The Best Spain Road Trip Itinerary

Spain put siesta on the map. The country sleeps in and stays out late. It’s culture is synonymous with easy going and relaxed vibes. Unlike North America, you will be hard pressed to find local restaurants and stores open before 9am, as some Spaniards are just going to bed merely hours before.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you).

For this adventure, Amanda and I used points and miles using our CapitalOne Venutre cards to get us across the Atlantic. We planned a two week adventure through seven cities: Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba, Cadiz, Ronda, Granada and Malaga.

Related: My Favorite Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Our AmericanAirlines/Iberia flight was right on time and with no hiccups. We left O’hare International Airport around mid-day in August 2019. August 31st 2019, to be exact.

The red-eye flight landed in Lisbon, Portugal, the next morning as we had to connect to Barcelona forty seven minutes later.

Arriving in Barcelona Spain

We ended up getting into Barcelona right around noon, went through customs rather quickly and grabbed the first bus out of the airport to the city center. The bus ride cost us only 5.50€, much cheaper than a taxi or private shuttle. We only waited a few minutes at the downstairs bus station. The bus system is very valuable for your Barcelona itinerary.

Traveler Tip: Use public transit to save big on transportation costs

Our first order of business was to see if we could drop off our luggage at our hotel, Ciutat de Barcelona. The three star hotel was situated in a great location and the price was just right. Expect to pay 80-120 € per night for accommodation. The hotel agreed to hold our luggage until the check-in time so we could start exploring. At this point, we were starving, so what did we do…we went and grabbed some gelato! Our first of many during the trip.

Gelato in Barcelona Spain
Gelato – Barcelona, Spain

As we strolled down the narrow and winding streets of the Gothic Quarter, we knew our time in Barcelona Spain was going to be special. The city had a great sense of vibrancy, full of local shops, restaurants and mom and pop convenient stores. Cathedrals, architecture, street art and shops, oh my! Even the doors leading up to upstairs apartments were a work of art. I quickly got in the habit of photography the one’s that I thought were really cool.

Fun Fact: The beautiful neighborhood known as the Gothic Quarter is so called because it used to be the Roman village and thus has some remnants of its glorious past. These days because of the constant modernization it is easy to spot an ancient building right next to one built in the 90s.

Time had past by so fast walking the streets of Barcelona that it was already time for check-in. We made a stop back at Ciutat de Barcelona, kicked-back and relaxed for a few minutes, before heading to dinner. Amanda had always dreamed of coming to Spain and I really didn’t know much about it. I specifically remember asking her “So, why do you want to go to Spain, exactly”. I wasn’t asking because I had never thought about traveling to Spain, but I was asking to specifically see what sparked her interest in the country. Well, let me tell you, our first meal had me in love with her answer.

Wow, was the food incredible! Amanda had said that Spain was a foodie-lover paradise, aside from the culture, architecture and lovely beaches of course. There was nothing better at this moment than to be in another country and enjoying a great meal. After divulging, we called it quits for the night to catch up on sleep from our jet lag.

The Gothic Quarter

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because I believe in it. The early bird always gets the worm. The next morning we rose a little after sunrise and hit the Gothic Quarter again. We were on the way to the infamous St. Joseph La Boqueria Market for some breakfast. However, not before stopping at a few places on the way.

The Gothic Quarter and nearby El Born neighborhoods are some of the oldest in Spain. They have been the heart of civilization in Barcelona for centuries. When the Romans built what was then known as Barcino, they erected walls around the city which back then occupied just a small part of what is now the Gothic Quarter. Later, during the 12th century, the walls of the city were extended to contain the Gothic Quarter and nearby El Born, but stopped at the Ramblas.

No stroll through the Gothic Quarter would be complete without visiting the Cathedral of Barcelona and making your way to the rooftop.

Now that we had a couple of stops under our belt, it was finally time to head to the market. The market was beautiful. In a way, it was a little bit of organized chaos. It was filled with locals and tourists alike. Some hunting for a bargain on breakfast and some just browsing before the lunch rush. It was mid-morning now and after about 30 minutes of looking at all of our options, we settled on a couple of bacon and cheesy-biscuit croissants, a chicken empanada and a fruit smoothie.

Belly’s full and spirits up, we headed over to Las Rambas. Holy cow, there was a ton of people. It was quite overwhelming really. From doing my research and planning, I knew main street was a tourist trap. There is a ton of shopping, restaurants and people watching a plenty. We spent most of our time here fighting the crowd as everybody seemed to be going in the opposite direction. It was just way too crowded in our opinion so we didn’t stop and continued on our way. If you can look past all the people, the street is beautiful, as trees are lined up and down on either side of the road.

Antoni Gaudi

You can’t miss Antoni Gaudi‘s architecture when in Barcelona, literally and figuratively. Casa Batlló is so irregular that there are few straight lines on the facade and much of it is decorated with a colorful mosaic, known as trencadís, made of broken ceramic tiles. Even though it was highly criticized by the city during construction due to its radical design that broke all the bylaws of the city. In 1906, the Barcelona City Council awarded it the recognition of being one of the three best buildings of the year. Take that city council!

casa batllo barcelona spain
Casa Batlló – Barcelona, Spain

Seemingly right across the street, is Casa Milá. Also referred to as “the stone quarry” due to its unusual rough-hewn appearance, Casa Milá is another one of Barcelona’s most popular modernist buildings. UNESCO recognized this building as World Heritage in 1984.

Casa Mila Barcelona Spain
Casa Mila – Barcelona, Spain

The façade is a varied and harmonious mass of undulating stone that, along with its forged iron balconies, explores the irregularities of the natural world.

The entire building, both interior and exterior are worthy of admiration, but one of its most iconic spaces is it’s spectacular roof terrace. In it, you’ll see a series of sculpted and decorated skylights and staircase exits, chimneys, and vents. Typically these are unsightly elements required for the building’s functionality, but here they are a piece of art.

From the basement to the terrace, Casa Milá is a total work of art. I highly recommend taking a visit or signing up for a tour below!

Now seemed the perfect time to stop for some much needed tacos and margaritas at Taquerías Tamarindo! So glad that we gave this small storefront a try and it did not disappoint. I’d recommend trying all three of the taco options and paring it with a cold Moritz beer or margarita. Restaurants with air conditioning are a huge plus because it’s still hot in Barcelona in early September. Like, I mean, we were sweating-through-our-shirts-hot, walking the twenty-three thousand something steps. Talk about getting your steps in…

One of my favorite stops on the day’s walking tour was Hotel Colón. If you didn’t know it existed, you would never run into it. Thank you Instagram. The Sangria was great but the view was what made it special for me. Not only was it one of my favorite stops, but it produced one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip.

hotel colon barcelona spain
Hotel Colón – Barcelona, Spain

I’m not really sure if it was the heat, the drinks or all the walking but we decided to head to the park for some relaxation time.

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park is just not any park though, its magnificent. Parks back home in the states have not but a pond, play center, picnic table, or the occasional basketball court, etc. But this, this was a park! As the afternoon sun started going down, the crowds started to diminish. After all, it was siesta time in España and most locals were resting for the night to come. We used this to our advantage and took in Ciutadella Park at slow and enjoyable pace.

The last spot we stopped at for the day was Arc de Triomf de Barcelona. We arrived just before the sunset and we were not alone. The sunset and the arc brought out the crowds in droves and everybody was there to watch the sun set behind it. Personally, we loved the arc and the architecture that went into it. It was massive, majestic and extraordinary. The fact that golden hour was upon us, made it even more special as the lighting was just right. We even had time for some funny photos before we enjoyed the last few moments of daylight.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, as its only going to get better from here

Continue reading on Page 2!

A Surprise Engagement Proposal

The sun was shining bright in Barcelona on a beautiful summer morning. We headed a few blocks from our hotel to check out Via Vespa, a vespa and scooter rental place. I gave the cashier my ID and my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, insurance is covered at no cost if something should happen. Plus, no foreign transaction fees!

After the paperwork was done, Amanda unknowingly hopped on the back of a bright red vespa as we sped out of town. Little did she know, her life was about to change.

It was Sept 3rd, 2019 and we were headed to Parc del Laberint d’Horta in Barcelona Spain. It was day three of our eleven day adventure. I had been planning a surprise engagement proposal for months. In July I was ready to book the photographer. I was browsing Instagram, like I usually do and messaged a handful of prospects. In the end, I chose Svetlana Dubovenko, see her website here for more information. I had been going back and forth with Svetlana for several weeks on deciding the perfect location for my surprise proposal. I wanted a quiet place with a beautiful setting and backdrop. I’m so happy I picked Parc del Laberint d’Horta! Coming from the USA, all I had was the internet and social media as my set of eyes. Svetlana helped me through everything.

Parc del Laberint d’Horta

The park itself costs roughly $3 per person to get in and it’s worth every penny. The gardens are exquisite, the labyrinth was fun and the flowers were in perfect bloom. In the moment, everything was perfect, except my nerves. The country, the city, the beautiful garden and of course, I had the ring in my backpack.

As I tried to be as leisurely as possible throughout the park, we made our way up to the top of the stairs to look over the labyrinth. I set my camera down on the railing ledge and told Amanda I wanted to take a picture of us looking out at the labyrinth. And, because I love to take photos, she didn’t expect anything more. I tapped her on the shoulder to turn around, but at first she didn’t, so I tapped again. My voice was trembling as I got down on one knee, my palms were sweaty and my hands shaking. I had spent days before practicing for the moment. I stumbled with my words and mumbled something that I can’t remember, but in the final moments, I had asked her to marry me and…


After the tears of joy were done flooding our faces, we began our photshoot with Svetlana for the next hour. Nothing like taking 80+ pictures after you just got done crying, right?! I guess I didn’t think about that when I was planning, my heart was just focused on capturing the moment.

The shoot went well and we got plenty of shots to capture the memories for years to come. If you are thinking about a surprise proposal or a family photo shoot while in Barcelona or the surrounding area, I highly recommend Svetlana!

Now, back to the park itself. You’ll appreciate the quiet atmosphere, nature walks, ponds, small waterfall and stream. Mature trees overlook Spanish architecture and well-groomed fauna. The labyrinth is fun and entertaining for all ages! It’s a decent size but you wont be lost for more than 30 minutes or so. It seems as if its always well kept as we noticed more than a few landscapers. This would be a great place for a picnic or pleasingly stroll. It’s not a very big park, but its beautiful and outside the hectic city center.

What do you think about my choice of location for the surprise engagement? Let me know in the comment section below.

Navigating up Mount Tibidabo

After our photo shoot at Parc del Laberint d’Horta, we strapped on our helmets (it’s the law) and set the GPS for Mount Tibadabo. The vespa could only reach speeds of about 45mph and making our way down the highway was sketchy. If you’re not confident in your motorbike skill set, please rent a car or get a taxi instead. To say it was dangerous, is an understatement. Most of the cars were whizzing right by and semi-trucks and motorcycles were zipping in and out of lanes. I have a motorcycle license in the USA and also own a motorcycle, so I felt confident on the road. Not to mention, Amanda and I have rented scooters and ATV’s in other countries before. See the article below for our Greece adventure.

Read More: The Santorini and Mykonos Greek Islands

Luckily, we were not on the highway for very long and took a sharp exit. I had a place I found on Instagram (surprise, surprise) in mind with an incredible view of the city. So, we decided to stop and grab some lunch. It was called Mirablau in Sant Gervasi-La Bonanova.

The open-seating and open panoramic windows were awesome. With a slight cross breeze across our faces, it was a great place to kick back and soak in the moment of our engagement. This called for celebration as we rose our wine glasses in celebration.

Let me take a moment here to say, good thing the vespa was great on gas mileage, because after we left Mirablau, we made more than one wrong turn on the way. Ha! The sites from the twisty and curvy roads were a delight, but navigating them was no easy task.

However, the roads did give us a great view of Barcelona from above, as we enjoyed the fresh mountain air. I loved every second of doing my best impressions of an Isle Of Man TT rider. If you don’t know what Isle Of Man TT is, you’re in for a treat. Google it, it’s insane!

As we got closer to the top of the mountain, the roads and GPS only got more confusing. At one point in time, we ended up going a half-mile or so down a dirt path that was probably only meant for off-road vehicles. The vespa took the bumps and rocks like a champ, as I kept my composure to keep the wheels from sliding out beneath us.

Just as we were about to turn around, we spotted the road we had passed about ten minutes ago. We couldn’t believe it and safety pulled back on the road. We believed were close to Mount Tibadabo so we headed back the way we came. I remembered seeing a sign a couple miles back but it was a one way road…which didn’t make any sense. I took us back to the sign, looked both ways, and twisted the throttle to jet up the hill. One way road or not, we were determined to make it to the top.

With no law enforcement in sight, going the wrong way was not a problem, but I dont recommend it. We creeped past the entrance gate and pulled into the motorcycle and scooter parking area, quickly took our helmets off and locked the vespa. “Nothing to see here, officer, everything is under control.”

The adventure was worth it, because the view from the top of Mount Tibadabo is amazing. You get this incredible reward of a panoramic view of the city below. On a clear day, you can see for miles and miles, all the way to the ocean.

mount tibadabo barcelona spain
Mount Tibadabo View – Barcelona, Spain

Mount Tibadabo actually has a small amusement park as well. So, if you have kids or want to embrace your inner-child, this is the place! But, it was closed on the day we were there. Not a big deal for us, as we are not big amusement park people. We did, however, come for the view and the cathedral. The cathedral is massive and the architecture gorgeous.

Inside the cathedral was charming as well. It’s said that you can visit the towers above the cathedral but we couldn’t figure out how to get in. Let us know in the comments below if you were successful! If you’re interested to know what camera I use besides my iPhone, I’ve linked it down below.

Travel Gear: Panasonic Lumix G85

What I enjoyed most about Mount Tibadabo was the freedom to roam away from the herds of crowds in the city center. It’s possible, because it was a weekday, that there were far less people around. But, we very much enjoyed it. It was a more romantic walk than a marathon to see the sights and sounds of all Mount Tibidabo had to offer. I highly recommend making the stair-climb journey up to the top, you will not be disappointed.

The Magic Fountain & Palau NacionalBarcelona, Spain

Believe it or not, at this point, the day was only about half-way over. We were still riding high from our big moment earlier and that continued throughout the day. The descend from Mount Tibidabo was much easier than the climb. We seemed to find the base of the mountain in about twenty minutes or so, twice as fast as the journey up. But, it was back on the highway for a hot minute to find our next destination, Font màgica de Montjuïc or The Magic Fountain in English.

the magic fountain barcelona spain
The Magic Fountain – Barcelona, Spain

The fountain is much more than just a fountain, its a must-stop area when in Barcelona, in my opinion. The first performance of the magic fountain was on May 19, 1929 during the Great International Exhibition. We arrived mid-afternoon and while it was very hot, we were glad we stopped, it was spectacular. The amount of water that shot like a canyon through the air and the ambiance or the area, I quickly understood where the fountain got its name. It’s said that the color, light, motion, music and water acrobatics – if you mix these elements together in just the right combinations, you end up with pure magic at night!

You can’t miss the fountain or Palau Nacional standing tall in the background from Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina. The climb to the top is strenuous but luckily there are escalators should you get tired. I loved the architecture of Palau Nacional and the system of waterways cascading down from its front doors. The view from the top is breathtaking and makes you feel like a god. Check out this view!

palau national monument barcelona spain
Palau Nacional View – Barcelona, Spain

Vendors can be seen walking around selling water, beer, and gelato. Another pop-up style food stand can be found halfway up the stairs to the Palau Nacional entrance if your fancying for a soda or something to eat. Again, anywhere you go in Spain, always make sure to have at least water. Most restaurants will charge you for it and they don’t offer ice. If you’re an international traveler, this may be news to you. It’s very important to stay hydrated throughout the day. I like to carry something like this collapsible water bottle. It’s super cheap on Amazon.

If you’re planning on going to the magic fountain, make sure to check the weather and the show times before you head out. You can check the show times on this website, here.

Aside from the fountain itself, let’s not glance over the four gigantic columns you see in the background in the picture above. The Magic Fountain of Montjuic was designed by engineer Carles Buïgas i Sans to occupy the space that was left after the Four Columns were demolished, in 1928. The new columns are replicas of the original four columns that were demolished under the Spain dictatorship of Fransico Franco. Franco dictated Spain from 1939-1975. The Four Columns where designed by Catalan Modernist architect Puig i Cadafalch, and they symbolized the four bars of the Catalan flag, the Senyera.

placa d'espana barcelona spain
Plaça d’Espanya – Barcelona, Spain

So, not only is there a lot to see, but a lot of history as well in this part of Barcelona. Down the street from Monutjuic, and perhaps you passed this on your way in, you will find Plaça d’Espanya. The landmark was also constructed, as was the magic fountain, in 1929 for the International Exhibition. On the outside of the circle roundabout, you will find two 47m high red-brick towers that were designed by Ramon Reventos and inspired by the bell-tower of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice Italy.

The architecture around this area is stunning and you can see Spanish and other European influences in every building. However, the most modern building, Arenas de Barcelona, that replaces an old bull ring, is now a shopping mall. The building on the outside still blends in with the others in the surrounding area but inside, you forget you are in Spain. Modern luxuries, food courts and designer stores. Personally, this may be a local favorite for shopping, but it wasn’t my cup of tea for any souvenirs.

If you thought the day was over, you will be surprised to know that I had one more trick up my sleeve for our perfect engagement day.

Aire Ancient Bath Experience Barcelona

Our vespa tour around Barcelona concluded just before sunset. It was a good thing too because I didn’t want to ride in the dark without proper gear. If you have not noticed by now, while riding the vespa was a blast, it was merely a means of transportation. Albeit, a very fun means of transportation. I had plotted the days adventure on a map and realized it would just take too long to get from one spot to another via public transportation. Since Uber or Lyft is banned in Spain, that was not an option. A private taxi would’ve been much more expensive. Our only other option was to rent a car and then you have the problem of parking. The car would’ve been slightly cheaper that the vespa, but not as fun. In the, I was so glad to have rented the vespa, it was well worth it!

arc de triomf barcelona spain
Arc de Triomf de Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain

We decided to grab dinner at Tucco Real Food as it has good ratings. The pasta bar has a ton of options and while they may not be fresh offerings, it was a good meal. I suspect they have some frozen dishes but I could be wrong. I would advise to keep looking if you’re looking for something unique. It wasn’t bad by any means but its most likely the Barcelona version of Chiptole. if Chiptole had a pasta menu.

Up until this moment, my master plan had worked flawlessly. Three months of planning, booking, overthinking and overthinking some more, everything turned out perfect. I wanted to cap the day off with something super special and relaxing, key word, RELAXING! The ancient baths and massage at AIRE Experience Barcelona was the perfect match.

At the heart of fast-paced Barcelona, there is a place where time does not exist. An old warehouse built at the end of the XVII century, right next to El Born Market, turned into a temple to disconnect your mind and body from the surrounding reality. This is a space full of magic in which history and water converge to provide you with a unique total relaxation experience. But first, we had to drop off our ride.

From the moment you walk through the doors, your spirits are lifted. Warm tones, fresh plants and decor that blends in well with the old Spanish warehouse. The receptionist kindly greeted us and had us patiently waiting for an experience of a lifetime. Mind you, this was a very long day for us and while it was all worthwhile, we couldn’t wait to enjoy pure relaxation.

We were shown the way to the dressing rooms to get changed into our swimwear. The locker rooms were very nice. They were equipped with showers, bath robes, slippers, deodorant, shampoo and a drying station for your wet swimwear. After changing and exiting out a different door of the locker room, we were greeted by the host to show us the way into the ancient baths.

aire experience barcelona spain
AIRE Experience Barcelona – Barcelona, Spain

The Ancient Thermal Baths will allow you to enjoy your bath area at your own pace, with baths at different temperatures including the Caldarium (Hot Bath 102ºF), the Frigidarium (Cold Bath 57ºF and Ice Bath 50ºF), the Tepidarium (Warm Bath 97ºF), the Balneum (Bath of a Thousand Jets), the Laconicum, and the Flotarium (Salt Water Bath).

Ancient thermal baths are great for the mind and soul. We spent about 45 minutes enjoying the various temperature pools and floating in the salt water. Afterwards, we threw our robes on and rode the elevator to the top floor to wait for our massage. It wasn’t long before we were taking our robes back off and lying down on a nice and soft bed. The room had a sensual aroma to it. The couples massage lasted around 30 minutes. However, there are options for shorter or longer massages, depending on your preference.

It was merely midnight now and to say the day was a success, would be a complete understatement. This was the best day of my life.

Park Güell & La Sagrada Familia

One of the great things about Europe is it’s public transportation systems. Today, we got up extra early to head to Park Güell using a system of buses and underground trains. As we headed out of our hotel and down the quiet streets of Barcelona, the train station just a few blocks away, we noticed locals making their way to their final destinations. Once we stepped onboard the train, you could tell most tourists were still in bed because everyone was in their business casual attire. The efficiency of the train and bus system is astonishing compared to North America. All stops were on time, as described.

A few stops later and we were jumping off the train to catch the bus a street over. Park Güell is not in the city center, but just outside of the hustle and bustle. So, if you want to get a glimpse of the famous mosaic tile wall overlooking the city, you had better get there early. Park Güell is one of the most popular attractions that Barcelona has to offer. Many postcards and beautiful desktop backgrounds have the image as the poster-child of what one thinks, when one thinks of Barcelona. You may recognize it?

park guell barcelona spain
Park Güell – Barcelona, Spain

Welcome to Park Güell! From the front of our hotel room to the front door of the park, it took around 50 minutes or so. We could have saved some time, had we known, by jumping on a second bus and taking it right to the front gates. But, no harm no foul, as we entered the park just before 8am. Right on time!

Park Güell is one of the masterpieces of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who projected it in 1900. Inaugurated as a public park in 1926, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, recognizing its patrimonial and cultural value as a symbol of modern architecture, being one of the biggest exponents of Gaudi’s modernism. This playful urban park features peaceful greens, winding paths and many sculptures and mosaics designed by Gaudi himself.

If you do not know, you must purchase advanced tickets to get into the restricted area, which is the area everybody wants to go, with the mosaic tile wall. You can purchase tickets here.

Also, I’d recommend booking at least a month in advanced. Each day there is a limit on how many tickets are sold and you do not want to miss out. The rest of the park is free to look and stroll but the main attraction is well worth 10€ . Included in each ticket is a bus pass to get or be dropped off by the park bus at the bottom of the hill. We made this mistake by not using the bus and walked the entire hill. It was a bad time. Take the bus!

Overall, the park is gorgeous. You could easily spend two hours here and much more. Our visit was just over two hours or so. There is a lot of walking, so be prepared, wear some sturdy shoes with lots of support. Your legs will be tired before noon!

Below is a helpful map that shows an overview of the park. Click on the map to be taken to the park website.

After our time at Park Güell , we headed right to another Gaudi masterpiece. It was a quick bus ride back to the city center or Barcelona. As I turned the corner of an adjacent hotel, phone in hand, following my GPS, I stopped dead in my tracks.

“Oh. my. god….no way! No freaking way!!”

I just couldn’t believe the sheer size and mass of the cathedral. The last time I had this feeling was in San Francisco, when I saw the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. I was completely taken back and aw-struck. No picture will ever do this landmark justice.

la sagrada familia barcelona spain
La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain

You are looking at the most important landmark in the city of Barcelona. Gaudi’s mastery, with so many intricate details, would take weeks to see them all. The La Sagrada Familia is still being built to this day. Since 1882, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has been under construction. When Francisco de Paula del Villar resigned from the project in 1883, Gaudí stepped in to take over as chief architect. Gaudi transformed Villar’s vision in his own way that combined the Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and he is buried in the crypt inside. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Learn about the history and significance of Sagrada Familia by the hand of your local guide. Discover how nature influenced and inspired Gaudí on his planning. Find out why Sagrada Familia is a must-see landmark in Barcelona! Click one of the tour options below.

The streets surrounding La Sagrada Familia were crowded, very crowded, as expected. It was early afternoon now and people looked to be standing in line for hours waiting to get in. We had seen enough cathedrals and churches that we didn’t feel it was worthwhile to wait in line and go inside. Waiting in the heat for a couple of hours didn’t sound fun at the time. If we would have gone in, we would’ve bought a quick pass to bypass the line weeks a head of time. Judging from the look on bystanders faces, we were happy to take our photos of the outside and just admire the architecture.

Foodie Alert: Don’t miss Chök in the Gothic Quarter that specializes in donuts, cupcakes and chocolate!

chok barcelona spain
Chök – Barcelona, Spain

Another hot spot and a secret, if you will, is Ayre Hotel Rosellón. If you look beyond the front desk and take the elevators to the roof, you’ll be treated to a magnificent view of La Sagrada Familia. The drinks are good and the sunshine on your face will feel even better. Unless, its the middle of the day and too hot. Then, I suggest waiting until sunset or just before. We arrived midday and it was a great spot to chill, but quickly realized we needed to stay in the shade as the sun just beats you up.

Bonus, great spot for instagrammers!

ayre hotel barelona spain
Ayre Hotel Rosellón – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona to Seville Spain

Our four day whirlwind of an adventure in Barcelona passed by quicker than we would’ve liked, as we could’ve relished in our engagement for a few more days. But, there were more romantic places to be. Seville, to me, was the most romantic stop along our journey. It really hit me in all the right feels!

We chose SkyScanner to find a cheap flight from Barcelona to Seville. While flying wasn’t the cheapest option, we based our decision on value and time. And, it was much faster than taking the bus or a train. We left Barcelona around 21:30 and arrived around 24:00 by the time our plane landed and our taxi dropped us off at Seville Luxury Rentals. You can find Seville Luxury Rentals on Airbnb! The total price was $539.12US for four nights. In my opinion, this was a steal for the location and features this apartment offered.

We could get to everywhere within walking distance. The space was bright, airy and comfortable. We especially enjoyed the rooftop balcony outside of our master suite which had great views of the nearby cathedral bells.

I did not have a plan going to Seville. With our action packed Barcelona itinerary, I wanted to take it easy. We wanted to take in this romantic city one step at a time.

seville spain
Seville Spain

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

Just a few blocks away from our Airbnb, we found Catedral de Sevilla. Catedral de Seville is a Roman Catholic cathedral and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the adjoining Alcázar Palace complex across the brick paver street.

After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world. We did not buy tickets to go inside of either place, but instead, enjoyed a fresh chocolate gelato on a waffle cone while admiring the outside of each architectural building.

City streets are full of locals and tourists alike, but unlike Barcelona, it’s a lot more personable and not so chaotic. The pace was much slower and made us appreciate living in the moment and enjoy our time walking the streets. The streets of Barcelona make you feel like you need to be either here or there and not get in anybody’s way. Leisurely strolls are not common practice in Barcelona, unless it’s in the early evening.

Anyhow, the city center offers plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, bars and retail shopping. But the feeling is that the Sevillians roots draw close to the Spanish heritage and not so much the Catalonia movement. You can tell the experience in Seville is authentic and what you picture, when you picture coming to Spain. The alleyways, shallow streets and locals still living amongst the many tourists, Seville makes you feel at home.

If you’re looking for something to do, check out the tours below! I’d highly recommend going to Gibraltar on a day trip if time allows.

As we got our first glimpse of the horse-drawn carriages riding around the square and peeked inside of Alfonso XIII Hotel, we made our way to the Alfonso XIII Canal. It was here that we found a neat watchtower overlooking the river called Torre del Oro. The 13th century watchtower cost 1.5€ at the time and allowed you to take a historic stroll up the tower and get a glimpse from the rooftop. It was worth the quick history lesson and views of the canal.

Our first day was just beginning but we were already feasting for some tapas! We heard Seville has some of the best in the country and we were about to find out.

Foodie Alert: Tapas are a small appetizer-like dish that is usually shared among friends.

After a quick google search, we decided on La Gorda de las Delicias a few blocks from the tower. Looking back, this was one of my favorite meals in Spain! I can’t remember all of the dishes we had, I think we had around four, but I did take some pictures for reference. One tapas featured homemade french fries, topped with meatballs. The second tapas was a korean-inspired noodle and chicken dish. The third tapas was baked cod. This was the best cod I had in Spain, by far! Our fourth dish was homemade gelato on a brownie, topped with whip-cream and chocolate drizzle.

Can you say food coma? It took us a while to walk that lunch off but we did so in the beautiful town of Triana. Triana is the former gypsy quarter that sits across the Guadalquivir River from the city’s main tourist attractions. From its pretty, myth-laden streets have come some of the most influential flamenco artists and bullfighters of the last couple of centuries – including the legendary Juan Belmonte, one of the greatest matadors in the history of bullfighting.

The town is also known for lovely handmade ceramics, which attractively adorn the walls of its old, whitewashed houses, and one of Seville’s best and most lively markets, the Mercado de Triana.

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Mercado de Triana Sevilla Spain
Taller Andaluz de CocinaSeville, Spain

It was at the market where we found out, what would be, one of our most favorite experiences during our two week adventure. A Paealla cooking class! We quickly signed up for the Paella experience and continued wandering through the colorfull market stalls full of food, fruit and drinks. The Paella class was set to start at 6pm, so we had some time to kill. As our legs began to get tired, we headed back through the streets of Seville and thought it may be a good idea to rest and freshen up before our class that evening.

When we arrived back at to our cooking class, we were met with friendly faces. Everybody was thrilled to be there. I was handed my apron by the chef’s helper and put it on. I was ready to get cooking! The chef said he would allow me to film using my GoPro and promote it on the blog, I was thrilled!

Travel Gear: GoPro Hero 7 Black

A younger couple was visiting from Chicago as well, just like us! We ended up being partners on a few cooking exercises. During our class we made some fresh sangria to drink as we listened to our emphatic chef. I think he was just as excited to be there as we were. You could tell the passion in his voice and see his enthusiasm for cooking.

The group was lively and shared stories and had a few jokes as the class went on. But, most of the conversation centered around making fun of each other and how nobody wanted to burn the Paella. The atmosphere was fantastic. Overall, it’s a must-do experience and my only complaint is that we were supposed to be sent the recipes and we did not receive them via email. So, make sure you ask ahead of time or write it down!

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Paella – Seville Spain

If you prefer, you can check out the short video below to get a glimpse inside the paella cooking class and see how much fun it was! Make sure to subscribe to my channel for future travel videos.

Have you ever attended a cooking class? Leave a comment in the section below.

Plaza de EspañaSeville, Spain

The Plaza de España is a plaza in the Parque de María Luisa, in Seville, Spain, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles of Spanish architecture.

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Plaza de España – Seville, Spain.

The plaza is stunning in the morning hour light. We arrived around 7:30am and we had the entire square to ourselves. The tourists were still sleeping and the tour operators were not operating. It was peaceful, quiet, elegant and romantic. Golden hour was perfectly casting shadows in one spot and shining brightly on others. My favorite part of the square is the mosaic tiles that make up the benches lining the entire parkway.

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Plaza de Espana – Seville, Spain.

This massive building is Seville’s most impressive, after the cathedral, for its sheer scale and grandeur. You shouldn’t miss it when visiting the city. It’s semi-circular brick building, Renaissance/neo-Moorish in style, with a tower at either end, tall enough to be visible around the city.

In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself. You can rent small boats to row in the canal – the Plaza is known as “the Venice of Seville”. A major tourist attraction, it is the finishing point of many horse and carriage rides I talked about earlier.

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Plaza de Espana – Seville, Spain

We spent awhile here just taking photographs and enjoying the calm Sevillian morning. This would be a perfect spot to enjoy your coffee in the morning and just daydream or people watch. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and would’ve came back at sunset if time permitted. Unfortunately our time in Seville was short, so maybe next time!

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

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Metropol Parasol – Seville, Spain

Our next stop on the day’s list of activities was to check out another popluar neighborhood, Seville’s Old City district. I wanted to see the newly completed Metropol Parasol in person. Pictures do not do the structure justice, it’s massive and very cool. It’s described as the largest wooden structure in the world. Designed by German architect Jurgen Mayer-Hermann, the building features six gigantic umbrella-shaped structures made of birch wood imported from Finland. Nicknamed Las Setas de la Encarnacion, or Incarnacion’s Mushrooms, the modern design has spurred almost as much controversy as the building’s exorbitant price tag. Delays and changes in building methods doubled the estimated cost of 50 million euros. The structure is home to a marketplace, an antiquarian, a restaurant and an open air plaza.

We did not pay the entrance fee to walk the path on top of Metropol Parasol, mostly to save on our wine budget. Which brings me to our next stop…

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Lama La Uva – Seville, Spain

Lama La Uva is a place where wines are tasted and discovered that change your day, year or life. The wisdom of good living. Wines to give to others. Wines that unite couples, families and friends. 

lama la uva seville spain
Lama La Uva – Seville, Spain

We thought it would be a great idea to try a flight of their white wines. They were very good if you like a blend of sweet and dry wine. The price of a flight and some snacks were around $12US. We ended up taking a bottle with us and it cost us $6US. Super cheap, but delicious. We were fortunate we were able to walk in and get a break from the heat to just sit and relax. As the only couple there, we took our time, had a few laughs and were living in the moment.

The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards – Chase Sapphire and CapitalOne Venture

There is one thing about walking around in the Mediterranean sun at the end of summer. It is exhausting. The heat beats you up and soaking up all that vitamin D makes for a great siesta. Our balcony at Seville Luxury Rentals was perfect for getting some shut-eye and enjoy the rooftop breeze. Have to say, it was one of my all-time favorite naps!

After all the walking and our siesta, our stomachs caught up with us. It was well into the evening as we searched Google to find a splendid place to eat. And splendid it was, Oh my lord. The best, and I mean the best, pizza I have ever had. *drools*

Where to Eat in Seville Spain

La Gallina Bianca in Seville Spain, I will never forget you. The farm fresh to table chic restaurant was quaint. Never would you know the food coming out was some of the best in the world. Now, you are thinking, an Italian restaurant in the heart of Spain… the best pizza in the world? YES, I’m telling you, it’s the best pizza you will ever have. The crust was like the most fluffiest-french bread you’ve ever had. Except, it was airy, slapped with a glaze of butter and melted in your mouth. The gooey mozzarella combo of cheese was so fresh, I could taste the farm nearby. The light and sweet tomato based sauce was perfectly covering every inch of the thin-based mouth watering crust.

What is your favorite restaurant in the world? Comment in the section below.

Seville, or Sevilla as the locals pronounce it, is famous for flamenco dancing. And boy, were we treated to one of the most authentic shows in all of Spain. This club is such a secret, that I promised the locals I would not tell of its exact location. What I can tell you is that we walked about a half mile from our Seville Luxury Hotels AirBnb to get there.

Inside was small and there was a bar that people were lined up at for the night’s special. The seating was picnic style tables elongated throughout the space. There was no AC and it was hotter than hell. So hot, that we almost left. But, once the show started, you forgot where you were and how hot it was because the dancers just brought you in. They brought you into their world and they never let up. One song, right into the next with fluidity. The show last only 20 minutes at a time because of the intensity of the dancing. We stayed for two spectacular 20 minute shows and then decided to give our seats up to somebody else so they could enjoy it.

Continue reading to hear what we did on our day trip from Seville to Cordoba!

A Day Trip From Seville to Cordoba, Spain

Before the sun started to rise, we were down the stairs and pushing through the massive wooden front doors of our Airbnb. It was a little over a mile walk to the Sevilla Santa Justa Train Station. We purchased our tickets months before at However, it turns out we bought the wrong tickets…

As we found our seat and watched the first few stops pass us by, the train conductor in a very strong Spanish dialect said we were on the wrong train or we bought the wrong tickets. Looking very confused at eachother, we franticly got our tickets out of our bag.

We could only understand the gist of what he was saying but he got very angry, very quickly, as if we were breaking the law or trying to get a free ride. This guy was so mad I thought he was going to try to kick us off at the next stop, mad. A nearby passenger was nice enough to translate for us both. Long story short, we ultimately had to re-buy tickets again. Luckily, they were not very expensive, about 15€, but the experience was not a good one. With that being said, I do not advise buying train tickets on

The train ride itself was relaxing and went without a hiccup. What I love about the transportation system in Europe is, time after time, it’s always running consistently and on time. We arrived at the Cordoba train station just before 9am and stopped at the nearest tourist stand to look at a map right outside of the terminal doors.

Since we only had a day, we thought the best way to see a bunch of things was to take the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. essentially, we could hop off the bus and see what we wanted to see and then wait for the next bus, ship stops we didn’t want to see and get off at the next stop we wanted. pretty explanatory. I can’t express enough how much time and money this saved us from renting a car, walking or using a taxi service.

Traveler Tip: The train station is in the business district of Cordoba and there is nothing to see so walking to any historic site or place of interest is not possible.

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Hop On Hop Off Bus – Cordoba, Spain

A bus tour is generally not something I would sign up for but we couldn’t beat the transportation costs. For roughly $23 each, we got on and off the bus at over five different stops throughout the day.

City Sightseeing Cordoba, Spain: Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour Map

Cordoba Spain has been a Roman outpost, an Arab capital, and a city eventually conquered by the Catholic Kingdom of Castile in the 1200s. Throughout southern Spain’s Andalusia region, the blending of these cultures and religions reveals itself in the architecture, the artwork, and the traditional dishes served across the area. 

The first stop of the day was at the famous Roman Bridge. Originally built in the 1st century B.C by the Romans, this bridge still stretches across the Guadalquivir River and into Cordoba’s historic center. The bridge has undergone several changes and restorations over its long history. When you visit today, you’re mostly looking at the changes made by the Moors in the 8th century.

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Roman Bridge – Cordoba, Spain
Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos

As our heat-soaked sun-kissed sun tan was in full effect, we crossed back over the Roman Bridge and made our way to Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos. The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, also known as the Alcázar of Córdoba, is a medieval castle located in the historic center of Córdoba. It’s location next to the Guadalquivir River which makes it an ideal location to defend from intruders in the era of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

The alcazar was a sight to see in general but the highlight included walking around the magnificent gardens. Flowers in full bloom, the bushes and tree’s perfectly manicured. I enjoyed wandering through the fortress halls and exploring all the different rooms too. We opted to go without a guide during our time at the alcazar do to the increase in price but I would’ve liked to have known more about each area of the fortress.

Just a few blocks down was the outside of the famous Mezquita. We did not opt to pay the fee and go inside because we paid the 4,50€ (around $5US) entrance fee to the alcazar and were trying to stay on budget. However, I’ve read that there is an incredible scene inside and if you have the time and the budget to fit it in, I would suggest going inside.

Before we hit the old Jewish Quarter in La Juderia, we walked under the Almodovar Gate.

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Almodovar Gate – Cordoba, Spain
Cordoba’s Patio Festival

One of the more beautiful areas in Cordoba is the patio gardens. Every Spring the town celebrates the Patio Festival. The Patio Festival in Cordoba Spain is a tradition that began in 1918. However, during the Spanish civil war it had been interrupted and became reintroduced in the 1950s. The festival is intended to make hidden treasures available to the public. Furthermore, it is to honor the residents’ efforts to retain these traditional places.

Since 2012, the Cordoba Patios have been part of the world cultural heritage and the area was deemed an UNESCO world heritage site. During the festival, people are welcome to enjoy courtyards of incomparable beauty, packed with trees and flowers, fountains and accessories.

While we didn’t get to see the patio festival itself, there were still clues and beautiful patios all around town. Some were more extravagant than others and maybe that was premeditated or maybe some flowers on other patios had died off throughout the summers heat. Either way, the Cordoba Patio Festival is just one of the many reasons to come to Spain and Cordoba.

Mercado Victoria
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Mercardo Victoria – Cordoba, Spain

The Mercado Victoria or Victoria Market in English was our last stop of the day. If the Victoria Market were in the US, it would be an upscale food court in a mall. but a much better version. Fresh cold cuts, fish, and tapas a plenty. The vibe was energetic and this seemed like a great spot to grab a bite to eat and drink after work.

Consisting of mostly locals dressed to dine attire, the market became a hotspot shortly after we arrived. It was cool to see how the locals do and it gave a nice perspective of “normal life” in España.

The bus station happened to be right outside of the market so as we watched the time, we made sure to grab the last bus of the day to head back to the train station. The train ride home didn’t pose any excitement besides for the gelato I bought just before getting on board. It was mostly quiet and after a long day we ended up passing out until almost our stop back in Seville.

Seville to Cadiz, Spain

Our bags were packed again as it was time to leave Seville and head to the beach town of Cadiz. Out the door and bump, bump, bump, we went down the cobblestone driveways. Our luggage was dead weight and our eyes were still sleepy but we had out sights set on getting back to the train station to grab our rental car from Enterprise. We learned our lesson the day before and decided not to walk all the way back with our luggage, so Enterprise picked us up.

We spent a few minutes at the rental counter, checked over our vehicle and punched in our hotel address in Waze (GPS Map). I chose Enterprise because it was the best value at the time of booking. I looked at Hertz, Eurocar, among many other smaller companies.

Playa Victoria was a short hour and twenty minutes away and it felt like much less. There is something about hitting the open road with your significant other and being free from all other distractions that just passes the time so quickly. The scenery was plentiful along the E5/AP-4, as we passed massive rolling hills, cotton and oil fields and a lot of green shrubbery. It was a nice and smooth drive. Traffic was sparse and Spaniards drive much better than Americans. Nothing an experienced driver couldn’t handle, even you!

Before we hit the check-in desk of Playa Victoria, we stopped for some eats at a Gastrobar called El Lulu in downtown Cadiz.

Looks tasty, yes? It was very tasty and very inexpensive. Highly recommend if you’re in the area and need a solid meal.

Playa Victoria Hotel – Cadiz, Spain

After we checked in to our hotel, we did a quick room tour, before heading down to the beach. There are pros and cons to a resort such as this, see for yourself and check out the room tour below. The total price was $220.81US for the night.

Cadiz beach was impressive, but not the most impressive beach I have ever seen. It’s wide coarse-white sand spread for miles and miles. It was full or locals and tourists alike and the sun was at its hottest midday. Make sure to buy sun tan lotion and protect yourself here, you will fry. I like to use a reef safe suntan lotion. You can find it on Amazon, here. Save the turtles and save the marine life!

At this point in the trip, personally, I was ready for a swim in the ocean. I tend to book all my adventures around or near the ocean. So, waiting until this long into the trip was kind of hard for me. Although, it made it that much better when we arrived!

As relaxing as it was, we could only spend a couple of hours at the beach. We left the beach to lounge at the pool. I mean, relaxation was the name of the game and we nailed it today.

playa victoria hotel cadiz spain
Playa Victoria Pool – Cadiz, Spain

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

With salt in our hair and sand in our (you dont want to know), it was already early evening and we decided to get ready for dinner. We took a stroll down the boardwalk to see what we could find.

We ended up stumbling upon this dazzling place right on the beach, Restaurante Arsenio Manila.

Restaurante Arsenio Manila cadiz spain
Restaurante Arsenio Manila – Cadiz, Spain

A few great cocktails later and I ended up ordering the Pad Thai. No, not because I was tipsy already… I know, I know, Pad Thai in España you say, why yes! I love Pad Thai. Don’t judge me, try it! It’s got a great twist and you will not be disappointed.

Restaurante Arsenio Manila cadiz spain
Restaurante Arsenio Manila – Pad Thai – Cadiz, Spain

Capping the night off with a leisurely stroll down the beach was the perfect ending to a great day.

Choices, choices, choices… Gibraltar or Ronda Spain?

Depending on your preference, its conceivable that you could keep driving south to the very tip of Spain to reach Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is a British colony that’s only 2.5 miles wide, but it carries significant important. The “Rock” was claimed by Britain after the War of Spanish Succession in 1704. From here on out, the territory was used to control exporting and importing into the Mediterranean Sea. Spain has been fighting to reclaim Gibraltar ever since.

However, we decided to go to the quiet town of Ronda instead. Make your best judgement here on which direction you would rather travel. The main reason we chose to go to Ronda; it was closer to our next adventure Caminito del Rey. We will get to that on the next page.

But first, breakfast and a quick photo shoot on the beach!

cadiz beach spain
Cadiz, Spain

Playa Victoria included a Spanish buffet style breakfast. We had crepes drizzled with hot chocolate, cold-cut rolled honey ham, scrambled eggs, bacon and a few croissants. It was not the most authentic or the tastiest breakfast on the trip, but it was going to hold us over until we reached Ronda.

Ronda is just over an hour and a half from Cadiz. Again, just a short trip and not a ton of driving. It became a little cumbersome to keep packing up our things each morning but the adventures were well worth it. Did I mention, we only had a carry-on and a small backpack this entire trip?

Read More: Packing Cubes vs. Rolling Clothes

So, while it wasn’t a huge deal to “pack” every night, as long as you stay organized, you’ll be fine. Here is a quick reference map of our southern Spain road trip so far.

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Andalucia Road Trip – Spain

The drive from Cadiz to Ronda was beautiful. Twisting and turning in and out of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, we got closer and closer to our destination. The weather was perfect outside, around 70°F and we had the windows rolled all the way day. There was a slight breeze and just as we rolled into town, we knew right away that there was something magical about Ronda.

The quaint town was already gleaming with energy by late morning. Locals on their vespa’s weaving through traffic on the way to work. Restaurant owners scurrying to get things in order. Shop owners opening their doors to their first customers of the day.

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Ronda, Spain

It took us some circling to find a parking place, and after staying very patient, we finally found one. The streets of Ronda are much like San Francisco. Giant hills that almost seem vertical when you have to walk up them. Parking the 5-speed Hyundai wasn’t a problem for me on the extremely tight city streets, but be prepared to parallel park like a boss.

Puente Nuevo & El Tajo Gorge

The first adventure on the agenda is to explore the city on foot. We had heard of an awesome hike to do before it got too hot. You may never have heard the name but there’s a good chance you’ve seen a picture of the Puente Nuevo, an 18th-century structure that spans the 120-metre-deep El Tajo Gorge between the citadel and newer part of the town. It’s one of the most impressive sights in Spain.

But before we started our journey, we walked through Alameda del Tajo. A beautiful park surrounded by lush trees and a steep drop off. This was undoubtedly the best view in town, hectares of olive oil fields below and mountains in the distant background. I could’ve stood here for hours just admiring and watching. And can you believe it, I didn’t take a picture for the ‘gram?!

As we crossed over the Puente Nuevo bridge to the other side, we found the trail head going down one of the cobblestone streets.

The hike was not very long to the viewpoint and going down is always easier than coming up. The bridge took over 40 years to build and claimed over 50 brave soles. There are many viewpoints to see Puente Nuevo, but we wanted to see it from below. So, we started at the top and worked our way down, following the dirt, rocks and sand as it twisted and turned down the cliffside.

Traveler Tip: You should allow for at least twice the amount of time coming back up, as going down. So, if the hike down takes 30 minutes, expect it to take 45min -1hr to hike back up. This is important information if it start to get dark, there are no lights on the path.

The landscape is absolutely stunning. If you look closely, you can see the waterfall that leads into the cascading rocks in the foreground of the left picture. above. How they built the bridge into the side of two canyons back during that time period just baffles me. It’s no wonder people died from it, it looks impossible to build today, even with modern machinery.

The Pedro Romero Festival
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Pedro Romero Festival – Ronda, Spain

Every September, feria season in Andalusia ends with the spectacular Pedro Romero Festival in Ronda, a joyful and colorful week-long celebration that culminates in a prestigious bullfight. And we just so happen to be there during this week, it was totally unplanned and wonderfully delightful.

Why Pedro Romero? Ronda’s annual festival takes its name from one of the town’s most famous sons. Pedro Romero (1754–1839) was a hugely successful bullfighter, or torero, and is said to have taken on almost 5,600 bulls during his career without sustaining any serious injuries. In this superhuman feat, he was surely aided by luck (every torero needs a little luck) but also by his first-class bullfighting genes. Romero’s grandfather, Francisco, is credited with creating many of the bullfighting traditions we know today. In the 18th century, it was Francisco Romero (1700–63) who first faced a bull on foot, rather than on horseback, and who developed the use of the dark red cloth (the muleta) to provoke the bull’s charges.

Pedro Romero – Ronda, Spain

It was not until 1954, however, that the festival celebrated today was really born. That year, the famous bullfighter Cayetano Ordóñez (the founder of Ronda’s other great bullfighting dynasty) hint upon the notion of a celebration that would combine the bicentennial anniversary of Pedro Romero’s birth, a bullfight, the annual feria and a celebration of the art of Francisco de Goya (1746–1828).

Ronda’s Pedro Romero Festival is the only festival in the world to be named after a bullfighter.

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Antonio Ordoñez – Pedro Romero Festival Founder – Ronda, Spain
Where to Eat in Ronda With a View

If you’re looking for a great view and some good food, head over to Casa Santa Pola. It was here that we were able to grab an outside dining table, Sangria and a meal to hold us over to dinner time.

Check out this view!

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Casa Santa Pola – Ronda, Spain

Can’t forget the gelato too from “Oh! My – Ice Cream, Cakes & Coffee”

gelato in ronda spain
Ronda, Spain
Where to Stay in Ronda Spain

If you’re into boutique hotels with an amazing view and a good set of amenities, book Catalonia Reina Victoria. For under $150US, this fabulous hotel located just blocks away from the the city citer, is a great choice. The room was a touch of modern and a splash of boutique. The king bed was super comfy and the shower/steam room was perfect at the end of the day.

The pool caught my eye on the way in so we dropped off our luggage in the room and made our way out back. Tell me this isn’t a nice way to end a long day!

Catalonia Reina Victoria has a cozy à la carte restaurant, TV lounge, conference facilities, a cafeteria and a bar. The hotel also has a parking lot. Many hotels in Spain do not offer parking, this is one of the few in Ronda.

The hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria is settled in a unique environment, between a lovely pine forest in the middle of the town, very close to Ronda’s landmarks and the famous Tajo de Ronda.

The cotton candy sunset was the best we had seen on our trip so far as we enjoyed the complimentary wine from the 1906 Victorian style terrace.

sunset in ronda spain
Ronda, Spain

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

I think we made a fantastic decision in choosing Ronda, but that’s just me. What do you think?

The Most Dangerous Hike – Caminito del Rey, Spain

If only we could’ve enjoyed the cozy King size bed at Catalonia Reina Victoria just a little bit longer. But no, we were roughly 45min away from our next destination and it was already 6:30am. Quickly, we had to pack up and zip out the door.

I had heard of a hike only few had successfully completed many years ago, Caminito del Rey. The drive in was stunning as we drove up, down and around the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park. Right before we reached a set of curvy switchback roads, we got to drive over the Conde del Guadalhorce Reservoir. The lake was so peaceful and undisturbed, it was beautiful.

We booked our tour through But honestly, I’m just going to say up front that I did not enjoy the guided tour. That may have just been my personal experience, maybe you will have better luck at a different time of the year. I would’ve MUCH rather went at our own pace. Parking, checking in and waiting to walk to the front gates was no problem.

However, once we were at the front gates, we waited and waited and waited and…. (well, you get it). We waited over an hour to get in for a tour we booked months in advanced, that cost us $66.50 per person. This was not cheap and it was one of the most dis-organized tours I’ve ever been apart of.

There was a red flag in the beginning when the convenient store only had one bathroom for the 40 sorry souls that were standing and waiting to check in. No bueno!

Anyways, I think it would be best if you watch this quick video on our adventure as it tells a way better story than I could put in words!

Here are some pictures from the hike.

The tour concluded, and lucky for them they were giving away cerveza’s (beer). I felt a little better afterwards. But, there was one more catch. Since it’s a one way hike, and when hiking you don’t bring a lot of valuable things with you, we had no money. Which we thought was no problem. Why would we need money if we already paid for the tour and what could we buy hundreds of feet above a river canyon?

Ah, but you see there was a problem with this thought… because it was a one-way hike, we needed a lift back to base. Of course we thought this was included in the fee for the tour. We were so wrong.

Luckily, there was a nice person behind us in the bus line that paid for our “ticket” back to base. We were so very grateful to them as we would’ve been walking back until nightfall. It was a 15-20min bus ride back to our car.

Caminito del Rey to Granada Spain

We left Caminto del Rey in our review mirror and started heading to Granada just two hours away.

On the road again!

Map of Andalucia, Spain
Map of Andalucia, Spain

Our time on the road was spent enjoying the Spanish country side as we passed local farmland while blasting some of our new favorite spanish pop tunes on the radio. Once we made it to Granada mid-afternoon, after numerous wrong way turns down one-way mini cooper sized alleyways, we were finally able to find our AirBnb.

As with any accommodation, location is the most important. Usually it’s worth it to pay a little more for a superior location. Location is everything when you’re going to be doing a lot of walking.

Our AirBnb at Apartamentos Gomérez 39 was in the perfect location, just steps outside of the Alhambra. The market’s, shopping and restaurants were only a couple of blocks away as well.

AirBnb near The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain
AirBnb near The Alhambra – Granada, Spain

Did I mention we were absolutely starving since we left Caminito del Rey? HANGRY!!

Where to Eat in Granada Spain

After strolling back from our parking space, we found a joint that looked promising to eat called Los Bandios Urban BBQ. This was a super cool and trendy little hole in the wall (the good kind) cafe. The owner was chill, they had beer and BBQ. I was already loving it.

Just look at the tender juiciness with fresh cheese melting over french bread! The beer was solid and I could’ve stayed there awhile testing all of them… but I didn’t. Next time!

Linner – Late lunch/early dinner

As our linner digested, we took a stroll down the streets of Calle Escudo del Carmen, Calle Lepanto and Calle Mariana Pineda to see what souvenirs, trinkets and restaurants we could try later.

The markets were atmospheric and full of souvenirs, tasty treats and local produce. If you’re looking for some take home items, this would be the spot to get them. Barcelona was expensive and Seville was right behind it. As we moved to the south of the country, we noticed the expenses were going down for almost everything, souveniours included.

We found ourselves getting lost in the alleys and streets, but in the best way. Literally, we were just wandering, exploring and excited to see what was around every corner of the city.

Mirador de Los Carvajales

We ended stumbling upon Mirador de Los Carvajales. Mirador de Los Carvajales is located in the lower Albayzín, due to its location, located between the Cuesta de San Gregorio and Calle San Juan de los Reyes , it is one of the most intimate and least visited viewpoints in the neighborhood. The viewpoint is great because it overlooks The Alhambra and at sunset, its golden colors really shine through.

Mirador de Los Carvajales Granada, Spain
Mirador de Los Carvajales – Granada, Spain

The Plaza and the viewpoint refer, in their name, to one of the most influential noble families of Granada in the 15th and 16th centuries. Los Carvajales have their origins in the province of León. The branch of this ancestry surname, which arrived in Granada at the time of the Castilian conquest, came from the towns of Valderas and Valencia de Don Juan .

Our journey continued down the streets of Granda to grab a sunset view. Little did we know we stumbled upon the best view in the city at El Huerto de Juan Ranas. El Huerto de Juan Ranas is a pricey rooftop eatery with good wine and a breathtaking view. The menu and price of tapas was not our style but it may fancy you.

We could not get over this view of The Alhambra while we sipped on our drinks.

The Alhambra Palace Granada, Spain
The Alhambra Palace – Granada, Spain

Speaking of The Alhambra, that was our plan the very next morning. But first, we had to get back to our hotel for a quick night cap.

Comment down below with who you would love to enjoy this incredible view with!

The Alhambra in Granada Spain

Drawn by the allure of the Alhambra, many visitors head to Granada unsure of what to expect. What they find is a gritty, compelling city where serene Islamic architecture and Arab-flavoured street life go hand in hand with monumental churches, old-school tapas bars and counterculture graffiti art.

When I envisioned coming to Granada, I pictured a medieval-Moorish village in the middle of nowhere. What I experienced on first arrival was the exact opposite. As we sat in traffic a few miles out from the city center, I was surprised by my surroundings. Chain restaurants, high rise buildings, neighborhoods – much like in the Western Hemisphere.

It wasn’t until we got to cobblestone streets were were getting so used to and the Moorish city center that I felt like I was back in Spain. Granda appeared to be unusual and was the first city on this trip where I felt like I was back home for a minute. I didn’t like it…

The Alhambra Palace Granada, Spain
The Alhambra – Granada, Spain

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

To Granada’s credit, maybe I just didn’t spend enough time there. We only spent a little under 24 hours and maybe, just maybe, that’s our bad. Some day, I shall come back and give Granada another shot at a longer stay. But, no trip to Granada would be the same without visiting The Alhambra.

The Alhambra Palace Granada, Spain
The Alhambra – Granada, Spain

For around $45-60US per person, you can get a small guided group tour. We used to book our reservation and you can do the same below. Plan to spend closer to $60US if you want to skip the line, which I highly recommend. You don’t want to waste the day standing or sitting in line, just to get in.

The Alhambra Palace Granada, Spain
The Alhambra – Granada, Spain

Over two million people visit each year and attendance averages are around 8,500 people per day. The attraction gets very crowed so it’s also recommend to get a very early time slot. The third reason to book ahead and pay extra for skip-the-line entrance is, the heat. It can get very hot in Granada during the summer months so booking a ticket in advanced and at an early time, will let you experience the palace in the early morning when it’s still cool.

As I said on the previous page, our AirBnb was just steps from the fortress. All we needed was a 10 minute alarm to get us up and out of bed to meet our 8am group.

Enough chitter-chatter, onto the action inside.

The Alhambra was so called because of its reddish walls (in Arabic, («qa’lat al-Hamra’» means Red Castle). It is located on top of the hill al-Sabika, on the left bank of the river Darro, to the west of the city of Granada and in front of the neighborhoods of the Albaicin and of the Alcazaba

It’s location is strategic, with a view over the whole city and the meadow (la Vega) below, To the north is the river Darro and to the south is the valley of al-Sabika. The street Cuesta del Rey Chico resides on the eastern side. The Cuesta del Rey Chico is also the border between the neighborhood of the Albaicin and the gardens of the Generalife, located on top of the Hill of the Sun (Cerro del Sol). 

The Alhambra Palace Granada, Spain
Granada, Spain

Speaking of strategic strategy… what better way to start off the afternoon after a long walk with two scoops of cold gelato in a handmade waffle cone?!

gelato in granada spain
Granada, Spain
On the Road, Again, to Malaga Spain

Surprise, surprise, we were on the road again! The drive from Granada to Malaga was a good one. We drove down Highway E-902, just West of the Sierra Nevada National Park. The Park looked flourishing with floral and untouched by humankind. Once we reached the fork in the road down south, we took A-7 to head back West. There were so many tunnels that we drove through. These tunnels were carved into the huge rolling hills of Southern Spain. Lush plantation on one side and ocean on the other, it was a sight to see and one we very much enjoyed. If you’d like to keep track of our road map, take a look below of our route.

Map of Andalucia Road Trip, Spain
Andalucia Road Trip – Spain

I had a beach spot I wanted to checkout in Nerja called La Caleta de Maro. So, a quick detour off the highway and we were handing the gentleman on the side of the road (very odd) a few euros to pass and park near the beach. The beach was still a couple of miles down the road. Who knows who these gentleman were, but we paid them anyway to avoid any confrontation. As the road narrowed and zig-zagged down the hill, we felt the sea breeze outside of the car window. We knew we were close!

After parking up a steep incline and changing inside of the car into our bathing suits, we grabbed our bottle of wine and headed to the beach. The beach had dark, coarse sand and it was full of more pebbles and stone, rather than sand. There was a shack where you could rent kayaks and paddle boards but the ocean was too choppy. My original thought was that we could rent a kayak and kayak over to the waterfall of Cala Barranco de Maro.

Cala Barranco de Maro Nerja, Spain
Cala Barranco de Maro – Nerja, Spain

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

This waterfall was a quick 15 minute paddle, but not today. It would’ve been almost impossible, so we didn’t attempt it. Nevertheless, it was still nice to lay and relax on the beach for a little while to break up the drive.

Arriving in Málaga, Spain

We arrived in Malaga with high spirits. As the town was starting to pick up mid-afternoon, we ended up parking on the sidewalk (which we did not know until we started getting very peculiar looks) to check in for our reservation. Something to note for this particular stay; The reception desk was at a different location than the studio apartment. After sorting out where the condo was located, we paid to park the car for a couple of days at a nearby parking garage, as we wouldn’t be needing it until our final departure from Malaga Airport.

Soho Boutique Museo – Malaga, Spain

Soho Boutique Museo was a beautiful and modern upscale studio apartment with all the amenities we needed. The mini kitchen made for quick meals and the location was right in between the city center and the beach. For around $100 per night, this studio cannot be beat in price and location. Check out this quick time lapse of the Alcazaba from our balcony!

Alcazaba – Malaga, Spain

As the sun started to set, we took a stroll a few blocks away from our studio to find Casa Lola Taberna. The tapas here were incredible! I paired them with a hometown Malaga brewed beer and it was like magic. Just look at these photos, deliciosos!

After finishing our delicious tapas, we moseyed on over to the famous landmarks in Malaga’s city center like Pirámide de Cristal (The Crystal Pyramid), Catedral de la Encarnación (Cathedral of Incarnation) and Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón (Sacred Heart Church).

Catedral de la Encarnación Malaga, Spain
Catedral de la Encarnación – Malaga, Spain

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

We walked off our tapas until our legs couldn’t walk anymore. Tomorrow was another day and we had no itinerary whatsoever! If you didn’t notice already, the day by day planning and itinerary has got more and more lax as the road trip continues. I did this on purpose since the first 3 days were really planned out because of the surprise engagement.

Do you prefer everything planned or go with the flow?

A Day in Malaga

After we whipped up a quick egg and croissant breakfast at the Soho Boutique Hotel kitchenette, we made our way to the beach.

But first, we stopped at Castillo Gibralfaro. Getting to the castle was no easy feat. As castles go, they are usually up on giant hills. Guess what? We were at the bottom of the hill and the castle was 132 meters above sea level. So, up and up we went. We started from the bottom, now we here!

La Malagueta Bullring in Malaga, Spain
La Malagueta Bullring – Malaga, Spain

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

I’m not complaining of the view, it was breathtaking, but it was already so hot that I needed a change of clothes by the time we made it to the top. I noticed others hiking up the hill that I didn’t think were going to make it. Mothers pushing their children in strollers, elderly people with canes… I just felt bad for these people and want to tell them to not bother and turn around. Ha! Get a cab or something.

Gibralfaro Castle in Malaga, Spain
Gibralfaro Castle – Malaga, Spain

Gibralfaro Castle was built in the 14th century to house troops and protect the Alcazaba, making it the most impregnable fortress in all of Al-Andalus. It was a mere 3.50€ per person to enter and we were glad to pay such a low charge.

The castle has a strategic position, where it can overlook the entire city and bay. It is necessary to think about the imposing image that these fortifications offered in their time, at which time the mountain was completely devoid of vegetation to facilitate defense and avoid ambushes. 

Instagram: @Navigator.Nick

Its only access was through a monumental door, which was accessed from La Coracha and communicated with the barbican that surrounds the entire outer perimeter. It has the typical “corner” door arrangement, open in a large tower that is protected by a double door that cuts through the barbican, and which forms a small courtyard with an area for the guard corps. 

How to Get Around Malaga

After touring the castle and trekking back down the fortress hill, we figured out that the best way to get around was using an electric scooter. It was a bit difficult for both of us to be able to stand on one scooter, but we managed, and got some pretty funny videos from it in the mean time. I had noticed locals doing it throughout the city streets and thought to myself, sure, I can do that too!

I downloaded the “Lime” scooter app and found the closest area that had scooters. Basically, the scooters are clustered on a sidewalk, you pick one out and use the app to “check out” the scooter for a specific time period.

The trick for both of us to ride the one scooter was to push-start the scooter so it would start rolling and both hop on, while applying the throttle ever so slightly.

It took us a few tries to get the scooter working, but once we got it, it was so much fun. We decided to blast down the boardwalk to see what we could find and explore more of Malaga. The boardwalk took us a few miles down the Costa del Sol beach.

Our self-guided scooter tour of Malaga ended at the seaside eatery Chiringuito El Cachalote. The food here was frozen, not fresh, and very salty. I highly recommend a cheap pitcher of Sangria on the beach, but that’s it. Great view, awful food.

You know what I love? Naps on a holiday. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is nothing better than waking up refreshed from a nap. Tired from all the walking so far and our fast food coma, we decided to nap on the beach. Using our backpacks as pillows, while also keeping them from getting stolen, we got some needed shuteye from all the walking.

Traveler Alert: Theft is a problem throughout Spain. Barcelona is really bad and so is Malaga. Keep your belongings in front of you and in your sight at all times. Always be aware of your surroundings.

Feeling refreshed and ready to go, we headed back into town to do some shopping. But, not before coming across this strange but very cool structure! If you know what this is, please leave a comment down below and let us know!

malaga spain
Malaga, Spain

As Amanda shopped around, I got myself some gelato from Gelateria Carte d’Or. Malaga can be hit or miss with shopping. Stay away from the gimmicky souvenir shop items and look for local designer clothing shops and niknaks in the mom and pop type stores.

Low and behold, it was not too much later that our stomachs were telling us to feed them. We stopped at a local pub to try the Paella. Spoiler alert, it was great, but not amazing. Nothing will beat the Paella in Seville.

We took one last walk down a few blocks to really soak in the city that gave us Picasso. Overall, Malaga, has been reborn in recent years. It could still use some cleaning up by revitalizing sidewalks, renovating rundown buildings and beautifying the area near Costa del Sol. The surfer town is fun, with enough pubs to satisfy anybody who wants to have a San Miguel cerveza at any hour of the day. It’s history dates back to 770BC, when the Phoenician’s, not Spaniards, founded the land.

SOHO Boutique Hotel Malaga Spain
View from top floor studio of SOHO Boutique Hotel – Malaga, Spain

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9 Responses to “The Best Spain Road Trip Itinerary

  • This visit looks like a gem! I would love to go – the pictures are gorgeous (even the ice cream cone was tempting ;-))

  • Lovely pictures Nick! Spain looks great and would love to visit next year when this craziness is over.
    Thanks for sharing!

    MagicandBliss | |

    • It’s an amazing country and in so many different ways. I’m not much of a writer, but I tried to put in as much detail as I could without boring you!

  • Thanks for sharing, I loved Barcelona when I visited sounds like you had a lovely trip 🙂

    Nic | Nic’s Adventures & Bakes

    • What was your favorite thing about Barcelona? I actually preferred to be outside of the chaos of the city and enjoy the views and things to do from afar

  • Awesome guide! I lived in Spain for more than 15 years and was actually going to visit Córdoba, Granada and Seville in September but had to postpone it due to Covid. Your tips will definitely come in handy when we finally visit!

    • Excellent choice. I would spend the most time in Seville. Let me know what tips you found most helpful as I will be adding to the guide for years to come. Have you rescheduled your trip?

  • Your pictures are great and for me that lives now in Madrid, I had to have a hard debate to live in Barcelona or Madrid. At the end, Madrid won but Barcelona is such a gem and you portrayed it very well. Thank you for sharing

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