If the Iberian peninsula is on your agenda, here's some insider knowledge about three of the biggest Spanish cities, writes Stephanie Holmes.





(Calle de la Princesa 20), home of the Duke of Alba, contains one of the best art collections in Spain and is open to the public. Wander the halls to admire the paintings of many great masters, including Goya, Velazquez, El Greco, Ribera and more. Book online in advance as demand is high.

Eat: Diego Guerrero, who has two Michelin stars at his DSTAgE restaurant in the fashionable Salesas area, has opened Dspeakeasy (Calle de Fernando VI 6;) around the corner — a more bistro-style place with a creative spin on traditional dishes, such as sole in a kombu sauce.

Drink: According to Hemingway, nobody in Madrid "goes to bed until they have killed the night", so prepare yourself for starting — and staying up — late. Head to Macera Tallerbar (Calle de San Mateo 21), where you won't find brand-name booze, but you will find a range of house-infused craft drinks, and a cool, laidback atmosphere.

Stay: You can't help but soak up Madrid's history at the elegant new Pestana Plaza Mayor (Calle Imperial 8), as the building actually forms part of the city's signature square, which dates back 400 years. That, combined with elegant design, makes this one of the most interesting places to stay in Madrid.


Roof of Barcelona's Casa Mila (La Pedrera) built in 1905-1910 by architect Antoni Gaudi. Photo / 123RF
Roof of Barcelona's Casa Mila (La Pedrera) built in 1905-1910 by architect Antoni Gaudi. Photo / 123RF


Gaudi's impact is felt all over this popular coastal city, from the

to Park Guell and beyond. While the Sagrada (Carrer de Mallorca 401) is well worth a visit, make sure you book online ahead of your visit to avoid the queues and go early to miss the worst of the crowds. A guided tour of Casa Mila (Passeig de Gracia 92), popularly known as


, is also a must-do. Book the La Pedrera Essential and Night Experience to see this mind-bending apartment building and rooftop by day and night. In the evening, the tour culminates with a light projection show accompanied by music and finishing with a glass of cava and canapes.

Eat: With a name inspired by the mechanic's shop that once stood here, Benzina's (Passatge de Pere Calders 6) industrial-chic interior belies the soul-warming Italian food coming out of the kitchen. Its terrace tables down a blind alley are highly coveted.

Drink: The Alchemix (Carrer de Valencia 212), described in its own words as a "gastro-cocktail bar", is an elegant spot for an aperitif, with two chef-barmen bringing their experience working at famed Bangkok restaurant Gaggan to deliver some of the coolest cocktails in Barcelona — many with Asian ingredients in the spotlight. Anyone fancy a pumpkin lassi?

Stay: The beloved Omm hotel, Barcelona's first design hotel, was much mourned when it closed last year, but the Sir Victor (Carrer del Rossello 265) has risen from the ashes with a stylish revamp and a particularly good steak restaurant, Mr Porter. The rooftop pool is a prime spot to soak up the last rays of summer.


Seville's Metropol Parasol is the world's largest wooden structure. Its rooftop gives the best views of the city. Photo / 123RF
Seville's Metropol Parasol is the world's largest wooden structure. Its rooftop gives the best views of the city. Photo / 123RF


The capital of Andalucia, Seville is a mix of Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance architecture with orange tree-filled plazas around every corner. Check out the Seville Cathedral (Av. de la Constitucion), the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, where you can see Christopher Columbus' tomb, and climb the Giralda belltower for views over the Jewish Quarter and adjacent Alcazar (also worth a visit). For modern architecture, see the Metropol Parasol (Pl. de la Encarnacion), known locally as Las Setas (the mushrooms). It's the world's largest wooden structure, standing 28m tall, and with an archaeological museum, Roman mosaics, a food market, bars and space for open-air concerts.

Eat: Antigua Abaceria de San Lorenzo (Calle Teodosio 53) is a real local experience — the cosy family-run restaurant started life as a wine store and deli, but now serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has become a popular hang out in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood. antiguaabaceriadesanlorenzo.com

Drink: Craft beer bar Hops and Dreams (Jesus del Gran Poder 83) has eight regularly-rotating draft taps and more than 40 different bottles to try. Ask for one of their free city maps, which has all the best craft beer bars marked out for you.

Stay: Alcoba del Rey pays homage to Seville's Moorish heritage. Carved white stucco arches and painted Moroccan furniture create an oasis off the beaten track in Macarena. Each room is named after a personality from the Moorish era, from princesses to poets. The vibe is impossibly romantic. The rooftop terrace and bar is an intimate corner, with a hot tub for two amid olive trees, bougainvillea and pots of fragrant mint.

— Additional reporting, Telegraph Group Ltd


Insight Vacations' nine-day Highlights of Spain premium guided holiday visits Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Seville and Madrid and is priced from $3173pp. Cost includes luxury transportation, all accommodation and exclusive experiences through. Book before Ocotber 31 to save up to 10 per cent or $800 off your flights. insightvacations.com