We will be spending one week in the beginning of June, flying into Madrid and out of Barcelona. Any suggestions are appreciated. This is our fourth time to Europe and we enjoy art, people watching, history and shopping. Any must see day trips outside of these two cities? Thanks for your help!
Hi Teresa, We are going there next summer also and I've had some good feedback from this community. I'm told the Sagrada Familia Church is a must see in Barcelona.
Ok, not art or history, but I highly recommend getting churros and chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines (off Puerta del Sol, take Calle del Arenal 2 blocks west then turn left on Pasadizo de San Gines). You'll be spoiled for choice in the art department - the Prado is overwhelming. I loved the Thyssen for it's chronological order. Toledo is a great day trip from Madrid - interesting architecture and funky neighborhoods to explore. As for Barcelona, Sagrada Familia is a must see - take a taxi from there up to Parc Guell for a Gaudi themed day. The cathedral (and particularly the cloisters) is a must see (try early morning when it's quite peaceful and you'll only see locals). The Picasso museum is worth it to see his early work. La Boquiera market is heaven on earth if you're a foodie (or not, it's just beautiful). Your kids will probably enjoy the human artists and "statues" on the Ramblas - just keep your wits about you it's pickpocket heavy.
If you enjoy art, people watching, history and shopping, and only have one week between Madrid and Barcelona, you may not want to take any day trips. If you really want to leave the city for the day, Toledo is a quick trip from Madrid, but has a beautiful and historic cathedral with a "mini-Prado" inside, as well as other notable churches (definitely visit the chapel housing El Greco's Burial of the Count of Orgaz); the city museum is good, as well. When we visited Barcelona, our destination after that was SW France. So we spent a night on our way from Barcelona to France in Figueres, so we could visit the Dali museum. If you're a fan of Dali, it is NOT to be missed. Think of it - a major artist who designed his own museum! You could visit Girona and Figueres as a day trip from Barcelona. Barcelona we visited with our 12yo son, and he very much enjoyed it; Madrid (different trip) we visited with our 13yo daughter, and she loved Madrid (and Toledo).
Art - Without a doubt the Prado in Madrid is the must see...and consider also its two younger sisters within the same block. Park Retiro, in the same side of town, would also be on my list for the sheer beauty. The Royal Place in Madrid, togther with the Armory on the grounds is worth your visit also. A day trip to Toledo - for the history and art as well. The cathederal has something like a dozen El Grecos in the same room with other masters as well. Also, the Museum de Santa Cruz with its great hall of tapestries dating back to the 1200's or so will take your breath away. One of the most imposing venues and exhibiton to be found. St. Tome Church has the El Greco hanging in the same spot it was painted for as well. Barcelona Las Ramblas, from the Columbus Statue to the top of the hill, about a mile or so is fascinating, Especially the artist section of the walk. The Sagra Familia is one of the most unsual edicifies anywhere...as well as the other Gaudi attractions. And go by the Picasso museum for a great retrospective of his paintings from a young child to an old man.
Teresa - They might enjoy the Magic Fountains in Barcelona. I don't have the information with me but there is a show most nights with lights and music and water.