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10 Day Food Tour in Spain

Dear Chowhounds,

I can't believe how wholly obsessed I am planning for a trip that is not going to take place until May 2009, but I have fallen in love with Spain, and this is only through reading online travel guides.

My sister, her fiancee, my boyfriend, and I are taking a 10 day vacation in Spain. We have decided that food will dictate our travels. We think we will have time to go to 3 cities at most. So the question is: What are the three best cities for food in Spain? Where should we go? Which restaurants? What should we order?

Criteria: We would prefer places where the locals actually eat, whether they turn out to be hole in the walls or places for more special occasions. And I'm turning to Chowhounds hoping to discover some gems not listed in the various travel guides.

Thanks!

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  1. That is a very big question, and I'm sure you'll get good answers. For starters, though, you can't do better than browse this forum. There are many posters who know the cities of Spain well, and their advice is worth taking: I've benefited especially from posts by Butterfly, PBSF, and KathinMadrid, amongst others.

    1. I agree with the above that your post is very broad and requires a whole guidebook. Just about every region of Spain have wonderful food. 10 days is not a lot of time to cover a large area, therefore, your mode of travel might dictate where you choose. Before checking out the blogs and get bogged down with recommendations, I would get a good general guide of Spain and get familiar with the food of the different regions. If it is your first trip to Spain, it has to start with Madrid and/or Barcelona...great cities for food and just about everything else. After that, my favorite is Seville, small enough to get to know well and everything about it just comes together to make it a wonderful place. San Sebastian and it's surrounding areas are great for food, from very high end restaurants to the best local food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PBSF

        I agree with PBSF - if this is a first visit to spain, then do a Barcelona-Madrid-Seville or Barcelona-Madrid-San Sebastian (IMO, my must-go places). Once you decide on cities, then we can definitely give you some local gems.

      2. Agreeing with everyone else. You'll find good stuff everywhere.

        Three cities is a good number. Or even two with a lot of side trips.
        If you're not renting a car, the intercity bus system can be deeply
        confusing but it's very fast, reliable, and cheap.

        For just getting a sense of the food scene, I'd recommend having
        a look at The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas. It's
        a cookbook primarily but designed as a general, and not at all superficial,
        introduction to the way and what people eat there. She's written a bunch
        of books but this was the first and best (and absolutely *avoid* her
        book Discovering Spain; every time it has the chance to be wrong, it is).

        Madrid should definitely be on your list. Barcelona isn't really Spain so no
        need to go there :). What do you like?

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          1. I have travelled through Spain a fair bit over the years, and I think you would get more out of your trip if you were to not just limit yourself to a series of city breaks. I don't know where you're planning to fly to, but it is worth exploring different regions, as other posters have already said, but to hire a car and discover some of the beautiful interior of the country, away from the cities and coasts.

            Places which are worth a look at are:

            The Picos de Europa mountains in the North and Galicia in the NW - these areas could be combined with a visit to San Sebastianand/or Bilbao.

            The Pyrenees - again, this could be combined with a trip to San Sebastian or Barcelona, and even southern France.

            La Mancha and down to Andalucia - great variety of scenery and cuisines, and can incorporate a visit to Seville or Cordoba or both. La Mancha was great for Tapas - usually free and often quite adventurous.

            Las Alpujarras - beautiful mountain range - and the province of Jaen, which could also include a visit to Granada. Jaen is one of the best provinces for tapas - usually free, and pretty substantial.

            I've managed to drive from Madrid down to the SE of the country in a week, staying at different places, some rural, some urban and getting a really good feel for the country and it's food - you may wish to stay in places for more than one night, but you can still see a fair bit if you are willing to hit the road.

            You will need more Spanish this way - however, I don't speak Spanish, but was able to teach myself enough to book hotel rooms and order food and drinks. Some of my best experiences were stopping for lunch in a cafe/restaurant at the side of the road in the mountains and having an amazing spread for just 6-10 Euros.