My first stop was Madrid via Qatar Airways (Kuwait- Doha – Madrid). The timings of the flight is very convenient for me personally, hence, if the option suits my travel plans, I would always go for it.
This time in Madrid I stayed at a friend’s house. Typically and when asked about hotels, I’d refer to my blog post about Madrid Hotels as these are the ones I personally like. Having said that, you should always plan your hotel stays based on your trip plans. For instance, if your plan is to see the ‘hip’ part of Spain, then I would recommend a hotel like Hotel Oscar, in Chueca. If your trip is targeted towards shopping, I’d advise a hotel in Goya. The stay, for me at least, revolves around the plan.
Driving in Madrid
In Madrid itself, you do not need to drive. The metro and bus systems are very easy to use and much simpler than driving around.
Having said that, we’ve rented a car from the airport for the full period of our road trip starting from Madrid, and ending in Barcelona.
We’ve arranged our car rental through an app that makes a comparison between the car rental companies, which makes the process so much easier. (App name: Car Rentals). We ended up with an Audi from Avis.
Stop 2, La Rioja
After spending a few beautiful nights in Madrid, we headed to La Rioja. (The drive from Madrid was around 3 hours 15 minutes)
En route to La Rioja, we stopped for some Tapas at a town called: BURGOS
La Rioja is known for its vineyards and quietness. What attracted us to La Rioja are the hotels! One of the hotels which we wanted to see, is designed by Frank Gehry who designed the Bilbao Guggenheim. Absolutely stunning! The hotel is called: Hotel Marqués de Riscal it was beautiful and worth seeing. We wanted to have lunch there, but dining option was only for hotel guests.
If you get a good deal for this hotel, stay there for 2 nights!
Due to its full occupancy, we found another beautiful hotel that is located in a quiet relaxing area called: VIURA. (Tip: do not try the massage in the hotel; not worth it at all!)
While being in La Rioja, ask the concierge to arrange for a taxi dorp-off and pick up to and from the town: Logroño – This place is alive and happening! DO NOT MISS! (If you’re avoiding the crowds, then do not go there.. Otherwise, not to miss!)
Make sure you ask the concierge for the best street in Logroño, it had multiple restaurants and bars. We went Tapas hopping, LOTSA FUN!
Another town you should check out while being in La Rioja is: La Guardia
Stop 3, Costa Brava
Costa Brava was the reason this whole trip started! I was very very excited to explore the coast.
Another reason of our excitement, is @lovelypepa .. her Instagram posts about costa brava were totally amazing. (Tip: look up famous accounts visits to places you’d like to explore, it sometimes helps you checkout some cool hip and new spots!).
Our search for the hotel was to be located in the center, where we could explore all the coastal areas in the north, as well as the south on the way to Barcelona. We were able to do that, however I think we could’ve done better in terms of hotels. (Our hotel name: Hotel Alga)
Some of the areas we stopped by were:
Tossa de Mar
Pubol, Girona (a visit to the home of the painter Salvador Dali and his wife Gala)
Drive Duration to Barcelona: 1:30 hrs – 2 hrs depending on where you’re at and the traffic.
Weather in September.
In Costa Brava, the weather was cold. I definetly recommend Costa Brava for summer, latest end of August to be able to enjoy swimming. Our time, which was early September, the water was too cold for a swim.
Stop 4, Barcelona
Barcelona never gets old! This time and for a change, I’ve decided to book in an apartments hotel. Went for a 4 bedroom boutique apartment at Aparthoel Arai 4* Superior in the Gothic Quarter. I loved it, and I recommend it.
Another hotel that I wanted to try is: Hotel Alma. It looks BEAUTIFUL. Hopefully, during my next visits to Barcelona i’ll get to try it.
On our way to Barcelona, we also stopped at the charming old town of Girona. The old town of Girona is a quaint historic medieval town with roman influences about 45 minutes from Barcelona