My number one tip for traveling to Spain in July: Bring a motorized fan that sprays water! Both Madrid and Barcelona in July are the epitome of hot, and this is coming from a home grown Texan, where it regularly breaks 100 F.
Despite the heat, enjoying two of Spain’s most vivacious cities is a breeze (pun intended). With the cities separated by a short and sweet 3 hour train, it would be easy to base yourself in one and take a day trip to the other. Or, like I did, it’s great to spend at least one night in each place. For me, I found it best to start in Barcelona.
Barcelona has dozens of great discotecas, but before checking those out, there are at least three must do’s during the day.
1. Font Magica de Montjuic
This gorgeous fountain puts on a water show every evening, with lights and movement synced to blaring music. While I was there, the musical repertoire included “Libre Soy”- the Spanish version of Frozen’s “Let if Go” – and Route 66, as well as some other hit American classics. Yes, this does mark the fountain as an American tourist attraction, but it’s still a must do. The incredible colors against the blue night sky, and the excited atmosphere of people from around the world singing along to 80’s American classics is too unique to skip!
2. Casa Batllo
Antoni Gaudi, an architectural genius who truly created art with his architecture, has buildings scattered across the city. My personal favorite is Casa Batllo. You can tour this inside of the house, which has been kept in great condition; I’d recommend saving your money to go crazy in the gift shop.
3. La Sagrada Familia
I actually saw this church for the first time about six years ago, and I never would have believed I’d be back so soon. It was under construction then, and the church is still under construction now (although a different part, from what I can tell). Despite the scaffolding, this church is another incredible view of Gaudi’s genius. The park nearby is lovely, as well.
In Madrid, it’s somehow even hotter than in Barcelona, especially since Madrid is landlocked. Nonetheless, strap on your ginormous hat and sunglasses, dress in as little clothing as is decent, and sally forth into the bustling city. Amidst stunning architecture and lush green spaces, these are my three must do’s for Madrid.
1. The El Rastro open market
This is a huge, open air market that is seemingly endless. On offer is a mix of genuine antiques, boutique clothing, various qualities of jewelry, kitschy souvenirs, and a smattering of other flea market goods. My personal favorite part was when I discovered a kind photographic duo, with an antique camera, who developed prints on the spot of you dressed in 1940’s classic wear.
2. Plaza Mayor
This square is one of the most famous in Madrid. It features a fountain, a monument, and quaint cafes. Most days, various characters can be found in the square to take your photo with for a few euros. It’s a great place to enjoy a croissant while you people watch!
3. Town Hall and Observation Deck
The Town Hall in Madrid is a gorgeous building, with intricately shaped architecture inside and out. For two euros, you can take the elevator to the sixth floor observation deck for a panoramic view of the city.
There are plenty of other activities and sights in Spain to keep you entertained, these are simply my top three’s. Go to a local bar, munch on some tapas, seek out a local flamenco joint. Stroll through local parks and dip your feet in the fountain. And, of course, try to pick up a bit of Spanish! Adios!