Viva España! I’ve just returned from 10 days in Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome, and Ibiza. This year I’ve been to 10 countries in Europe, and Spain has worked its way up to my top five.
My best friend and I have taken a trip together every year since we graduated from college. This year she got accepted into her dream grad school in Barcelona and I couldn’t be more proud of her. We began planning a trip to several cities in Europe as soon as she received the good news.
As previously mentioned, the places in Spain I visited on this trip were Ibiza and Barcelona. Although I spoke to friends prior to my trip that had been to both locations, I went in with no expectations.
Anyways, if you cared about my personal experience in Spain you would be in my DMs not on my blog. So without further ado here are the top 5 tips I wish I knew before visiting Spain.
- Cash is king, queen, princess, and prince. If you plan on taking taxis in Barcelona or Ibiza be sure to carry cash. I was warned of this, but had no idea that it applied to almost every single taxi I would take. One taxi driver at the airport in Ibiza accepted payment by card, but she was the exception not the rule. Uber is illegal in Barcelona and Ibiza. Some cabs advertised an app called MyTaxi that essentially functions like Uber. However, I was unable to download the app.
- Take the aerobús and metro to/from the airport. I landed in Barcelona late at night so I took a cab to my friend’s apartment for 30€. However, on subsequent trips to the airport we took a combination of the aerobús and metro (if they were running). A one way metro ticket cost 2.90€ (buy a T-10 pass for 9.95€ if you plan to sight see) and a one way ticket for the aerobús cost 5.90€. The buses are air conditioned and offer free WiFi. The aerobús picks up and drops off passengers from the following stops: Plaça Catalunya, Sepùlveda-Urgell, and Plaça Espanya. Tickets can either be purchased with cash upon boarding or from a kiosk located near the bus shelter. The bus is bright blue and hard to miss.
- No basic beaches. All of the beaches we visited in Ibiza were stunning. We spent our last day on the island beach hopping by scooter, and I’d definitely recommend it. Scooters can be rented in downtown Ibiza for around 35€/day. The company my friends rented from was Cooltra. They were easy to use and had a variety of convenient locations. An international driver’s license is not needed, but be sure to bring your state driver’s license with you. We visited Playa Figueretas, Cala Comte, Cala Bassa, Cala Salada, and Cala Saladeta. Although all of the island’s beaches were beautiful, my personal favorites were Salada, Saladeta, and Comte. If you’re pressed for time and only want to visit one beach I’d suggest Cala Salada, which is actually attached to Cala Saladeta. Some of the beaches in Ibiza may be different than what you’re used to in other countries. There are more rocks than sand at some locations, however the beautiful blue water makes it all worth it.
- The food in Spain is amazing. If you’re an avid follower of this site then you know how much I love food. One of my top factors when ranking a destination is the quality of the food. Spain definitely did not disappoint. I did not have a bad meal the entire time I was in the country. Although New York City is known as “the city that never sleeps” I think Barcelona should take that title. It is not uncommon to find restaurants open after midnight. My top 3 recommendations of restaurants and dishes are below:
- Bar Velódromo, Carrer de Muntaner, 213, 08036 Barcelona, Spain -After a long day of traveling to Spain from NJ, by way of Lisbon, I was starving. My friend and I stumbled upon this restaurant that stays open until 3AM every day. I ordered fries and a club sandwich and proceeded to have my life changed. This meal may not sound like much, but the flavors of the aioli, toasted bread (3 slices!), grilled chicken, and cheese came together so well. I visited this restaurant 3 times over the course of my trip and I am not ashamed to admit it. The best part was that my sandwich and fries came to less than 13€ total.
- La Taberna del Parque, Plaza del Parque, 5, 07800 Eivissa, Illes Balears, Spain – I couldn’t leave Spain without trying tapas. This restaurant is located in a plaza with a plethora of other places to eat, however, their menu and decor set them apart. I ordered hummus, grilled prawns, and french fries. The french fries were nothing to write home about, but the other two dishes were delicious.
- La Tertulia, Calle Morales 15, 08029 Barcelona, Spain – This restaurant serves traditional Catalonian food. I ordered braised octopus with potatoes in aioli. The octopus was cooked perfectly and the potatoes were tasty (although anything covered in aioli is, in my opinion). For dessert my friend and I ordered crema Catalana, a cinnamon flavored custard.
- Catalan is the primary language in Ibiza and Barcelona. You may assume that the primary language across Spain is Spanish. However, the primary language in Barcelona and Ibiza is Catalan. If you know Spanish you can get around fine, as most signs and menus are available in Spanish as well as Catalan and English. Some words are similar in Catalan and Spanish, but the languages are not synonymous. Below are some common Catalan words/phrases. More words and phrases are available here.
- Hello, Good Morning = Hola, Bon dia
- Thank you = Gràcies
- Please = Sisplau
- Excuse me = Dispensi
- Good night = Bona nit
- Do you speak English? = Que parla anglès?
- Do you speak Spanish? = Que parla espanyol?
- Yes = Sí
- No = No
- Goodbye = Adéu
- I don’t understand = No ho entenc
Altogether I loved Spain and can’t wait to see more parts of the country. As always if you have any questions or need help planning your trip feel to email me here.