In addition to being practical and economical, traveling by train protects the environment and allows you to enjoy the landscape along the way. From eclectic Bilbao to cosmopolitan Madrid, passing through colorful Barcelona, discover Spain by train! This trio of cities not only allows you to visit three different regions but also offers an incredible combination of food, art, and history.
In this guide, you will find some must-see touristic attractions for your next train journey between Bilbao, Barcelona, and Madrid.
Bilbao: the fusion of different eras
Famous for the Guggenheim Museum, the city has much more to offer. Bilbao is a fusion of medieval and modern architecture. One minute you are strolling through the medieval quarter of Casco Viejo, and the next one you find yourself enveloped in the modernity of the Guggenheim Museum.
1. Casco Viejo
Start from Casco Viejo, the historic district of Bilbao, where time seems to have stopped a few years ago. Developed around the seven main streets (Las Siete Calles), it not only hosts the oldest monuments of the city but is also a place to taste the typical cuisine of Bilbao. In this regard, the Mercato de la Ribera, one of the largest covered markets in Europe, is worth a visit.
Not far away, Plaza Nueva is the main square of the historic center. Lined with bars and tavernas, Plaza Nueva is the perfect place to try pintxos, a variety of tapas typical of Bilbao.
2. Doña Casilda Park
Doña Casilda Park is considered the green lung of Bilbao. Among the paths, there are lakes, fountains, the botanical garden, and many other touristic attractions that are worth a visit. And if you feel tired, Doña Casilda Park is the perfect place to take a break in the middle of nature!
3. Artxanda funicular
By taking the funicular, you can get to the top of Mount Artxanda in 3 minutes. From there, you can admire the breathtaking view over the city of Bilbao.
4. Guggenheim Museum
Lastly, the Guggenheim Museum is a must-see touristic attraction, and it reflects the modern side of the city. The internationally renowned museum exhibits modern and contemporary art and, at the same time, is a work of art itself. It was the success of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao that coined the term Bilbao Effect, which stands for urban renewal.
Barcelona: the charm of Gaudi’s inimitable style
To reach Barcelona, it takes almost seven hours, during which you can admire the landscape of the Spanish hinterland. The landscape opens up and gives way to the vast plain between the mountain ranges of the Pyrenees and the Iberian System, a true perk of discovering Spain by train.
Once in Barcelona, Gaudi’s modernist architecture reigns supreme.
1. Casa Mila
Not far from Las Ramblas, the most famous avenue in Barcelona, you can visit one of the most iconic buildings: Casa Mila. This building is the latest work by Antoni Gaudì, architect and exponent of modernism. The wavy shape of the three front facades of Casa Mila creates the illusion of an uninterrupted complex.
Take the opportunity to go up to the terrace from which you can admire Barcelona and the towers of the Sagrada Familia.
2. Sagrada Familia
The next must-see in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia, the work to which Antoni Gaudì devoted himself for most of his life. The use of different architectural styles, characteristic of Gaudì, can be seen in every element. Be surprised by the play of light and colors created by the sun rays inside the basilica!
Although the building has been under construction since 1882, it could take several years before the Sagrada Familia will finally be complete.
3. Casa Batllo
Casa Batllo is also a must when visiting Barcelona. Inspired by the Mediterranean Sea, the wavy structure of the facade reflects sea waves, and the roof resembles the scales of fish.
4. Park Güell
Before leaving for Madrid, take a moment to visit Parc Güell, where the inimitable style of Gaudi’s works blends with the surrounding nature. In addition to being famous for the monumental area, Parc Güell also offers breathtaking views over the city.
Madrid: the perfect mix of history, fun, and eco-sustainability
Two hours by train separate the seaside atmosphere of Barcelona from the lively capital of Spain. Madrid offers an extraordinary combination of history, art, culture, and nightlife. And not only that, but Madrid is also one of the most eco-friendly cities in Europe: an urban forest will rise around the Spanish capital to mitigate climate change.
1. Prado Museum
The Prado Museum, one of the most famous art museums in the world, features a vast collection of classical art, including works by Francisco Goya and Diego Velazquez. It is a must-see for all art lovers!
2. Retiro Park
The Retiro Park recently became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is considered the “Central Park” of Madrid. Popular among both tourists and locals, this place is ideal for exercising, relaxing, or visiting the Crystal Palace. Do not miss the opportunity to take a boat ride on the artificial lake in front of the monument to Alfonso XII!
3. Mercado de San Miguel
Finally, the Mercado de San Miguel, one of the major food markets in the world, is worth a visit. From seafood from Galicia to cheeses from Asturias, the Mercado de San Miguel is the perfect place to sample the typical products of Spanish cuisine.
So, what are you waiting for? Discover Spain by train passing through these three must-see cities! Not only will you visit Bilbao, Barcelona, and Madrid, but traveling by train will allow you to enjoy the scenery along the way.
Cover image: Josh Nezon, via Unsplash