The Costa Del Sol Travel Guide| Spain

Sun, Sand, Spanish beaches and Great Food

 

MALAGA

Malaga for me was just a ‘stop off’ destination. It was the place that I flew into because it was the cheapest and easiest from Barcelona! However, it is now that place that I would definitely go back to as I felt I did not get to explore enough. It is a place that has all the Beachy Vibes, Highrise Hotels, Resorts… but also a lot of history.

From the airport, the easiest way to get into the Town Centre is via a bus. Its cheap and makes a lot of stops so you really just need to look at a map beforehand and get off where you need to. The trip took about 30mins and once you are in the Town Centre, the easiest way to get around is just to walk!

 Quick Facts

If you are Artsy: Pablo Picasso was born in M√°laga in 1881
Currency = Euro
You can take a ferry over to Morocco – it takes about an hour.
Language = Varieties of Spanish & English in most places
How to Pay = Card & Cash ‚Äď Definitely have a small amount of cash on you
Best time to Visit = Between April & June or between September & November

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Accommodation
I booked a bed in a 10 person mixed dorm at a cheap & cheerful hostel called Picnic Dreams Boutique Hostel. Now, this probably isn’t the cheapest hostel you can find, however I would highly recommend. The location was perfect, people were really friendly and the place was clean! Plus there were little curtains over each bunk for privacy.

Things to do
I only really had a day and a half in Malaga and wanted to get an overview of the place. So I booked into a Walking Tour called Malaga Free Tour Monuments. It was a good way to get a brief history of Malaga and also get shown around to the various stand out points,¬† such as Picasso’s house, the Alcazaba and the Museums.

Top places I would advise visiting in Malaga are:

As For Food

Los Gatos – Traditional Spanish food – open really late – Great vibe – fairly cheap
100 Montaditos –¬†Fun Spanish fast food – Tapas – all really cheap, also really cheap alcohol, fast service.

Marbella & Puerto Banus

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Getting from Malaga to Marbella & Puerto Banus is fairly easy as its a short bus ride (BlaBla Car could also be an option – I definitely had a good, but interesting experience using this service!).
From there it is quite easy to hail a cab to where you want to go. Mine was to my accommodation in Puerto Banus – aka my splurge of the trip Hotel Bluebay Banus.

Puerto Banus is an interesting place to say the least and not somewhere I thought I would ever find myself. Its basically a ‘Mini Town/ Marina’ just west of Marbella. You can walk down to the dock and see yourself staring into very high end stores and watching the millionaires sail out to sea on their Luxury Yachts.

It does however have beautiful beaches, beautiful people, a relaxed but party filled atmosphere and many a beach club. Pretty cool… but I definitely felt very out of place!

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Top Places I Would Recommend Visiting/ To do’s in Marbella & Puerto Banus

  • Walking around Old Town Marbella
  • Cocktails at The Sinatra Bar
  • Go to the beach – there are many
  • Go shopping
  • Wander through Alameda Park
  • Take the Fly Blue Ferry from Puerto Banus to Marbella & back – Great views and probably one of the more fun things I did in this neck of the woods
  • Visit the Puerto Banus Beach Clubs
  • Take the walk (if you are crazy like myself) from Puerto Banus to Marbella. It is quite the walk but the views are absolutely worth it

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There are also a fair few day trips which you can do from this part of Spain.

My Top Recommendations:

  • Frigiliana – One of Spain’s most picturesque whitewashed villages.
  • Nerja
  • Granada – Post Coming Soon!
  • Ronda – Has Spain’s oldest bullfighting ring as well as being beautiful sitting on the side of a gorge
  • Gibraltar – Tax Free Shopping and a nature reserve? Yes, thanks.

Costa Del Sol is definitly somewhere I want to spend more time when I get the chance. I feel like I really only touched the surface of this side of Spain! Can not wait to go back.

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I would love to hear all your recommendations! Things I need to add to this guide??
Leave a comment, share with your friends or find me on Instagram and here, Facebook and Twitter.

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The Barcelona Travel Guide

 The city views are EPIC
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Barcelona is an interesting place. Before I went to Spain and Portugal, Barcelona was THE most hyped place. Everyone was giving me tips of where to go and what to see (yes, it was helpful, im not saying it wasn’t), however. I personally think it can be a little overrated.¬†No one tells you about the 4million tourists who come out after 10am.¬†
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But in saying that, I still did love it and would go back because you just can not see enough in 4 days!
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QUICK FACTS:
Pickpockets are a thing here so just have some common sense and keep a hold of your personal things. Keep bags close to you, don’t put phones etc on tables etc – Especially on the Ramblas!
Currency = Euro
Language = Spanish &¬†Catalan –¬† Touristy Places people speak English too
How to Pay = Card & Cash – Definitely have a small amount of cash on you
Best time to Visit = Between April & June or between September & November
QUICK TIPS:
– Get up early in the morning to do sightseeing
– Book tours earlier in the day and make sure to book in English
– download offline maps to get around – however location tracking is a bit off in the lane ways
– Loads of places have free Wifi – if you get stuck – go to Starbucks
– Walk as much as possible – I came across so many random amazing buildings just from walking around and getting lost
– Sangria & Alcohol in general is very cheap
Tinto de Verano is the ‘traditional’ drink in Barcelona? (Do not quote me on that – it’s basically¬†Sangria)
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ACCOMMODATION
 Hostels: I would highly recommend staying in hostels. As someone who had never done it before, I chose not to stay in a hostel for my first city but I really do regret it! Hostels are a great way to meet people and generally all the good ones are located in the city centre. After speaking to a few people the ones that continuously popped up were: Kabul Backpackers & St Christopher’s Inn.
Airbnb: Airbnb is a great option for couples or if you are a solo traveller meeting up with friends. They can generally be found in all areas of the city and for a great price! You will get to meet some of the locals which is always great and they can give you some recommendations & tips you may not have had before for that area.
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The little street I stayed in – El Born
 GETTING AROUND
I won’t lie. I don’t think I’ve EVER walked as much as I did when I was in Barcelona. I personally think there is no better way to see the city. One of my many joys of this city was seeing all the nooks and crannys that you can only see by being on foot. I clocked up a ridiculous amount of steps.
 However other options for the less able/ time restricted would be:
  • the Train/ Subway/ Bus – It’s fairly inexpensive.You can get a T10 ticket for around 10 Euros… and I think I only used about half while I was there.
  • Taxi’s are a pretty good option for when you have luggage etc. I used them to get to the airport and from the main area in the city to my Airbnb and it wasn’t too expensive. TIP: Generally the taxi drivers do not speak English so good luck!
  • I personally never used a bike while being here however, I wish I had, especially early in the morning when there is no one around.
THINGS TO DO
There are SO many things to do in Barcelona. You could seriously spend a week here and still not have seen half of it. It can be quite hard to pick and choose so I thought I would just give a run down of my favourite things!
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This magnificent Roman Catholic Church kind of speaks for itself. I have never seen anything quite like it. Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí was really one of a kind and when this is finished it should be one of the wonders of the world. Photos really do NOT do it justice.
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It isn’t expected to be completed until¬†2026‚Äď2028 and I 100% would love to go back and see it once it is done. I would recommend doing a guided or audio tour.
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Some of the best views of the city can be seen from up here. I would recommend coming near the end of the day as its a great place to see the sun set. Also, look out for the days and times of the Magic Fountain Show as its definitely worth staying to see! Although to get a good viewing spot you need to be early. I would recommend going an hour or so early and wandering around the grounds as you can really see some great views from less popular spots!
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View from the top – Can see Mt Tibidabo in the distance
You can get here via the train – which would be the easiest or you could potentially just walk, bus or take a taxi.
Tip: There is no Uber in Barcelona at this point so taxi is the best option if you have luggage.
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Unfortunately due to the amount of people in the market at the time I didn’t manage to get any photos however I loved this place. Its so vibrant and beautiful! A lot of Fruit and Vege as well as Seafood and Meat. There is also the usual Deli’s, Bakeries & Crepe stores! And, all the Spanish food you can imagine (plus Cheese Cones. Google it)
It is located just off the Ramblas (on the left hand side if you are walking from the beach) so it is quite easy to find!
A tip I will give is to go tot eh back, the further you go into the market, the cheaper it gets!

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View from the bar at the top of the Cable Car
The cable car goes from Barceloneta Beach up to Mt Montjuic and you see some of the most amazing views of the city. I will say that it is a little overpriced and is much better going from Montjuic Castle to Barceloneta rather than the other way around because the queue is insanely long!
 SHOPPING
Although I didn’t do a lot of actual shopping in Barcelona, I did do a lot of wandering and window shopping. I was mesmerised by the sheer size of some of the stores such a Zara and Mango. It was insane.
The places where I found the most popular with the best shops to, shop, were Passeig de Gràcia & la Ramblas. There were also a lot of small laneways off the Ramlas which had Outlet stores and smaller brand stores. I would 100% wandering through these just to have a look in some of these stores.
No matter where you go in the city, there will be a lot of shopping opportunities
  BEACH
Now, I will say this straight away. If you love the beach, this is for you however, go early (like, before 10) because after that there are just SO many people walking around trying to sell you things that it is seriously off putting.
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I didn’t spend a whole lot of time at this beach because of that. It’s really quite annoying. But, if you walk a little further down to the other beaches, it SO much nicer.
I never thought I would be one to enjoy visiting castles. But here we are, like, 4 down and I have to say, I love it! Castles and the history behind them is awesome. I visited this castle on my last day in Barcelona as I had a change of plans and needed something to do. I took the Cable Car to half way and then decided to walk the rest of the way up. TIP: Don’t do that.
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The views from the top of the castle are seriously spectacular. You can see the whole of Barcelona – 360 degree view. Which if you think about why these castles were built, is quite important I guess!
I would recommend going early in the day. But in saying that, in terms of tourist amounts in comparison to the rest of Barcelona, it was quiet!
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FOOD
I don’t want to add much in here because in all honestly, I researched a lot of restaurants etc before I went to Barcelona and I don’t think I even went to one of them! I was so busy that I basically just ate on the go half the time or popped into small hole in the wall places – which I would highly recommend!
There is however a bar/ restaurant I went to which was fantastic called La Luna which had great food and drinks.
I also had a ‘local’ coffee shop which I went to every morning called¬†Caf√©s El Magn√≠fico¬†because the coffee was top notch and the people were really lovely! They didn’t even mind my extremely broken Spanish!
 LANEWAYS
The Laneways in Barcelona were really just something else. SO beautiful. Nearly every other corner you turn, you will see something different and unique. Because of the history with all the different cultures and people. The structures can be quite different from one lane to the next.
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The Jewish Quarter and the Gothic Quarter which I saw whilst on a walking tour  (P.S highly recommend this walking tour!) were probably by favourites.
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 This place to me was like being inside a fairytail. It felt magical being here! The architecture really is something else. I spend probably 2 or 3 hours here . You basically buy a ticket to go in at a certain time but there is another part of the park which is free so you can wander this part in the wait time.

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View from the little house

They let in a limited number of people so book in advance – but you can also see quite a lot without entry ticket. You can bus to and from or walk which I did. However it is quite the hike.

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The famous seating which you have to get a photo with

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Other places worth mentioning:
Picasso Museum
Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
Cathedral of Barcelona
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Tibidabo Amusement Park
Casa Batllo & Casa Mila
Placa de Catalunya
Chocolate Museum
 DAY TRIPS
There are SO many options for day trips from Barcelona. Check out Viator for some great group options / ideas.
My Top 3 day trips had I had the chance:
1. Andorra¬†–¬† Would a LONG day but amazing to be able to go to such a small country! Its in between France and Spain and is about 3hrs from Barcelona. I thought about doing this trip through Viator.
2.  Girona РIf you are a Game of Thrones fan, then this place is for you. It is another big city in Catalonia and full of amazing sights and history.
3.¬†Montserrat – This is the day trip that I was actually going to do whilst in Barcelona. It fell though because I may have slept through my alarm that day. It is a short train ride from Barcelona and is home to a beautiful mountain and Monastery. There are a lot of guided tours that go here so maybe do that if you aren’t confident to go yourself. A tip I read is to go early in the AM to see the sun rise.
 All in all, all said and done, Barcelona is in my top 5 cities I have visited. It has the  traditional architecture with instagramable beaches, narrow atmospheric (stinky)  streets with delicious & not so nutritious local cuisine. I loved the local vibe of where I was staying as it was saturated with culture and cute laneways.
I leave you with my best tip. Book in advance & Go to these places as early as possible to avoid crowds! The Sagrada Familia’s of the world are packed for a reason, so you just need to get in early (and deal with it) .
To see more photos of my Barcelona Adventure, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

My Travel Bucket List

Work, Travel, Save, Repeat

As someone who has been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places it has got me thinking about the places I really want to travel to. Now, I am not saying I want to see all these places anytime soon… but I am 25 and have a lot of travel time ahead of me.

Go on Safari in South Africa (DONE)

Stay in a Apartment in Brooklyn New York
Skydiving in New Zealand – Preferably Queenstown
Scuba Dive in the Great Barrier Reef
Cuba
Spend a month travelling around the Greek Islands
Hike an Active Volcano
Surf in Costa Rica
Zipline from Spain to Portugal
Take the Trans-Siberian Railway
Go skiing in the South Island of New Zealand
Sail around Croatia
Go on a Solo trip somewhere (DONE)

Go on an Active Retreat
Go Bali island hopping
Relax in the Maldives
Scuba Dive Thunderball Grotto – Bahamas
Hot Air Balloon Ride over the Serengeti National Park

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Go to the Pacific Islands
Swim in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Snorkel with turtles in Hawaii
Snowboarding in Canada
See the Northern Lights in Iceland

northern lights
Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu

Machu-Picchu-Peru-Intrepid-Travel

Drive Route 66 – California Road Trip
New Years Eve in Dubai
Zipline in Vegas
Visit the floating markets in Vietnam
Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon
Visit a really remote island
Live in the UK
Tour an abandoned city
Sail in the Galapagos Islands
Book a spontaneous holiday
Learn a new language
Roadtrip around Cyprus
Travel through South East Asia for a month
Mario Kart tour in Japan
See the cherry blossoms in Japan

cherry blossom
Hike the Great Wall of China
Do a Wine Tour in France
Sail around the Caribbean
Partake in Oktoberfest in Germany
Madagascar
Visit every continent
Ride a Gondola in Venice
Hiking in San Sebastian – Spain
New Years in Times Square

Times Square
Go whale-watching in Alaska

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Climb Mt Kilimanjaro  in Tanzania

Mt
Go to the Olympics – to watch
Have dinner in an Under the Sea restaurant
Hiking in Myanmar
Go on a trek through Mongolia
Go to the tip of Denmark where the 2 seas meet
Winter adventure in Switzerland
Day trip to Andorra

I can imagine there will be a few more things added to this list over time & hopefully I will get to cross some of them off soon!

Let me know what is on your travel bucket list!

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Welcome!

IMG_20170805_123339The idea of starting a blog has been following me around like a bad smell, for months.

I am in my last semester of my undergraduate degree and thought, what the hell, why not. I need a new hobby and this could be a lot of fun.

As I discussed the idea with friends about beginning this blog the top question asked: “What will it be about?”, My answer was simply, everything.

I love things such as beauty, healthy food, Travel and Cooking, Shopping, Books, and other kinds of fun and random things, so this is where I shall begin.

This may possibly turn into a blog about my (and my partners) cat,

but I will try my best to keep this from happening. I am hoping to post about once a week, but am not promising anything.

I know from all the blogs I read that there are plenty of blogs like this out there, but maybe mine will end up being a bit different, we shall see.

Now that the introduction is done and dusted, watch this space for a haul which will be posted in the next few days.

 

Much love,

Tracy