Spain is a country I’d always wanted to explore in more detail. Paul and I went to Barcelona in 2004 but we were very wet behind the ears when it came to travelling back then (our photographs of that trip were taken on a disposable camera which illustrates how long ago it was) and I was keen to return as a better, more experienced traveller. In 2010 we visited a friend who lived in Madrid and loved it. Since then I’d always wanted to see more of Spain and the fact it is so cheap and easy to get to from the UK was an even bigger incentive.
Planning multiple trips within one country, we’d learned from experience, is never easy. It is very hard to narrow down where to go and organise the logistics of getting from place to place. The destinations we were both set on were Madrid and Seville as we were keen to go back to Spain’s biggest city and had only heard hugely positive things about Seville. The other place I knew I wanted to visit was Barcelona as we only had vague memories of it thanks to those grainy disposable camera photographs. Paul was less keen as he thought Barcelona would be too touristy; he took some persuasion but I managed to win him round. The other destinations on our Spain trip were up for deliberation.
The possibilities felt endless; Spain has a myriad of enticing destinations. There was Valencia, the country’s third biggest city which was sure to be interesting. There was Bilbao, a cool city in northern Spain which offered a Guggenheim museum and an opportunity to explore Basque culture. There was Salamanca, a university town which receives consistent plaudits in guidebooks and travel articles. There was Rioja, Spain’s biggest wine region. There was Granada with its famous Alhambra fortress. We’d spoken to a few people who’d visited Malaga on the south coast who had raved about it. And this is even before we got to to the islands like Mallorca and Menorca. This trip was going to take a lot of narrowing down.
In the end, this is where we decided to travel to in Spain:
We started our Spain trip with Barcelona, flying there on Easyjet from Edinburgh as the flight times and prices worked out better than flying from Glasgow (there are regular buses from Glasgow to Edinburgh airport which makes flying out from there easy for us).
Looking for accomodation in Barcelona was problematic. It was expensive, the most expensive city in Spain for accomodation by quite some distance. We also had to carefully consider what area of the city to stay in as we wanted to avoid the mass tourists. We ended up settling for an airbnb in Poble-Sec, a neighbourhood I hadn’t heard much about but I ended up really liking. It wasn’t touristy (at the time), it had narrow alleyways filled with busy (with locals) restaurants and bars, and was home to a pintxo bar we accidentally discovered and loved so much so we went back every day. I really liked the airbnb too; it was located in a narrow street and had wooden doors that opened up to a small balcony. During our stay there I would stand on the balcony and peer out down the street and to the apartments opposite. It felt like being an actual Barcelona resident for a few days. Unfortunately this airbnb doesn’t seem to be available anymore.
Barcelona costs (for both Paul and I):
Flights from Edinburgh to Barcelona: £153
Airbnb for four nights: £265
Our trip to Requena, a town one hour west of Valencia, wasn’t so much a happy accident as an ecstatic, overjoying, all the superlatives you can think of, accident. Paul and I really wanted to visit a vineyard in Spain and had initially considered Rioja but decided getting to and from the region didn’t fit well with our other travel plans. Unable to stop our thoughts of delicious Spanish wine, Paul picked up a bottle of Aldi tempranillo we were drinking in our living room one Saturday night and looked at the label. “I’m going to see where this wine is from and put the location into airbnb,” he said. The Aldi wine was from a place called Requena and when Paul looked i up on airbnb, to our absolute astonishment we were presented with a spectacular house in a working vineyard surrounded by acres of land filled with rows of vines. And it was cheap!
It was the most amazing discovery ever and we knew we had to book it. We got the train from Barcelona to Valencia, a scenic journey along the coast, then a local train from Valencia to Requena. Getting from Requena town to the airbnb was a bit more difficult; we arrived at the (sleepy at the best of times) town at siesta and every taxi driver was AWOL. We spent a while pottering around Requena wondering how on earth we were going to get to the airbnb until we eventually found an awake taxi driver who took us there.
The accommodation was even more spectacular than it looked in the photographs. It exceeded every dream we had of a Spanish vineyard stay. Picture stunning ornate rooms, sipping a glass of wine from the vineyard in the garden, having dinner at a table for two placed in the middle of the grounds at moonlight. Staying there wasn’t just the highlight of our Spain trip – it was a highlight of all of the travel experiences we’ve had so far. I will do a more detailed blog post about our stay in the future as there are so many details and photographs about it I want to share. The airbnb has gone up in price since we stayed there but it is still worth every penny.
Requena costs (for both Paul and I)
Train from Barcelona to Valencia: 31 euros
Two nights in Requena airbnb: £94
We got a local train back to Valencia and spent three nights in Spain’s third biggest city. Everything I read about Valencia said Ruzafa was its coolest neighbourhood so we booked an airbnb there overlooking the market. It was very spacious and fantastic value for money. It also had a little balcony which we sat out on at the end of each night watching the hustle and bustle on the streets below. It was a stipulation of mine that every airbnb we stayed at in Spain had a balcony.
Valencia costs (for both Paul and I)
Three nights in Valencia airbnb: £112
We got the train from Valencia to Seville. Travelling by train is my favourite method of transport and it was a great way to get around Spain, even though it’s not particularly cheap. The airbnb we booked was very small but had everything we needed squeezed into its compact space. Its selling point was the huge balcony which was such a cosy and inviting space. We ended each night in Seville there with a glass of wine; on one memorable evening we watched a thunderstorm.
During our time in Seville we also did a day trip to Cordoba which was just a 40 minute train journey away. Cordoba is famous for its mosque-cathedral, the Mezquita.
Seville costs (for both Paul and I)
Train from Valencia to Madrid: 101 Euros
Seville airbnb for four nights: £216
We then got the train from Seville to the last destination on our Spain trip: Madrid. We stayed in another fantastic airbnb in the Arapiles area which didn’t have my stipulation of a balcony but instead had a roof terrace! From Madrid we flew back to Edinburgh on Iberia. Unfortunately the airbnb we stayed in is no longer available.
Madrid costs (for both Paul and I)
Train from Seville to Madrid: 87 euros
Madrid airbnb for two nights (spent the last night at a friend’s apartment): £100
Iberia flights from Madrid to Edinburgh: £87
Total costs for Paul and I for all our Spain transport and accommodation: £1218
Other blog posts you might be interest in: This Is What We Did In Rome, This Is How Much Our Trip To The Loire Valley Cost, This Is How Much Our Christmas Trip To Berlin Cost, This Is How Much Our Trip To Korea And Japan Cost