I’m going to Spain soon for a two week backpacking journey that includes a stop for La Tomatina. My main travel route:

The plan:

  • Start in Barcelona. Chill there for a few days.
  • Go to Valencia via train. Stay there for a day, enjoy throwing tomatoes at people.
  • Catch a ferry to Ibiza. Two days max.
  • Southern coast beaches? Gibraltar?
  • Rent a car in the south and drive up to Madrid, hitting scenic towns such as Toledo on the way. Explore Madrid for a couple days.
  • Take a train back to Barcelona

Is this a realistic plan for a two week trip? Recommendations/advice welcome.

33 thoughts on “SPAIN

  1. Jay Gatsby

    Sounds like a blast. Are you traveling with anyone, meeting up with people, or just flying solo?

  2. spain sucked

    Watch out in Barcelona..I was mugged there… I chased after the little f*ck and even tried to throw my stiletto heel at him to pierce his small brain, but to no avail. I had to go to the “special” police station for tourist victims of pickpocketry, muggings, etc. Stick to Las Ramblas and the endless row of Sangria purveyors. The nicest beach I saw there was in Sitges…cute little town…but don’t get excited about all the topless women there..Sitges is a “gay” beach…they wouldn’t be up for pumping and dumping (from a guy anyway). Bon Voyage!

  3. Zodiacgirl1

    wow, I did the exact same tour but going the opposite way–you can definitely do it in 2 weeks-I had only 10 days…EXCEPT I stopped in Sevilla–I HIGHLY recommend that you make that a stop on your tour-my favorite city in Spain–see some real flamenco dancing in bars…you won’t regret the extra hour or so of driving!!! Costa del Sol is very americanized/britainized. And you’re missing La Alhambra in Granada…oh well. Look out for the random black bulls as you drive through the country…

  4. Zodiacgirl1

    The monkeys at Gibraltar are out of control but I would make it more of a day trip from Costa del Sol–I can imagine spending more than a day there…

  5. Lonnie Bruner


    I practically did that exact route in 2003, except we stopped in Menorca instead of Ibiza and started in Madrid instead of Barcelona.

    Short recommendation: cut out all that traveling south of Madrid and southwest of the Balearics. Two weeks is no time at all, and you’re going to be rushing from place to place without seeing much—the classic “must see everything” effect.

    The fucking trek from that southern point near Gibraltar back up to Barcelona (or vice versa) sucks. It’s mostly ugly-ass deserts and crappy-ass overbuilt beaches. And the whole time you’re going to have to cram yourself into a hot bus loaded with stinky day-laborers. But I guess you’re driving, so no matter.

    Budget more time for Barcelona, which is one of my favorite cities in the world. We regretted not being able to spend more time there because we thought there would be good beaches along that eastern coast—there weren’t. I think there’s maybe one beach (San Juan?) that everyone says is the best, but it’s kind of like a dirtier, smaller Rehoboth.

    Also, you should go to Granada to see the Alhambra if you go that way. Very cool.

  6. Anonymous

    I studied abroad in Sevilla for a semester. Like the above post said Costa de Sol is americanized and would be like visiting beaches in Florida. You’re going to Ibiza and Alicante anway. Instead hit up Sevilla and Granada and take a cheap 30euro bus that runs daily up to madrid instead of renting a car. I think Costa de Sol and Gibraltar are overrated. It’s just a rock with some crazy-ass monkeys.

  7. Anonymous

    I’m not so sure that’s a really realistic plan… me and my friends went to Spain and London last year for 2 weeks, spending about 8 days in Spain… we went from Madrid to Pampelona (Ran with the Bulls!!!) and ended the trip in Barcelone… that was alot to do in just 8 days… i think that you may want to cut out a place or two, so that you enoy the other ones more… it felt run, cause we’d get settled in and then it felt like the next day we were up and packing and traveling again… the trip was great, but tiring… also instead of driving, see if you can catch the train (we took a train from Madrid to Pampelona and then from there to Barcelona and it gave us a chance to rest and sleep on the train as well as see the beautiful country side).. anyways, hope that helps… and have a great time!!!

  8. bettyjoan

    Honestly, whether or not two weeks is a realistic time frame depends largely on what you want to actually do in each city (and how little sleep you can get away with and still function). In my opinion, the southern coast beaches/Gibraltar time would be better spent in either Sevilla, Granada, or Cordoba–but, then again, it depends on whether you’d rather bum out on the beach or be in an interesting city.

    In any case, I’m extremely jealous–I lived in Madrid for four months, and I’ve been dying to get back ever since. Feel free to e-mail me at bettyjoan5180 (at) yahoo (dot) com if you want more specifics–I have some great travel books that I’d be more than happy to lend you, if you so desire.

  9. Charlotte

    Can’t wait to talk to you at HH about our overlapping trips. If you are lucky, maybe we can meet up.

    My first glance at your itinerary says it is too much for the time but I like to spend parts of my vacation just hanging around not just seeing the sights. I am travelling alone and hope to meet some locals, people watch etc. Short stays in so many cities sometimes doesn’t allow for that.

  10. AtillaHon

    Be very careful on the train to Barcelona. I have it on good authority that the fifth seat from the front on the left hand side is covered with lice. How do I know? Ever itch across Spain? Not good. Was it my fault that I chose a seat that was first used by a sheep hearder who was too intimate with his beasts. Take my advice. Take along a plastic sheet to cover the seats.

  11. Anonymous

    Dude, first off your website is hilarious. Always good for a laugh. Secondly, I go surfing in Portugal every so ofetn and I ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS stay in Lagos, Portugal. This time of year it’s the equivalent of Spring Break there. All these backpackers from all over the world congregate there and just get fucking nutz! The place where I always stay is called the Rising Cock and the place never sleeps. I also don’t think the girls ever wear many clothes either. Anyway, much better than Ibiza which is lame city.

  12. Single Senator

    My recommendation, spend a lot more time in Ibiza (Eivissa). I went there a few years ago and had one of my best vacations ever. It’s the busy season in August so if you’ve got a room in a hostel for a good price you’re in luck. Otherwise try and find a timeshare deal. Someone may be offering up their room at a discount price on the web. For about $20 you can rent a jeep wrangler and drive over the entire island in about a day.

    In Ibiza I spent most of my time in San Antonio. The clubs there are much better, as are the bars and restaurants. Other highlights include the hippy market on the NE side of the island (I think it’s in Es Canar, but ask the locals), the underground caverns, and the old castle at the highest point in Ibiza City (name escapes me).

    If I could I would only vacation on islands.

    I’m also interested in hearing about spitting some euro game. It must be a challenge if there’s a language barrier.

  13. Chris

    I would suggest sticking to certain regions. Spain is a great country with a lot to offer. the Catalan region is amazing, you will not want to leave Barcelona. Costa Brava has towns along it that you can find amazing spots.

    Madrid is great, very hot, but you get a great sense of what a city should be like, especially when you compare it to the crap-hole that DC is.

    I’m heading to Portugal in 2 weeks for 2 weeks to do the same.

  14. KassyK

    I’m with Sweet, never been but wish I was going. Have the best time–and plus from everyone I know that has been-most of them would say Sevilla is a must see city. Enjoy. 🙂

  15. Dasha

    DCB you are going to have a blast. Spanish girls are beautiful. I was there for 7 weeks and the weather is magnificent and the people are very nice. The people in Catalonia (Barcelona) are a little more snotty and they speal Catalan and Castellano(Spanish), so it may be a little confusing at first because the languages are very similar. Anyway, let me know if you need some pick up lines in Spanish…buena suerte y espero que vaya bien!

  16. Tater Salad

    Tarragona has a nightlife that rivals anything in the US. Amazing for a smaller beach town! But nice beaches non the less I came back from Gibraltar covered in monkey fecal matter. Do not try to feed the monkeys or pet them as they will throw fecal matter at you, and jump on you with fecal covered feet/paws.

  17. raincouver

    I have been there a couple of times. Barcelona is not any more dangerous than any other place. Las Ramblas are good for night life. Barri Gotic (old town) is amazing. Founded by carthaginians/greeks over 2300 years ago… the museum takes you underground to the roman ruins.

    Valencia is beautiful too. Home of the Paella. Beaches full of beautiful women.

    BEFORE Costa del Sol STOP in GRANADA. You MUST see the Alhambra.

    Costa del Sol is full of brits, but they’re nice enough unless there’s a football match and the hooligan in them comes out.

    Gibraltar is tiny. Monkeys… why bother? The town itself is quaint but you can see it all in one afternoon.

    Tangiers is where you wanna go. There is now a FAST FERRY that takes you from Tenerife to Tangiers, Morocoo. Definitely worth spending the day there in the bazaars. AMAZING, even as a tourist trap.

    Rent the car in Granada AFTER spending time there and go to Sevilla, then Cordoba, and then Toledo/Madrid. You are probably better off taking the Inter-Urban train from the Madrid Train station. I took that (17 euros, I think) and then took the bus to the old town.

    Bring as few clothes as possible. Buy them along the way… Zara, H&M (Europe has better stuff), and the other chain (can’t remember) have great fashion and at good prices.

    Madrid – try to stay in Puerta del Sol area. Metro Access, as in Barcelona, is key. From there you can go to all the different barrios.

    P.S. Learn some words in Catala (Catalunyan or Catalan, in Castillian) and you will be received as a king. They just got a “Statut” and are very nationalistic now. Valencia is very close to Catala, but slightly different. Learn a little before going, and the locals will treat you like GOLD. I kid you not.

  18. raincouver

    P.S. 2 – Sevilla takes some time to see as well. Spend a good day there. Cordoba has a huge Mosque that has been converted to a church. CLUBS everywhere, but you’ll be the one pumped and dumped! Lastly, the website for the generalitat de catalunya is here:

    DO NOT EAT ANYWHERE NEAR THE BEACH in Barcelona. Crappy Calamari – 30E. And use mapquest if you’re driving. My fiancee and I booked EVERYTHING online and rented a car in Madrid… mapquest worked perfectly. Just one caution – if you choose a hostel in the heart of the city, there is usually NO ACCESS by car. This is true for Barri Gotic, Pamplona, Valencia, Sevilla, Granada. So choose a place with metro access (Sevilla, Barcelona, Madrid; no metro in Granada). And yes, two weeks is very little time to see all that you proposed, let alone what I have described above. ?

    Te desitjo un bon viatge!

    ?Traducci? ?Angl?s – Catal?

    (Closet hobby linguist)

  19. Sudamericana

    I agree with many commenters in that instead of Costa de Sol, you should visit Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba.

    I was not impressed at all by the southern beaches and would not bother to go… I think you cannot even compare unique sightings like the Great Mosque of Cordoba, the Alhambra, the streets and flamenco dancing in Sevilla, with ordinary looking beaches…. and you plan to go to Ibiza anyway, so I definitely suggest a change of itinerary in this respect…

  20. tommy

    The women are superhot, but please, still pack the plastic brother…or the D.C. in you name will stand for Disseminated Chlamydia

  21. Anonymous

    The women there are “ladies”. They are feminine and like to be treated as such. Hold open doors, don’t swear, offer to buy a drink, compliment her.

    The women there are very open and engaging, but don’t assume that does not mean you don’t have to “court” her.

    It is drastically different than American culture, you will feel like a real man. Women and men have their seperate roles and places but they don’t mind. Just be a gentelman and be witty and gracious and you will be fine. Have fun, and always place a credit card on a different part of your clothing.
    Example: if you have 3 credit cards, place one in your underwear, one inside your shirt, and one in your wallet. This way in case you get robbed you still have some id or credit on you.

  22. Barzelay

    Sounds great. It’s hilarious that everyone talks about getting mugged in Barcelona. I can think of five friends I know who have been to Barcelona, FOUR of whom were mugged while there. The one that wasn’t is 6’4″ and jacked. Just don’t bring the iPod, and make copies of all your IDs and credit cards, and keep them separate from you. This is a good idea for any international travel. I’ve also heard good things (albeit from my grandmother) about Mallorca.

  23. Anonymous

    Sounds like an incredible and incredibly busy trip. I’d agree with cutting a couple of things out in order to enjoy each experience more and not feel rushed.

  24. Mandy

    Aaaah! So jealous!!! Enjoy the nightlife and the sangria…it would be fun for you to visit Portugual, as long as you’re in the general area, but I guess you won’t have time. Diviertase!

  25. Anonymous

    GO TO San Sebastian on the North Atlantic coast. It is the capital of the Basque Region – a gorgeous city of 200,000 with very friendly people, incredible food, and a great vibe in general. You’re crazy if you go all the way to Spain and don’t see the Basque country – its very special.

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