Spain Travel Guide: Madrid, Rioja and Sevilla

Hey y’all! I’ve been so MIA on the blog but happy to be back! I just got back from an amazing vacation and 30th birthday trip in Spain. I’ve been to Barcelona before in 2010 but I checked out different cities on this trip. Logan and I booked this trip back in Jan/Feb and got a great deal on it. My cousin, Pam, is currently studying there to get her MBA and I miss her so much and wanted to plan a trip out to see her. We stayed with her in Madrid but stayed in some gorgeous hotels in Rioja and Sevilla.

Let me know if you have any questions and are planning a trip there!

Madrid

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I normally do tons of research on places we visit and plan out an intense itinerary, but for Madrid this was not the case. My cousin has been living there for a couple of months so I trusted her with wherever she took us. The main focus here was shopping (Zara of course), restaurants and bars.

The only touristy thing that we did was visit the Buen Retiro Park which is GORGEOUS! The park is HUGE and designed by the same person that did Central Park. At that park they also had the Crystal Palace aka El Palacio de Cristal, which you HAVE to check out!

Food in Madrid

My cousin took me to some AMAZING restaurants that you HAVE to check out. Jamon Iberico (Iberian Ham) is a MUST in Spain. I literally had it three times a day and had no shame! I wish we could get the same quality in the US. The most popular foods there are truffle (um YUM!), squid/octupus and artichokes. I had the best meals of my life in Spain and miss everything there! Also, everyone in Spain eats super late. It’s totally normal to have dinner at 9:30pm and most of the time we would eat around 10 pm. It’s such a lively city and everyone is up so late all the time.

Numa Pompilio Restaurante

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This was such a beautiful restaurant and I felt like Alice in Wonderland for some reason. It’s common in Spain to order a couple of entrees and share them with the table, which I loved because I could try so many things. We tried the truffle pasta, which was my favorite dish from the whole trip, pumpkin filled ravioli, artichokes and the dover sole.

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Ten con Ten

We went here for my birthday and it was the most perfect meal. Again, another gorgeous restaurant. We started with the jamon iberico of course, the steak tartare and the truffle pasta carbonara with an egg yolk.

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Restaurante Oter

We came here on our last night in Madrid and again everything was perfection. We had the truffle risotto, mushroom ravioli, octopus and the Spanish croquettes filled with ham and cheese. I was so blown away with the food scene overall and hope I can go back just to enjoy all these dishes again!

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La Rioja

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Logan and I drink so much wine a week (at least three to four bottles of red-eek) and we really love the wines from the Rioja region of Spain. We planned a trip to visit here for about a day and a half and we had such a great time, despite our poor planning.

We took a bus from Madrid to get to Logrono and it was about 4 hours to get there. The trip itself was not bad at all, just the transportation to get around in Rioja. I definitely recommend renting a car or arranging for a private driver during your trip. In the area that we stayed (Villabuena de Alva), there were about 48 wineries for only a population of 300! Everything closes early on Saturdays, so plan accordingly.

Viura Hotel

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I strongly recommend staying here, the hotel was BEAUTIFUL. It was about a 30 minute cab ride from the bus station, so it was a tad far. It might look a little familiar because Rachel Lindsay from the Bachelorette filmed the fantasy suite night there! We honestly had no idea until after we booked it.

We had the best view of the little town and we were so comfortable during our stay at the hotel. The hotel offered a premium and private wine tasting, which we definitely took advantage of and recommend. We drank about four bottles of wine between the three of us-oops!

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The next day we visited the mass producer of wine, Marques de Riscal. We did the 1.5 hour tour and the vineyards were beautiful. It included a tasting afterwards and we also stopped by the cute little cafeteria and enjoyed some tapas. Definitely buy your tickets ahead of time since they quickly fill up.

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Everything was beautiful there! The hotel is a five star hotel and has an amazing spa as well. I’m sure it’s gorgeous in the summer time and so enjoyable to explore on a bike ride!

Sevilla

The third place we visited in Spain was Sevilla or Seville. We took the train to get here from Madrid and it was super easy- only 2.5 hours! I think this was one of my favorite things and places to check out on this trip. While there is not a TON to do, the little city is BEAUTIFUL and SO European with the tiny alleys and tapas restaurants with lively patios and people just genuinely happy.

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We were here for a day and a half and it was perfect for us! My favorite thing to check out was Plaza de Espana. It’s a large plaza with little paddle boats you can rent to go around, there’s a large fountain and tons of beautiful and bold tiles all around. There are so many people walking around and you might even catch some local music and flamenco.

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We also visited the Sevilla Cathedral and it was impressive. Fun fact: you’ll find the tomb of Christopher Columbus inside. I recommend buying tickets in advance unless you want to wait in line 20-30 mins. They also offer a tour to climb to the top and see the whole city.

We did a lot of walking around and stumbling upon different places and drinking along the way. Of course I had to check out Zara because it’s just the best. Along the way, we stopped to admire the structure of the Metropol Parasol, which was incredible- see below!

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I was really craving seafood paella and we found the perfect place for dinner, Gusto. It’s located right by the cathedral and you can’t miss it!

I’m saving the best for last- Hotel Casa 1800. As I mentioned before, I am not ashamed to admit that I am a hotel snob. I hope you don’t blame me that I want to sleep in a clean and comfortable room. I always do a ton of research when it comes to hotels and read a ton of reviews. Ideally, I prefer something modern or renovated, with a great view and unique rooms/experience. We totally don’t mind splurging on a room, as it’s super important to be well rested when traveling and exploring all day long. I also wrote this blog post about finding hotel deals!

The hotel itself was in a perfect location right in the middle of everything, with views of the cathedral and less than a block away. Our suite, Suite 1800, was that one at the very top with the three windows and it was unreal. After Bora Bora, this is probably one of the top hotels I have stayed at and was blown away.

I am so grateful I am able to experience things like this and I will never forget the memories my husband and I make together. Every detail of our suite was perfect. The bathroom had double sinks and a tub. My favorite part of it all was that it was two stories and at the top we had our own private jacuzzi. It was an incredible experience being up there in a hot tub, admiring the stars, drinking Cava and counting down until midnight to celebrate my 30th birthday!

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As you can see, it was a truly incredible 7 day vacation with lots of memories! I definitely urge you to consider visiting Spain and don’t hesitate to reach out with questions! I’m always looking forward to help. What trip do you have planned next?

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Georgia peach living life to the fullest in Atlanta. Always obsessing over fashion, travel, dogs and sour candy.

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