We love Spain and have visited many times over the years, in fact, a visit to the island of Majorca with my parents is one of my first ever travel memories. Spain is the perfect summer holiday destination in southwestern Europe and in a prime location in the Mediterranean. It offers sunshine, friendly locals, great food, history, culture and the coastal towns offer crystal clear waters. It is perfect for all the family, from the young to the young at heart. However, it is important to remember that Spain incorporates not only the main land but the Balearic and Canary Islands too. Therefore, it is an extremely diverse country and visiting a number of places will certainly highlight that fact.
A great way of visiting more than one place during a trip is of course by taking a cruise and Thomson Cruises recently challenged I’m a Celebrity favourite and much-loved British star Larry Lamb to discover an array of vibrant and interesting locals, whilst sailing across the Mediterranean on Thomson Cruises’ newest ship; TUI Discovery 2. On his trip, Larry visited three different cities within Spain and engaged with the locals who all had a story to tell – known as ‘Cruise Mates’. The three cities he visited are certainly amongst our favourites in Spain – Barcelona where he tackled the Flamenco, he cycled through the hills of Palma and went fishing in Ibiza.
Thomson Cruises and the Human Nature Research Lab at Yale University have recently issued a world-first study which proved that Brits who bond with up to five new people from different cultures whilst on holiday can experience a happiness boost of 10%. I am a massive advocate of interacting with local people when travelling and truly believe the findings of the study. I find that it is the best way to really get to know your surroundings, where to visit, what to do and certainly where to eat, locals always have the best advice on the food front.
Here are our top three recommendations of what you can see and do in the three aforementioned places and how you can engage with the locals too.
Take an artsy Gaudi tour – There are 5 main Gaudi attractions in Barcelona: Basilica Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, Park & Palau Guell and Casa Mila. Why not hire a local tour guide who really loves Gaudi’s work and knows lots about it! They’ll tell you many unknown tales about the famous artist.
Eat delicious tapas made by a home chef – Enjoy a chat with your host over a glass of local wine. Ask them about the history and culture of the city and all the cool things to do whilst you are there. You’ll make new friends and have a delicious meal at the same time, the perfect combination.
Catch a match at Camp Nou – Football is a big thing in Spain, especially in Barcelona. It’s also a great place to meet locals who are passionate about their team and the sport in general. If you don’t have time to watch a match, we’d recommend taking a stadium tour, it’s a pretty touristy spot, but if you like football, you really must do it.
Stroll along the seafront – Palma has a fabulous marina and seafront area, together with a palm tree-lined promenade. Palma’s cathedral (La Seu) dominates the skyline and is a great place to explore. The Parc de la Mar, a large park in front of it is a great place to interact with locals as it hosts many concerts, fiestas and open-air cinema throughout the year.
Eat like a local – Every Tuesday in Palma’s old town La Ruta Martiana takes place. Many bars offer visitors small tapas or pintxo and a caña of beer for the very reasonable price of around 2-3€. It is the perfect way to discover authentic Spanish bars and delicious cuisine away from the touristy areas of the city.
So much sport – Palma has a number of annual sporting events including a marathon in October, a range of cycling events, a football team that plays in Spain’s top division, numerous sailing regattas in the Mediterranean and its own International Boat Show held on the first May bank holiday weekend.
Go Shopping – With plenty of options in Ibiza when it comes to shopping, there is somewhere for everyone – the Flea Market with second-hand and unusual items, a great place if you like to rummage and barter. Visit the hippy market, meet the local traders who sell everything from children’s clothes to jewellery and not forgetting the Ibiza Town Boutiques if you’re looking for something special.
Explore secret Ibiza – Take a tour with a local guide and explore the magical destinations that don’t appear in your travel brochure. Ibiza is famous for being a nighttime hotspot, however, there is so much more to the island including the beaches of the north, the salt flats in the south, the historic and beautiful Dalt Vila and not forgetting the yachts in the marina.
Take a food tour – Discover the food and drink that Ibiza is famous for on a guided food tour. You will sample tapas, pastries, hams, fresh fish, olives, cheeses, taste different wines and liqueurs and get a fantastic culinary history lesson from a local guide.
The TUI Discovery 2’s on board facilities, which include an outdoor movie screen, rock climbing wall and huge range of restaurants, bars and lounges provide everything you need and more to keep you entertained between ports. So why not try out a cruise for yourself, explore a number of different places and meet your own Cruise Mates?
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