Combining Ibiza, Madrid and Barcelona guarantees a holiday with something for everyone. A Spanish itinerary that delivers sand, sea and sun coupled with a huge dose of culture.
It was my first time in Ibiza and although I enjoyed it I have to confess my heart still belongs to Mallorca. It was also my first time in Madrid which I completely fell in love with. I was a little worried that the heat might be too much (most people wouldn't dream of visiting Madrid in August) but with the right planning there were no such problems. Taking the train from Madrid to Barcelona rather than flying was definitely the right decision. A first class ticket didn't cost much more than an economy ticket and the three hour journey was comfortable with a full meal included. (Book through Loco2.com)
Be warned that Ibiza is very busy in high season. We hired a car for the day and met a few traffic jams. On that point, be careful with overnight parking or you may find your car towed away. (We had to learn the hard way!)
I only had a few days so didn't get to see a huge amount of the island even though it is only small. There are a number of small coves up in the north of the island but they are not sandy beaches and can be difficult for sea access. Thanks to advice from Lucy Williams AKA Fashion Me Now, Benirras beach proved to be a favourite. Beds and parasols are available for hire and I would definitely recommend the little pizza restaurant attached to the more expensive Elements beach restaurant. Good service, rustic tables and mighty fine pizza and sangria. What more do you want? The sunset on this beach is really worth waiting for, with the sound of beating drums it is a spectacle in itself.
Restaurants: While we had a few meals in the hotel (review to follow), we ventured out to La Bodega in Talamanca for Tapas which I wouldn't go over the top about and dinner at The Harbour Club which I would. The Harbour Club has a cool, contemporary vibe overlooking the beach. Good food and service all round, would recommend.
Taxi to/ from airport- 22 euros one way.
The tourist pass I thought was excellent value, 14 euros for 2 days which then provided unlimited travel on all public transport. The Metro is easy to navigate and very clean, a welcome way of getting around when you have walked about in the heat for a while.
In terms of activity, I can't say I am a huge fan of art although I wanted to choose one museum/gallery , hence a visit to El Prado. The other 'museum' happened to be the Bernabeu Stadium, which proved very enjoyable particularly for my husband. I actually enjoy just strolling around the different areas of the city admiring the architecture and partaking in cafe society. I thoroughly enjoyed meandering around Madrid, it just has a classy feel to it and the Salamanca area where we were staying really was delightful and easy to get to everywhere else either on foot or by Metro. While walking through Retiro Park we came across dance lessons which didn't feel like a tourist attraction but rather more like local Saturday morning classes. The park was alive and kicking with cyclists, walkers, roller bladers and people out on rowing boats on the lake. Many of the buildings are stunning, the Town Hall, the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral to name but a few.
Eats: Mercado de St Miguel is a must. Choose whatever you want to eat or drink and then either sit down or stand up (as many of the locals do!) and enjoy.
Platea is interesting, choose from Tapas, pizza/pasta or Michelin star food all under the same roof in a converted theatre.
OVEN is a good value Italian restaurant in the heart of the city.
Rooftop terrace at Circulo de Bellas Artes not such good value. It costs 4 euros to go up to the terrace and although the view over Madrid is worth seeing, I would maybe have a drink here but stay away from the restaurant. I wasn't impressed at all. In fact not sure I would bother with the whole thing. I wished I had stayed in the Salamanca area where there were numerous lovely restaurants.
Taxi to/ from airport- 30 euros one way (flat fee)
Having visited Barcelona before, I didn't feel the need to rush around the city and having walked around Madrid it was time for a little R&R on the rooftop of our hotel. So visit all the usual haunts and if you want to use the Metro buy a 10 journey card. Barcelona has both city and beach although the beach near the W hotel is really touristy and sunbed hire for two (+ parasol) is 30 euros for the day. I wouldn't bother. Far better to book a hotel with a rooftop pool. After all the hype about Casa Bonay, I headed to their rooftop terrace for tapas and drinks but have to confess, I was underwhelmed. Also realise that organic wine is not for me! However dinner at Boca Grande was thoroughly enjoyable (make sure you book ahead) and of course the amazing bathroom has to be seen to be believed. Upstairs is the cocktail bar, Boca Chica which I actually found a little pretentious. And of course a match at the Nou Camp finished it off in style..
Taxi to/ from airport - 35 euros one way
Stay tuned for hotel reviews and if you have any questions..ask away!
The go-to girl for luxury hotels, Lisa Corcoran knows how to travel in style. Join Lisa on her quest, with a little help from her friends, to seek out those special places which stand apart from the rest.