Look beyond Barcelona. Here’s where locals travel in Spain – CNBC

Spain is one of the world’s most-visited countries, drawing more than 83 million travelers in 2019, according to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization.

In terms of international arrivals, that makes it second only to France .

But the Spanish are also avid tourists within their own country, with nearly 93% choosing to travel within Spain in the first quarter of 2022, according to Spain’s National Statistics Institute.

From where to eat to new luxury hotels within Madrid and desserts celebrating different saints’ days in Barcelona, Spanish residents told CNBC exactly where they love to go.

Northern Spain 

The spanish language Hotelier Pau Guardans got to know his nation as a child, when their family would spend vacations road-tripping in a red plus white Volkswagen “Kombi” van, a popular bus-style vehicle within the 1970s.

Now, he likes to go on vacation to the Costa Brava region associated with Catalonia on Spain’s northeast coast.

“I might recommend visiting any of its beautiful ‘calas’ [coves] and eating in its ‘chiringuitos’ [beach bars] along with good fish plus rice dishes. In the interior, it is worth discovering the particular magnificent gastronomy of the area with products from the countryside, ” this individual said.

The Val d’Aran in the Pyrenees mountains, a range that runs along the French-Spanish border.
Artur Debat | Moment | Getty Images

Guardans, founder of Unico Hotels, a luxury group that includes the Grand Hotel Central within Barcelona and the Principal This town, recommended consuming at Can Salo , a restaurant in a 16th-century farmhouse within the village associated with Palau-Sator.

Further inland, he or she suggests Eth Triton, a cafe in a valley in the Spanish Pyrenees called the Val d’Aran, for “good food in a family atmosphere — and a good wine cellar! inch

North Spain is also home in order to two from the country’s wines regions. “For autumn trips, without a doubt, I love to visit the wineries in Ribera del Duero or La Rioja, ” Patricia Alonso, a marketer living in Madrid, stated in an email to CNBC.

The particular town of Brinas within the Una Rioja area within northern The country of spain. The area has more than 500 wineries, around 80 of which welcome visitors.
Julio Alvarez | Instant | Getty Pictures

For summer, Alonso mentioned she prefers the particular Asturias region across the Bay associated with Biscay, noting the sheltered Playa de Toro beach in the town of Llanes as a particular favorite.

Southern The country

Alonso said the girl also loves the particular south associated with Spain, as well as the province of Cadiz is a favorite, known for the long sandy beaches, whitewashed towns and the sherry made from the vineyards surrounding the city associated with Jerez sobre la Frontera. Cadiz is part of the autonomous community of Andalucia, the region most visited by Spaniards.

Alonso suggested the popular windsurfing seaside Valdevaqueros, close to the city associated with Tarifa, the particular southernmost point of Europe. She furthermore likes Bolonia, a wide curve associated with pale sand along with dunes, as well as the remains of Baelo Claudia, an ancient Roman town right by the beach.

Bolonia seaside, near to the city associated with Tarifa, the most southerly stage in European countries.
Miguel Sotomayor | Second | Getty Images

The Cadiz province is also a pick with regard to Fabian Gonzalez, the creator of journey conference Forward_MAD whose parents live close to the region’s capital city, which is also called Cadiz.

“Cadiz state has probably the best white-colored fine sand and crystal water seashores within the Iberian Peninsula, as well as an incredible fish-based gastronomy. When within Cadiz province, a must is Casa Bigote restaurant, in Sanlucar de Barrameda, where you can try the best prawns in the world, inch Gonzalez informed CNBC simply by email.

Gonzalez also recommended the particular bluefin tuna in Taberna sobre el Campero within Zahara de los Atunes, a fishing community close to an hour’s drive southern associated with Cadiz town.

On the southeast coastline, the town of Javea in the state associated with Alicante is a pick regarding Marina Valera, a social media manager residing in This town. “Although it’s very crowded in the summer, Javea has a landscape that is really worth the visit — it inspired the particular paintings of the famous The spanish language painter Joaquin Sorolla, plus Cristobal Balenciaga spent his last times there, ” the lady told CNBC.

“It doesn’t have the usual flat landscape that you might think because of the Montgo, a mountain that will dominates the skyline intended for miles about, inch she added.

Enjoying paella from the sea is a must, Valera stated. The particular chiringuito Montgo di Bongo is right on the beach, and its website boasts daily opening hours of 10: 30 a. m. in order to sunrise. Valera suggested making a reservation well in advance.

The seaside cove Cala Granadella in Alicante will be popular with Spanish people. Locals advise going early in the morning or even off-season to avoid crowds.
Sergio Formoso | Time | Getty Pictures

“Right next to Montgo pada Bongo, La Siesta … is the place to see and be seen with gorgeous individuals, fancy decorations and dance music. If you prefer something more down to earth, my favorite is [Taverna] Octopus, a bar located on El Arenal beach along with rock songs plus great vibes, ” the girl additional.

Valera’s tip to get avoiding seaside crowds of people? “I’d suggest heading super earlier! And of course, September is better than July and August … I also choose going to Benisero beach: as it is a pebble seaside, it is not as comfortable as the exotic beach associated with Este Arenal, but there are fewer people. inch

What to do within Madrid

Alonso suggested Matadero This town , around the banks from the River Manzanares in Spain’s funds, an arts development in a former slaughterhouse plus cattle market. The girl described this because having a “typical The spanish language environment, ” in which site visitors can enjoy a traditional cana — a small glass of beer.

The particular lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid. The hotel, which is a lot more than 100 years old, reopened after a three-year renovation within April 2021.
Cristina Arias | Cover | Getty Images

Gonzalez, who lives around 20 kilometers (12. 4 miles) outside This town, loves to stay in the town a couple of times a year, “as if I were a traveler, inch he mentioned, trying out hotels such as The Edition and the Four Seasons – both new to the city — or the recently restored Mandarin Asian Ritz.

“Del Prado or Thyssen museums, the particular Musicals associated with Gran Via or even an authentic flamenco show in El Corral sobre una Moreria are my greatest recommendations to enjoy the vibrant city like a local, ” this individual said.

The particular Museo Del Prado holds Spain’s national art collection, while the nearby Thyssen-Bornemisza Nationwide Museum houses Old Masters and also modern artwork. Este Corral de la Moreria offers nightly flamenco shows with dinner options.

The Palacio Real (Royal Palace) seen in the background within Madrid.
Jorg Greuel | Stone | Getty Pictures

“Having brunch from Jardines sobre Sabatini aparthotel, which has one of the most stunning views from the town, is a must, inch Gonzalez added. The particular hotel’s roof terrace overlooks Madrid’s Royal Palace and has its own classic car museum.

How to proceed in Barcelona

Barcelona, where hotelier Guardans life, is very favored by overseas guests. To get oriented, he or she recommended seeing it from a high viewpoint to see that it’s “a little city surrounded by 2 hills as well as the sea — with its aged Roman one fourth as well as spectacular modernist ‘Ensanche’ district. ”

Ensanche, or Eixample, is usually notable for its octagonal block structure and grid-like appearance with a diagonal avenue running through this, while Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is home to the particular continues to be of the Roman Temple of Augustus.

Residential buildings within Barcelona’s Eixample area.
Alexander Spatari | Minute | Getty Images

The Palau Nacional, or even National Art gallery associated with Catalan Art, has a rooftop patio included in its 2-euro ($2) entry price.

“Barcelona is a city that can be discovered very well on foot. It has a human scale, as well as its architecture is the best open-air art gallery.   I would recommend getting lost via the lovely streets, full of history, inch Guardans stated.

Several saints’ days are celebrated in Barcelona, and each comes with a commemorative cake.

During the festival of Sant Jordi (St. George), panaderias — or bakeries — are usually filled with pastries decorated with the red plus yellow from the Catalan flag, for example. Guardans suggested Una Colmena within the Medieval Quarter, which was founded close to 1849, or maybe the pastry shop Mauri, within Eixample, using its 1920s painted ceiling.

The particular Sant Medir Festival, known as a feast associated with sweets, is definitely famous upon March 3. Meanwhile, the Revetlla de Sant Joan, recognized on midsummer’s eve (June 23 in 2023), can be marked simply by bonfires as well as a bread-style wedding cake, known as a coca sobre Sant Joan, which is made with candied fruit.

“You will have no choice yet to come back to the city to continue savoring their exquisite sweets! ” Guardans mentioned.

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