My first trip to Spain actually started quite disastrously.
Our flight to Barcelona was delayed by four hours, meaning we missed out booking at the amazing flamenco restaurant we’d booked. When we finally arrived at our hotel, tired and bedraggled, they told us there’d been a mix-up and there was no room for us.
Luckily, they were able to ring around and find us an alternative hotel, but it wasn’t the best start.
Then we woke the next day and it was a glorious blue-skied autumn day. We found a tiny bakery nearby, and stuffed ourselves on pastries, before wandering along Las Ramblas and exploring all tiny cobbled streets snaking off it. We stumbled across a gorgeous tapas restaurant and finished the night in a cute lounge bar.
The next day visited all the gorgeously surreal Gaudi buildings, before scaling his stunning unfinished wonder, the Sagrada Familia, where I discovered – almost at the very top – that I was deathly afraid of heights, and had to quickly make my way back down, hugging the walls the entire time.
We managed to cram in all the ‘must-sees’ during our weekend and – after a less than perfect start – ended up having an absolute blast. But there’s so much more I want to see of this stunning country; I want to get past the usual tourist spots and find some quirky things to do in Spain.
QUIRKY THINGS TO DO IN SPAIN:
CONFRONT YOUR FEARS ON THE KING’S PATH
High in the mountains of Malaga, Andalucia, winds El Caminito del Rey, the King’s Path. This stomach-churning pathway was first built over a century ago as a way for workers to travel between two adjacent hydroelectric plants.
The pathway was 100 metres high and only one metre wide, earning it the nickname ‘The Walkway of Death’. Eventually it was too dangerous to use, and fell into disrepair. This, however, only greatened the appeal to adventure seekers who’d illegally scale the pathway, resulting in six daredevils tragically dying.
In 2011 €9million was pledged to rebuild the historic pathway, and in 2015 the new, safe El Caminito de Rey opened to the public. Now you can enjoy all the spectacular views and vertiginous thrills, while remaining safe and sound.
FIERY DINING AT EL DIABLO RESTAURANT
At the El Diablo restaurant on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, your meal is literally cooked over the steaming vent of a dormant volcano. The dining room looks over the barren, alien-like landscape of Timanfaya National Park, and is edged by a ring of volcanos called Montañas del Fuego, or Fire Mountains.
A giant grill is laid over the volcano vent, where molten lava roils just six feet below. The chefs have mastered the art of cooking meat over the 400 degrees of heat, to provide visitors with a delicious dish AND a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
GET CREEPED OUT AT THE CRYPT OF SAN JOSE
There are many amazing museums to explore in Spain, from the world-famous Prado Museum in Madrid, to to the Muralla Punica Interpretation Centre in Cartegena. This lesser-known museum was built to preserve the uncovered remains of the city’s ancient defences, the Muralla Punica. The Punic wall, as it is also known, may not have prevented the Romans from taking over this city in south-east Spain, but its builders must have done something right, as its remains can still be admired more than 2000 years later.
However, it is down below that you’ll find an even more interesting site.
Descend the stairs into the Crypt of San Jose, the burial vault of the Church of San Jose, which stood over the site for three hundred years. The vault, the final resting place for selected parishioners, was only uncovered in 1987, when construction began on an underground car park. To preserve the priceless artefacts, the Muralla Punica interpretation centre was built over the top in 2003.
Explore the subterranean vault and get deliciously creeped out by the ‘Dances of Death’ mural on the wall.
ZIP ACROSS TO PORTUGAL
Forget trains and buses – travel from Spain to Portugal via zip line instead! At Limit Zero you strap in at Sanlúcar de Guadiana, in Andalusia, located on the Spanish side of the Guadiana River. Then you fly through the skies at around 45 miles an hour, crossing the waterway, the Portuguese border AND a time zone before landing in the village of Alcoutim.
Due to the country borders you’re literally zip lining half a mile from one country to another, arriving an hour before you left, which makes it one of the most fun and quirky things to do in Spain AND Portugal. Crazy, right?
From your Portuguese landing point, you walk to the nearby ferry, where you’re transported back over the river to Spain. This is the only cross-border zip line in the world, and is closed for winter, so check opening times and days before you travel.
ADMIRE BARCELONA’S TOXIC FOUNTAIN
Like something out of a James Bond movie, the Calder Mercury Fountain is mesmerisingly beautiful, but utterly deadly. Built in 1937 to celebrate the long history of the mercury mines in Almadén, Spain, the fountain continuously recycles a shining pool of quicksilver.
Originally, it stood in front of Picasso’s huge anti-war painting, Guernica. However, when it was realised how toxic mercury was to humans (most of the slave labourers who mined the liquid metal died of mercury poisoning), it was safely enclosed behind a pane of glass in the Joan Miro Foundation museum in Barcelona.
If you enjoyed reading about quirky things to do in Spain, you might also like ‘Exploring the City of the Dead‘.
• Take the stress out of your holiday by booking hotels that are all inclusive in Spain. Meals, accommodation, children’s clubs and entertainment are all sorted, leaving you free to decide exactly how you want to spend each day.