One of my motivating factors for moving to Spain, was to be able to travel for cheaper on this side of the world. Unfortunately fate had a different plan for me involving a world pandemic. I arrived in Spain in January of 2020 and just as I was getting settled and getting ready to take some trips, we got hit with COVID19. Although most of the world is opening up slowly for travel, I am still not comfortable with the idea of travel yet, especially as the numbers of infections are on the rise again. Being that I have chosen to stay put in Barcelona for a while, I have decided that when I do feel more comfortable with traveling, I will start off my top picks for post COVID travel some places close by. This list is in no particular order.
Due to COVID airline/train and accommodation costs have become somewhat unpredictable. Recently, I have seen major fluctuations in accommodations costs especially, and since I am not actually planning these trips for specific dates, this is something that I will look at more closely when I have some dates planned.
About a 3.5 hour train ride or a 1 hour flight from Barcelona, Valencia is a quick trip. The fare for the train is about 50 euros or less, however you can sometimes find a round trip plane ticket for about the same cost. Although I have not yet taken this trip, going anywhere by train has the added benefits of scenery.
I love doing hop-on hop-off bus tours, and Valencia has one with Valencia Bus Turistic. You can purchase either a 24 hour or 48 hour ticket which allows you to spread out your site visits over two days. There is quite a bit to see in here and the hop-on hop-off bus has about 20 stops! Many of the sites have low entrance fees ranging from 2 euros to the most expensive being at about 30 euros. And what’s even better is, if you go on Sundays, a lot of those attractions are FREE! So plan wisely.
Valencia is Spain’s third largest city. It appears to have a bit of everything; old history, modern features and the beach! It is another home to delicious food here in Spain, boasting as the real home of paella.
Lisbon, Portugal is about a 2 hour flight. You can often find flights for less than 100 euros from Barcelona. You can also fly into the Porto airport. Flights can run a little cheaper to Porto than to Lisbon.
Lisbon and Porto also have hop-on hop-off buses. There are a few different companies to choose from, but the Yellow Bus tour has a 24 and 48 hour ticket and it includes access to public trams, Santa Justa lift and traditional funiculars, as well as the aerobus which goes to and from the airport. This to me sounds like a good deal! There are about 15 stops to see with this bus and attractions range from free to about 22 euros for entrance. Lisbon has a reputation for friendly locals, good food, rich history and a true seaside relaxed culture.
An easy day trip from Lisbon is to Sintra. It takes just 30 minutes by train. In Sintra, City Sightseeing offers a hop-on hop-off tour with about 16 stops. Attractions here range from free to about 10 euros for entrance fees. Sintra is full of colorful, beautiful storybook-like castles, as well as breathtaking sea views and luscious green parks.
I get asked all the time why I chose Barcelona over Madrid. I have not yet been to Madrid but what I do know is that there is no beach in Madrid….enough said. Although Madrid was not my first choice to live in, I definitely want to visit.
There is a high speed train that takes you straight to Madrid in 2.5 – 3 hours. You can also fly there in about 1.5 hours. Train tickets can run anywhere between 40 and 110 euros depending on how far in advance you book. You can also find airline tickets for under 100 euros. I have not yet been on a speed train, so I would probably choose that option.
There is plenty to see in Madrid. This is one of those big cities that a hop-on hop-off bus tour would definitely come in handy on a quick trip. Madrid City Tour has 24 and 48 hour tickets available and they have over 30 stops on the itinerary. Attractions here also range from free to about 20 euros. Madrid seems to be a mix of history and modern with tons of museums!
Located in the south of Spain is Granada. Here would be a change of scenery from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona and is home to the famous Alhambra. It has stunning views, gorgeous architectural detail and breathtaking gardens along with rich history.
Granada is about 1.5 hour by plane – another quick trip! Flights can start as low as 60 euros. This city is nowhere as big as or as dense as Madrid or Barcelona. Although they do have a hop-on hop-off bus, I am not 100% decided if I might skip it and just walk. Granada City Tour has 14 stops on their itinerary, and for as low as 8 euros. I would consider buying a 24 hour ticket and touring by foot for the rest of my stay.
Why I love hop on hop off bus tours
As you can see, my first option will always be a hop-on hop-off bus tour. I feel like it saves plenty of time on a short trip and you get to see everything at a glance then you can decide where you want to spend most of your time. These are actual tours that give an immense amount of information on the city you are touring. In addition to day tours, some of the hop-on hop-off buses offer night tours for beautifully lit cities. Even though travel has opened up in many places, most of the group tour offers like the hop-on and hop-off buses are not yet back in operation.
[Check out some of the other tools I use to plan my trips here.]
This list is just a few places I have been looking at recently, but the list of places to go is never ending. I cannot wait to resume traveling and get back to you guys with some recommendations of places to see, stay and eat!
Have you been traveling recently with COVID still raging in some areas of the world? How has it been for you? Any tips that you can offer me to get me going again sooner rather than later? Leave me a comment with your experiences and thoughts.
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