Spotlight on Spain
10 January 2017
Spain’s warm climate, diverse landscapes, fascinating traditions and wonderful regional variety make it a holiday destination that we just can’t get enough of. Read on to discover a few favourite things to see, do and eat on your next trip to this captivating country…
Did you know?
- Spain has used the Euro since 2002 – it was one of the original 12 EU member states to switch from its national currency to the Euro.
- Viva España! The country has a long history – as well as having numerous sites where dinosaur fossils have been found, the Sierra de Atapuerca mountains are home to fossils of the earliest known hominins in Europe.
- You can see the remains of Roman, Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian settlements along Spain’s Mediterranean coast. In fact, the country’s name dates back to Roman times, when it was known as Hispania.
- Spain is made up of 17 different regions, each with their own distinctive cultures, traditions, cuisines, and landscapes.
- In 2015, Spain welcomed more than 55 million visitors to its shores – and more than 12 million of them were Brits!
When to visit Spain
- Spain is a fabulous place to welcome in the New Year - celebrate in the traditional way with 12 green grapes and vibrant street parties in the plazas of Madrid and Barcelona.
- In spring, enjoy some early spring sunshine and oranges freshly picked from the tree on the beaches around Valencia.
- At the height of summer, tourists flock to the beaches on Spain’s Mediterranean coast and the Balearic Isles. Or, if you prefer your beaches on the wild side, try the less crowded and more rugged beaches of Spain’s Atlantic coast.
- On Spain’s southern Mediterranean coast, you can still soak up some late summer sun throughout September and October.
- During the northern hemisphere’s winter months, you can ski in the Pyrenees or in the hills of the Sierra Nevada behind Granada. In search of sunshine? Enjoy the sunny beaches of the Canary Islands or the Costa del Sol.
- Spain’s legendary festivals are spread across the year. Some of the most well-known include Las Fallas in Valencia in March, the San Fermin Fiesta (or running of the bulls) in Pamplona in July, or La Tomatina in August each year in Bunol, but there are many smaller fetes running across the country throughout the year.
Sights to see in Spain
- Spain’s capital, Madrid, is a city of beautiful sweeping boulevards, impressive palaces and public buildings and beautiful gardens. Art lovers mustn’t miss the Museo Nacional del Prado.
- Kick back and enjoy the wonderful golf courses and sun kissed beaches of the Costa Blanca. This stretch of Mediterranean coastline can’t be beaten for family holidays, golf resorts with fantastic courses, and bustling harbours offering many sailing and fishing activities.
- For a more cultural break, you can while away the hours wandering Las Ramblas, enjoying Barcelona’s laid back charms and the quirky but impressive architecture of Antoni Gaudi, most impressively at La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.
- Andalucía isn’t only about beaches and mountains: explore Spain’s Moorish history at the La Mezquita Cathedral at Cordoba, the Alcázar in Seville and the beautiful city of Granada’s Alhambra Palace.
- Ibiza might have a reputation as a party island, but the Balearics also have beautiful white sand beaches, pretty coves and fascinating historical sites to discover too. Indeed, UNESCO has designated the upper reaches of Ibiza town a World Heritage site. You might come to party but don’t miss strolling around the old town and the acropolis of Dalt Vila.
Try something a little different…
- Hike one of Spain’s long-distance walking routes. Spain has no less than 14 Gran Recorrido routes criss-crossing its countryside, plus other famous pilgrim routes such as the Camino de Santiago.
- Dance, dance, dance. Spain is famous for its flamenco and where better to soak up the atmosphere of a live performance of this evocative, soulful music than a cave cut into the hillside in Granada?
- Visit one of Spain’s amazing Roman sites, such as Itálica close to Seville, in Andalucía. The birthplace of Emperor Hadrian, you can see the ruins of one of the biggest amphitheatres in Roman Europe here. Other impressive sites include Carmona, also close to Seville, Baelo Claudia near Cadiz, or Mérida in Extremadura.
- Walk the King’s Walkway in El Chorro. Built more than 100 years ago by one of Málaga’s wealthiest families, El Chorro Natural Park is home to the Caminito del Rey, a 6km-long man-made gangway that runs sixty metres over the river bed along one of El Chorro’s deepest gorges.
- Go whale watching. Spain’s Canary Islands are best placed to offer boat trips to spot whales or dolphins, but you can also head off on whale watching trips from the surfer’s paradise of Tarífa in Andalucía to see these beautiful creatures.
A taste of Spain
- Legendary Roses’ restaurant El Bulli might have closed its doors, but Spain is still home to seven of the world’s best restaurants: El Celler de Can Roca in Girona; Mugaritz in San Sebastián; Asador Etxebarri in Biscay; Azurmendi near Bilbao; Arzak in San Sebastián; Tickets in Barcelona, and Quique Dacosta Restaurante in Dénia, Alicante.
- Sample a glass of sherry – or two – during a tour of a bodega in the pretty sherry-producing towns of Jerez de la Frontera or El Puerto de Santa María.
- How about a tapas crawl? Whether eating your way around Malaga or Madrid, Barcelona or Cadiz, stand at the bar to get the best price, enjoy a few tasty tit-bits with your beer, then stroll on to the next stop on your ruta de las tapas!
- Discover how cava is made during a tour of the bodegas or simply enjoy it as it is meant to be drunk at Barcelona’s lively Xampañería Can Paixano on Carrer de la Reina Cristina.
- Spain’s central region of La Mancha might be the home Manchego – arguably Spain’s most well-known cheese - but did you know the area known as Green Spain (Spain’s Atlantic coast) also produces some wonderful cheeses? A perfect accompaniment to the local cider!
For more ideas about what to do in Spain, when to go or where to stay, get in touch with your Travel Counsellor.