Headed to Spain for an Art-Filled Adventure? Here’s How to Spend a Luxurious Week in the Land of 1,000 Rivers
If you are looking to make the most of your trip, this is the itinerary you'll want to follow.
Choosing a European destination is never easy, but planning a trip to Spain—the land of 1,000 rivers, as it’s also known—is always the right choice. The country’s 17 regions offer diverse culture, cuisine, and even vocabulary, much of which becomes entirely unique depending on the area.
Excellent Valencian paella in Barcelona, which is part of Catalonia, is not hard to find, nor are unique Basque pintxos in Madrid, which is at the center of the Iberian Peninsula.
Spain’s rich history, cultural overlaps, and collection of fine art, as well as its wealth of nationally renowned artists make it an excellent, always intriguing destination to visit and keep returning to.
For discerning travelers eager to visit Madrid in style and rediscover the joys of a quick getaway with as little as 10 hours’ notice, NetJets, the global leader in private aviation, is ready to take you there.
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MADRID: Days 1–3
What to See: Madrid’s most famous museum, Museo Nacional del Prado, is home to art history textbook classics by the likes of Goya, Picasso, and the Flemish masters, and has recently committed to diversifying its collection to show more work by women and non-European artists. Consider booking a private tour to delve into the highlights and lesser-known works, such as the stunning Assumption of the Virgin attributed to Juan de Roelas and Cesare Nebbia’s drawing of Saint Stephen.
Leave an afternoon free to browse Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía,a modern art museum with plenty of Spanish quirk. The Museo Sorolla, built in the home of the revered Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla, who is far too obscure outside his native country, provides a retrospective of his work, and an intimate look into his home life.
Plan to be in town on a Sunday, when you can catch El Rastro, a weekly flea market overflowing with treasures—think antiques, artwork, furniture worth shipping home, and more. Trend-seekers can also stroll down Calle de Serrano in Salamanca, home to luxury flagships and local boutiques.
Where to Eat: Enter DiverXo and experience the wackily creative mind of David Muñoz, an avant-garde chef who earned three Michelin stars treating an empty plate like a canvas to create the restaurant’s tasting menu.
Catch a flamenco performance over at Michelin-starred Corral de la Morería, where you can enjoy Basque-inspired Spanish fare such as warm tomato stuffed with baby squid, squid ink risotto, and local Idiazábal cheese.
Where to Stay: Fall into the lap of luxury at Palacio de los Duques Gran Meliá, a five-star property in a restored 19th-century palace, complete with a private garden and spacious suites. Located in the city center, this property with three on-site eateries is also walkable from several museums and parks.
For a more spa-like getaway, consider the Gran Hotel Inglés, a quieter, wellness-focused retreat rife with soaking tubs and little perks such as a cozy library and customizable turndown service.
It may be hard to leave Madrid, but Barcelona encapsulates Madrid’s creative spirit, with a rich Catalan culture—and smaller town flavor.
Fly from Madrid to Barcelona (one hour)
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BARCELONA: Days 3–5
What to See: Gaudí! If there’s one artist synonymous with Barcelona, this Catalan architect is it, and his work is all over the highly walkable city.
Plan a visit to Casa Batlló, the iconic Art Nouveau mansion designed for an eccentric wealthy family of the same name. An audio tour will guide you through easy-to-miss artistic details. Nearby, the private residence-turned-UNESCO World Heritage Site Casa Mila, the last private home the artist designed, offers another look into Gaudí’s spectacular commissioned work.
Perhaps his most famous Barcelonian treasure is Sagrada Familia, a Spanish Late Gothic and Modernist cathedral that’s been under construction since 1882. A site unlike any other worldwide, this 135-year-old project combines Gaudí’s whimsy with religious tradition, creating an immensely artistic, spiritual space worth visiting for both its artistry and ongoing evolution. Thanks to a century-long building process, the church is always evolving, and even changes by the time of day, depending on how the light hits the intricate stained glass. The exterior is breathtaking, but don’t skip out on the interiors.
Gaudí and outdoors fans can continue onto Park Guell, a hilly public park always full of performance artists, strewn between Gaudi’s outdoor embellishments and the Gaudí House Museum, where the artist himself used to live.
For a dip into Barcelona’s contemporary art scene, walk through the narrow stone streets of the Barri Gòtic, where pedestrians flock to galleries such as Galeria Mayoral and Joan Prats, two stalwarts that anchor the local art scene. The latter space was founded in 1976, and regularly shows at Art Basel in Switzerland and Miami, making it a perfect combination of loca, authentic, and world-renowned.
Before leaving Barcelona, ride the cable car up and down Montjuïc for excellent city views and make time to visit the nearby National Art Museum of Catalonia, which houses centuries’ worth of local art.
Where to Eat: Meat enthusiasts should book a dinner at Chez Coco, an emporium of slow-roasted proteins, fragrant and ready to accompany the slew of veggie-based sides. For an upscale take on tapas, book a seat at the Michelin-starred Tickets, one of Albert Adrià and his brother Ferran’s acclaimed molecular-gastronomy-inspired restaurants. Small bites such as Spanish octopus are reinvented with global ingredients such as kimchi on the extensive menu, which changes with the seasons.
For a more casual, local experience, visit Casa Lola, where small tables are ready to be loaded with all the local treats—pan con tomate, asparagus with romesco, croquettes, patatas bravisimas, and paella.
A favorite amongst locals and in-the-know visitors, Casa Lola is always bustling (make a reservation to ensure seating) thanks to the chef’s modern take on classic tapas, and the restaurant’s lively atmosphere.
Where to Stay: The Ritz Carlton’s Hotel Arts Barcelona offers spacious rooms, attentive service, and an epic breakfast spread just steps from the beach. Five on-site restaurants (including the two-Michelin-starred Enoteca Paco Pérez), a spacious infinity pool, and a top-tier spa (book the aromatherapy massage) make it difficult to ever want to leave the property.
Those who prefer a more central location can check into the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, in the heart of Passeig de Gràcia, mere minutes from Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces.
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