- There’s more to Spain than flamenco and tapas (although you should check those out, too)
- We tapped locals for their favorite places to dine and drink around the country
- Plus, a quiet place to enjoy the views, an activity the whole family will love and a bed and breakfast you’ll never want to check out from
While everyone may know to visit the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or go nightclubbing in Ibiza, there are many off-the-beaten-path destinations that only locals know.
INSIDER asked locals what they recommend you do next time you visit the beautiful country.
Toni 2 Piano Bar offers good music and good drinks
James Jack La Russo, director of communications and public relations for The James Hotels spent a lot of time traveling to Madrid on business trips. His good friend, originally from Mexico City but now living in Spain, would take him to her grandmother’s favorite venue whenever he was in town, Toni 2 Piano Bar.
"I instantly felt at home here," La Russo told INSIDER. "I am a 30-something-year-old gay man and being surrounded by 60-something-year-olds, dressed to the nines, singing their heart out to vintage 80s tunes like 'La Puerta de Alcala' by Ana Belén and Víctor Manuel just felt warm and nostalgic."
Locals mostly drink red wine or Gin & Tonics as some of the area's best singers perform one after another at the piano.
"This place feels timeless and special," said La Russo.
Nou Passeig del Trencaones is a newly opened boulevard in the northeast
Journalist Paula Garcia Villora has spent her whole life in Barcelona, the capital of Spain's Catalonia region, best known for Antoni Gaudí's architectural landmarks like the Sagrada Família. Villora told INSIDER where she goes to escape the tourists.
Newly opened in December, this boulevard is a great place to run, walk or just enjoy the views. At the end of the quarter-mile stretch, you'll hit a viewpoint of the Mediterranean Sea. Plus, the new development is still unknown so you won't be bumping into crowds. Villora speculates this site will soon host the new Hermitage Museum, another architectural splendor expected to grace the city this year.
Cocteleria Torre Rosa has an extensive cocktail list
This early twentieth-century manor house was converted into a cocktail bar in 1987.
"It has a very special charm," said Villora. "It is very nice to sit in the garden in the evenings and summer nights for a drink."
The menu has a large selection of cocktails and craft beers and over 40 different brands of gin.
Xiringuito Escribà has unbeatable paella
Rice dishes are the specialty here, and Villora recommends ordering the paella for lunch. You'll need to make a reservation in order to snag a sea-view table.
The Valor Chocolate Museum offers free tours
In the east of Spain, Valor chocolate has been in production since 1881 and you can take a free tour of the factory and museum located along Spain's Costa Blanca, a major European tourist area.
"My family visited me from the US last year and they are a crowd that is hard to please when it comes to entertainment," Ronda Zelezny-Green, a public policy specialist living in Finestrat told INSIDER. "Nonetheless, they raved about this place and said it was the best thing they did while they were in the country."
English tours are only offered at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. so Zelezny-Green said it's best to arrive about an hour before then to make sure you get a spot.
Bistrò VENEXIA has Italian food that rivals the food you'd find in Italy
We get it if you want to spend your trip filling up on patatas bravas and croquetas but when locals in Benidorm crave Italian food they head to Bistrò VENEXIA.
"Order the shrimp pasta - the saffron sauce was the best thing I ate in 2018," said Zelezny-Green.
The cozy eatery only seats about 20 so make a reservation before you go.
Head to El Mirlo for incredible views while you dine
In the south of Spain, you'll get incredible views of Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar from this restaurant on the Atlantic coast of southern Spain near web designer Daniel Winer's hometown of Tarifa.
"The drive to get there from the main road is very scenic, through a pine forest next to a sand dune," Winer told INSIDER.
Try the locally caught fresh seafood and pair it with white wine from the Cádiz region.
"My go-to is borriquete, a type of bream that's caught in the rocks close to shore and often by the owner's sons. It's always better to book in advance and ask for a table with a view," said Winer.
Finca Buenvino is a whole lot more than your typical bed and breakfast
Residing in the west of Spain, Finca Buenvino is a family-run bed and breakfast with two self-catering cottages located in Sierra de Aracena. Winer said this area in the mountains north of Seville is the real rural Andalucia, famous for its high-quality local produce like jamón ibérico and wild mushrooms.
"The house is set in the middle of oak and chestnut forests and has incredible views of the rolling hills, especially from the infinity pool at the top of the farm," said Winer.
You'll dine on fresh, local ingredients and organic vegetables and herbs grown on site and expertly prepared by a mother and son team, both professionally trained chefs who have worked in kitchens from London to Hong Kong.
Winer enjoys this spot all year round for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding or just relaxing by the pool enjoying good food and wine.
"Go in summer if you just really want to chill out and escape to somewhere peaceful and unspoiled, or in spring to see the green grass and wildflowers, or fall to taste the wild mushrooms," said Winer.
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