On the way to Spain for an adventure full of art? Here’s how to spend a luxurious week in the land of 1000 rivers
Choosing a European destination is never easy, but planning a trip to Spain, the land of 1000 rivers, as it is also called, is always the right choice. The country’s 17 regions offer a diverse culture, cuisine and even vocabulary, much of which becomes quite unique depending on the region.
Excellent Valencian Paella in Barcelona, which is part of Catalonia, is not hard to find, neither are unique Basque pintxos in Madrid, which is in the center of the Iberian Peninsula.
Spain’s rich history, cultural overlaps and fine art collection, along with its wealth of nationally renowned artists make it a great destination that is always intriguing to visit and visit again and again.
For discerning travelers wanting to visit Madrid in style and rediscover the joys of a quick getaway with as little as 10 hours’ notice, NetJets, the world leader in private aviation, is ready to take you there.
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Right path !
MADRID: Days 1-3
What to see: The most famous museum in Madrid, Prado National Museum, houses classics from the art history textbooks of Goya, Picasso and Flemish masters, and has recently committed to diversify your collection show more works by non-European women and artists. To consider book a private tour to delve into highlights and lesser-known works, such as the astonishing Assumption of the Virgin attributed to Juan de Roelas and to the drawing of Saint Etienne by Cesare Nebbia.
Leave an afternoon free to browse Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía,a museum of modern art with a lot of Spanish quirks. Sorolla museum, built in the home of revered Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla, which is far too obscure outside of his native land, offers a retrospective of his work and an intimate look at his family life.
Plan to be in town on a Sunday, when you can catch El Rastro, a weekly flea market filled with treasures: think antiques, works of art, furniture worth shipping home, and more. Fans of trends can also stroll down Calle de Serrano in Salamanca, which is home to luxury flagships and local boutiques.
Where to eat: Enter DiverXo and discover the wacky creative spirit of David Muñoz, an avant-garde chef who earned three Michelin stars by treating an empty plate like a canvas to create the restaurant’s tasting menu.
Watch a Michelin-starred flamenco show Corral de la Moreria, where you can enjoy Basque-inspired Spanish dishes, such as hot tomatoes stuffed with baby squids, 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 establishment in a restored 19th-century palace with a private garden and spacious suites. Located in the city center, this property with three on-site restaurants is also within walking distance of several museums and parks.
For a more spa getaway, consider the Gran Hotel Francés, a quieter, wellness-focused retreat with soaking tubs and little perks like a cozy library and customizable turndown service.
It can be difficult to leave Madrid, but Barcelona embodies the creative spirit of Madrid, with a rich Catalan culture and a small town flavor.
Flight from Madrid to Barcelona (one hour)
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BARCELONA: Days 3 to 5
What to see: Gaudi! If there is one artist synonymous with Barcelona, it is this Catalan architect, and his work is everywhere in the very pedestrianized city.
Schedule a visit to Casa Batlló, the iconic Art Nouveau mansion designed for a wealthy eccentric family of the same name. An audio tour will guide you through artistic details that are easy to miss. Nearby, the private residence which has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site Casa Mila, the last private house designed by the artist, offers another look at Gaudí’s spectacular commissioned work.
Perhaps its most famous Barcelona treasure is Sagrada Familia, a late Gothic and Modernist Spanish cathedral under construction since 1882. A unique site in the world, this 135-year-old project combines Gaudí’s fantasy with religious tradition, creating an immensely artistic spiritual space to visit for its art and continuous evolution. Through a century-long construction process, the church is constantly evolving, and even changing depending on the time of day, depending on how the light hits the intricate stained glass window. The exterior is breathtaking, but don’t skip the interiors.
Gaudí and outdoor enthusiasts can continue on Park Güell, a hilly public park always full of performance artists, scattered between Gaudi’s exterior embellishments and the Gaudí House-Museum, where the artist himself lived.
To immerse yourself in Barcelona’s contemporary art scene, stroll through the narrow stone streets of Barri Gòtic, where pedestrians flock to galleries such as Galeria Mayoral and Joan prats, two pillars that anchor the local art scene. The latter space was founded in 1976 and exhibits regularly at Art Basel in Switzerland and Miami, making it a perfect combination of location, authenticity and world renown.
Before leaving Barcelona, hop on and off by cable car Montjuic for excellent views of the city and take the time to explore the surrounding area National Art Museum of Catalonia, which is home to centuries of local art.
Where to eat: Meat lovers should book a dinner at the At Coco, an emporium of slow roasting proteins, fragrant and ready to accompany the multitude of vegetable-based accompaniments. For a top-of-the-range version of tapas, reserve a Michelin-starred seat Tickets, one of the famous restaurants inspired by the molecular gastronomy of Albert Adrià and his brother Ferran. Small bites like Spanish octopus are reinvented with global ingredients like kimchi on the full menu, which changes with the seasons.
For a more relaxed local experience, visit Casa Lola, or small tables are ready to be loaded with all the local goodies—pan con tomato, asparagus with romesco, croquettes, potatoes bravisima, and Paella.
A favorite among locals and discerning visitors alike, Casa Lola is always bustling (make a reservation to ensure seats) thanks to the chef’s modern version of 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 just steps from the beach. Five on-site restaurants (including the 2 Michelin star Enoteca Paco Pérez), a large infinity pool, and top-notch spa (book the aromatherapy massage) make it hard to leave the property.
Those who prefer a more central location can check in at the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, in the heart of Passeig de Gràcia, a few minutes from Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces.
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