This past October, I was able to visit Spain for the first time – visiting both Barcelona and Madrid.
We started our trip in Barcelona, the capital of the state of Catalonia. As seen in the photo, Barcelona is on the Northern East Coast of Spain.
The first place we visited was the famous Sagrada Família, which I definitely recommend. I also recommend buying tickets in advance as well as for buying the tour with the addition of the tour of the Tower of the Nativity.
Inside the Sagrada Família itself, it was absolutely stunning. The architecture was very aesthetically pleasing and the stained glass allowed for some amazing colors and light. I can’t put into words the architectural beauty of this massive church.
From the Tower of the Nativity, I was able to see spectacular views of the entire city. Just the art and architectural beauty of this building and the city itself was amazing. We went in the morning and depending on the side of the tower, the lighting was not always ideal, but it did create a nice soft light.
Additionally, we visited Montjuïc, which I highly recommend due to the great views of the city.
Other than these two main sights, I would also definitely recommend just walking around the city and visiting the Cathedral of Barcelona, Placa de Catalunya, and Palau de la Música (all pictured below).
While wandering, we were also able to visit some of the buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí: Casa Milà (pictured below) and Casa Batlló, as well as the Gothic Quarter, all of which were beautiful and unique places to visit.
Girona, Pals & Calella de Palafrugell
On a day trip out of Barcelona we were also able to visit Girona, Pals, and Calella de Palafrugell.
Girona, which is about 100 km northeast of Barcelona. Girona has a rich history, being captured 7 times and gone under 25 seiges, resulting in diverse styles of architecture and culture.
Within the city, by wandering around you are able to find a selection of eateries, shops and beautiful architecture. I recommend trying to see the Jewish Quarter and the Independence Square.
We then visited Pals, just east of Girona. It was a small town, but had lovely views. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal, but it was still very pleasant to walk around and just explore this city.
Lastly, we visited Calella de Palafrugell, which is part of the Costa Brava, which is beautiful.
As it was October, we were visiting in the off season meaning many of the shops and eateries were closed. The water was also quite cold, and we were the only ones on the beach. For this reason, depending if you would rather be more isolated or more around others on vacation, October may not have been the best time to visit. Even still, the beauty of this coast was obvious and the views of the water were beautiful. I would have loved to been able to spend more time here.
After Barcelona and the day-trip, we travelled by train to Madrid, located in central Spain. It is also the capital city.
We began by visiting the Royal Palace, and then wandering around the city and surrounding park area. However, the weather was not ideal, so I was not able to take many photos.
We also visited Buen Retiro Park, Parque de la Montaña, Temple of Debod, and the Gran Vía, all of which I recommend having a walk around.
Toledo & Segovia
Like from Barcelona, we also took a day trip from Madrid to Toledo and Segovia.
Toledo, an old walled city 70 km south of Madrid, has also be influenced by many people, most notably the Christians, Muslims, and Jews (hence it being called the “City of Three Cultures”).
When walking into the walls of the city, there are great views across the bridge and of the Alcázar in the distance, which I would also recommend visiting as it gives great views (both shown in the first two photographs above). Additionally, I would recommend visiting the Cathedral of Toledo as the architecture is so unique to this gothic style (third photo).
Next, we visited Segovia, which is nearly 100 km north of Madrid – also an ancient city. It hosts medieval walls and Roman churches.
The churches were not the only lasting impression the Romans had on this historic town as they are most famous for their aqueduct. The Aqueduct of Segovia is one of the best preserved aqueducts today with more than 170 arches. It is also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Seeing such a large structure made so many years ago still standing strong seemed like we were being transported back to this time, and was very awe-inspiring to be in the presence of.
Other than the aqueduct, I also recommend visiting the Cathedral of Segovia and the the Alcázar of Segovia (both below).
From the Alcázar, you could visit the different rooms inside and outside (the gardens) and had spectacular views of the city.
Although we were only in this beautiful country for less than a week, I was stunned by it’s beautiful architecture, art, and rich history behind each place we visited. It was so amazing to be able to visit so many different and unique places in so little time, and I really can’t wait until I am able to visit once again in the future.
All photos are taken by me. Please do not reproduce without credit.