Bucket list: 16 brilliant things to do once in your life in Spain
Spain is just waiting to be explored. Photo: Rvdo. Kaskajales / Flickr
The Local brings you the ultimate Spanish bucket list.
Visit the Alhambra
The Moorish fortress in Granada is Spain’s most-visited tourist attraction for a reason; the stunning building has some of the best-preserved examples of Islamic architecture in the world and is, along with the nearby Generalife gardens, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Marvel at Guernica
If you had to see only one painting in Spain make it Picasso´s masterpiece in Madrid´s Reina Sofia Museum. The Spanish artist was inspired to paint the black and white depiction of the bombings of the Basque city of Guernica after reading a graphic description of the carnage that followed by British journalist George Steer.
The undisputed national food of Spain, you have to try some authentic jamón iberico from acorn-fed pigs who have been lovingly raised to make the very finest hams. Marvel as the expert ham-cutters slice wafer thin slices of the melt-in-the-mouth meat.
Visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
The Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum is a modern architectural masterpiece. Sitting on the banks of the Nervion River, the museum helped garner the former industrial powerhouse of Bilbao with a new reputation as a centre of art and culture.
Hike the Camino de Santiago
The pilgrimage route leading to the shrine of St. James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain has been popular with walkers for centuries. Nowadays the route is popular with both the faithful and non-religious, attracting over 200,000 walkers in 2014 alone. Look out for the St. James´shells – the symbol of the route – which are located along the way.
Kill the night in Madrid
Photo: Jose Maria Cuellar/Flickr
"Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night," Ernest Hemingway famously said of the Spanish capital, renowned for its hedonistic nightlife. Madrid has some of the most bars per capita of any country in Europe, so you’ll be spoilt for choice as you explore what the city has to offer.
Eat at Spain's best restaurant
A dish from El Celler de Can Roca. Photo: Robert Young/Flickr
If you are lucky enough to get a table then tick off a visit to Spain's best restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona. The three Michelin star Catalan restaurant, owned by three brothers, is number three on the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards, but held the top spot in 2015.
Winter sports in the Sierra Nevada
Photo: Álvaro Salas Ordóñez / Flickr Creative Commons.
Spain might be famous for its sun. sea and sangria but you could soon be adding snow to that list. Hit the powder at Europe’s most southerly ski resort, the Sierra Nevada, near Granada. The resort is the highest in Spain and the ski season can last from late November until early May.
Eat pintxos in San Sebastián
San Sebastián in the Basque Country is the home of pintxos – tiny morsels of delicious food usually on top of a slice of baguette. The city is world-famous as the culinary capital of Spain and is not to be missed. From hearty traditional pintxos on bar tops to some of the most exciting modern cuisine – you’ll find it all in San Sebastián.
Wine tasting in La Rioja
Spanish wine is among the most underrated in the world and there’s no better way to learn more about it than to go wine tasting in Spain’s most famous wine-making region: La Rioja. The Ebro valley is scattered with vineyards and is a perfect destination for gourmets and wine buffs.
Throw tomatoes at La Tomatina
One of Spain’s most iconic and messiest festivals, La Tomatina attracts thousands of participants every year to the town of Buñol for nothing more than a giant food fight exclusively featuring tomatoes. Make sure you come prepared – goggles are a must!
Watch an Easter Parade
Spaniards love Easter and every town and city has at least one major Easter Parade, often several throughout Holy Week. Members of religious brotherhoods march through the streets in the traditional robes and conical hoods carrying huge statues of Jesus. Some of the most elaborate and exciting parades to watch take place in southern Spanish cities such as Seville and Malaga.
Watch authentic flamenco in Andalusia
It might be a Spanish cliché but authentic flamenco is an immersive, dramatic and unforgettable experience. You can do no better than watching flamenco in the region where it was born: Andalusia. Be it in Granada or during the Feria de Abril in Seville, experiencing flamenco is a must when visiting Spain.
Discover Gaudi's Barcelona
Photo: Juan Salmoral/Flickr
You can’t visit Barcelona without learning about its most famous son, who left an indelible mark on the city – Antoni Gaudi. Visit the still-unfinished Sagrada Familia (get there early to beat the crowds) and Park Güell, which looks like it has been based on the house made of sweets in Hansel and Gretel. Climb up to the rooftop of the Casa Milà for great views over the city and marvel at the legacy left by the man who designed the city’s most iconic architecture.
Dream in a piece of history
Parador de Santo Estevo,, Ourense. Photo: parador.es
Spain's state-run hotel chain offers luxury accommodation in some of the most beautiful, unusual and historic buildings across the country. From an old monastery perched in the Galician hills to the fourteenth century Arab fort of Carmona, you are guaranteed an unforgettable stay if you choose a parador.
Cheer on a football team
Spain is football mad and the ultimate experience for any footie fan is to watch one of the big Spanish teams play a home match. Watching Real Madrid at the Bernabeu or Barcelona at Camp Nou is an unforgettable experience – and you’ve really hit the jackpot if you’re in town for El Clásico – when Real Madrid take on Barcelona. The atmosphere is electrifying.
By Jessica Jones