Family Holiday in Spain - Madrid, Barcelona, Costa Brava & Salou

Sachin Jatkar

Well-Known Member
We are just back from a fun filled family holiday in Spain and thought that I would share the experience. It was a 10 day trip and we were 2 couples with a kid each. We did all the planning and bookings ourselves and it was the first time we stayed at AirBnB accomodations.

As we need confirmed return air tickets, hotel bookings, and proof of internal travel booking when applying for Visa, we did all that before applying for the visa. We applied for the Visa in Mumbai while our friends did it in Delhi. There is a direct Air India flight from Delhi to Madrid which takes about 9 hours to reach. All the details and documents for applying for a visa to Spain are given at the website below.

Some pictures to start with...

Santiago Bernabeu (Real Madrid) stadium

Flamenco Dance Show in Madrid

Walking the streets of a village in Costa Brava region

View of Barcelona city from Park Guell

Sachin Jatkar

Well-Known Member
Day 1

We took a connecting Air India flight from Mumbai to Delhi to catch the direct flight from Delhi to Madrid. As Mumbai to Delhi was domestic travel, we did not do our immigration in Mumbai. However our checked in luggage was to be delivered directly in Madrid. We met our friends at Delhi airport and travelled together to Madrid. The flight lands at about 9.30 PM in Madrid and it landed in time, however much to our dismay, 1 out of our 3 checked in bags did not arrive in Madrid. We were very tired after a long day, but it took another 40 minutes at the airport to file the missing luggage complaint (language issues). Our missing bag was delivered to us 3 days later to the apartment in Madrid thankfully just a day before we were to leave for Barcelona.

Finally we were on our way to our AirBnB apartment which was right in the heart of the city and walking distance from most tourist attractions in Madrid. Our host had arranged for airport pick up at additional cost but it was so convenient that all 6 of us and our luggage could travel together. It was a short 20 minutes ride from the airport and we loved the 2 bedroom fully furnished apartment at our disposal for the next 4 days. As we were tired, we went to sleep soon as it would be a busy next day.

Sachin Jatkar

Well-Known Member
Day 2

The plan was to first visit the Prado museum which is one of the top attractions in Madrid and it was less than 500 mtrs from where we were staying. We had already booked the tickets online which was a good thing because there was a long queue for tickets when we got there but we just walked in with our tickets because of which for the first 15-20 minutes we were able to enjoy the beautiful paintings before the crowds walked in.

We had breakfast at a lovely cafe on our way to the Prado museum and it was one of the lovely cafe's where you sit outside on the footpath with umbrellas at each table. We had spanish omelette and churros with chocolate sauce among other things and loved everything that was served. We liked this cafe so much that we had our breakfast at the same place the next day as well.

The Prado Museum is the main Spanish national art museum, located in central Madrid. It features one of the world's finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, and unquestionably the best single collection of Spanish art. Founded as a museum of paintings and sculpture in 1819, it also contains important collections of other types of works. El Prado is one of the most visited sites in the world, and it is considered one of the greatest art museums in the world. The numerous works by Francisco de Goya, the single most extensively represented artist, as well as by Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez, are some of the highlights of the collection. The museum has more than 7500 paintings and if you are a passionate art lover, then it will take more than 1 day to go through all the paintings in the museum. However it becomes difficult to appreciate the paintings one by one due to large groups of guided tours.

Walking towards the Prado Museum

Unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside the museum, but there is a cloak room where you can keep your bag for free. So I don't have any pictures of the Prado museum but if you want to see world famous artists and paintings, then the Prado museum is a must visit. The scale, size, colours in the paintings is simply amazing. Most famous paintings mostly depict dark and the melancholy side of history and there are many nudes, so it was natural that the kids did not enjoy it. We were in the museum for a couple of hours and to entertain the kids decided to go to the Museum of Natural Sciences (Spain's equivalent of the Natural History museum).

We mostly used directions from Google Maps for navigation and the route, public transport to take etc. There was an information counter near the Prado museum where we enquired about the bus to take to the Natural History museum and the direction. It took us about 20 minutes to reach by bus no. 27. Although there are day/week passes to save on public transport costs, we did not buy them as most of the tourist attractions were walking distance from our apartment. As the passes have to be purchased per person it would have been a costlier option. So we bought tickets if we had to use the public transport during our stay in Madrid.

Public transport is much cheaper in Madrid as compared to Barcelona, but you can buy the 10 trip pass in Barcelona which can be used by multiple people and significantly saves the cost when travelling by public transport (Bus/Metro). For e.g. the bus fare in Madrid is Euro 1.50 per person while that in Barcelona is 2.15. Similarly the metro is also costlier.

Thankfully there was no line for tickets at the natural history museum although there were a number of groups of school children who had come to visit. For those who have not seen the natural history museum in London or the US, it is worth a visit if you have kids below 10 years of age. Else you can skip it as the ones in London and US are far bigger and much better. We spent about an hour and a half in the museum before heading back to our apartment.

Before going to the apartment we had lunch at a restaurant nearby and tried the seafood paella. Just to give you an idea, if you eat a fast food meal (Macdonalds/Burger King etc) then the cost is about 8-9 Euros/person while if you have a meal at a restaurant then it comes to about 12-15 Euros/person. If you have a glass of wine or beer, then the same will go to about 18 Euros/person.

Seafood Paella - It's a great experience but would prefer Biryani anyday :). Now Churros with thick hot chocolate sauce is a different thing :)


Sachin Jatkar

Well-Known Member
Day 2 continued...

As we were still not over the jet lag, we took a little nap after coming back to the apartment and decided to go out to a tapas bar and proceed on to Plaza Mayor for dinner. Our AirBnB host had left a nice folder full of information about the apartment and things to do in the surrounding area which was full of Tapas bars. 2 of the bars she recommended were just a minutes walking distance.

A tapa, in Spanish cuisine, is an appetizer, or snack. It may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot (such as fried baby squid, mushrooms with burnt garlic and olive oil etc). In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. Going to a tapas bar is sort of a culture in Spain just as going for a pint of beer after work with colleagues is sort of a culture in UK. There are many tapas tasting tours in Madrid for tourists where you hop from one tapas bar to another and order just one tapa (small snack portion) with a drink and move on to another bar and do the same. A tapa is usually not served on the table and you have to stand at the bar counter, and finish your tapa and drink. Many Tapa's are also portions of meat on top of a slice of bread.

We went to the "Cervantes" bar and ordered a glass of beer and red wine at the counter. They immediately put forward a small plate with 2 cheese slices and some olives in front of us. We also ordered the mushroom tapa. The atmosphere in the bar was very informal with people standing at the bar counter having their drinks, conversing and enjoying the tapa's slowly. We did the same and everything on the plate be it the cheese, olives or the mushroom was delicious. The bottled olives that we get in India taste different to the olives that we had in Spain. Although both have to be preserved as the olives off the tree are very bitter, the ones in Spain definitely tasted much fresher. Even the house red wine was excellent. In the bars in Spain, you can order a small, medium or large beer. Our bill came to just about 8 or 9 Euros and glad to have experienced a little bit of Spain's culture, we started our walk towards Plaza Mayor for dinner. Plaza Mayor was a little less than a Km from our place.

Plaza Mayor is like the city square in central Madrid which is rectangular in shape and surrounded by residential buildings having their balconies facing the plaza. There is a statue of King Philip III at the center of the plaza. The plaza has many cafes and we had excellent dinner in one of these and headed back to the apartment to end the day.

I did not take a picture of the Plaza, but picked this up from google...
Plaza Mayor.jpg
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Sachin Jatkar

Well-Known Member
Day 3

This was going to be a busy day as we had done online booking for Royal Palace of Madrid in the morning and bull fighting for the evening. As our tickets for the Royal Palace were booked for 11AM (you have to specify the time of visit during booking), we decided to go for a morning walk at the Retiro Park in the morning. The park is very close to the Prado museum and walking distance from the apartment we stayed in.

The Retiro Park is a large and popular 350 acres park at the edge of the city centre. A magnificent park, filled with beautiful sculpture and monuments, galleries, a peaceful lake and host to a variety of events, it is one of Madrid's premier attractions. The park is entirely surrounded by the present-day city. Some of us jogged while others walked taking in the beautiful surroundings and greenery of the park which does not make you feel that you are in the middle of a busy European capital city. We were in the park for more than a hour and had breakfast at the same cafe before proceeding back to the apartment and walking to the Royal Palace of Madrid which was a Km from where we were staying.

Some pictures of Retiro Park in the morning.




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Sachin Jatkar

Well-Known Member
Day 3 continued...

We got ready at the apartment and walked to the Royal Palace of Madrid. Once again we could skip the long queue for tickets as we had booked online. Again, photography is not allowed inside the palace, but you can take pictures in the courtyard. I do recommend visiting the palace for beautiful paintings, rich tapestries and exquisite murals. It also gives you an idea about the history of the Royal family of Spain and the larger than life lifestyle of royals. The admission fee is 11 Euros and lockers to keep any belongings that are not allowed inside are available for 1 Euro.

Some pictures in the courtyard of the Royal Palace of Madrid
Royal Palace.jpg

View of Madrid city from the courtyard
Royal Palace 1.jpg