beach, many different neighborhoods to explore, and some of the most amazing food we have ever eaten! It is a very walk-able city, although it might take you a while to walk from one end to the next. We rented bicycles and had a lot of fun riding around the city and stuffing our faces with delicious food.

Catedral de Barcelona

What To Do

We spent four days in Barcelona and tried as hard as we could to cram everything into those four days. We definitely wished we had more time to spend in this city as there is soo much to do. Here are some of the places and things we saw on our visit:

Explore the city

With all of the different neighborhoods, museums, markets, and restaurants that make up Barcelona, we spent a lot of our time just exploring. We highly recommend renting a bicycle because you’ll be able to get around much faster which means you’ll be able to see more of Barcelona! Check out Las Ramblas, a street that runs through the center of the city with lots of shops and restaurants, La Boqueria market, Parc Guell, Casa Mila, Casa Batilo, and La Sagrada Familia.

Placa Reial in the Gothic Quarter

Take a tour of La Sagrada Familia

The main focal-point of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia, is a large Roman Catholic basilica that was designed by the famous architect Gaudi. It still remains unfinished to this date. You have to buy tickets to get into the basilica. We highly recommend you book tickets in advance as it is always crowded. We decided against joining a tour and just walked around ourselves. It’s a very beautiful church and worth visiting. We probably spent about an hour inside just walking around.

La Sagrada Familia

Attend a FC Barcelona futbol game at Camp Nou

Watching a futbol game in Barcelona was one of the main things that Stephen had wanted to do for a long time. We even planned our trip around their schedule to make sure they were in town when we were visiting! FC Barcelona is one of the top clubs in Europe and they have one of the best players in the world, Lionel Messi, on their team. We bought tickets to the match before our trip as we knew they always sell out. It was soo much fun! Camp Nou can hold up to 99,000 people. It was an insane experience to see that many people cheering for their team! You can also do tours of the stadium if the team is out of town.

Spend a day at the beach in Barceloneta

Barceloneta, the lively beach town right outside of Barcelona, was also one of our favorite places we visited. I mean how can you complain when you get to relax at the beach?! This beach town has tons of bars and restaurants right on the boardwalk. It is also home to W Barcelona, an upscale hotel that has an incredible rooftop bar. We rode our bikes around everywhere. It was a very nice day and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Where To Eat

The food in Barcelona is out of this world. Quite possibly our favorite thing to do on our trip to Spain was eat! You can’t walk more than a couple hundred feet without passing a restaurant that smells delicious. We stopped in at soo many different places to grab a snack of jamon iberico (cured ham cut in thin strips), patatas bravas (home fries with tomato aioli), paella, sangria, etc. The food is soo good here that we even went on a food & wine tasting tour that we highly recommend! We did our tour with Devour Tours. Here’s a short list of some of our favorite restaurants we went to during our stay in Barcelona:

  • Pla Restaurant
  • El Nacional (multiple restaurants in one building, very beautiful setting)
  • Tapeo
  • Brunch & Cake by the sea
  • La Alcoba Azul
  • La Boqueria Market
Our delicious brunch at Brunch & Cake By the Sea

Where To Stay

We wanted a hotel that was in the middle of the city so we could walk everywhere. We stayed at Hotel Gotico, a beautiful hotel in the Gothic Quarter of downtown Barcelona. We were within walking distance to many restaurants, bars, museums, shopping, and even the beach! It was a nice hotel and we definitely recommend staying in this area. Link to their website is here: Hotel Gotico.

Conclusion

We can’t recommend a trip to Barcelona enough. From the food, art, shopping, and even the nice people who live there, every part of our trip was perfect! It is a very romantic city and you will never want to leave if you visit here!

Happy and engaged!