Country guides Europe
Spain Travel Guide
Cultured, passionate and strikingly beautiful, Spain is one of the most alluring destinations in the world, where the local fervour for food, football and everything in between gets in the blood. Unspoilt coastlines, rugged national parks, sophisticated cities and irresistible regional cuisines are among the list of drawcards for the 70 million visitors who arrive every year.
The country occupies most of the Iberian Peninsula and is a must for sun seekers. It has around 5000 miles (8,000km) of beaches, and many of the most popular areas, such as Ibiza, the Costa Blanca, Alicante, the Costa Brava, and the Costa del Sol, are deservedly world-famous. Adventurers will have lots to choose from in Spain's national parks, as the terrains range from mountainous areas and volcanic landscapes to marshes that provide refuge for thousands of birds. An idyllic climate, friendly locals, a famously vibrant nightlife, and world-class shopping opportunities only add to the incredible attraction that is Spain.
There are also an unbelievable 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Many cities have ancient Roman ruins, Islamic architecture from the Moorish period, medieval castles, as well as Castilian- and Hapsburg-era palaces and mansions. Lovers of Art Deco and Art Nouveau will find many stunning examples of the styles.
So, whether visitors head straight to gorgeous Barcelona to admire the architectural feats of Gehry and Gaudi, or venture high into the Sierra Nevada mountains for quality skiing, Spain will deliver a holiday they'll treasure for the rest of their lives.
Best time to visit Spain
Spain featuring the warmest climate on mainland Europe, so there's no bad time to visit. The peak tourist season is summer (June to August), when legions of foreigners flock to the country's famed beaches. The best time to visit is any time between May and October, as the weather is warm and sunny.
What to see in Spain
-The architecture of Antoni Gaudi draws thousands of visitors to Barcelona every year to see buildings such as the La Sagrada Familia.
-Madrid is home to the Prado Gallery, which displays works by Goya, Rubens and Murillo, and has one of Europe's finest art collections.
-Located in Granada, the Moorish fortress of Alhambra is a beautiful site and an important record of Spain's multicultural history.
-The World Heritage City of Segovia is a historical sightseer's delight. It features a gorgeous cathedral and a wonderfully preserved Roman-built aqueduct.
What to do in Spain
-Go out for tapas, which in Spain is not merely an opportunity to have a drink and enjoy a delicious selection of finger-food, but a chance to sample an important part of the everyday rhythms of Spanish life.
-Take part in the Running of the Bulls at Pamplona.
-Catch an exciting match in one of Spain's grand football stadiums, such as the Camp Nou, the Bernabeu or the San Mames.
-Venture to the Costa del Sol and soak up the glorious sunshine before cooling off with a cocktail at a chic beachside restaurant.
Holiday resorts in Spain
Spain has many popular resorts for sun-seekers looking for the perfect beach holiday. Each resort has its own character, varying from lively nightlife (Ibiza) to laidback and secluded (Los Gigantes), or from singles heaven (Benidorm) to family-friendly delight (Sa Coma).
Getting to Spain
Ample direct cheap flights to Spain are available from a variety of British and American cities. Major airlines tend to serve Madrid and Barcelona, while several low-cost carriers offer cheap flights to popular holiday destinations in the south of Spain and the Costa del Sol.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart, Travels With My Donkey by Tim Moore, and Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving.
Luis Eduardo Aute, Los Planetas, Maldita Nerea, and Nino Ricardo.
Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Jamon Jamon (1992), and The Trip to Spain (2017).
Freshly brewed coffee, local wine and sangria (a mix of wine, lemonade, fruit pieces and spices).
Popular tapas include chorizo sausage and tortilla de patatas (omelette with fried potato), calamares en su tinta (squid prepared in its own ink), and sepia con alioli (fried cuttlefish with garlic mayonnaise). Other must-try dishes include gazpacho (tomato-based Andalusian soup that's famous for being served cold), fideuà (Spanish pasta that's popular in Barcelona), suckling pig from Segovia, burnt Basque cheesecake from Bilbao and fabada (bean and pork stew) from the northwestern Asturias.
What to buy
Olive oil, ornately decorated Spanish fans, flamenco music, leather products, bull fighting posters, and Spanish brandy from the famous Jerez region.
What to pack
Pack plenty of sunscreen and a hat if travelling in summer, and a good coat if travelling in winter. Even though Spain's climate is wonderfully temperate, it can get very cold at times during winter (especially in Madrid).
What's on in Spain
Better known as the Running of the Bulls at Pamplona, the San Fermin Festival (July) draws huge crowds of participating tourists every year. The annual Tomatina Tomato Fight takes place just outside Valencia in August, and is a fun and irreverent festival. Valencia's Las Fallas Festival (March), which sees local communities build giant puppets and then set them ablaze, provides a bonfire that will dwarf any visitors will have seen in their lives.
Did you know?
-Spain is home to over 5,000 miles (8,000km) of beaches.
-Spain is said to have more bars than any other country in the EU.
-Same sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005.
A final word
From its glittering beaches to its vibrant and cosmopolitan cities, from its medieval churches to its Colosseum-like football stadia, Spain has enough world-class tourist attractions to keep even the most jaded travellers enthralled and entertained.