The Best Hot Air Balloon Rides From Barcelona, Spain

Barcelonians are extremely lucky because some of the most beautiful countryside in Europe is sitting right on their doorstep.

With the Natural Park of Montseny, the Mediterranean shoreline, and historical landmarks such as Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, there are many amazing places to visit. But the best way to view these attractions is from 3,000 feet above on a hot air balloon ride from Barcelona.

There are many hot air balloon adventures in Barcelona, but some offer many more features than others. To save you time, we have reviewed the top 7 Barcelona hot air balloon trips.

Read our reviews to discover which of the top rated hot air balloon excursions from Barcelona are best for you and your family.

And you also might like to check out our Spain Travel Guide.

Best Hot Air Balloon Rides From Barcelona

 Barcelona Morning Hot Air Balloon Flight with BreakfastBarcelona: Montserrat Hot-Air Balloon Ride & Monastery VisitBarcelona Private Hot Air Balloon Flight
editors-choice
Barcelona Morning Hot Air Balloon Flight with BreakfastBarcelona: Montserrat Hot-Air Balloon Ride & Monastery VisitBarcelona Private Hot Air Balloon Flight
Departure Point:Hotel pick upHotel pick upHotel pick up
Departure Time:7:00 AM5:30 AM7:00 AM
Duration:6 hours6.5 hours5 hours
Includes:Balloon flight, transport, breakfast, flight certificate, photographs, and insuranceBalloon flight, transport, snacks, Cava, flight certificate, photostory, insurance, and entry into Montserrat MonasteryPrivate balloon flight, safety briefing, transport, picnic, Cava toast, soft drinks, flight certificate, and insurance

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Hot Air Balloon Rides in Barcelona

  1. Barcelona Morning Hot Air Balloon Flight with Breakfast
  2. Barcelona: Montserrat Hot-Air Ballon Ride & Monastery Visit
  3. Barcelona Private Hot Air Balloon Flight
  4. Barcelona: Hot Air Balloon Flight
  5. Barcelona: Hot Air Balloon Flight at Sunrise
  6. Barcelona: Private Hot Air Balloon Ride
  7. Private Hot Air Balloon Flight around Barcelona

Hot Air Balloon Rides in Barcelona Reviews

#1 Barcelona Morning Hot Air Balloon Flight with Breakfast

Barcelona Morning Hot Air Balloon Flight with Breakfast

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick up
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Includes: Balloon flight, transport, breakfast, flight certificate, photographs, and insurance

This is the best hot air balloon trip from Barcelona if you want a fully inclusive, all-day ballooning adventure. After being picked up from your hotel, you’ll be transported to the Natural Park of Montseny to enjoy your early morning balloon flight across some of the most breathtaking scenery in Catalonia.

This is a unique opportunity to view vast fields, green hills, verdant forests, and breathtaking mountains from a unique viewpoint. The Natural Park of Montseny is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve containing a scenic mountain range.

The park is found north of Barcelona and starts at 650 feet above sea level. The park contains 3 distinct biomes. It is notable for the shift from a Mediterranean climate at the base of Montseny Mountain to a Cold Mountain climate beginning at around 4,000 feet. The highest peak is 5,617 feet in altitude.

But this special hot air balloon flight in Catalonia isn’t only a great way to view the beautiful countryside. It also provides a wonderful introduction to Catalonian cuisine and culture. It begins with a typical Catalan-style breakfast in a traditional country house.

In the country house, you will learn about how Catalonians live and taste some of their most popular dishes. With a maximum group size of only 8 passengers (or a private flight for your family and friends only) you will benefit from your guide’s full attention.

At the end of this thrilling hot air balloon ride near Barcelona, you will be provided with complimentary souvenirs — a commemorative flight certificate and photographs of your hot air balloon experience to cherish forever. No other Barcelona hot air balloon excursion offers so much.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#2 Barcelona: Montserrat Hot-Air Balloon Ride & Monastery Visit

Barcelona: Montserrat Hot-Air Balloon Ride & Monastery Visit

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick up
  • Departure Time: 5:30 AM
  • Duration: 6.5 hours
  • Includes: Balloon flight, transport, snacks, Cava, flight certificate, photostory, insurance, and entry into Montserrat Monastery

This is a perfect hot air balloon trip from Barcelona for visitors who are especially interested in Catalonian history and culture. It is also the best Catalonian hot air balloon ride for Catholics who wish to make a pilgrimage to the most holy shrine in Catalonia.

If you are going to experience a hot air balloon ride in Barcelona, you may as well choose one that provides you with dramatic scenery. This hot air balloon flight over Montserrat Abbey certainly does.

At the start of this Barcelona hot air balloon trip, you will assist the pilot to fill the balloon interior with enough hot air to lift you all up off the ground. A 4×4 vehicle will follow the hot air balloon at all times, remaining in radio contact, for your safety and convenience.

Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey is the most important religious retreat in Catalonia. The Virgin Mary is Catalonia’s patron saint, and young Catalonian Catholics consider it a rite of passage to make a pilgrimage here and hike overnight to the top of Montserrat to watch the sunrise.

The abbey was founded in the 11th century though much of the surviving structure dates to the 19th and 20th centuries. This is a living monastery still inhabited by over 70 monks.

Montserrat means “serrated mountain”, which is a nod to the unique needle-shaped formation of its impressive peak. On this spectacular hot air balloon excursion, you will fly over the top of the monastery and the spectacular surrounding landscape.

After viewing the abbey from high above, you will be picked up by the 4×4 vehicle and transported back to the monastery to explore inside this beautiful holy structure. During the monastery tour, you will see the famous La Morenata statue of the Virgin Mary.

The world renowned Escolania Boys’ Choir is based in the monastery, and you may be lucky enough to hear them sing during your visit.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


#3 Barcelona Private Hot Air Balloon Flight

Barcelona Private Hot Air Balloon Flight

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick up
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Includes: Private balloon flight, safety briefing, transport, picnic, Cava toast, soft drinks, flight certificate, and insurance

This is the best Barcelona hot air balloon flight for passengers who want to learn how to operate a hot air balloon themselves. On this private hot air balloon adventure, your pilot will give you a safety briefing and then gain your assistance to inflate the balloon with hot air.

Following this, your calm, confident, and professional pilot will offer you hands-on tuition so you can learn how to fly a hot air balloon all by yourself.

Your balloon will ascend as high as 3,000 feet and fly you across the Montseny Natural Park, past Montserrat, and into the Valles Oriental. You’ll view the sparkling water of the Mediterranean Sea and Barcelona’s skyline from the air.

During the summer season, the flight also takes in the golden Costa Brava beaches. During winter, you’ll benefit from unique views of the snow-topped mountains.

After landing, you’ll be collected by a dedicated “rescue team” and be offered a glass of locally produced Cava to celebrate a successful flight and a picnic to sate your hunger. You’ll also be awarded a souvenir First Balloon Flight Certificate for your scrapbook.

No other Barcelona Balloon flight offers you so much hands-on experience. This is a unique opportunity to create special memories during your Catalonian vacation.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#4 Barcelona: Hot Air Balloon Flight

 Spain Catalonia Things to do in Barcelona Montserrat Monastery Barcelona: Hot Air Balloon Flight

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hard Rock Café, Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona or Carrer 11 de Septembre, 08500, Vic
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM, 7:30 AM, 8:00 AM
  • Duration: 3 – 5 hours
  • Includes: Balloon flight, safety briefing, transport from city center, brunch, Cava toast, flight certificate, and insurance

This hot air balloon flight from Barcelona offers great value for money and amazing views of the most beautiful countryside in Catalonia.

After meeting in Barcelona city center, you’ll be transported out to the beautiful Montseny Natural Park where you’ll meet your pilot and hot air balloon. Your adventure begins when you assist your pilot in inflating the balloon with hot air.

During the flight, you’ll experience breathtaking views of the fields, hills, forests, and mountain scenery. If the sky is clear, you’ll be able to see all the way back to Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea beyond. Don’t forget your camera to record these special moments.

After landing, you’ll be offered brunch and a celebratory Cava toast. This is a great time to talk to your pilot and ask any questions you may have remaining concerning hot air balloons or the local landscape. To finish off the day, you’ll receive a special certificate to commemorate your first hot air balloon flight.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


#5 Barcelona: Hot Air Balloon Flight at Sunrise

Barcelona: Hot Air Balloon Flight at Sunrise

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hard Rock Café, Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona
  • Departure Time: 5:45 AM
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Includes: Balloon flight, sunrise experience, safety briefing, transport from city center, restaurant breakfast, Cava toast, soft drinks, flight certificate, and insurance

This is the most wonderful hot air balloon experience in Barcelona if you want to experience a sunrise from a unique perspective. Sunrises are always a sublime sight, but viewed from 3,000 foot above the ground, they become an almost religious experience.

The historical town of Vic near Barcelona is an interesting place to visit during your vacation in Catalonia. It is even more impressive when viewed from a hot air balloon. And the surrounding countryside is beyond comparison. Imagine experiencing all that and a sunrise as well!

This experience also includes a traditional Catalonian breakfast in a local restaurant. This is a great way to learn about Catalan cuisine and meet local people. Celebrate your successful flight with a toast of locally produced Cava and a special First Balloon Flight certificate.

And if you’re really interested in hot air balloons, the crew will invite you to help deflate the balloon and store it away.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


#6 Barcelona Private Hot Air Balloon Ride

Barcelona Private Hot Air Balloon Ride

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Variable depending on area chosen for flight
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Includes: Private balloon flight, safety briefing, transport, sweet pastries, Cava toast, soft drinks, photo report, flight certificate, and insurance

This is the most flexible Barcelona private hot air balloon adventure. Barcelona is surrounded by beautiful countryside and famous monuments, and with this Barcelona hot air balloon trip, you can choose exactly where you want to fly and what you want to see (subject to flying conditions and air traffic restrictions).

Popular locations include the Costa Brava, Montserrat, the Pyrenees, west Catalonia, and central Catalonia.

This is also the best hot air balloon excursion for people with access problems. The operator is able to supply special baskets designed to cater to those with mobility problems and disabilities.

Because the flight sets off early in the morning, you may experience a beautiful sunrise over the Catalonian landscape. When you arrive at your starting point, you’ll observe the expert local pilot inflating the balloon ready for flight.

Once you’re in the air, your direction will depend upon the wind conditions, but your pilot will have chosen a launch point with this in mind to ensure that you see what you want to see.

The flight will provide you with unique views across the Catalonian countryside. You’ll also have the opportunity to speak with your pilot and learn about how they control the balloon and the landmarks you pass. The flight will last for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

After you land, you’ll be met by a support team who will offer you a Cava toast and some sweet pastries. Your pilot will sign a First Flight Certificate you can take away as a souvenir, and you will later be emailed a “photo report” of everything you’ve seen during your flight so you can cherish the memories forever.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


#7 Private Hot Air Balloon Flight around Barcelona

Private Hot Air Balloon Flight around Barcelona

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick up
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Includes: Balloon flight, transfer, breakfast in a country hotel, flight certificate, photographs, and insurance

This is an ideal Barcelona hot air balloon tour if you an all-day ballooning adventure and an opportunity to learn about local culture and cuisine. This Barcelona hot air balloon adventure features a flight over the Natural Park of Montseny, which contains some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe.

The Natural Park of Montseny contains verdant hills, sprawling fields, lush forests, and sublime mountain scenery. This park is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, so you will see many unique examples of flora and fauna during this Barcelona hot air balloon excursion.

You will also experience the distinct shift from a Mediterranean climate at the base of Montseny Mountain to a cold mountain climate as you climb higher into the sky.

After your flight, a breakfast in a typical Catalonian country house will provide you with a fantastic introduction to local cuisine and a chance to learn about Catalonia’s distinct culture. You will also receive a special souvenir flight certificate signed by your pilot as a memento of your first thrilling hot air balloon flight in Catalonia.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



Spain Travel Guide

During its long and fascinating history, Spain has done more to shape the modern world than any other country. Though nobody today would condone the actions of the Conquistadors in America, Spain did form the first major global empire and forever change the world map.

The Best Hot Air Balloon Rides From Barcelona, Spain

From Santa Cruz de Nuca in British Columbia down to Santiago de Chile in the far south, Spain left its footprint across the whole of the Americas. Yet the nation itself is relatively small, with a population or only 47 million, not all even identifying as Spanish or speaking Spanish.

Spain is in fact a divided nation. The northeastern autonomous community of Catalonia contains 8 million people who identify as Catalan not Spanish. As recently as 2017, this region attempted to become fully independent from Spanish rule. This region contains Barcelona, Spain’s second largest city, as well as much of Spain’s industry.

When visiting Spain, most people head first for three cities. In the north, Barcelona is the cultural and historical capital and the most popular destination. In the south, Granada is a focal point, featuring the ancient Moorish palace of the Alhambra. And in the center, you will find the capital city — Madrid. There are other wonderful places to visit in this diverse and culturally rich nation, notably Seville and Salamanca, but those three cities are by far the most interesting.

Hot Air Balloon Flights in Barcelona

Two hundred years ago, hot air balloons were the only way that humans could fly. Today, they are considered an outdated and slow means of transport as well as difficult to control. However, there is something uniquely magical and romantic about a trip into the sky with only an air-filled balloon keeping you high off the ground.

Barcelona is an excellent location to try hot air ballooning for the first time. There are many experienced and competent hot air balloon tour operators willing and able to launch you high up into the sky.

Not only that, but Barcelona is also surrounded by spectacular scenic landscapes that are perfect to explore while flying in a hot air balloon. Popular locations near to the city include the Costa Brava, historical landmarks like Montserrat Monastery, and the renowned Natural Park of Montseny with its mountainous scenery and unique biosphere.

Note that most hot air balloon trips in Barcelona start early in the morning. This means that you’ll have to rise and shine at the crack of dawn…or before if you want to catch a sunrise. But these early flights provide the optimum photography conditions meaning that you’ll be able to take many Instagram-worthy shots while you’re in the air.

Traveling in the time of COVID

Like many destinations, some tours and visitor attractions in Spain have adopted special precautionary measures during the pandemic.

Face masks are mandatory in some locations, notably in enclosed public areas such as travel hubs and shopping malls. You are expected to supply your own mask and wear it when you enter buildings.

It is in your own interest to keep your distance from other visitors who are not in your family group or bubble. You are expected to keep your distance inside boats, coaches, train compartments, and other vehicles and when seated in restaurants.

At the time of writing, Spain welcomes visitors and visas are not required for US citizens. However, with the exception of children aged 12 and under, every person arriving in Spain must provide a negative COVID-19 test certificate (NEAR, LAMP, TMA, or PCR — NOT an antigen test) or proof of being fully vaccinated at least 14 days before entry using a vaccine authorised by the WHO or the European Medicines Agency. This certificate must be time stamped within 72 hours.

You can obtain the most up-to-date information directly from the Spanish government’s Spain Travel Health portal. During these relatively uncertain times, it is wise to also consult the US Department of State website for current travel advisories.

Airports & Entry

You can enter Spain by sea, land, or air. What works best depends upon where you’re coming from. However, if you are traveling more than a hundred miles, it is best to fly. It is cheapest and most efficient to arrive by airplane.

Spain boasts 47 airports, and most of them handle international flights. This is because there are so many popular tourist destinations, including many of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea that are popular clubbing spots for youths from across the whole of Europe.

When planning a journey to Spain, it is important to decide what cities you most want to see before flying and to compare ticket prices carefully. Because of the different airlines serving different airports, you will find an astonishingly broad range of prices.

It’s difficult to generalize due to competition between the airlines, but typically it’s much cheaper to fly into the two busiest airports in Spain: Madrid-Barajas and Barcelona El Prat. Direct flights to Granada, Seville, and Salamanca tend to be much more expensive.

Planning Tips

Spain is a fascinating country with a rich history and culture, which is why it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Europe. Here are a few specific tips to help you get the most out of your vacation.

If you have tips of your own about this beautiful country, please share them with other readers in the comments below.

Tip #1: Travel there for less

It is both easiest and most cost effective to enter Spain through one of the two most popular international airports — Madrid and Barcelona. Because they are such popular destinations, don’t just book a ticket with your favorite airline. Instead, shop around. To get the best flight times and cheapest rates, aim to book 3 months in advance.

Time of year is a major factor in flight prices. During the long summer vacation and Easter, flights cost much more due to the high demand. Planning your vacation outside of these two high seasons will save you a lot of money in flights and hotel rooms.

#2. Enjoy free tours

Though you will want to enjoy some tours that aren’t free, such as a Mediterranean boat cruise, you will find free walking tours in some cities such as Barcelona. For example, Free Walking Tours Barcelona offers a free 2.5 hour walking tour of the historic city center along streets laid out by Roman planners 2,000 years ago and lined with breathtaking Medieval buildings.

The expert guide will entertain you with information about the local history and culture as well as anecdotes about the many famous articles who have lived in Barcelona, such as Picasso and Gaudi.

#3. Eat for less

If you’re staying in Barcelona, ask about the menú del día at local restaurants. This is a set price, 3-course meal with a drink offered weekday lunchtimes and occasionally on weekends. You can enjoy a complete traditional meal for as little as €15. Typically, the menú del día is not advertised, so you must ask.

There is also a menú del noche during the evening. This costs more than the lunchtime meal but still works out much cheaper than selecting dishes from the expensive menus found in tourist traps.

#4. Pay less for museums

Across Spain, many museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month. In Barcelona, this is the evening of the first Sunday. Time your vacation to coincide with the first Sunday and head for the most expensive museum you want to visit on that day.

#5. Book Ahead

There are many tours you can enjoy around major tourist attractions in Spain that provide you with transport and an expert guide and work out costing less than taking public transport and paying an entrance fee. However, you must book in advance to avoid possible disappointment because these tours are understandably often fully booked weeks ahead of time.

Restaurants & Eating Out

Spanish cuisine is strongly influenced by its rich history. You can find traces of Roman, Arabic, and Mediterranean dishes as well as imports from its former colonies. Specific traditional dishes vary around the country depending upon geographical position.

Mediterranean

Spanish regions along the Mediterranean coast obviously feature seafood on their menus alongside signature local dishes. Typically, these dishes involve copious use of the olive oil so popular in Mediterranean countries.

In Andalusia, the most southerly region, the local specialty is cold soups like gazpacho, with crushed cucumber, onion, pepper, tomato, and garlic. Calamares a la Romana is popular, but it is not for the squeamish. This is battered, deep-fried squid served with lemon and salt.

Rice-based dishes are popular along the coast, especially seafood paellas. The most famous paella is found in Valencia, though this features chicken and rabbit meat. In Catalonia, arros negre is popular.

Atlantic

Spicy fish or vegetable-based stews are popular along the Atlantic coast, such as fabada Asturiana, marmitako, and caldo Gallego. Chorizo is also popular. This spicy sausage is slightly sweet and utilizes lots of garlic.

Sometimes it seems that each town and village boasts its own special chorizo recipe that is claimed to be better than all the others, such as the renowned chorizo Riojano. Fabada Asturiana is a white-bean stew from Asturias that makes ample use of the local chorizo variety.

Inland

Because historically food transportation was difficult and the central region imported much of its food from the coastal areas, the central regions are known for preserved foods, like Spanish ham and Manchego cheese. Inland, thick, spicy stews are also popular, like cocido madrileño. The most famous Spanish ham is jamon Iberico made from Black Iberian pigs and featuring a distinctive rich, savory taste.

Nightlife & Entertainment

Spain is famous world-wide for its fiestas, and its Balearic Islands are at the heart of the modern nightclubbing scene. For this reason, many travellers come to Spain specially to experience its vibrant nightlife. The island of Ibiza is renowned as Europe’s party capital, but the major cities each offer their own brand of exciting evening entertainments. Madrid’s nights are reputed to be never-ending.

A typical Spanish evening out begins with a visit to the small restaurants and bars for tapas to line the stomach. This transitions into bar hopping before hitting the huge international nightclubs found in all major cities. Due to relaxed licensing laws, these clubs and bars remain open until the early morning hours.

When staying in any Spanish city, it’s a good idea to gain some local insights from your hotel’s staff or tourist guides. The central streets and plazas are typically lined with bars that offer an eclectic mix of music and that are designed for people with different tastes.

Rather than waste your time pushing through the crowds to then listen to music that isn’t your style, tell a local what you like and follow their directions. You can be certain that there is a live music venue that will cater to your tastes.

According to popular opinion, the three top nightlife spots in Spain are Ibiza, Madrid, and Barcelona. Ibiza, of course, caters to the young crowd with its mega clubs and all-night beach parties. Madrid is renowned for the huge variety of nightlife it offers where everyone is guaranteed to find a scene they enjoy.

Barcelona’s nightlife is noted for its spectacular displays and wild abandon. But the nightlife isn’t limited to just these three locations since music and fiestas run in the Spanish blood. You can find a selection of lively bars and clubs in any Spanish town or city.

If you’re looking for an upscale experience, Marbella is the place to go. That’s where you’ll find the more exquisite cocktail bars and the difficult-to-enter clubs filled with the wealthy folks and celebrities. If it’s a pub craw you prefer, Malaga is famous for having the most bars per square foot in Europe.

Granada is noted for its student vibe, Valenicia for its boho chic bars, and Bilbao for its funky nightspots. But if you want a truly exclusive Spanish experience, head for Seville. That’s where you can watch or maybe join in with traditional flamenco dancers.

Getting Around

It’s easy to get around Spain by airplane, train, coach, or hire a car. In fact, you’re spoiled because Spain’s transport network is so good.

Air

Unlike many other countries, domestic flights are relatively frequent and affordable throughout Spain. Trains are typically cheaper, but you can often find air tickets for less than the same train journey, so it’s always worth checking both options before booking.

However, if you fly, you do have the extra hassle of transferring from the airport to the city center while the main train stations are typically in the heart of the cities. As a general rule, if you’re traveling from one side of the country to the other, take a plane. If you’re traveling between neighboring cities, take a train.

Train

Spain also boasts Europe’s most extensive high-speed railway network. Spanish trains regularly reach speeds of up to 190 mph! Check comparison websites before booking any train tickets because you can sometimes pay much less if you travel on a different train or sometimes by flying.

Coach & car

Because the trains are so efficient and there are also lots of domestic air flights, it’s not a great option to go by coach or to hire a vehicle. If you have lots of time and a tight budget, long-distance coaches can be much cheaper than the trains or planes.

Driving your own car gives you much more flexibility than you could ever get from a train. You will be able to visit and explore remote rural locations other tourists never see. However, you will find that your long-distance journeys take a lot longer by car or coach when compared with the high-speed train. Sadly, even if you hire a Ferrari, you won’t be allowed to drive along the Spanish roads at 190 mph.

Accommodations

Hotels vary across Spain depending upon where you’re staying. In Barcelona and Madrid, prepare to pay higher prices, especially during Easter and summer. Across the rest of the country, you can find rooms in a hostal for as little as €50 per night and in better hotels for around €100.

Note that each city and region has its own high season due to special fiestas and local events, so it’s a good idea to research the specific towns you want to visit.

Booking in advance is highly advisable, especially during Easter and summer. Otherwise, you may not get the hotel you want or even the kind of room you prefer. You typically get the best deals in Spain by booking online. There are 5 general types of accommodation to choose from.

Paradores

The high-class hotels are called paradores. These boutique hotels are often converted castles or other historic buildings. For example, the Parador de Siguenza is a castle that dates back to Roman times, and the 15th-century Parador de Santiago de Compostela is said to be the world’s oldest hotel.

Hotels and hostals

In Spain, normal hotels are classed as either hotels or hostals. A hotel offers a full range of services but a hostal is a budget hotel with fewer services equivalent to a 1-star hotel. A standard hotel should be 3-stars, and a paradore is 5-stars.

Guesthouses

Bed and breakfasts are common around Spain. These are typically either fondas, which have a restaurant attached, or pensiones, which are budget guesthouses. If you’re an adventurer traveling by the seat of your pants, watch out for signs saying “B&B”, “Habitaciones”, or “Camas”.

Villas and apartments

Vacation properties are popular in Spain. If you’re traveling as part of a large family group, you’ll find a villa a cost-effective form of accommodation. However, they are typically rented by the week or longer, so not as flexible as a hotel or guesthouse.

Campsites

If you’re headed for the great outdoors, you’ll be delighted to learn that Spain is awash with affordable campsites that typically charge around €6 per person per night. However, research in advance because campgrounds near the most popular natural or cultural attractions charge significantly more.

Weather

Interestingly, Spain’s climate can be divided along the same lines as its cuisine. The three main zones are the Atlantic, the interior, and the Mediterranean.

Along the Atlantic coastline, the ocean ensures that the summers remain relatively cool and the winters mild. In the deep interior, the climate is semi-arid. Along the Mediterranean coast, the summers are dry and hot while the winters are mild.

If you’re interested in hiking and sightseeing, the temperatures are mildest in spring and in the fall. July and August see the highest temperatures which are great for sunbathing but a little too hot for admiring architecture or hiking through the wilderness.

You can expect temperatures over 860F during the day and remaining over 700F at night. The coolest months are January and February, which see a lot of rain in the north.

A common mistake is to visit mountainous regions in the winter without taking proper winter clothing. While these high regions are baking hot in summer, those picturesque mountain villages are often dusted in snow during January and February.

Attractions

Spain is rich in history and culture, so there are lots of things to do and see around the country. Unless you’re most interested in the nightlife, the three top spots to visit are Barcelona, Madrid, and Granada.

Barcelona

Barcelona is a city rich in culture and art. A great place to start is La Rambla — a pedestrianized street where you’ll find human statures, street performers, Bouqueria Market, museums, and other attractions including the 197-foot high Columbus Monument.

Don’t miss the Magic Fountain of Montjuic which features half-hourly music and light shows during the summer months and weekends. When the fountain is in action, its water sprays are lit in different colors and dance to the music.

If you are interested in modern art, you’ll be in Heaven. The Picasso Museum is renowned for its unique collection of Picasso memorabilia from his school workbooks right through to his final masterpieces. But the most obvious evidence of Barcelona’s fixation with modern art is Park Guell, which is filled with Gaudi’s unique sculptures and buildings.

But Gaudi’s greatest accomplishment is unarguably the Sagrada Familia. This strangely designed basilica has become Barcelona’s most famous landmark, and it isn’t even finished yet. Gaudi laid out the plans and began the work, but the basilica will not be completed until around 2026.

If soccer is more your style, you’ll want to visit the world-famous Barcelona FC Museum. There you can learn all about the training and lifestyle of the world’s highest paid soccer players. A tour of the museum includes a visit to the players’ changing rooms and a walk through the tunnel onto the pitch itself.

History lovers should ride the Montjuic Cable Car to get scenic views of the city as they rise up to Montjuic Castle. This 17th-century fortress offers fantastic panoramic views of the city and a fascinating armour museum.

And your kids will love Tibidabo Amusement Park. This is one of the world’s oldest parks — much older than Disney World or Universal Studios. Some of the rides there are genuine antiques, and the suspended airplane ride is considered an iconic symbol of the city. Don’t miss the historic automation collection in the park.

Madrid

Madrid boasts a fine collection of historic buildings and the kind of internationally renowned museums you’d expect to find in any major capital city. The most iconic structure is the Palacio Real.

The Palacio Real, or Royal Palace, is the official palace of the King of Spain. Boasting 3,000 rooms and an amazing art collection, this is a fantastic place to learn about the glamor and luxury of a European royal family. During a visit, you’ll see a sweeping main staircase, the Throne Room, the Royal Chapel, and the Royal Apothecary.

Granada

Granada is reputed to be the most beautiful city in the world. However, most visitors head straight for the Alhambra. This Moorish fortress and palace is one of the world’s best examples of early Islamic architecture. Its breathtaking vistas, marble fountains, and unique mosaics are beyond compare. The palace began life as a Roman fort before the Moors invaded and made it their own. The Moorish fort was built in 889 and transformed into a much larger palace complex in 1333.

Visitors from the US will be particularly interested in visiting the throne room. This is where Christopher Columbus came to propose his voyage to the west to find a new trade route to India. If Queen Isabella had said no to his ambitious plans, the US and all the other American nations might not exist today.

Salamanca

If you want to explore beyond these three major tourist cities, head west to Salamanca to experience one of the world’s oldest universities. Salamanca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is the third oldest university in the world founded in 1218. Arguably, it is really the world’s oldest university because it was the first officially granted university status by the Vatican, which was then the major power broker in Europe.

If you’ve ever seen Harvard or Oxford, you’ll know what kind of buildings to expect. However, here they have a more flamboyant Catholic touch, with more ornate details and bright colors. The main university library is a must-see attraction.

Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.

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