It’s gut-check time my travel-loving homies! Because, I have just one question for you! Are you ready? Are you ready for this beyond epic, slightly long-winded, solo travel Spain guide?
Why am I even asking that beyond silly questions? Because of course, you’re ready! Especially since Spain, and the Spanish Canary Islands, are one of the best destinations for solo travellers out there.
I think I just heard a resounding, super enthusiastic, “Ole!” in the background. Especially since I’m sure that you’re well aware of all the wicked awesome benefits of solo travel.
Maybe that was just my slightly over-active imagination.
Either way though:
We’re about to swan dive into this beyond comprehensive post about all things solo travel Spain.
And along the way:
You’ll receive some fabulous solo travel safety tips, find out how to get around Spain, learn all about some of the top places to visit in Spain, and even get a nifty little, 10 day Spain itinerary.
The people here at Girl with the Passport (i.e. me) really are that awesome (Now if only I could do a 90’s era, Lisa Frank, Trapper Keeper giveaway to really earn your undying love and devotion. LOL).
All that’s left for your to do is to sit back, relax, and enjoy all of this totally free, expert advice on how to solo travel Spain…in addition to some beyond cringeworthy puns that may make you uber-grateful that you’re not next level awkward like me!
Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high chance that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Solo Travel Spain Basics: Safety Tips
Let’s get the lame, slightly boring AF, but totally necessary solo travel Spain safety tips out of the way first, now shall we?
Because in all honesty:
Spain is SUPER safe.
This country does have a not-so-little problem with pickpockets, scams, and theft.
And nowhere is this more prevalent than in Barcelona, where I myself had my wallet stolen as I was walking through the metro.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t run into this problem in some of Spain’s other major cities, or in various destinations that are a bit more off the beaten path.
Moral of the story? While you solo travel Spain, stay sharp, be vigilant, and always keep an ever-watchful eye on all of your belongings.
And just in case you were wondering, YES!
You should still absolutely solo travel Spain since it is a beyond AMAZING experience.
**It is also worth noting that Catalonia has sought independence from Spain for a long time. So much so that in recent years, there have been several protests and even some violence associated with the Catalonian independence movement in Barcelona (Don’t worry, nothing fatal. Just super enthusiastic Catalonians). However, if you are concerned, always do your research before visiting Catalonia and see if any protests are scheduled or if tensions are particularly high!**
1. Watch out for Pickpockets
This is by far, my NUMBER ONE safety tip for anyone who wants to solo travel Spain!
Because while Spain is an incredibly safe country:
It also has a massive problem with pickpockets and is the one place where I’ve had my wallet stolen (Yeah, Barcelona, I’m looking at you!).
Violent crime is extremely rare, so you really won’t have to worry about anyone doing you bodily harm.
Which is why:
It’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on your belongings.
And If you think you’re starting to get a bit paranoid because you feel like someone is tailing you in a shop, guess what?
You’re not because that very well could be happening.
Take extra care, be a smidge paranoid, and never leave your bags unattended.
Also, never leave your belongings on the back of chairs since someone could just reach in and help themselves to your most valuable possessions.
Always try to keep your bag either on a table or in your lap.
And the same goes for the beach since pickpockets are a HUGE problem there as well!
It’s always a good idea to have a beach buddy who can help keep an eye on your stuff (I know this is hard when you solo travel, but, hey, that’s what hostels are for!).
You could always add a dry bag to your Barcelona packing list and just take your valuables with you into the water.
I would also NOT recommend leaving your cell phone or tablet out on a table since, well, it kind of screams, “Hey! I’m a mildly rich foreigner! Please pillage me!”.
Keep all of your valuable electronics securely tucked away inside your bag!
Truth be told though:
I”m actually next level paranoid and use a designated, uber-cheap, flip phone when I travel.
You know, just in case the wrong someone is watching.
Better safe than sorry has always been my slightly lame, granny-style philosophy.
I also hate to say it:
But thieves in Spain have been known to sometimes slash the straps on bags so that they can quickly and easily get away with whatever’s inside your purse.
Which is why:
I highly recommend any and all Travlon products!
This awesome travel bag company actually uses special, slash-resistant technology, throughout the straps and body of their bags, to help keep your belongings extra secure.
Every single one of their bags also comes with a built-in, RFID blocker that will help protect you from anyone who wants to steal your credit card information electronically!
When I solo travel I always use this anti-theft purse as my carry on since it’s incredibly safe and light, but still large enough to fit all of my non-blogging, travel-related essentials.
When I need a bag that can fit a bit more gear (read: my camera and tripod), I always use this backpack right here.
Because while it may not win any beauty contests, it does have a wonderfully large capacity and helps keep all of my most precious electronics safe.
Let’s say the worst should happen and your stuff does get stolen.
Well, Don’t panic!
I know, I know. That’s really easy to say and incredibly difficult to do, especially as a solo traveler.
But, I get it. I’ve been there. Also:
DO NOT run after them (if you know who it is). I know you may be tempted to channel your inner Wonder Woman before you go off and kick ass and take names.
However, this is 100% not worth it
Because while violent crime is rare, that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen to you if you mess with the wrong person.
Instead of becoming a full-on vigilante, go report them to the police ASAP!
Because while there really isn’t all that much that they can do to help, they can offer you a free transportation to assist you while you get everything sorted out (FYI: Ask for it because they won’t always offer it).
To receive compensation from your insurance company (COUGH, if you don’t have World Nomads Travel Insurance, get a policy today because they are the best!) you’ll actually NEED a crime number from the local police to help prove that a theft really did occur.
And after that?
Well, be sure to cancel all of your debit and credit cards IMMEDIATELY since it gives the thief less time to go crazy and purchase a Porsche with your credit card.
This very situation is also why I never have all of my cash and credit cards on me at any given time.
I always try and leave some backup credit cards/cash at my hotel so that if something does get stolen, I’m not totally out of money until everything gets sorted out with the bank.
Oh, and one more FYI!
Most places in Spain only accept debit cards (or cash) and NOT credit cards.
You definitely don’t need to carry those around with you and can leave them back at your hotel.
And another hot tip for you?
ALWAYS keep your debit/credit card information written down somewhere.
If your debit/credit card does get stolen, you can still access the company’s service number and provide all of the information that you need to cancel your card.
See! I’m a thinker…sometimes.
You can also get even more sage by checking out this list of the best books on Spain ever.
2. Know Your Scams
This is especially true in Barcelona where there are a ton of scams (one of the many things no one tells you about Barcelona).
Like a mind-boggling amount.
Don’t people have anything better to do with their time?
You need to know what to look out for!
Here are three of the most common scams that you should avoid!
1. Card Games
This scam is very popular along Las Ramblas (in Barcelona) but you’ll also find it all across Spain – and throughout much of Europe.
It’s a card trick where individuals use expert, sleight of hand to ensure that YOU lose and that THEY win every single time.
And anyone you see winning?
Yeah, they’re in on the scam and will be splitting their cash with the people who run the card game.
Avoid any seemingly simple card games where you can, “win big bucks” and all will be right with the world.
2. A Bird Craps on Your Shirt (or bag)
Honestly, what has society come to?
Because it’s a real shame when a seemingly good citizen, who informs you that a bird has shat on either you or your bag, is actually scamming you.
Because this scam du jour?
Yup, it’s all about classic misdirection.
Whoever is trying to, “help you out” actually wants you to look away while they rifle through your bag, take your stuff, and run the other way.
If you should ever find yourself in this type of situation, kindly say thank you and EXCUSE YOURSELF.
But whatever you do, do NOT LOOK!
Because yes folks, this is not a drill!
And when you are safely away from this apparent good samaritan, definitely check your shirt.
Because if there IS bird shiz on you, that would be embarrassing AF.
I’m about 99% positive that there won’t be anything there.
Don’t forget the golden rule of solo travel in Spain and always keep an eye on your bag, no matter what (and hold onto it tightly).
3. Tapping on your Car Window
If you’re not driving around then this probably won’t be too much of an issue.
Still, be vigilant of this scam just in case your encounter it while traveling around in either a taxi or uber.
And now, onwards to this scam of doom, which is also about misdirection.
While you’re at a stoplight, someone will tap on your window and distract you while someone else reaches through the passenger’s side and steals your stuff.
This not-so-nice situation is pretty easy to avoid. Just don’t open your window when someone taps on it.
Be sure to keep all of your windows up and doors securely locked at all times, you know, just to be extra careful.
4. And for the Men?
It’s pretty rare, since I am indeed not a man, that I actually give advice directed specifically at men and not women.
Stranger things (and yes, that was a cheap reference to one of my fave Netflix shows) have been known to happen, so here it is!
So, if a woman approaches you and tries to TICKLE while you’re on Las Ramblas, RUN!
It’s weird AF, but they are NOT hitting on you.
They’re actually feeling for your wallet so that they can expertly separate you from it.
Oh, and if some random man approaches you and tries to show you a cool football (read: soccer) move, just say no thanks and keep it moving.
Because not surprisingly:
He is NOT trying to start up some hot and heavy bromance with you.
He’s actually just trying to distract you so that he can, you guessed it, steal your stuff.
But, now you’re in the know so it’s all good.
3. Don’t look like a Tourist!
I know, I know.
You, in fact, ARE a tourist and so, this can be incredibly challenging to do!
If you can, try not to strut around with your pink sequence fanny pack, high top sneakers, selfie stick, and camera the size of Jupiter.
Because in most major cities:
Looking like a total tourist will put you right at the top of many pickpockets and scammer’s radars.
To avoid putting yourself in a spotlight that you never want to be in, here are a few simple tricks.
- Avoid looking at maps in public (not hard to do since most people now use Google maps anyway).
- Don’t talk too loudly and risk giving away your non-Spanishness (totally a word, Shhh!).
- Keep the ‘I love NYC’ or ‘Columbia University’ hoodies at home since this is a dead give away that you’re a foreigner.
- And for other tips on how to look, act, and dress more like a local, check out this super helpful post on what to pack and how to blend in while in Barcelona.
4. Do NOT Discuss Regionalism
You can legit get in big trouble for referring to someone by the wrong nationality or bringing up politics.
We’re talking get into a fight kind of trouble, not legal trouble, FYI.
While you may think you know what you’re talking about or that you’re being super supportive, just don’t do it.
Because in all honesty:
It’s an incredibly sensitive topic that you’ll want to stay far, far away from.
What you should know is that most Catalans don’t consider themselves Spanish (the Basque would prefer not to be, as well).
And that while Spanish is spoken by 99% of Spaniards, it isn’t necessarily their first language.
If you’re still a bit worried about the whole, that’s totally okay because I’ve got you covered.
I talk about all this, and so much more since I never seem to stop writing, in this handy-dandy Barcelona tips and tricks article.
5. Do NOT Discuss Franco and the War
It doesn’t matter if you have an opinion about this period in history and feel like you need to voice it.
Because the scars and realities of the Franco regime are still there and all too real.
Divisions also still exist within the country and aren’t going away any time soon.
Absolutely DO NOT overwhelm anyone with your personal thoughts on this topic.
Because all you will achieve I doing so is losing friends and making people feel incredibly uncomfortable!
Feel free to ask about memorial sites, or for an impromptu history lesson from a close friend.
Just don’t give out your unsolicited personal opinions, plain and simple.
2. Solo Travel Spain Basics: Must-Know Tips
Because I’ve always got your back:
Here are a few miscellaneous Spain solo travel tips to help you get by and have a much more enjoyable experience while in this amazing country.
1. Spain’s Autonomous Regions
Spain is super unique because it has a grand total of seventeen different autonomous regions and two autonomous cities in Africa.
Yup, feel free to be duly impressed.
But, just in case you have no idea what an autonomous region is, it’s kind of like the different states in the United States.
Except not since you definitely shouldn’t tell someone in Spain that they’re the same thing.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll pretend like they are.
Each autonomous region has it’s own executive and legislative judicial powers.
They also have their own distinct language (sometimes more than one!) and culture.
If you have time during your solo Spain itinerary, definitely try and visit as many of these different regions as possible.
Because they really are all wonderfully unique, making it feel as though you’re entering an entirely different country!
Unceremonious drum roll please, because the 17 autonomous regions of Spain are Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile-La Mancha, Castile and León, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Community of Madrid, Region of Murcia, Navarre, and Valencian Community.
Phew, that was a mouthful!
Oh, and the two autonomous cities are Cueta and Melilla, both of which sit right next door to Morocco.
And while Spain is a fairly peaceful country:
Some of these autonomous regions are definitely making a whole lotta noise because they really want their independence.
“Which ones?” You may rightly wonder.
Well, none other than the Catalan regions (Catalonia, Valencian Community, and Balearic Islands), the Basque, and the Galicians.
And why is this information important to you?
Well, it’s generally a good idea NOT to refer to everyone as Spanish in these regions.
Yeah, doing so could more than a little offend someone.
Instead, try and refer to locals in these areas as Catalan, Basque, and Galician, respectively.
Like I mentioned earlier, when traveling to Barcelona, always do your research and see what protests are scheduled before you plan your Barcelona itinerary.
Don’t get me wrong though, you can still definitely visit during a protest.
You’ll just wanna do your research and steer clear of any areas where demonstrations are being held. But some areas are pretty safe like Andalusia, which features some easy hiking trails for beginners in Andalucia.
And in Basque Country?
Thankfully, tensions have de-escalated considerably since 2010.
Previously, the ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or “Basque Homeland and Liberty”) was actually classified as a terrorist group and was incredibly active in the area.
The group actually declared a ceasefire in 2010 and dissolved entirely in 2018.
Generally speaking, the Basque country is now totally safe. It’s also incredibly beautiful and wonderfully welcoming to tourists of every variety.
Translation? Yeah, you should visit right now!
Especially Bilbao, which is an unbelievably diverse place that is a must-see for anyone planning a solo trip to Spain!
2. Just Say No to Airbnb
While we all love saving money on accommodations and using Airbnb to do so, booking an Airbnb in Spain is a BIG no-no.
Many Spanish cities actually don’t allow people to rent out AirBnbs, especially in must-see Spain holiday destinations like Barcelona.
Well, generally speaking, tourists will pay WAY more to rent out an apartment than a local will.
Airbnb has inadvertently forced many locals out into the very limits of the city, where rent prices aren’t quite as steep.
After all (as the corporations say):
Why rent to locals when you can charge tourists more?
Which is why:
In Barcelona in particular, this is definitely a lot of resentment towards tourists.
But on the whole:
Everyone in Spain is really lovely and won’t give you any problems.
You just need to be the uber-responsible tourist that I know you are by staying away from Airbnb and using hostels instead!
Hostels are an infinitely better way to meet like-minded travelers while going it alone in Spain.
3. Unlucky Tuesday the 13th!
Fun factoid for ya!
In Spain, Tuesday the 13th is unlucky – NOT Friday the 13th!
It’s considered incredibly bad luck to plan anything on a Tuesday the 13th in Spain.
This means no weddings, no funerals, no nothing!
Some people won’t even go outside on Tuesday the 13th!
If you happen to be in Spain during a Tuesday the 13th, you
MIGHT find more things closed than usual.
Some museums in Spain are regularly closed on Tuesdays to actively avoid this dreaded day of doom.
Do check beforehand to see what will and will not be open since many European museums are often closed on Mondays too.
You also definitely don’t want to invite any of your new friends out on Tuesday the 13th since they probably won’t RSVP.
3. Transportation for Solo Travel in Spain
Good news travel fans!
Spain has an excellent public transportation network.
This means that you now have one less thing to stress about during your solo travels through Spain.
Because not gonna lie:
Solo travel really can sometimes be hella stressful.
I’d rather not fly. At least if I absolutely don’t have to.
Because between the hassle of getting to and from the airport, the excess baggage fees, the lines at check-in, and the guilt associated with all of that carbon dioxide getting released into the atmosphere, I just can’t handle it.
If you’re short on time and have the money to spare, then you really can’t beat flying.
Because with so many budget airlines available in Europe:
Sometimes it’s honestly just cheaper to fly.
Per usual though:
Always double-check the airline’s baggage allowance before booking any flight since those fees can quickly add up and make an affordable flight slightly not-so-affordable.
And yes Ryanair, I’m looking at you.
Not gonna lie:
I love a good train ride.
It’s probably the most scenic way to see a country.
Trains can be surprisingly reasonable in Europe, especially when you book ahead of time (wherever possible!).
I once paid $29 for a one-way train ticket from Madrid to Bilbao.
Amazeballs, right? Plus:
I actually only booked that ticket about a week in advance.
You might even be able to find something cheaper!
That same trip by bus? Yeah, it would have cost me a whopping $38 and would have taken longer!
I know, kind of ridiculous.
And while this was just a one-off trip, if you do plan to solo travel Spain extensively, I’d highly recommend getting a rail pass.
You can either purchase a pass for several countries or for several cities within ONE country.
And for one reasonable fee, this pass will cover all of your train travel within a set number of days or trips.
Yup, super handy if I do say so myself!
However, there are limitations.
I mean, you can’t just get on and off any train you like.
Because with a rail pass, you need to book a seat in advance and extra fees may be added, especially if you’re traveling at peak times.
Regardless of those tiny negatives, I still love me the Spain rail pass, which currently starts at $192 per person.
I know that SEEMS like a lot but considering that a train ticket from Barcelona to Madrid is normally $97 ONE WAY, you’ll quickly see just HOW reasonable this country pass really is.
Check out Rail Europe and be sure to get your rail pass if you plan on doing a significant amount of travel through Spain!
As amazing as the rail system is in Spain:
Sometimes you just need to bus it like a boss.
Because in all seriousness:
Some regions in Spain just aren’t as well connected to rail networks as others.
They’re well connected to EACH OTHER, but just not to rest of the country.
A lot of smaller Spanish towns don’t actually have any train stations.
And trust me:
There are a ton of amazing small Spanish towns that you’ll want to add to your solo travel Spain itinerary.
Besides, let’s face it:
Sometimes the bus is just cheaper than the train.
So, when traveling by bus:
You can always buy your tickets at the bus station, or even ON the bus itself.
I’m a chronic worrier who always needs to be prepared with a set of pre-purchased tickets.
Which is why:
If you’re anything like me and need to book your bus tickets in advance then you can always quickly and easily do so at Omio.
They’re website is incredibly easy to use and has some of the best prices around (at least from what I’ve found).
Hands down, traveling by car is my favorite way to explore Spain.
Well, kind of.
See, if you plan on road tripping to some of the less touristy areas in Spain that definitely rent a car since it gives you the freedom to see so much more than just the main sites and cities.
Spain’s countryside is beyond gorgeous.
To rent a car, you will need a valid international driver’s license, travel insurance, and maybe even a bit of a crash course on the meaning behind some of the EU’s most common road signs.
You can easily book a car online. You just need to decide where to pick it up (honestly the airport is usually the easiest) and where to drop off (there’s normally a fee if these two locations are different).
And that’s it.
The car rental company of your choice will then handle all the paperwork, making it a relatively painless procedure.
Minus the whole spending money thing. Also:
Just in case you weren’t aware, in Spain people drive on the right side of the road.
No need to panic EVERY TIME you turn down a street because you think that you might inadvertently be driving on the wrong side of the road (at least if you’re American like me).
In Europe, manual cars are the standard when renting a car.
If you can’t drive stick, you WILL need to pay a hefty premium to get an automatic (Yeah, I thought this part sucked too. Womp, womp, womp).
4. The Best Time to Travel Spain Solo
Okay. So while Spain rocks all year long:
There IS definitely an optimum time to solo travel Spain.
Well, two optimum times, actually.
Because Spring and Fall are both perfect times to visit Spain!
Both spring (March through May) and fall (September through November) have ideal weather conditions since it’s not boiling hot but it’s still warm enough to lie around on the beach all day.
One of my local friends even suggested visiting the north in the fall and the south in the spring.
While you should PROBABLY listen to the sage advice of a local, I personally think that both parts of the country are awesome during either of these seasons.
And if I’m being honest:
Winter also isn’t a bad time to visit Spain since even major cities are relatively devoid of tourists.
Plus, it never actually gets THAT cold.
I mean, the country definitely gets colder in the winter, but temperatures rarely go below 40°F and tend to max out at 50°F.
Definitely don’t plan one hella epic beach holiday during the winter.
Well, they suck since they are surface level of the sun level hot.
Almost everywhere you go, you can expect to experience temperatures that are well over 100°F.
And almost nowhere in Spain has A/C.
It feels EVEN HOTTER since it’s peak travel season and that means that hordes of tourists are everywhere.
Even though summer does mean ideal beach weather, I’d still avoid traveling to Spain during this time of year if at all possible
5. 10 Awesome Places to Solo Travel in Spain
So now you’re ready to solo travel Spain.
Where are you supposed to go?
Well, not to worry.
Because per usual, I’ve got you covered.
AND because I love Spain SOO much:
I’ve even included an entire section about some of my favorite, slightly more off the beaten path locations.
Yup, you’re welcome.
Because just your friendly, Girl with the Passport here, always trying to help!
Not surprisingly, you obviously need to visit Barcelona.
Now, I know, I know, it’s overtouristed AF.
But, that’s also why:
You MUST visit during off-season.
This amazing city just should not be missed.
I mean, not gonna lie:
I absolutely love Barcelona and could legit, talk about it ALL DAY.
Since I’ve already written about it to death, I’ll just give you the basics.
And if you’re in desperate need of any more info, just check out my Barcelona solo travel guide, my recommended 3 day Barcelona itinerary, my list of free things to do in Barcelona, and of course, most importantly, my picks for some of the best cafes in Barcelona.
Because we all know that ya girl loves her coffee!
Okay, so, what do you NEED to see while you’re here?
Umm, basically everything Gaudi since he is a genius of the most epic proportions.
And if you have zero idea who he was:
Antoni Gaudi was a Catalan architect that is now uber-famous for his weird AF study of modernism.
And his most famous work to date is none other than La Sagrada Família, an iconic Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona that remains unfinished, even to this very day.
While many people assume that Gaudi’s name is where the word gaudy came from, the word was actually in use long before Gaudi was ever born!
Which makes sense when you realize that this word is actually derived from the French word gaudir, which means, “to rejoice, make merry, to jest, scoff at”.
You know what’s not a laughing matter (terrible Segway but just go with it)? All of the amazing things that you can see while you’re in Barcelona.
In addition to a stop at La Sagrada Familia, you’ll also want to visit Park Guell, Casa Batlló, La Catedral, Museu Picasso, Palau Guell, La Rambla, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Fundació Joan Miró, and Museu d’Història de Barcelona.
See! I told you there were a lot of amazing things to see in Barcelona!
And spoiler alert!
You’ll also want to eat your face off and try some of the amazing tapas at modern Catalan restaurants like Suculent (And if you’re broke like a joke, Barcelona is also home to some amazing food markets, like Mercat de Sant Antoni).
Hostel One Paralelo (budget) – Not only do the uber-comfortable, custom-designed pod beds here cost just $30 per night, but this hostel is also centrally located and has a fantastic, communal atmosphere that will help you feel right at home, especially if you’re a solo traveler in Spain.
Eco Boutique Hostal Grau (mid-range) – If hostels aren’t your thing, then that’s a-okay because hostal in Spanish actually translates to “boutique hotel”. Which is exactly what you’ll get at this well-appointed hotel, which sits right off of Las Ramblas and has rooms that start at just $100 per night.
**And if neither one of those Barcelona hotels appeals to you, then you can always check out my handy guide on where to stay in Barcelona!**
Madrid is Spain’s second most popular tourist destination.
And for good reason!
I’ll be the first one to admit that I didn’t exactly fall head over heels in love with this city from the get-go.
It quickly grew on me with its wealth of amazing museums, vibrant culture, and of course, every girl’s favorite, delicious food!
Just seeing the immortal Museo Nacional del Prado kinda made me wanna swoon (Skip the obscenely long line by getting your Prado Museum ticket right here, right now!)
And then when I actually stepped inside and tried to see all of the 7000 pieces of artwork on display here, I think I straight-up died and went to heaven.
I really am THAT massive a nerd!
I’ve got another word for you when it comes to Madrid!
And that word is churros!
Because they can be found everywhere in this city and are just SOOO damn good.
And if you know what a churro is, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
But, if you don’t:
Then you are in for the foodgasm of YOUR LIFE since Churros are long, slender, deep-fried pastries that are covered in sugar and dipped in hot chocolate sauce.
And of course, you want some because, umm yeah, DUH, ME TOO!
To get some of the best churros in the city, just head down to Chocolatería San Ginés.
Founded in 1894:
This is one of the oldest churro restaurants in the country.
And man does it show since their churros are bangin’ with a capital B!
**And if you’re looking for even more Madrid awesomeness, then find out about all of the other things to do here in my Solo Madrid Guide.**
Cats Hostel Madrid Sol (budget) – This hostel is way cooler than I’ll ever be since it’s bedazzled with Andulician designs. Heck, this place even has a super snazzy, Moroccan-Esque style common room that helped make my stay here one of the true delights of my solo trip to Spain. Granted, there’s not as much privacy here as there is at some other hostels, but the fun vibe more than makes up for that fact. This place is also located right in the middle of everything and has rooms that start at just $24; a price that I personally think is a total steal.
Hostal Montaloya (mid-range) – While the rooms here are pretty basic, they are huge AF so it’s all good in my hood. This hostal is also incredibly well located and felt a bit more luxe than its $60 per night price tag. All the rooms here also come with a private bathroom (not always a thing in Europe), free WiFi and – most importantly (at least in the summer) – sweet, sweet A/C (Yup, I’m a privileged girl from NYC and NEED my A/C).
No joke guys, Valencia blew me away.
Because in all honesty, I definitely ate WAY too much food here.
You are absolutely forbidden from leaving this amazing Spanish city off of your solo travel Spain itinerary!
If I’m brutally honest here, I’d never actually had authentic paella until I went to Valencia!
But, as it turns out:
It’s one of the most delicious things ever (after churros, obvs) and way better than any of that slop that they try to pass off as “paella” in the good old USA.
So, where can you too eat every single one of your feelings?
Anywhere really, but I HIGHLY recommend Restaurante Navarro if you want to sample some truly mouth-watering, Valencian delicacies.
And while they have tons of delicious things on their menu, I opted for (and recommend) their season vegetable paella.
I happily hovered it all down and even got some churros for dessert.
There really is more to do in Valencia than just eat ALL the food!
Because while I was here:
I also loved my visit to the futuristic Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences), with its crazy, ultra-modern, spaceshiplike design.-
This iconic building is home to no less than six different structures, including an opera house, an IMAX theater, a science museum, an outdoor gallery, a plaza, and even an aquarium, known as Oceanogràfic, that is the largest aquarium in all of Europe!
And although the structure is free to wander around, you will need a ticket to go inside and should probably avoid the queue by buying your Oceanogràfic ticket right now!
While you’re in Valencia though:
You should also stop by La Lonja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange).
Because believe it or not:
In 2016, Valencia was actually made the silk capital of the world (seriously, who knew?!).
And one of the main reasons why it received this title is La Lonja de la Seda, a breathtakingly beautiful UNESCO world heritage site that you NEED to add to your Valencia bucket list, among other things.
**Wondering how to fit it all in? Then check out my perfect 3 days in Valencia itinerary.**
Purple Nest Hostel (budget) – I’ll admit it, this place immediately pulled me in with its wacky, crazy, and oh-so-colorful photos. And no, it did not disappoint in real life. Because not only is it located RIGHT in the middle of the old town, but tea and coffee are always in plentiful supply and available for your drinking pleasure (my kind of place!) Dorm rooms here also start at just $21 per night. However, my ONLY gripe with this place is that I had to pay extra for the internet, which is INSANE in today’s world. However, it did give me a good excuse to go out and find all of the best cafes (“to do my work”) in Valencia.
Colegio Mayor La Concepción (mid-range) – This fantastic place is just a 20-minute walk north of the city center. Rooms here also start at $66 per night, and are perfect for an introverted solo traveler, like me, since they include an Uber-fancy, kitchenette! There’s also a fitness center on-site as well as a quiet study area and a games room with a pool table!
Andalusia MIGHT just be my favorite part of Spain. Especially if I decide to do a Cordoba day trip from Seville.
But shhh! Don’t tell any of the other regions in Spain that.
Although, I honestly don’t know since I change my mind almost every time I visit Spain.
Seville is SO freaking pretty.
And I was genuinely unprepared for just how gorgeous this place would be!
There are also a ton of different things to do in Seville.
The one main attraction that you simply cannot miss (even if you don’t normally like bucket list type places) is the Alcázar of Seville.
“What is it?” I hear you wondering.
Well, it is this beyond GORG, Moorish style royal palace that dates all the way back to the 10th century.
It was actually built by Castilian Christians for the Christian king Peter of Castile.
It’s also the oldest palace in Europe that is still in use. Something that my inner nerd and wannabe royal finds super cool.
If they’re taking in new residents, just let your girl right here know ASAP!
And while you could EASILY spend a half a day just wandering through this massive complex, I highly recommend taking a guided tour.
Because once you’re done:
You can easily go back and stand in total awe of all your fave places in the building.
You MUST MUST MUST check out the Flamenco Dance Museum and catch a Flamenco show.
Before I went, I honestly thought that watching an entire Flamenco show would bore me to tears.
When I paired this performance with a trip to the museum, it gave me a whole new appreciation for this amazing style of dance.
So, moral of the story? Try planning at least 3 days in Seville when visiting this beautiful city.
For You Hostel Sevilla (budget) – While the semi-pod rooms here start at $22 a night, this hostel isn’t really all that conveniently located near Seville’s old town. However, this place does have a great Andalusian patio and tons of open, communal space that makes for the perfect place to meet people. This hostel also hosts a ton of different tours and activities in their courtyard, making it even easier to get acquainted with other, super cool solo travelers like yourself. You can even get breakfast here for an extra $6 per night, although you’re more than welcome to use the shared kitchen to make your own.
Hostal San Francisco (mid-range) – This traditional Andalusian building is a great place to hang your head at the end of a long day. Because for just $56 a night, you get a single room with a private bathroom (or splurge and get a double for $70), A/C, WiFi and a TV. Most of the rooms here also come with a patio or terrace. And while the rooms here are basic, they’re also incredibly comfortable. Plus, you absolutely cannot beat the hostal’s fantastic, central location.
Most people only know about Granada because of the Alhambra.
Which makes sense since the Alhambra IS one of the most amazing things to see in Granada and I absolutely LOVED it. It also should be at the very top of your ultimate Granada guide.
Just in case you DON’T quite know what the Alhambra is, it was a palace that served as the home of the Nasrid sultans between the 13th and 15th centuries.
It’s also the most visited monument in Spain (So, not so subtle hint, be to book your tickets in advance now), and I totally understand why!
If you find yourself running a bit short on time, you can always visit Granada as part of a day trip from Malaga since it only takes about two hours to get there by bus (Sorry, no direct train!).
Before you visit though:
You should definitely pre-book a tour so that you can get a bit of context for your visit while simultaneously avoid waiting for hours in line (literally).
That really does happen. You just don’t want that to happen to you.
The Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens are so worth a trip to Granada, even if that’s all you get to see.
There is also a whole lot more to Granada than just the Alhambra.
Don’t get me wrong:
I literally cannot stop raving about the Alhambra (seriously, my friends are getting annoyed).
But if you have the time:
Do try and see some of the city’s other major highlights, like the Basilica of San Juan de Dios, The Bañuelo (Ancient Arab Baths) and the district of Albaycin.
4U Hostel (budget) – Before I went to Granada, I was told that is was a SUPER expensive city. So, imagine my utter surprise when I found a hostel with an all-female dorm, with individual bed curtains, in the city center, for just $20 a night! And guess what? The mixed dorms here? Yeah, they are even cheaper! Plus, each of the rooms here also come with their own bathroom, so you only ever have to share a bathroom with at most, seven other people. So yeah, you know what to do! Book your room now!
Abadía Hotel (mid-range) – I seriously love Andalusian style architecture. I mean, the courtyards, the communal living areas with ornate divans. It’s all amazing and feels like you’re in some sort of wonderful dream that you never want to end. Kind of like the rooms at this delightful hotel, which showcases traditional style decor and furniture, as well as beautiful, tiled floors. There’s also A/C (and heating for the winters), satellite TV, and, of course, free WiFi! Single rooms here also start art $56 a night while double rooms start at $65 a night.
I didn’t know what to expect from Malaga.
Because if I’m brutally honest:
I was initially just there to visit Granada.
As It turns out, it’s flipping AMAZING since there are a ton of awesome things to do in Malaga, Spain (Sorry but I think I say that a lot when it comes to Spain)!
And although Malaga is definitely a popular tourist destination,
it’s not quite as well known as some of the other Uber-popular cities in Spain (Or this could all just be me and I could be a totally uneducated heathen).
I personally consider Malaga to be a highly underrated, Spanish hidden gem.
And the very first thing I did when I got here?
Why visit the Picasso Museum of course.
I’m a super nerd but whatev. I own it and totally learned a lot here.
Like, I mean:
Did you know that Picasso was actually BORN in Malaga? Because I sure as hell didn’t!
If we momentarily put my eternal love for all things Picasso aside, then you can also take a moment to visit the ruins of a Roman amphitheater.
Where the hell did all this Malaga awesomeness come from?
Clearly, I must be the epitome of cluelessness when it comes to Malaga!
And if you need even more proof of this city’s awesomeness:
Then I give you Alcazaba, an 11th century, palatial fortification from the Hammudid dynasty.
But of course:
If you’re not a card-carrying member of the history nerd herd like me, then you can always just chill at the beach and work on your tan (or your burn if you’re pasty AF like me).
And if you have a little bit of extra time:
Then there’s one day trip that I absolutely recommend.
And that is a walk along Spain’s infamous, King’s Pathway (more commonly known as El Caminito del Rey).
It’s scary AF, but that’s also part of what makes it so much fun.
Just in case you have ZERO idea what I’m talking about, the El Caminito del Ray (AKA Spain’s most dangerous path) is a 100 meter high (330 feet), 100-year-old walkway that consists of a narrow, concrete trail that winds it way through a series of steep, limestone cliffs that sit near the small village of El Chorro.
Definitely not for the faint of heart and something that you’ll want to take a hard pass on if you’re even a little bit scared of heights.
Malaga Stop Hostel AB (budget) – As you know, I love a nice, female-only dorm that also has some amazing privacy curtains that I can not-so-subtly hide behind while I magically make my way out of my bra every evening. Which is why, I give you, Malaga Stop Hostel AB! Because for a mere, $21 a night, this place does not disappoint. I mean, it’s clean, comfy and centrally located. So really, what more could you ask for? Well, besides WiFi and A/C since this hostel also has both of those things!
Elcano (mid-range) – The decor and overall style of Elcano is a chic, modern take on classic, Andalusian architecture. That’s why, all of the rooms here, which start at $61 per night, are well-appointed and include super snazzy things like free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom and coffee-making facilities (for people like me who hate mornings). Rooms here are also come with a posh AF seating area (some have a couch, some a desk) and are a mere, 5-minute walk from the nearest beach (hell to the yeah). There’s also an informal bar, a sunroom, a garden, and a terrace that all hotel guests can enjoy (whoop, whoop).
I don’t know about you:
But I kind of feel like Salamanca has a totally different vibe from the rest of Spain.
And I mean that in the best possible way!
Because this city is known for its wealth of large, brown sandstone buildings and has a fascinating history that dates all the way back to the Celtics.
So, if you do decide to visit:
Then be sure and head straight for the Salamanca Cathedral.
Because believe it or not:
This iconic center of worship actually includes TWO separate cathedrals (the old one and the new one) that are all rolled into one and that are done in a mixture of both Gothic and Baroque architectural styles.
Because while the Old Cathedral dates back to the 12th century, the NEW Cathedral is a bit more recent and dates back to the 16th century.
Also, while you’re here:
Don’t forget to get a panoramic view of Salamanca from the cathedrals’ tower, Ieronimus.
Oh and one more additional FYI:
While you’re in Salamanca, you must eat your weight in Paloma, which is a type of Spanish potato salad.
Nom, nom, nom.
I also loved the city’s popular, Cheese with Quince, which is the perfect mix of sweet from the fruit and tart from the cheese (See, watching all those episodes of Top Chef is FINALLY paying off).
OYO Hostal Tormes (budget) – Maybe I went at a bad time of year, but I could NOT find a lot of hostel options here. That’s why, I opted for a private, double room instead that was a reasonably priced, $25 per night. And while I was a bit sad that I didn’t have an easy way to make friends, it WAS nice to have my own space. And while the bathrooms here are all shared and the rooms here are a bit basic, for the price that you pay, you can’t really go wrong. OYO Hostal Tormes is also centrally located in the old town and has incredibly helpful/friendly staff members who go out of their way to make your trip one to remember.
Hotel Eurowest (mid-range) – Do you look for a generous breakfast when you stay somewhere? If so, then Hotel Eurowest is the place for you! Because no only is this hotel just a short walk from Salamanca’s old town, but you also get a sumptuous breakfast feast included with the price of your room, which starts at $40 per night for a single (more for a double). Every room here also comes with a TV, free WiFi, an ensuite bathroom, coffee-making facilities, and a desk, making this the perfect place to stay for a short, very Spanish getaway.
Dying to see one of the oldest castles in Spain?
Yup, you and me both!
And trust me, the Palacio de la Aljaferia in Zaragoza does not disappoint.
Because believe it or not:
This ultra-snazzy, fortified, 11th century, Islamic palace is known for its incredibly unique architecture.
However, I must say:
The thing that I enjoyed most about Zaragoza (In fairness, it was a day trip from Zaragoza, but I digress) was a hike up to the Monasterio de Piedra.
Well, I was feeling a bit burned out from Zaragoza and this hike provided me with some much needed peace and quiet.
I’m sorry but sometimes you need to get out into nature, nomastay it up, and take a break for the chaos of the city.
Not does Monasterio de Piedra overlook some beyond beautiful waterfalls, but it was originally a Moorish fort that was conquered by Alfonso II of Aragon in 1194.
He gave it to Cisterian monks who later rebuilt the structure and lived there for an incredible 700 years!
So, if you wanna visit for yourself:
Just take the bus!
In fairness though:
I did have to ask my hotel about it.
They were really helpful and sorted everything out for me.
And, if you’re feeling extra adventurous:
You can even spend the night at the monastery itself!
Which would have been lovely, but a day trip was more than enough peace and solitude for me!
The Botanic Hostel (budget & mid-range) – As I previously said, I was little burned out by the time I got to Zaragoza. So, while I stayed in a hostel, I actually booked myself a private, double room with an ensuite bathroom and a mini-balcony. And you know what? I have NO regrets about it since my room cost just $64 per night and included breakfast. Because in all seriousness, I really did love my stay here since the staff were SO friendly and helpful and spoiler alert? Breakfast was awesome. Plus, everyone I met seemed to love this hotel, which is why I’m recommending it for both budget (starting at $31 a night) and mid-range solo travelers in Spain.
If I had to pick one word, to sum up Cordoba, that word would be quirky.
Don’t ask me why:
But this place just had a super unique vibe to it.
In truth, that impression probably comes from the fact that the walls of Cordoba are lined with plants that sit inside ceramic pots that come in a kaleidoscope of hues.
As you walk down the street, you’ll find a fun and colorful assortment of potted plants that make the perfect backdrop for an Insta-awesome photo!
And for the best photo ops during your 2 days in Cordoba:
Head to Patios Cordobeses, which is an enclosed, white-walled area that is filled with flowers of varying shades of red and blue (So, die-hard Instagram divas, dress accordingly!).
Even if you’re not into Instagram, you’ll still love this place (PSST: If you really love expansive gardens and royal palaces, then be sure to visit the Palacio de Viana.
Now, if you feel like exploring the outskirts of Cordoba:
Then be sure to stop by Medina Azahara, an awesome archeological site that is now the ruins of the former, fortified palace-city of Andalus.
Originally built by Abd-ar-Rahman III, the first Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba, this ancient complex was once the de facto capital of al-Andalus since it housed both the administrative and political headquarters of the region.
And while you can explore Medina Azahara on your own:
I highly recommend taking a guided tour of the area so that you can better understand the unique history of this place and visit parts of the complex that normally get overlooked.
Hotel Mezquita (budget) – If you’re looking to enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet right on the doorstep of one of Códoba’s most important landmarks, then the Hotel Mezquita is for you. Located in the heart of the old Jewish Quarter, just 500 meters from the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, this hotel offers guests cozy, air-conditioned rooms that come with and ensuite bathroom, and a traditional, Andalusian patio. So, for just $49 a night, why not roll out of bed and into a beautiful piece of Córdoba’s history?
Hotel Cordoba Center (mid-range) – For a taste of the luxe life, then head to Hotel Cordoba Center, where you’ll find spacious rooms that start at $92 per night. All rooms here also include satellite TV, air-conditioning, hardwood floors, and a minibar. Plus, if you can actually manage to tear yourself away from your comfy bed, then you’ll enjoy an elegant, on-site restaurant that serves delicious Mediterranean food, as well as a piano bar, a fitness center, a sauna AND a swimming pool (#hotelgoals).
Spain’s Basque country is amazing, as is the northern coast of Spain.
And at the heart of it is? None other than Bilbao.
Because although this exquisite city isn’t actually the capital of the region, it’s still at the cultural epicenter of the area.
Now, as a native New Yorker:
It was my duty, while I was here, to check out the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and see how it compared to the one in NYC.
And Spoiler alert?
Yeah, it definitely lived up to all the hype, even though I still prefer the one in NYC.
Not gonna lie, I was more than a little creeped out by the giant Guggenheim spider (Maman), that was created by artist Louise Bourgeois, that quietly sits outside.
Apart from being museum monger though:
I also recommend taking a stroll through the Casco Viejo neighborhood, a wonderfully historic, almost medieval part of the city that is popular among tourists AND locals alike.
So yes, it will be hella crowded. But:
It’s worth braving the hordes of selfie stick-wielding tourists since this quaint part of the city has a very Spanish/Parisian vibe about it.
There’s this amazing vegan pintxo (small snack like tapas) bar there, called Tirauki, that does a lot of Asian-fusion dishes, with my personal fave being their cactus and cheese frittata.
This place is just an overall wonderful spot to sit, relax, and chat with locals and travelers alike, as you solo travel Spain.
And if you can, head a little further south of the city.
Because this is where you’ll also find an assortment of amazing street art murals that actually take up the entire side of buildings and should not be missed.
Yup, pure, unadulterated awesomeness indeed.
That’s why you could definitely take an awesome day trip to Bilbao with children.
***If you have a bit of extra time, you could also take a day trip to the town of Guernica and learn more about the events that took place here during the Spanish Civil War, a very dark period in the country’s history. Otherwise, you could always try hiking the Camino de Santiago since it is quite literally a hop, skip, and jump away from Bilbao. ***
Optimi Rooms (budget) – This is the hostel of the future! Only, now it’s available today since Optimi Rooms offers guests an assortment of comfortable sleeping pods that start at $30 per night. And included with your futuristic pod du jour? Why, an entire home entertainment system that includes wifi, satellite TV, and the latest movies, all at the tip of your fingers. A stay at Optimi also includes a 24-hour reception, communal cooking and eating areas, as well as free toiletries in the shared bathrooms. Oh, and it’s right in the city center, making it within easy walking distance of all the top things to do in Bilbao!
Bilbao City Rooms (mid-range) – This stylish hotel is just a 3-minute walk from the city’s famous Guggenheim Museum. Plus, all of the light, bright, modern rooms here, which start at $95 per night, feature a flatscreen TV, wifi, a minibar, and a private bathroom. Laundry and dry-cleaning services are also available for an additional fee. And apparently, the best tapas that you’ve ever tasted are literally just around the corner from this hotel, so legit, what more could you ask for?
5 More Off the Beaten Path Places To Explore as You Solo Travel Spain
As you probably already guessed:
Spain is full of hidden gems and off the beaten path treasures that are all well worth your time.
Some of them are even full-on, big AF cities that no one ever really talks about!
Here are a few of my favorites, all of which will make the perfect addition to any solo Spain itinerary.
Asturias is another one of my favorite regions in Spain, and Llanes is a perfect example of why.
Llanes is actually both a municipality and a city. And I recommend that you visit both as you solo travel Spain.
Because no matter where you go:
You’ll feel like you’re inside the most beautiful painting that you’ve ever seen.
However, to really make the most out of your trip here:
You really should rent a car, so that you can take a scenic drive along the coast (You should also stop along the way and take photos as much as humanly possible).
You could also stop in Asturias while walking along the El Camino since this iconic pilgrim trail cuts straight through this part of the country (I guess that explains where all those beautiful Camino photos come from).
***While in the region, you could also visit several other, coastal villages like Cudillero, Luanco, and Ribadesella. Oviedo and Gijon are also amazing since Oviedo has a beautiful old town with several UNESCO World Heritage sites and Gijon is more of a chill, seaside city with a ton of amazing vegan cafes.***
Even though Cuenca is a BIG city:
Basically no one knows it exists.
And anyone I’ve talked to about it thinks I’m referring to the one in Ecuador.
Putting its lack of notoriety aside, Cuenca, Spain is an absolute MUST see!
This city is, no joke, built atop a hill and looks like something straight out of one hella epic fantasy movie.
Not gonna lie:
I actually wouldn’t be all that surprised if Frodo himself magically popped out of one the hills here.
If you can only see one thing while you’re here, then make it the Hanging Houses of Cuenca (The Cathedral se De Santa Maria La Mayor, which sits inside the city, is also pretty epic too).
And if you’re short on time:
You could easily see these medieval homes, built into the side of a cliff, as part of a day trip from Madrid (Unfortunately, the whole cliff used to be lined with these enchanting homes, but now only three remain).
Have you ever wanted to frolic through a field of date palm trees?
Well you can in Elche, Spain.
Because this relatively unknown spot in Alicante is often overlooked in favor of nearby places like Benidorm, Alicante, Torrevieja, and Villajoyosa.
All of which are awesome cities.
But, they definitely don’t have a field of palm trees.
And I’m not just talking about just one field of palm trees either.
Oh hell to the no!
I’m talking about 97 orchards in Elche that are home to over 7,000 date trees.
While there really isn’t all that much else to do here besides exploring the orchards, do you REALLY need anything else to attain true happiness?
Exactly! Glad we agree.
4. Setenil de las Bodegas
Setenil de las Bodegas is SO unique.
Because the entire town here? Yeah, it’s built into and under the surrounding mountains.
How is awesome is that?
Not gonna lie though:
It was also a bit unsettling to walk around and think that I might be crushed by an incoming, avalanche of rocks at any given moment.
Maybe that’s just my ever present, totally insane levels of constant anxiety talking.
In spite of any impending sense of doom, I also weirdly like Indiana Jones as he was trying to find the Holy Grail in The Last Crusade.
Which is a beautiful feeling that I whole heartedly welcome.
And while you’re can spend the night in Setenil de las Bodegas, this town is usually visited as part of a day trip from Malaga, with stops at nearby Ronda.
Oh, and before you leave Setenil de las Bodegas:
Do not forget to eat all of the pastries (pasteles) that you can possibly stomach since this the town is known for them.
Come to think of it, this town is also famous for it chorizo and cerdo (pork).
But since I’m a veg, I can’t attest to this personally.
If you’re in the market for some meaty goodness, then by all means go for the glory and try some these local delicacies!
Not to sound like a total creep or anything, but:
A friend of mine recommended I visit Carmona because of it’s epic necropolis.
Now that we got that mild awkwardness out of the way, I can honestly say that Carmona is 100% worth a visit.
Definitely stop by the necropolis since Necrópolis romana, as it’s locally known, is a beyond LARGE archeological site that sits on the outskirts of the city.
Because believe it or not:
This fascinating, remnant of history actually dates all the way back to the 1st/2nd century AD and is home to literally, HUNDREDS of different tombs.
This area is also considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Andalusia.
And while I’m sure it gets busy sometimes:
I actually had the entire place to myself while I was here, which I for one consider to be solo travel in Spain at its finest!
**If you’re looking for EVEN MORE amazing places to visit in Spain, then check out my post on 42 places to visit in Spain, as recommended by travel bloggers!**
A Sample 10 Day Solo Travel Spain Itinerary
Alert travel fans!
Now that I’ve given you the 411 on some of the most amazing places to visit Spain, here’s a helpful little, handy dandy, 10 day Spain itinerary!
Because even though:
Ten days does NOT feel like enough time to see everything, it will definitely give you the chance to experience some of the country’s most magnificent highlights.
With all of my infinite knowledge and wisdom at my command (hahaha!), and without further ado, here is my super snazzy, 10 day Spain itinerary.
Huzah (I’m a closeted American history nerd so sorry but I HAD to use that iconic phrase)!
Barcelona (2 nights)
I think Barcelona is the ideal place to start your solo travels in Spain.
Well because it’s SO touristy.
Even though I loved my time in Barcelona, the hordes of foreigners that you encounter everywhere you go can be more than a little overwhelming.
Depending on how you feel about navigating the overly well-trodden tourist trail, get in, see some amazing Gaudi architecture, and get out before the frenetic pace of the city gets to you.
You never know though:
You might totally fall head over heels in love with this city and completely ditch the rest of this Spain itinerary!
Because while Barcelona may feel a bit crazy and slightly overwhelming at times, no trip to Spain (solo or otherwise) would be complete without a visit to this vibrant city.
Bilbao (2 nights)
Because Bilbao is so different from basically any other place in Spain, it easily makes it onto this Spain itinerary.
Now that I’ve actually visited this amazing place for myself, it’s really hard to imagine going to Spain without spending some time in Basque country.
It’s quirky, it’s fun, and it has cultural coolness oozing out of its pores.
While you’re here, you’ll get to eat your weight in pintxos.
And ain’t nothing wrong with that since, per usual, I like to eat every single one of my feelings!
Aside from eating anything that isn’t nailed down, other city highlights include the Guggenheim Museum (watch out for that giant spider), marveling at the city’s wealth of street art murals, a visit to the Bilbao Cathedral, and a stroll through the Casco Viejo neighborhood,
And if you can:
Consider taking a day trip to either Guernica (for a sobering afternoon spent learning about Spain’s tragic past), or to San Sebastian, to see Bilbao’s lesser known little brother.
***The train from Barcelona to Bilbao takes about six and a half hours. So, see if you can save some money by catching an overnight train.***
Madrid (2 nights)
I shouldn’t have to convince you to visit Madrid.
But if I do, I’ve got one word for you.
Just eat one of these delicious, sugary, deep fried pastries (served with a side of melted chocolate for dipping) at Chocolatería San Ginés and I promise that you’ll never wonder why you need to visit Madrid again.
And if you can manage to tear yourself away from Churros and chocolate for five minutes, then check out the Museo Nacional del Prado’s with its insanely extensive collection of art.
You can also wander through Madrid’s ever-charming streets and marvel at some of the exquisitely palatial buildings that you’ll see everywhere.
***You can either take the train, or bus, directly from Bilbao to Madrid; a journey that will last around five hours. But I pinkie promise that the beautiful scenery along the way will help make the trip infinitely more bearable.***
Seville (1 night)
I was truly in awe of Seville’s tremendous beauty, especially since I wasn’t really expecting it.
It also turns out:
That I actually kinda like Flamenco dancing. Seriously, who know?
If you’re short on time, you can easily see all of Seville’s major highlights in a day, and save some of your limited time for other epic, Spain locales.
However, while you’re in Seville:
You absolutely NEED to visit Alcázar of Seville, a breathtaking royal palace with equally lovely gardens. Also stop by the Flamenco Dance Museum and learn about the beautiful history of this amazing art form.
***Direct trains depart from Madrid to Seville every hour and take about 2.5 hours.***
Málaga (3 night)
I really am recommending that you spend three whole nights in Malaga.
Because let’s be honest:
Malaga makes the perfect home base from which to take a ton of AMAZING day trips.
While you’re here, definitely visit Granada (obvs), the King’s Pathway (in Spanish, El Caminito del Rey), Setenil de las Bodegas, and Ronda.
Malaga itself is pretty baller level awesome too since you can see ultra-fab things like the Alcazaba fortress, the roman amphitheater, and even (insert squeals of excitement here) the Picasso museum.
***You can take one of two direct train routes to Malaga from Seville, one that takes 2 hours and the other that takes 2.5 hours.***
BRING OUT THE BRASS BAND AND THE TICKER TAPE PARADE LADIES AND GENTS!
BECAUSE THIS CONCLUDES MY ONSCENELY LONG GUIDE ON HOW TO SOLO TRAVEL SPAIN LIKE A PRO.
SO, BETWEEN MY SPAIN SOLO TRAVEL ITINERARY, MY TIPS ON HOW TO STAY SAFE WHILE TRAVELING TO SPAIN ALONE, AND MY DETAILED LIST OF THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SPAIN, I’M SURE YOU’VE FOUND AT LEAST ONE MILDLY USEFUL TIDBIT OF INFORMATION IN HERE…SOMEWHERE.
AND IF YOU FEEL LIKE BEING THE EXTRA GENEROUS, FABULOUSLY AWESOME HUMAN THAT I KNOW YOU ARE, THEN PIN THIS NOW AND READ IT AGAIN LATER!
Monday 4th of May 2020
Thanks for the great tips!
Thursday 7th of May 2020
Thanks for reading and so glad you found the post helpful!
Katja | placesandnotes
Saturday 29th of February 2020
Wooow this is such an informative post. Didn´t expect it otherwise from you, but still. We´re about to do a road trip from Italy to France and I´m seriously thinking of adding a pinch of Spain haha. DEfinitely bookmarking this post for later, thanks for sharing x
Monday 2nd of March 2020
Have an amazing trip! That sounds absolutely fantastic! And so glad you found it helpful!
Saturday 29th of February 2020
Well, it truly is an astounding guide. Loved your detailed log and narrative style.
Ashamed to say I've only been to Barcelona yet. Valencia looks the most interesting ?
Monday 2nd of March 2020
Well, I hope you get the chance to go back and explore more of this magical country. And thanks so much for reading and for your kind words.
Saturday 29th of February 2020
Thank you for the informative post!
Monday 2nd of March 2020
You're welcome and thanks for reading!
Saturday 29th of February 2020
This is the ULTIMATE!!! I agree about the pick pocketing! I had 2 experiences of almost getting pick pocketed in Madrid. Thankfully I was very watchful and it didn’t happen!
Monday 2nd of March 2020
Oh good! I am so glad to hear that! And yes! It is a huge problem throughout Spain!