Food, Coffee, and People

You've stumbled on a gold mine. Although the locals say the paella is for tourists, they eat it anyhow. And it's delicious. Throughout Spain there are all kinds of fantastic, fresh seafood, prepared to perfection. Always try the local wines, especially deep reds, for a complement for any meal. (Traditional red/white rules don't apply as much here.)

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The Littlest Travelers

If you're the parent of one of those kids who doesn't like Modern Art, loathes Gaudi, and doesn't have a taste for late-night tapas crawls, there's still hope. In Barcelona, try the aquarium, one of the largest and most spectacular in Europe. In Madrid, there's always rent-a-rowboat and street theater at Retiro Park, which is fun for big kids, too.

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European Spain0Travel0Guide

· First Things First
· Where to Stay
· Getting Around

· Getting Around Spain
· Around Spain
· Food, Coffee, and People
· Musts
· If You Have Time
· The Littlest Travelers

First Things First

From the sunny Atlantic coast to the Pyrenees and the busy Mediterranean, Spain packs in mountains, beaches, nightlife, seafood, art, culture, foot-stomping music, and some of the friendliest, most lighthearted people on earth.

Spain is a member of the Eurozone, the group of countries that uses the Euro currency (€). Prices below are expressed in U.S. dollars for convenience; check the rate of exchange prior to arrival in Europe. Spanish is the official language, with Catalan and some French spoken in Catalunya near the French border.

Where to Stay

Choose a super-modern hotel or a family-run pension or anything in between. In Madrid, a property near the rail station will put you close to the action and attractions. In Barcelona, stay in Ciutat Vella for the most convenience and excitement. Around the rest of Spain, you'll find a host of paradors, inns, and hotels with local charm and fantastic service.

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Getting to Your Hotel

...In Madrid
Line 8 of the Metro links the airport with the city center at Nuevos Ministerios in just 12 minutes. The departures from the airport are on the first floor of Terminal 2. There are departures every five minutes from 6:05am until 2:00am. Once you arrive at Nuevo Ministerios there are connections to over 50 stations via lines 6, 8 and 10. It's easy to find a taxi, simply look for ones with a sign that reads libre, during the day, or a green light on the roof, at night.


...In Barcelona
Aerobus provides an inexpensive bus ride to the city center from the airport. You can hop on for about $5 a ride to the Place de Catalunya. The RENFE trains can get you to Estacio Barcelona-Sants or Place de Catalunya for a little less.

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Getting Around Spain

Spain's comprehensive national railway is run by RENFE. Sleek, modern trains reach everywhere on a typical map and several places not big enough for a dot. Regionales trains make all the stops on a given line, while cercanias are more communter-type trains to and from major cities and surrounding areas. Between the larger cities and major tourist hang outs are the high-speed, long-distance AVE, Talgo, and EuroMed trains. They cost a little more but will get you between Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Valencia, and Alicante.

If you're behind the wheel of a rented car fear not: Spain's roads are well paved, and thoroughly marked with signs. Invest in a good map published by a reputable company. Autupistas are the main highways that link big cities, but they charge steep tolls along certain routes. Other roads are cheaper and prettier, but can take longer, especially with a traffic tie up. Wear your seatbelt (Es la ley!) and keep your headlights on during the day.

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Around Spain

With just a few days, you can do the essentials in Barcelona, Seville, or Madrid. With a week, you can conquer two cities. Two weeks, and you can throw in day trips and downtime, and after a month, you can do major cities, small towns, beaches, mountains, two coasts, and a lot in between. No matter how much time you have, you won't be able to do it all at once, so let us help you decide what to put on the top of your list.

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Musts:

Madrid: The sheer number of eateries, pubs, museums, concerts, parks, and markets would make this the capital of Spain even if the king didn't live here.

Barcelona: The city's Gaudi architecture, seaside location, majestic scenery, and festive atmosphere have made it a favorite among tourists for ages.

Cordoba: Once the capital of Moorish Spain, Cordoba today retains its Medieval feel, especially in the old Arab and Jewish quarters.

Seville: Alcazar, Ferdinand and Isabel's castle, is the oldest royal residence in Europe still in use. Seville, Spain's most romantic city, is the ideal home for it.

Malaga: A bustling city center, a nearby beach, an old Moorish castle, and a small selection of Picasso's work make Malaga lack for nothing Spanish.

Granada: Sultans, harems, palaces...just a short drive from Malaga is one of Spain's foremost attractions, the Alhambra, once the home to the caliphs of old.

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Maybes:

Torremolinos: Close to Malaga, the sleepy village of Torremolinos has no museums, no great historic treasures... just stretch after stretch of awesome beach.

Castilla y Leon: This region of north-central Spain is home to the walled city of Avila, the Roman aqueduct of Segovia, and the majestic cathedral of Salamanca.

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