Do you want to travel, but don’t want to get caught in the tourist traps? Are you more of an “off-the-beaten-path” type of traveller? Don’t let your next vacation be dominated by the classic, most-popular, most-visited sights, and instead explore the uncharted (or the tourist-free, at least). With Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation’s new high-speed trains from Spain to France, living like a local has never been easier.
Overview of the city - Madrid, Spain
Don’t be fooled by chocolate and churros; Madrid has much more to offer than the clichéd pastry tourist trap. Visit the Mercado de La Paz for a tried and true experience, located in the Salamanca neighborhood, away from the touristy city center. Operating for over 130 years, this market is one of the city’s most treasured gems. Perhaps you’re in the mood for something not so established? Check out the Mercado de San Ildefonso, a trendy new market in the Malasaña quarter, with 19 stalls and an after-work New York City kind of vibe. Try the fried eggplant with honey at the backstreet tapa bar El Pez Gordo, aptly located on Calle Pez, or relax on the rooftop at the cross-cultural Gau& Café in the heart of Lavapiés. Go shop at Federica & Co., a secret courtyard filled with unique designer boutiques located among lighted trees and gardens of flowers behind the gates of Calle Hermosilla. If you do decide to visit the museums, make sure to see these 10 works exhibited in Madrid!
Overview of the city - Barcelona, Spain
Looking to avoid the gigantic crowds at the Sagrada Familia? Want to skip out on the bus tour recommended to you? Live like a local in Barcelona and enjoy these hidden gems. A local favorite since 1944, La Cova Fumada offers delectable fresh fish s well as homemade bombas (a deep-fried dough filled with meat or potatoes) in a laidback, welcoming atmosphere. Escape the traditional overload of Spanish tapas and opt for Chinese and Eastern ones instead at Mosquito, located in El Born district. Don’t miss out on their extensive beer list either. Take a visit to Poble Espanyol, a replica of an ideal Spanish village, originally intended to showcase Iberian Architecture at the 1929 World Expo. Avoid touristy trinkets and check out the vast selection of vintage clothing at Holala! Vintage, a haven for travelers with their own unique style.
Want to converge with the locals in a different way? Check out these 10 music festivals in Barcelona!
Overview of the City center - Paris, France
Skip the overdone Love Lock Bridge and the long lines to see the Eifel Tower, and check out these local Parisian sights instead. Spend a night partying alternatively at La Bellevilloise, a concert hall, bar, and restaurant all in one. Sit at one of the wooden tables, next to tropical plants and olive trees, and enjoy homemade food and live music. Visit Le Perchoir, one of the only, and secret, rooftop bars in Paris. Located in an industrial-style building on Rue Crespin du Gast in the 11th district, and have a drink with only those Parisians who are in the know. Go clubbing at Wanderlust, an open-air club in Cité de la Mode that hosts international DJs playing house, disco, and electronic music. Visit this terrace during the day, however, and you’ll find yoga and pilates, as well as brunch and/or lunch. Shopping in Paris is mandatory; however skip the overly crowded Saint-Ouen market and shop at Marché aux Puces de Montreuil instead. Items range from super funky and cheap to second-hand luxurious items. Be sure to stop by the Porte de Montreuil roundabout for the giant vintage clothes section. Traveling with kids? Or just an amusement park enthusiast? Visit Disneyland Paris for an alternative vacation!
View from Notre Dame de la Garde - Marseille, France
Marseille is more than just a historic city; don’t get caught in the typical museum route and explore these local favorites. Eat at Chez Aldo, located seaside in Port de la Madrague. At this nice but low-key restaurant (dogs are quite welcome), you can enjoy a bowl of Bouillabaisse for a reasonable price, rather than the typical overpriced tourist restaurants. Make sure to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance, however. Given that Marseille is a very southern city, there is a heavy influence of North African culture, especially with food. Located near Vieux port, La Kahena offers a delectable array of blended French and North African cuisine. Think spicy, garlicky soups, as well as over a dozen different varieties of couscous. Continue with this blended culture and shop at the Marché des Capucino, a market heavily influenced by North African culture. Offering an array of exotic vegetables and fruits, as well as North African pastries and even clothing and electronics, there is sure to be something for everyone. Lastly, visit the 360-degree view from the Notre-Dame de la Garde, the true symbol of Marseille.