South of Spain

By Aleksandra Budd, Madrid, Spain


If you’re dreaming of sun, sand, food, and architecture, then Valencia is your place. From beach bars playing Reggaeton to pools and a vibrant party scene, they’re full of summer fun and relaxation. The popular Malvarrosa Beach and El Saler Beach offers a beautiful and serene backdrops. Known for its iconic dish, paella, Valencia boasts the authentic flavours of this rice-based delicacy, made with fresh seafood or tender meats, and infused with aromatic saffron. Head over to the The city of Arts and Sciences and get a feel for one of Spains 12 treasures.


Almería is a city that embraces its close proximity to Morocco, infusing its streets with a delightful blend of Islamic and Moroccan influences. Wandering through the vibrant alleyways, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a whole new world. The architecture reflects the rich Islamic heritage that has shaped the city’s identity.

During my stay in Almeria, I stumbled upon a Moroccan cafe just a stone’s throw away from our accommodation, and it DELICIOUS. From tagines to fluffy couscous and delectable pastries, every bite transported me to the streets of Marrakech. But it wasn’t just the food that made the experience unforgettable. The ladies at the restaurant were the epitome of warmth and hospitality. They greeted us with genuine smiles and treated us like family.


Granada is a city that truly knows how to party. From sun sets to sun rise, the streets are full of energy and people. Granada’s nightlife scene offers something for everyone. Get ready to dance the night away, mingle with locals and fellow travelers, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

As you navigate the hilly terrain, prepare to be rewarded with awe-inspiring vistas at every turn. From the iconic Alhambra, a stunning fortress that seems to have sprung from a fairy tale, to the picturesque viewpoints of Mirador de San Nicolás and Mirador de San Cristóbal, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas that will take your breath away. And let’s not forget about the enchanting botanical gardens. Nestled in the heart of the city, these lush green havens provide a serene escape from the hustle and bustle. Lose yourself in the maze of exotic plants, fragrant blossoms, and tranquil ponds. It’s a peaceful oasis where you can relax, unwind, and connect with nature.


Take a leisurely stroll along the riverbank and you’ll stumble upon lively bars and cafes lining the river, where locals and visitors alike gather to sip refreshing drinks, dance flamenco, and revel in the infectious energy of the city. Sevilla combines the two seamlessly. The Maria Luisa Park, an oasis in the heart of the city, is a must-visit. Take a leisurely stroll amidst the lush gardens, marvel at the stunning fountains, and find a cozy spot to relax.

And let’s not forget the Royal Gardens, nestled within the breathtaking Alcazar. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a true masterpiece, with its intricately designed gardens, elegant courtyards, and stunning architecture. Game of Thrones fans, the Royal Gardens of the Alcazar in Sevilla is the filming location for the world of Dorne.


The river that gently flows through Cordoba. Take a leisurely stroll along its banks, and you’ll find yourself enveloped in a sense of tranquility. The river provides a serene escape from the bustle of the city, offering a peaceful spot to relax, enjoy a picnic, or simply soak up the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Cordoba is a place where history and culture mix. One of its most iconic landmarks is the Mezquita-Catedral, a breathtaking fusion of a Christian cathedral and an Islamic mosque. It’s a testament to the city’s rich past and the cultural exchange that flourished here.

The city comes alive in June with the Cordoba Flamenco Festival. Several stages are erected across the city with dozens of artists and dancers performing throughout the festivities.

The Festival of San Isidro

by Aleksandra Budd, Madrid, Spain

The Festival of San Isidro is a week-long celebration in Madrid honouring the city’s patron saint, San Isidro Labrador. The festival occurs between the 6th -15th (the 15th being the official feast day) and includes numerous and varied events and activities such as: concerts, music, procession and parades.

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Bilbao & San Sebastián

By Aleksandra Budd, Madrid, Spain

The north of Spain tends to be overlooked. Most people think of the South as the holiday destination, but the North has an abundance of gems. If you’re in Madrid it’ll take around 4-6 hours by bus to get to the North of Spain, specifically the Basque region, but its well worth the journey. The region is full of history and boasts a unique culture and language that is distinct from the rest of Spain. Bilbao and San Sebastian are my favourite northern cities in Spain’s Basque region.

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Madrid’s Mountains

by Aleksandra Budd, Madrid, Spain

Despite my research, I didn’t know that Madrid is surrounded by mountains. Known as Sierra de Guadarrama, the mountains lie just outside of madrid, an hour by bus. If you have a student travel card, the journey is free. There are a few buses that stop near the mountain; the 682, 684685, and the 688.

Summer or winter the mountains are filled with beauty and adventure.

Sierra de Guadarrama
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Sunset Spots

by Aleksandra Budd, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

All of my sunset lovers get yourself to Madrid!

Madrid has the most incredible sunsets, and sunrises – if you wake up early enough (or party late enough). Here are my favourite viewpoints to watch the sun set over Madrid…

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Top Tacos in Madrid

By Aleksandra Budd, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

For the first 3 months of being in Madrid, my house mates and I started ‘Taco Tuesday’. The idea was to find the best taco spots in Madrid.

Several ‘Taco Tuesday’s’ later and we decided these are our favourite taco spots in Madrid.

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How ticking the ‘Please send me anywhere’ landed me in Madrid.

By Georgia Hawkes, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

A year later than originally planned, after multiple reallocations to different countries and continents, I arrived in Madrid. It may not have been one of my original choices but I am a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’. In hindsight, I truly could not be happier with my placement and I am actually thankful my top choices fell through…

Initially, I was accepted an offer at the University of Western Australia in Perth. My main study abroad preference being to move to the other side of the world. Whilst I do not doubt I would have had an amazing time, I think first moving to Europe has taught me a lot. I am thankful that I remain on a similar time zone to my friends and family at home and take comfort in knowing it would take me the same time to get home to Bristol as if I were in Manchester.

Things I love about Madrid

  • The sun and the sunsets

It is currently mid December, and I am writing this blog with my balcony doors wide open, the sun is shining on my face and I am sat in a t-shirt. The effect that the sun and blue sky has had on my day to day mood is undeniable. Then, almost every evening I am left in awe by a beautiful sunset. Sometimes its the simple things…

  • The lifestyle

Like to stick to a stick schedule? Madrid might not be the place for you. The Spanish lifestyle is incredibly laid back, it actually took me some adjusting to as someone who usually prides themselves on being punctual. The shops close for a siesta in the middle of the day and people go out for dinner at 11pm, rushing around and early evenings are not so much a part of Spanish life.

  • The food

Delicious and sometimes free, living in Spain means coming accustomed to Tapas. Of course, some places are more expensive than others and if you aren’t careful you can end up paying a lot. However, in Madrid it is common to receive free tapas such as crisps, olives, or traditional dishes, for free alongisde your drinks. In ‘El Tigre de Norte’ I paid $3 for a Coca Cola (which is often more expensive than the house beer/wine) but recieved 5 sides of tapas for free (including: tortilla, patatas bravas, bocadillos, chicken wings…)

The lifestyle in Madrid is cheap and chilled. By travelling just a few hours from home you can experience blue skies throughout the winter.

What have I learned from this experience? That, if you are given the opportunity to study abroad, GRAB IT WITH BOTH HANDS. You may not get your first choice, in my case I did not even end up with one of my options. However, it is approaching Christmas and I can truly say this has been the best few months of my life.