While in Spain, you may as well take in some additional Spanish culture before or after you go to Pamplona! Do as the Spaniards and take in the nightlife, eat your big meal at lunch (menu del dia), take in a flamenco show and visit a few tapas bars at night. Before or after San Fermin, you may want to stop for a night or two in Madrid and/or Barcelona and possibly San Sebastian just an hour north of Pamplona by car or bus.
Take note: Spain is HOT in the summer, especially Andalucia (southern Spain). Seville isn’t called el sarten del mundo for nothing! Spain is a large country that has countless sites to see, and everything pretty spread out. If traveling by train, Madrid is the best hub city from which you can visit places such as Santiago de Compostela, Toledo, Segovia, Salamanca, La Coruña, Granada, Malaga, Cadiz, Córdoba, Seville, Murcia, Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona, Girona, etc. With budget airlines common these days, you can also hop about the country with a Vueling, Air Europa, Spanair, Iberia or Click Air flight. If you only have 7-10 days to explore the country and have never been to Spain, we recommend that you stick with Pamplona, Madrid and Barcelona as a start, and enjoy the slower pace of life Spain has to offer (not to mention the wine and tapas!). We also highly recommend San Sebastian, a beautiful beach-side city just an hour from Pamplona, which is perfect for a day trip.
Barcelona is one our favorite places in the world. It is a uniquely cosmopolitan city that has a buzzing energy that you’ll feel seconds after getting off the plane. The city is Catalan, not Spanish, and you’ll want to note that before getting into too deep of a conversation with a local. Catalan is not only its own unique language, it’s an entire culture that goes back further than Spain itself.
We recommend seeing some of the great local art. Some of the greatest artists of the 20th Century spent time in Barcelona, including Dali, Picasso, Joan Miro and of course, Antonio Gaudi, who inspired most of the modern architecture. You have to visit his masterpiece Sagrada Familia while in town…Parc Guell is also worth a visit.
Several hotels in Barcelona have received international recognition from Conde Nest Traveler Magazine as among the best in Spain:
Upon entering Madrid and exploring the city a bit, you’ll find that it’s much more Spanish than its Catalan counterpart, Barcelona. Madrid is what you think of when you imagine Spain. Dancing, tapas bars, churros, free-flowing red wine and pig legs hanging from most of the bars is what you’ll find in your first jaunt outside your hotel.
Two hotels in Madrid have received international recognition from Conde Nest Traveler Magazine: