Help plan my trip to Madrid and Barcelona
December 6, 2022 7:28 AM   Subscribe

There are three of us traveling to Spain at the end of March. We only have 7 days and it seems like Madrid and Barcelona make sense. I would like recommendations in which neighborhoods to stay, hotels, etc.

Two adults and a teen will be travelling from the US during Spring break of 2023, the last week of March. We are interested in the typical things, like good food, art, shopping, and cultural tours. There is a lot to choose from and I don't think we will have difficulty finding things to do, but if there is something you really loved please do tell. We can spend ~$200 or so per night, more if it's really necessary. Do not want to stay in a chain or sterile hotel but rather a beautiful hotel in a nice, walkable neighborhood. We will be traveling by train from Madrid to Barcelona about half way through. Any advice you can think of would also be appreciated.
posted by waving to Travel & Transportation around Getafe, Spain (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
One of my favorite museums of all time is something I'd never heard about until a historian friend pointed it out: Museu Frederic Mares

Mares was a capital C, Collector - and he collected EVERYTHING (the website and first floor have lots of religious statues, sure, but the best bit of his collection are all the upper floors where he's got rooms on rooms of: ornate painted ladies' fans, elaborately carved decorative pipes, unusually carved walking sticks, toy theaters, kids' bicycles, postcards of actors in costume, and cigarette boxes and wrapping papers).

The last one was my favorite b/c cigarettes used to come like Bazooka Joe gum, wrapped with a lil comic or illustration of frogs playing poker or whatnot, and it's amazing - there are frames and frames of colorful 19th century comics and cartoons and promotional postcards of actors running around dressed like trees or swooning like Ophelia or pretending to be strongmen. Tin soldiers! Spinning tops! Early cinematic machines! Music boxes! Zoetropes! Magic Lanterns!

It's like a time machine to popular culture in the 19th century, looking at the comics that made those people laugh, and it's exactly the stuff no one normally saved for museums.

He also saved a lot of Catalonian specific cultural pieces (a big deal given that the Franco regime tried to purge/suppress Catalonian culture and stamp out pieces like these).

There's a better rundown of it here: "It’s so effing magical I want to cry."
posted by Geameade at 7:52 AM on December 6, 2022 [3 favorites]


We stayed at The 5 Rooms in Barcelona (based off a recommendation from another MeFite) and loved it. Boutique hotel in the Gracia, very centrally located, walkable to Plaza Catalunya. Beautiful rooms, though you don't get any view to speak of because you're int the middle of an urban neighborhood. Would 100% stay there again if we ever go back.
posted by briank at 7:55 AM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]


I stayed in the most amazing apartment in Barcelona once. I'll try and find the address and send it in your memail.
posted by mumimor at 7:58 AM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]


Each city has so much to offer that you might want to consider just one, and take in some of the nearby countryside rather than decamping and splitting 7 days between them (you will lose an entire day in transition).
For Madrid, the area near Atocha station and the major museums is perfect. Plenty of great food choices, loads of lodging and everything including the train station is an easy walk. We were there in 2021 and day-tripped to Toledo, an easy 30 min train ride.
Barcelona has many interesting neighborhoods, but first timers will want access to the Gothic quarter, Las Ramblas, Tibidabo and the many Gaudi points of interest. From there we did a quick train trip up the coast to Girona for a day out of the city.
I have no specific recommendations, I use Agoda to find hotels and find their traveler reviews to be spot on.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:34 AM on December 6, 2022 [3 favorites]


My wife and I did a food tour in Madrid - it went to some of the smaller places that specialized in one or two foods, and were places that we would not have seen otherwise.

If you like mushrooms, you should try El Mesón del Champiñón in Madrid - my taste buds were made very very happy.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]


We stayed with family in Madrid, and they're not there anymore so I can't help you there, but we stayed in a wonderful little apartment in Barcelona.
posted by emelenjr at 11:21 AM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]


One recommendation for Madrid: The Prado is free several nights per week, from 6-8 PM (IIRC). You may want to visit the exhibits in smaller batches rather than spend a lot of money on one day pass during which you will get exhausted and overwhelmed.
posted by suelac at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]


Madrid ideas:

Go to El Cortijo Taberna Flamenca if you want to see an authentic, non-touristy flamenco show. It's underneath a traditional market in the working-class neighborhood which historically has had a great deal of immigration from Andalusia—where flamenco is from. The 2-hour show is only 20 euro per person, drink included. It's about 15 minutes by metro from Atocha.

Niche, but If anyone is interested in historical fashion, El Museo del Traje is off the usual tourist routes and has an outstanding collection.

The restaurant in the Prado is tiny and easy to miss (go to back of the main café), but has a tasty (Cordon Bleu-trained chief) and reasonably-priced (for a major museum) lunch set-menu.

What kind of food do you like? Madrid has an outstanding culinary culture the presents the opportunity to try cuisines that you may not have encountered before.

And generally, have some time to wander about. Tourists tend to go from Destination A to Destination B on exactly the same routes again and again. Go one street over and suddenly there are 90% fewer people and all kinds of cool unexpected sights.
posted by Mournful Bagel Song at 4:58 AM on December 7, 2022 [4 favorites]


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