September 17, 2018
Where to Eat Near Madrid's Top Attractions

Where to Eat Near Madrid's Top Attractions

September 17, 2018
retiro park madrid travel outfit spain
Madrid is well known for being a city full of monuments. From visiting the Royal Palace or some of the best museums in the world like El Prado to taking a stroll around Retiro Park, there's plenty to see and do. With so much sightseeing you are bound to get hungry. Sure there's always some restaurant nearby offering typical Spanish food but you don't want to end up in a touristy restaurant with disappointing and overpriced food. To help you avoid this mistake, today I bring you my foodie guide to the best places to eat near Madrid’s top attractions.

royal palace sabatini gardens madrid spain
Cafe de Oriente & La Botilleria de Oriente are timeless, there's a mixture of modern and traditional decor with uniformed staff that will make you feel like you are in a luxury restaurant without having to spend a fortune.
Mercado de San Miguel is the best place to try tapas. However, you won't find average tapas here, think more like "upscale tapas". The place tends to be crowded but it's worth it.

plaza mayor madrid spain
I'd say San Gines is a tourist attraction more than a place to eat. Tourists and locals go to this place for the best chocolate con churros in town.

mr frank restaurant madrid
mr frank restaurant madrid
Mr Frank is like half way between Puerta del Sol and two of the most famous museums in Madrid: El Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza. This restaurant offers unique dishes inspired by trips all around the world. The restaurant is divided in two areas: one looks like a wine cellar and the other has a rustic decor that makes you feel at home.

gourmet experience callao gran via madrid
El Jardin de Salvador Bachiller and El Invernadero de Salvador Bachiller have a similar menu but different atmospheres. The first is a rooftop and the second one a basement. The decor in both is based on nature with flowers and plants all around. Their specialties are brunch, natural fruit juices and cocktails.
Gourmet Experience El Corte Ingles. On the 9th floor of Spain's most famous department store in Gran Via you will find a mixture of gourmet food store and food market. You can buy products or eat tapas, pizza or gelato with a view.

plaza españa gran via madrid spain
Cafe Mür is the cutest coffee shop and cocktail bar. The decor is a mixture of rustic and industrial with elements that contribute to create a cozy atmosphere like Chester sofas, vintage cushions, a chimney and wooden beams. The menu includes a selection of salads, bagels and their famous homemade cakes.

mercado san anton chueca madrid
Chueca is the gay neighborhood in Madrid and has some of the best decorated eateries and cafes in the capital of Spain. Frida is one of the most popular among locals. They offer creative cuisine, taking care of every detail regarding both their food and the decor. Be sure to make reservations or you will have to go somewhere else.
If I fancy a burger when I'm in the area, I go to Anauco Gourmet. Apart from the delicious food I love the fact that you can choose the size of your burger.
Mercado San Anton is foodie paradise. The first floor focuses on perishable food, the second one on take-away food and on the third floor you'll find Cocina de San Anton, a restaurant where customers can eat their goods bought on the first floor, cooked for a supplement of 4€. There's also a menu and a great selection of cocktails.

glass crystal palace retiro park madrid
glass crystal palace retiro park madrid
El Perro y la Galleta is one of the most intagrammable places in Madrid and has delicious reasonably-priced food too. What's not to like?
Atlantico Taberna offers a mixture of tradition and trendiness. When you walk into this Galician restaurant you feel like you have been transported to the seaside.

habanera restaurant colon madrid
habanera restaurant colon madrid
If you have some time to go shopping be sure to visit Serrano (a.k.a. the golden mile) and nearby streets. The biggest Zara and Mango shops in the country are waiting for you along with luxury brands like Chanel, Dior or LV. There are plenty of restaurants around but my favorite are the following:
Cafe Colon a luxury restaurant for a luxury neighborhood. A great option to give yourself a treat. Very close to Cafe Colon you can find La Habanera. I have to say that the decor here is better than the food but it's so beautiful it will make your jaw drop when you walk in. If you want to see where all the pretty people in Madrid hang out, go to this Caribbean inspired restaurant.
What amazed me the most about Ultramarinos Quintin was the quality of their products. Every single ingredient of the dishes we ordered tasted like heaven. It's pricey but this is one of my favorite places to celebrate a special occasion. On Puigcerda street you'll find the cutest restaurants lined up, the tricky thing will be to pick just one!

Because of my love for food, I'm on a crusade to try all the amazing restaurants and cafes Madrid has to offer. In order to share my adventure, I've created a new Instagram account @madrid4foodies. Follow it if you want to keep updated and see the best restaurants in Madrid.

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gran via madrid

September 10, 2018
Day Trips From Nerja

Day Trips From Nerja

September 10, 2018
larios shopping malaga spain
As we saw last week, there's penty to do if you’re holidaying in Nerja. However, there are many more places worth seeing a bit further than the beautiful whitewashed village of Frigiliana or the breath-taking Nerja Caves. If you drive west, you can visit the region's capital city, Malaga or celebrity favorites Marbella and Puerto Banus. If you decide to head east, you can find the spectacular Granada with its world famous Alhambra Palace.

Let's take a look at those amazing places:

Distance: 50 km - 1 hour drive
Being a bigger city, Malaga has much more to offer than the coastal pueblos of the region. Nevertheless, we decided to stay in Nerja instead because it's much quieter and therefore relaxing which is what we were aiming for. Still, we couldn't go back to Madrid without visiting Malaga. As we had an amazing beach in Nerja, we swapped the bathing suit for our walking shoes and decided to do some sightseeing.
malaga spain city hall
Malaga's old town is charming. I recommend visiting the main shopping street, Larios, and historical buildings like the city hall, the cathedral or the colorful episcopal palace. Also, the Alcazaba is a palace that is similar to Alhambra but not as spectacular. It used to be the palace fortress of the city’s Muslim rulers. Last but not least, a walk along the port's promenade when the temps go down is also a delight.
cathedral malaga spain
episcopal palace architecture malaga spain
old town cathedral larios malaga spain
alcazaba gibralfaro city hall malaga spain
If you decide that one day in Malaga is not enough, you can spend the night in one of these dreamy hotels.
It's located atop Mount Gibralfaro opposite the Alcazaba from which you get amazing views of the bay and city.
parador malaga gibralfaro hotel spain
malaga spain bullfighting ring beach views port
This stunning 5-star hotel has served different purposes since it opened in 1926. It has been hotel, hospital during the Civil War, Palace of Justice and finally it reopened as a hotel again in 2016. 
palacio miramar hotel malaga spain
palacio miramar hotel malaga spain
If you go to Malaga, you need to try the most famous dish: espetos. Pescaito frito (fried fish) is popular all around Andalusia but espetos are typical from Malaga. You may be wondering what that odd word means. Espeto is a traditional way of cooking freshly-caught sea fish, most often sardines. The verb espetar means to skewer. The fish is skewered, seasoned with a bit of olive oil and sea salt and cooked over a pit of coals which are usually in a little boat on the sand as you can see below. You can find this finger food all around Malaga, specially in beach restaurants.

A great place to try Andalusian food is Mercado de Atarazanas. This is Malaga's biggest market where apart from buying produce, meat and fish, you can eat seafood and delicious tapas as well.
malagueta beach playa espetos spain
sardines espetos malaga spain
Distance: 86km - 1 hour and 10 minute drive
In Benalmadena you can take a lovely walk along the marina which offers great shopping and dining. There's also a Sea Life Center where you can see a wide variety of marine wildlife.
benalmadena malaga spain marina
benalmadena malaga spain marina
benalmadena malaga spain marina
Distance: 128 km - 1 hour 30 minute drive
Marbella has been a favorite destination among celebrities for years. All the glamour has overshadowed the true charm of the city which lies in the lovely old town. Because of that, this hidden gem is often missed by visitors. The maze of narrow cobbled streets full of cute restaurants and bougainvillea hanging from white walls will remind you of whitewashed villages.
old town marbella malaga spain
old town marbella malaga spain
old town marbella malaga spain
old town marbella malaga spain
Distance: 9 km from Marbella
If you go to Marbella, Puerto Banus is a must-see. This luxury marina is filled with the biggest yachts and the most expensive sports cars in Europe. The stores and restaurants you can find here are pretty expensive as you can imagine. The place is full of life specially around the evening and at night.
puerto banus marbella malaga spain marina
puerto banus marbella malaga spain marina
puerto banus marbella malaga spain marina
Distance: 1 hour 15 minute drive heading east.
Ah, Granada, the crown jewel. This is the most popular day trip from Nerja. Granada is home to The Alhambra, the most spectacular Moorish palace in the world. To visit the Alhambra you need to reserve tickets well in advance since there is a restriction in the number of visitors per day.

Even though the Alhambra is the main attraction, Granada has much more to offer like the Albayzin -the traditional Muslim quarter- with its hilly and narrow streets or Sacromonte, the gypsy quarter with its flamenco venues.
alhambra palace granada spain
alhambra palace granada spain
alhambra palace granada spain
If you want to head further afield you could visit Seville (260 km) or Cordoba (220 km) but you might want to consider spending the night there.

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nerja malaga marbella puerto banus spain
September 3, 2018
Things to do in Nerja, Malaga

Things to do in Nerja, Malaga

September 3, 2018
frigiliana pueblo bonito blanco malaga spain white village
September is a great month to visit Nerja. The weather in this coastal town in the region of Malaga is still warm enough to go to the beach but not as hot as in summer. On today's post I'm going to tell you which are the best beaches in Nerja, places to eat and stay and we are going to take a tour around one of the most beautiful villages in Spain: Frigiliana.

Nerja is one of the most important tourist spots on the Costa del Sol. It's 50 km from Malaga and has a charming old town with whitewashed houses and narrow streets that makes this place one of the most beautiful in the region. The name “Nerja” comes from the Arabic word “narixa” which means “bountiful spring” referring to the importance -and great amount of- water in the area.

Here are some of our favorite things to do in and around Nerja:

One of the most famous places in Nerja are the Nerja Caves, these prehistoric stalactite and stalagmite caves -where you can also find Paleolithic paintings- were discovered in 1959 by a group of local boys.

The caves open daily from 10am to 1pm and 4 to 6:30pm (until 7:30pm in July and August). Admission is 9€.
nerja malaga parador hotel view andalusia spain
Balcony of Europe vantage point offers a magnificent panoramic view of the entire coastline and is a favorite spot to watch the sun set.balcon europa nerja malaga views spain
nerja malaga spain
Verano Azul is the name of the most popular TV show in the history of Spanish television. It was first broadcast in 1981 and there have been reruns for years. The show tells the adventures of a group of youngsters while on summer vacation in Nerja. La Dorada is the name Chanquete, the most beloved character in the show, gave his boat. The ship no longer exists but there is a replica in the Verano Azul Park where you can find more references to the show.
chanquete nerja malaga

  • Playa de Burriana - Burriana Beach
Burriana is the most famous and biggest beach in Nerja. This beach has the quality flag awarded by the Spanish authorities. It offers a variety of services including watersports, shops, restaurants and bars.
  • Playa El Salón - El Salon Beach
Much smaller than the previous one, it's frequented by the locals.
  • Playa de Calahonda - Calahonda Beach 
It's right next to Balcon de Europa and surrounded by restaurants that look over it from a cliff. Many people go there to take pictures of the peculiar "hippie house" you can see below.
  • Playa de Maro - Maro Beach and the little sister La Caleta de Maro - Maro Cove
Hidden waterfalls, underwater caves and turquoise waters just a few kilometers away in the village of Maro.

nerja beach malaga spain
beach calahonda nerja malaga hippy house spain
One of the most famous places in Nerja is the Eagle Aqueduct. Located just outside the town, this structure was built in the nineteenth century and continues to be used today. In the early days the bridge was used to transport water into a sugar cane factory, today the aqueduct is used for local irrigation.
eagle aqueduct acueducto aguila nerja malaga spain
Our favorite place to hang out and have dinner was the old town. It's full of all sorts of restaurants, bars and traditional ice-cream parlors. Fried fish (pescaito frito) is popular all around Andalusia which is something you absolutely have to try. Other popular dishes we found -and loved- in Nerja were seafood cocktail -with shrimp and avocado- and battered eggplant with honey.
old town nerja malaga spain sunset
sevillano restaurant old town nerja spain malaga
sevillano restaurant old town nerja spain malaga
We stayed at El Parador de Nerja. If you follow the blog you know we are big fans of this state-run hotel chain that often adapts former castles, monasteries and other historical buildings. Read about other Paradores we've been to here.

This 4-star hotel sits on a cliff above the sea on the coast of Malaga which endows it with magnificent views. The pool is surrounded by beautiful gardens with a variety of trees that make up a little botanic garden that ends in a long balcony where you can spend hours looking at the sea. The best part? there's an elevator that takes you from El Parador to Burriana beach. As in any Parador the service is remarkable and the food spectacular.nerja malaga parador hotel andalusia spain
nerja malaga parador hotel andalusia spain
nerja malaga parador hotel view andalusia spain
nerja malaga parador hotel view andalusia spain playa beach burriana
nerja malaga parador hotel menu andalusia spain
I had never heard about Frigiliana until a few weeks ago when I was preparing this trip. Now it's everywhere, even on the news. This little village situated 7 km north of Nerja has quickly become a favorite among tourists in the area. It's one of those Pueblos Mas Bonitos de España (most beautiful villages in Spain) and it's the only one in the region of Malaga in that list. Frigiliana's charm lies in its beautiful streets where you can find white houses with colorful doors and bougainvillaea, closeness to the beach and its location at the foot of a mountain range. The people who live here take good care of the village, walls seem to be recently painted, streets are immaculate, there are beautiful flower pots everywhere and restaurants look like they've been decorated by professionals.

Intersting facts about Frigiliana:
  • One third of its 3000 inhabitants are not Spanish and come from up to 20 different countries.
  • Some of the local products include honey, artisan chocolate, craft beer, mango and avocado.
  • The village is divided in two parts. The  lower section which is newer and the older Mudejar neighborhood, the upper section which is the one you have to visit. 

Best time to visit this picturesque village is between 6-8 pm. If you go earlier you'll probably melt in the heat, if you go later you will have to share the place with many more people. Those visitors go to Frigiliana for the sunset and to have dinner at one of the many lovely restaurants with a view in the village. Many of the restaurants and bars have rooftop terraces overlooking the village and the valley below. Best way to explore the city? Wander the maze of cobblestone streets and find the hidden gems. If you get tired, stop and try one of their craft beers.

How to get there:
You can either drive there or take a bus from Nerja, it's just a 15-minute drive. There are lots of sign so if you are driving, you can't miss it. You have to take road MA-5105 that climbs the mountain and ends up in Frigiliana.frigiliana pueblo bonito blanco malaga spain white village
frigiliana pueblo bonito blanco malaga spain white village
frigiliana pueblo bonito blanco malaga spain white village
frigiliana pueblo bonito blanco malaga spain white village beer cruzcampo
frigiliana pueblo bonito blanco malaga spain white village
frigiliana pueblo bonito blanco malaga spain white village
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