Historic landmarks with spectacular architecture, vibrant art scene, impressive culture and amazing culinary! Both Spain and Portugal have so much to offer to those who are keen to explore. From centuries-old UNESCO-worthy ruins to award-winning savvy museums, here’s a rough Muslim friendly Spain itinerary for an unforgettable 7 days, 8 nights adventure in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon.
Barcelona (1.5 Days)
Where To Go in Barcelona, Spain?
1. Basílica de la Sagrada Família
The Basílica de la Sagrada Família is an unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica in Barcelona and designed by Spanish/Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The construction of this cathedral began in 1882. Multiple complications including the Spanish Civil War cause the project to be ongoing to this day and is expected to be completed by 2026. Although the building’s design has mixed reviews by art historians and critics, La Sagrada Familia draws approximately 2.5 million visitors annually and is one of Barcelona’s most prominent symbols.
2. Gothic Quarter
Beautiful and mystifying, the Gothic Quarter in the Old City of Barcelona is a fusion of historic buildings dating from Roman settlements to the 20th century. There’s a lot to explore and experience in this neighbourhood! The list includes the Jewish Quarter and Pablo Picasso’s Old Stomping Grounds. Join the bustling at La Boqueria, one of Europe’s oldest markets, and marvel at the jaw-droppingly stunning Gothic Cathedral which took two centuries to build.
Located near the centre of Barcelona, Montjuïc is a scenic wooded hill that features some of the city’s best museums, attractions and gardens. One of the museums is the Joan Miró Foundation. It houses a large collection of works by Catalan artist Joan Miró. Montjuïc is also home to the Olympic Stadium of Barcelona, where most of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games took place.
4. Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló is another building designed by Antoni Gaudi for a wealthy Barcelona aristocrat, Josep Batlló, and considered as one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. Señor Batlló lived in the lower two floors with his family while the upper floors were rented out as apartments. Like everything else that Gaudi designed, the house is only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. Casa Batlló was opened to the public as a museum in 2002.
5. Parc de la Ciutadella
Built on former military grounds of the 18th-century Fortress of Barcelona, Parc de la Ciutadella was the city’s only green space for decades following its creation. The spectacular 70-acre grounds include the Barcelona Zoo (once home to the only known albino gorilla in the world, Snowflake, before its death in 2004), Museum of Zoology and Geology which features a full whale skeleton, the Cascada Fountain, and a lake.
Also don’t forget to check out other Instagramable locations to visit in Barcelona, Spain listed here!
What To Do in Barcelona, Spain?
1. Catch a Performance at Liceu Opera Barcelona
The Gran Teatre del Liceu, or simply the Liceu, is an opera house established in 1847 and the epicentre of Barcelona’s artistic, social and political life. As one of Europe’s leading opera houses, the Liceu has helped many internationally renowned Catalan composers and singers begin their careers. Occasionally, the Liceu also hosts ballet performances and concerts, so keep your eyes peeled for the show that interests you.
2. Take a Breather at The L’umbracle
f you wish to be outdoors and indoors at the same time, Umbracle is the place for you. The Umbracle is a 128 years old modernist building designed by Josep Fontserè. It houses numerous plant species originating from 20 different countries. With an impressive cage-like iron exterior and towering brick columns, the Umbracle is a greenhouse just like no other! Take a break from the city for a stroll in the lush nature.
3. Study Picasso’s Early Works
A fan of Pablo Picasso? The Picasso Museum is home to one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th-century Spanish artist who’s known for co-founding the Cubist movement. With over 4,000 works, you can examine his works and how his style evolved throughout the years.
Madrid (2 Days)
Where To Go in Madrid, Spain?
1. Royal Palace of Madrid
Start your trip with a touch of opulence by visiting the official residence of Spain’s royal family. Don’t worry about bumping into one of them, because the palace now is only used for receptions, state ceremonies and official acts. Don’t miss the changing of guards ceremony which takes place at 11 am every Wednesday between October and July.
2. Plaza Mayor
Situated in the heart of the city, Plaza Mayor is a major public space and one of Madrid’s most popular squares. There’s plenty of nice outdoor cafes to sit at, enjoy a lazy afternoon and people-watch. If you’re here during the Christmas season, you’re in for a treat because that’s when Plaza Mayor truly comes to life. Besides the Christmas decorations, there’ll be market stalls selling all sorts of holiday treats and trinkets.
3. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
If the name is quite a mouthful for you, it actually translates to Reina Sofia National Art Centre Museum and it’s fondly known as El Reina. Dedicated to Spanish art, El Reina was established in 1992 and is now one of the most prominent modern and contemporary art museums in the world. The museum displays some of the finest art collections, including masterpieces by the world-famous Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
4. Almudena Cathedral
Locally known as Catedral de la Almudena, this Catholic church is the grandest church and the most important religious building in Madrid. The construction of Almudena Cathedral began way back in 1883 but suffered so many hiccups along the way that it wasn’t completed until 1993. Admission to the cathedral is free even though a donation is encouraged. If you’re interested in learning about the long history of the cathedral and archdiocese of Madrid, there’s also a museum which costs €5 per entry.
5. Temple of Debod
Believe it or not, you can find an Egyptian temple in Madrid. Temple of Debod dates back to 2nd century BC and was originally built in southern Egypt close to the Nile River. However, due to the threat possessed by the construction of Aswan High Dam, the Egyptian state donated Temple of Debod to Spain, who previously helped to restore other ancient temples. The temple now draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and makes a fascinating sight in Madrid!
What To Do in Madrid, Spain?
1. Indulge in The World-Famous Churros Con Chocolate
If you find yourself in Madrid, you absolutely can’t miss the chance to try the most famous place to get churros with chocolate in the city. For over a hundred years, Chocolateria San Ginés has been serving Spanish style thick and dark hot chocolate and light and crispy churros. The best thing about the cafe is that it’s open 24 hours, so you can go literally at any time during your trip!
2. Watch a Real Madrid Match
Even if you’re not a football fan, this golden opportunity to watch a football match at Real Madrid’s home stadium is too good to pass up. Home to the Real Madrid F.C., Paseo de la Castellana Stadium is situated in the heart of the city and holds the capacity of 80,000 spectators. Another must-visit when you’re there is the museum, where their extensive trophy collection is on display.
3. Ride the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus
Have a tight schedule but still wish to see all of Madrid’s attractions? Hop on this double-decker bus that lets you discover the city’s best sights and landmarks. What makes Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus great is that you can literally hop on and off as many times as you please with the pass. There’s also a multilingual audio guide that tells you more about Madrid’s rich history.
Lisbon (2.5 Days)
Where To Go in Lisbon, Spain?
1. Belém Tower
Sitting on the northern bank of the Tagus River between 1514 and 1520, Belém Tower is Lisbon’s most famous landmark. The tower, built in Manueline style by the Portuguese architect and sculptor Francisco de Arruda. It acted as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbour and protect the city, and later was transformed into a lighthouse.
2. Jerónimos Monastery
Situated near the Tagus River, this 500 years old monastery is the most impressive symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. The Jerónimos Monastery (also called Hieronymites Monastery) was designed by Portuguese architect Diogo de Boitaca in commemoration of explorer Vasco Da Gama’s voyage. To reflect that, each column of the building is beautifully carved with coils of rope, sea monsters, coral, and other sea motifs.
3. São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle, located on the peak of the hill bearing the same name, can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. This historic castle is deeply entwined in Lisbon’s early history. There’s a number of sights inside, including the museum where you can get to know Lisboa’s history, the castle’s battlements, and the viewpoints where you can see the entire city.
4. Bairro Alto
If you think Lisbon is all about historic sites, here’s a place that proves you wrong. Bairro Alto is a trendy quarter in the central district of Lisbon, also dubbed as the bohemian neighbourhood for the hip young generation. The best way to enjoy the quarter is either to stroll down the picturesque cobbled alleyways, or simply sit down at one of the cafes. Be sure to take the iconic cable car tram, Ascensor da Glória to get to Bairro Alto!
5. Praça do Comércio
The magnificent Praça do Comércio is the grandest of all Lisbon plazas. Situated near the Tagus River, this waterfront plaza (which translates to Commercial Square) is where the royal palace stood for over two centuries until it was destroyed by the Great Earthquake in 1755. The highlight of this plaza now is the Rua Augusta Arch, designed by Portuguese architect Santos de Carvalho to celebrate the reconstruction of Lisbon.
What To Do in Lisbon, Spain?
1. Take a Coffee Break On a Bus
Ever thought of sipping a warm cup of latte while sitting on a bus? In Lisbon, there’s been a trend of converting and repurposing double-decker buses as workspace and studio, and among them, there’s also one that doubles as a cafe. Located in the city’s creative space, Village Underground, Buzz Lisboeta is a cosy cafe that serves great coffee and delicious brunch food with vegetarian options.
2. Explore Contemporary Culture in Lisbon’s Youngest Museum
It’s impossible to miss this building when you’re at the Tagus River. The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, or MAAT is a spunky new museum that combines three fields in an innovative space where everyone regardless of age can explore and learn together. It is currently closed for renovation works until March 2020, but keep your eyes peeled for new announcements!
3. Sink Your Teeth Into The World-Famous Pastéis de Belém
When you think of Portugal, one of the first things that come to mind would be the Portuguese tarts. Believe it or not, the original Pastéis de Belém was created in 1837 by the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery. The only place where you can find this tart is Fábrica Pastéis de Belém. The family has been making it with the original recipe for more than 100 years. Our tip, don’t confuse it with Pastéis de Nata! It is another version of the tart that look similar and sold in other places.
From incredible landscapes to world-famous cuisine, there’s almost nothing that these three cities lack. Pack up for an epic trip that you will never forget and let Tripfez take you there!