Affordable Spain!
August 31, 2009 8:46 PM   Subscribe

What are some of the best things to do in Spain in October?

Going on an 11 day trip of Spain:

We will be spending the 1st, 2nd, 3rd days in Madrid, hopping the bullet train and then spending the 4th, 5th, and possibly 6th day in Barcelona. After that we're going to play it by ear, but we're thinking of going to Valencia and different spots in Catalonia (I lined up a rental car) and driving back to Madrid (it's my scheduled drop off point for the car).

Looking for awesome stuff to check out. We'll have a car from the 6th to 11th day of the trip. It would be great if things could trend toward the affordable as I'd like to have some of our savings when we get home.

Also, is there a "city pass" type thing for Madrid and/or Barcelona? We saved a bundle on our last trip to San Francisco by getting one of those. It included metro and museum entry for a flat fee.
posted by lattiboy to Travel & Transportation around Spain (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, we're ALSO thinking about going to San Sebastian for a day or two (probably the 8th and 9th days).

Seen a lot of travel shows about how amazing that place is.
posted by lattiboy at 9:02 PM on August 31, 2009

True story, I spent three months making this exact circuit, six years ago.

Not much of my experience is relevant (CHURCHES have closed since I was in Barcelona!) but I can totally recommend people watching everywhere, the beaches of San Sebastian, and Gaudi spotting in Barcelona. (I don't even care about architecture, and that was one of the highlights of my trip.)
posted by aint broke at 10:07 PM on August 31, 2009

Just a few random ideas for Madrid. I've never seen this before, but it could be handy. I'm pretty sure you can obtain travel passes (or at least info about them) from the tourist office in Madrid's Plaza Mayor. Check out this for any local fiestas that coincide with your visit - they're always worth going to. Madrid has an expensive bus tour, but a ride on the standard Circular bus route will allow you to get off at many of the same places. This site (in Spanish) lists free activities in Madrid, while this is a good listings guide. For the evenings, Chueca is a really buzzing area these days. Madrid is a great city for just walking around. If your trip was at the end of Sept, you could go the San Sebastian's big film festival. It is an amazing place - the food there is the best in Spain, and prepare yourself for the wonderful early evening strolls along the seafront.
posted by Holly at 11:57 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

My wife and I will be in Barcelona and Ibiza the last week and a half of september? Anything we can't miss?

We'll obviously have to go out to a club at least once while we're in Ibiza (potentially luckily for us: it's the week of closing parties) -- where should we go?
posted by wrok at 4:58 AM on September 1, 2009

You are going to have one rad trip.

Segovia is a city north of Madrid with a super cool 1st/2nd century aqueduct that is huge and free. There's also a neat castle to tour. Rick Steves (travel guru on public TV) did a show on Segovia and recommended the area's specialty dish, roast sucking pig, but I have to admit I never tried it.

The Royal Palace in Aranjuez is a good day trip from Madrid.

Another one is Toledo, which has a castle, important civil war sites, cool city walls and winding streets (the kind that seemed so very lovely and European to me), and a bunch of stores selling swords and suits of armor.

Depending on which way you go, Saragossa (aka Zaragoza) might be on your way between Barcelona and Madrid. It has a great castle from Spain's muslim/moorish years.

In Barcelona, I loved the open-top bus tour (run by the city transit/tourism office). It was great for getting a feel for the city and scope out stuff I wanted to do later. Also it was cheap. I don't know if that link will work but just search for "Barcelona Bus Turistic" if it sounds interesting.

I also ADORED Barcelona's science museum, called CosmoCaixa. The building is just super cool. I can't find the official website, but I'm sure it's out there somewhere.

Had a great lunch at Senyor Paralleda.

And finally, a good day trip from Barcelona is to go to Figueres and see the Salvador Dali museum.

posted by TheClonusHorror at 4:58 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Barcelona is one of my favorite cities. Visit as much of the Gaudi architecture that you can; the guy was a genius!

Tip: When visiting the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, get there as soon as they open and beat the tourist rush.

The Barcelona Bus Turistic pass is almost a must. It not only provides free transportation on the buses, but great discounts into those Gaudi buildings (and Parc Guell which I sadly missed, but which draws me back to Barcelona). Lots of discounts for other things, also. You get a coupon booklet with the pass.

In (actually underneath) Plaza (Placa) Catalyunia (spelling?) is the tourist info center, where you can also reserve a waling tour of the city...recommended.

The Salvador Dali museum in Figueres is great, if you are up that way.

We didn't make it to Monserat (spelling again) but lots of folks consider that a must.

IF you get to Gerona (north of Barcelona, on the way to Figueres), eat at a restaurant called Draps. Best food I had in Spain.

Speaking of food, it seems (sarcastic) that people must get a DISCOUNT for smoking in restaurants. Way too much smoke.

The Catalyunia Opera house is a great visit.

Aaaargh! Thinking about it all makes me want to go back. Alas this year we will be visiting Italy, which should also be great... but there's no Italian Gaudi.
posted by mbarryf at 5:22 AM on September 1, 2009

One thing to clear up. There did not seem to be any smoking in Draps. However the tapas bars had lots of smoke.

Also, I meant "walking" not "waling" in my first comment.
posted by mbarryf at 6:24 AM on September 1, 2009

There are some good festivals around the country in early October. Go to Zaragoza which is a fun city for the Fiestas del Pilar from October 10-18. They have Gigantes and Cabezudos which are pretty awesome to see. This festival has been around for hundreds of years and is one of the festivals which defines Spain. Any time you have a chance - go to a Spanish festival. It is worth seeing and is a thousand times more fun than going to see another cathedral or La Sagrada Familia.

Another festival can be found in Alcala de Henares in Madrid and is the Semana Cervatina - October 9th.

One tip is not to rent a car while you are in Madrid. You don't need one and it is actually more of a headache to have one. Driving around the city with a car is an effort in futility. You will spend most of your time mired in traffic jams and parking will be next to impossible. The Metro is the best way to get around the city and late at night taxis are abundant and reasonable.
posted by JJ86 at 6:53 AM on September 1, 2009

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