THE GUIDE to NORTHERN & SOUTHERN SPAIN, MADRID and BARCELONA
The Business Jet guide to Spain
for luxury and business jet travelers.
An introduction to spending your time discovering the delights of Northern & Southern Spain, plus the cities Madrid and Barcelona.
Costa Brava — one of the most popular regions for the Spanish and visitors alike is Catalonia on Spain’s northeast coast. It is recommended to visit many of its beautiful ‘calas’ [coves] and eating out in one of the many ‘chiringuitos’ [beach bars] with plentiful supply of good fresh fish and rice dishes.
Inland there is also much to discover — the beautiful countryside and the magnificent gastronomy of the area with many locally produced products.
The set up of a beautiful day.
Restaurants – there are many many restaurants to choose from; here are two recommendations:
Can Salo – a restaurant in a 16th-century farmhouse in the village of Palau-Sator
Eth Triton – a restaurant in a valley in the Spanish Pyrenees called the Val d’Aran, for good food in a family atmosphere — with a great wine cellar.
Wine – Northern Spain is home to two of the country’s wine regions.
The Asturias region — along the Bay of Biscay, including the sheltered Playa de Toro beach in the town of Llanes.
The wineries in Ribera del Duero or La Rioja are particularly fabulous to visit in the late summer and early autumn.
Seeing the city from a high viewpoint avoids the crowds of overseas visitors and provides a different view — a city surrounded by two mountains and the Mediterranean sea.
On closer inspection its old Roman quarter and its spectacular modernist ‘Ensanche’ district are visible and a well worth a visit.
The Ensanche was built during the 19th Century in the first big expansion of Barcelona beyond its city walls — home also to many of the most splendid buildings in Barcelona.
The Ensanche — notable for its octagonal block structure and grid-like appearance with a diagonal avenue running through it, while Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter is home to the remains of the Roman Temple of Augustus.
The Palau Nacional, or National Museum of Catalan Art is a building on the hill of Montjuïc in Barcelona, and has a rooftop terrace with further city views to be experienced.
Barcelona is a city that can be discovered very well on foot. It has a human scale, and its architecture is the best open-air museum — its is recommend to wonder through its beautiful streets, taking in full its history.
Several saints’ days are celebrated in Barcelona, and each comes with a commemorative cake.
— during the festival of Sant Jordi (St. George), the bakeries [panaderias] are filled with pastries decorated with the red and yellow of the Catalan flag. Visit La Colmena in the Gothic Quarter, founded 1849, or the pastry shop Mauri, in Eixample, and look up at its 1920s painted ceiling.
— the Sant Medir Festival [known as a feast of sweets] is celebrated on March 3.
— the Revetlla de Sant Joan, celebrated on midsummer’s eve (June 23 in 2023), is marked by bonfires as well as a bread-style cake, known as a coca de Sant Joan, that is made with candied fruit.
A sweet tooth paradise!
The Plaça Reial is a popular spot for a drink or an outdoor meal — keep an eye on your bags — the square has the Tres Gràcies fountain in the centre, parrot-filled palm trees dotted around, and lamp-posts designed by a young Antoni Gaudí.
The Capital of Spain — very hot in the summer!
To relax – Matadero Madrid, on the banks of the River Manzanares in Spain’s capital, is an arts development in a former slaughterhouse and cattle market — with a “typical Spanish atmosphere, in which one can enjoy a traditional cana — a small glass of beer.
Hoteliers such as The Edition and the Four Seasons – both new to the city — or the recently restored Mandarin Oriental Ritz.
Museums — Del Prado or Thyssen museums, the Musicals of Gran Via or an authentic flamenco show in El Corral de la Moreria are recommendations to enjoy the vibrant city like a local. The Museo Del Prado holds Spain’s national art collection, while the nearby Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum houses Old Masters as well as modern art. El Corral de la Moreria has nightly flamenco shows with dinner options.
The most beautiful view — having brunch at Jardines de Sabatini aparthotel, which has one of the most beautiful views of the city, is a must — the hotel’s roof terrace overlooks Madrid’s Royal Palace and has its own classic car museum!
El Retiro Park – over 125 hectares and comprising more than 15,000 trees, El Retiro Park is a green oasis in the heart of the city. In it you’ll find all kinds of interesting monuments and gardens, including the Jardín de Vivaces, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (Andalusian-inspired classicistic gardens), the Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios, the Rosaleda rose garden and the Parterre Francés, which holds a Mexican conifer that is nearly 400 years old and is believed to be Madrid’s oldest tree.
Royal Botanic Gardens – declared an Artistic Garden in 1942, its collections include an outstanding herbarium with more than a million entries, the library and the archive – with nearly 10,000 drawings – as well as the exhibition of 5,000 species of live plants.
Guided tours are offered in order to know the multitude of species that inhabit this green corner of the city centre — the route through the garden and its greenhouses combines general botanic content, curiosities, history, the singularity of its examples, uses of the plants and their importance in our lives.
The Botanical Garden’s current location is not coincidental — it is the result of the enlightened monarch Carlos III’s wish to create a complex dedicated to the natural sciences in Madrid.
Nextdoor is now the Prado Museum, which was built in the late 18th century to house the Museum of Natural History. Its scientific spirit is still alive, as the garden is currently managed by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain’s National Scientific Research Council), which organises all kinds of educational activities such as conferences and exhibitions.
Campo del Moro Gardens – these historical gardens, created by Philip II, are one of Madrid’s hidden and unique spots. Located along a green axis, covering more than 20 hectares next to Madrid Río, they were declared an Artistic-Historical Monument in 1931. Its name refers to a historic episode which occurred in 1109, when the Muslim leader, Alí Ben Yusuf, attempted to re-conquer Madrid following the death of King Alfonso VI, by attacking the fortress from the hillside close to the river. It appears that he and his troops camped in what are now the gardens.
In the 16th century, King Philip II bought the land adjacent to the Alcazar, turning it into the leisure area for the Court in Madrid. After the fire at the Madrid Alcazar in 1734, this land lost its importance in favour of other areas close to the Palace.
During the reign of Isabella II was when the construction of the Gardens was undertaken by Narciso Pascual y Colomer (1844), whose layout of straight main avenues remains today, along with the two fountains that line the central axis: the Conchas fountain, by Felipe de Castro and Manuel Álvarez (1775), brought from the Infante Don Luis Palace in Boadilla del Monte, and the Tritons fountain, a 16th century Italian work from the garden of La Isleta in Aranjuez, and located in front of the “Gruta Grande” or greenhouse. During the Regency of Maria Cristina of Habsburg the park was completely reformed according to the pseudo-landscape design of Ramón Oliva (1890).
It had not been developed as a garden in the past, as it was not possible to connect the area to the Royal Palace, which was situated at a much higher altitude. This position was exploited to create one of the best views in Madrid, with the Royal Palace looming beyond an expansive green tapestry, surrounded by monumental fountains within an ample and shady romantic garden.
Due to the upcoming opening of the Royal Collections Museum (scheduled for the end of 2022), whose Floor -3 is at the height of the gardens, a public entrance to Campo del Moro is being built through the gate located at the intersection of Paseo de Felipe V, inside the gardens, and the Cuesta de la Vega, where the museum entrance for groups will be located. The gardens will also be connected to Madrid Río through the Bonaparte (or Juan de Villanueva) Tunnel, which runs from east to west under this axis and the Paseo de la Virgen del Puerto.
Capricho Park – Built in 1784 by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna on the outskirts of Madrid, El Capricho is one of the city’s most beautiful -and least known- parks. It was frequented by 18th century artists, thinkers and bullfighters like writer Leandro Fernández de Moratín and painter Francisco de Goya. Goya in fact painted The Spell, which now hangs in the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, to decorate El Capricho Palace. Boasting a wealth of botanical treasures and wonderful sculptures, the park is home to a mansion, a bandstand, a labyrinth and a small lake.
After the death of the Duchess, the park slowly fell into neglect and disrepair until 1974 when Madrid City Council acquired it restored it to its former glory. The works were finished in 1999 and the park was reopened to the public.
The gardens covering 17 hectares and designed by Jean Baptiste Mulot, who also worked on the Petit Trianon in Versaille, are devided into three sections: the parterre (French garden), the English landscape garden and the giardino all’italiana (Italian garden).
The city of Cadiz is a vibrant smorgasbord of old walled, densely packed town with medieval churches, with Arabic forts, watchtowers, palaces, bodegas, tobacconists, scooters, bars full of bullfighting paraphernalia, kids on bright bicycles, and people eating fish at rickety tables that block the traffic.
The Cadiz province is known for its long sandy beaches, whitewashed towns and the local vineyard sherry — surrounding the city of Jerez de la Frontera.
The Cadiz province has probably the best white sand and crystal water beaches in the Iberian Peninsula – as well as an incredible fish-based gastronomy.
Bolonia, a wide curve of pale sand with dunes, and the remains of Baelo Claudia, an ancient Roman town right by the beach.
Close to the town of TarifaAlonso is the popular windsurfing beach Valdevaqueros – the southernmost point of Europe.
When in Cadiz province, a must is Casa Bigote restaurant, in Sanlucar de Barrameda, where you can try the best prawns in the world!
Zahara de los Atunes is a fishing village around an hour’s drive south of Cadiz city – where you can sample to the Bluefin tuna at Taberna de el Campero.
On the southeast coast, the town of Javea in the province of Alicante has a landscape that is worth the visit — inspired the paintings of the famous Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla.
The chiringuito Montgo di Bongo is right on the beach and the place to enjoy paella by the sea – reservation are suggested well in advance.
Montgo di Bongo, La Siesta is the place to see and be seen — with beautiful people, fancy decorations and dance music. If you prefer something more down to earth, [Taverna] Octopus, is a bar located on El Arenal beach with rock music and good vibes.