This time last year I remember going back and forth with my group of friends about one very important question: WHAT TO DO FOR SEMANA SANTA?

On the beach in Malaga, Semana Santa 2012

In the last week leading up to our sweet vacay from teaching, we had landed on visiting old roommates in Paris, but still hadn’t bought our tickets. Then, a close friend from home, who was also teaching in Madrid, called and told me her mom surprised her with a FREE time share in Malaga and asked me to join her on the beach for the week. Why not? I hadn’t bought my tickets to Paris yet, and my other friends were being wishy-washy. I DID NOT WANT TO BE STUCK IN MADRID. I LOVE Madrid, but I wanted to see some new cities. I had been to Malaga briefly 3 years earlier so me and another friend booked a flight. En route we discovered that we wouldn’t be in Malaga, but Marbella. Even better! I’d never been. By the time we arrived to the time-share, we weren’t in Malaga OR Marbella, but in between in an exclusively British/English resort in Costa de Sol.

My friend had been ill informed by the resort staff about the location, given the run around, and the resort wasn’t on the beach but off of the highway!! We had to ride a few different buses just to get to Malaga, and the ride was about 45 minutes. We were still able to lie on the beach, soaking up the sun, despite the rainy weather most of the days. We escaped the families with screaming children at the resort by visiting Malaga one day. There we also visited the beach and the Pablo Picasso Museum that was unforgettable.  Needless to say, it was a free trip for all of us, and we made the best of the consequences and circumstances for the last minute planning.

12 last minute destinations for semana santa

Extraordinary Pablo Picasso Museum. Made my trip! Semana Santa, 2012

This year, I planned ahead. I had plans and tickets booked for Berlin and Paris well in advance.  But I realize there are probably people out there in my situation from last year. In case you don’t have my luck, and aren’t going to get to stay in a free resort, I thought I’d pass on some information for LAST MINUTE PLANNERS, especially those on a budget.

There are MANY great places around Madrid that are well worth visiting that are also inexpensive, even without booking in advance. If you plan on leaving Spain in the next few months, these places are a must see! And why not visit them now instead of wishing you did when you are back in your own country? You don’t even have to do the research! The hard working people at TT Madrid, have put together an incredible “Wish you were here” travel guide with all the info you need! These people are vets, they’ve been around the block and know their stuff.

I’ve recently visited the Guadarrama mountain range that overlooks the beautiful town of Manzanares with a group of Spanish friends. We arrived early morning and trekked up a mountain called La Pedriza. At the top, we saw gorgeous views of the Manzanares River, the mountains and the countryside. It was so invigorating to breathe in the crisp, fresh, mountainous air and escape the city. We backpacked to the top and had a huge picnic lunch in a peaceful clearing, soaking up the warm sun. Take a look!

12 last minute destinations for semana santa


It’s a beautiful view in  “La Pedriza” overlooking the town of Manzanares

It all depends on what you’re in to, but if you didn’t plan ahead, your plans fell through, or you just want to save money, don’t stay at home! Madrid and its surrounding towns and cities are GORGE! They can all easily (and cheaply) be reached by bus or on the cercanias. And the week of Semana Santa is a great time to take advantage of their beauty, tradition, and have an authentic Spanish experience.