Country guides Europe
Spain Travel Guide
If travellers were to draw up a list of their top 10 dream holiday destinations, it would be a safe bet that Spain would feature prominently. Welcoming over 70 million visitors a year, Spain is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Home to an unbelievable 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (only Italy, China and Germany have more), Spain also boasts a glorious array of sun-soaked beaches and resorts.
Tourists looking to enjoy a beach holiday in Spain will be spoilt for choice, as the country boasts 5,000 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. An idyllic climate, friendly locals, a famously vibrant nightlife, and world-class shopping opportunities only add to the incredible attraction that is Spain.
With so much to see and do in Spain, visitors will have a delightful time drawing up their holiday itineraries. Whether they head straight to gorgeous Barcelona to admire the architectural feats of Gehry and Gaudi, or to the capital Madrid to check out the cultural treasures of the Prado Gallery; whether they wish to go high into the Sierra Nevada mountains to do some skiing or wish to sunbathe on the warm sands of the Canary Islands, visitors to Spain are ensured a holiday that they will treasure in memory for the rest of their lives.
Best time to visit Spain
Featuring the warmest climate on mainland Europe, there is no bad time to visit Spain. The peak tourist season is summer (June to August), when an amazing amount of foreign visitors flock to Spain's famed beaches. The best time to visit Spain is any time between May and October, when 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 buildings such as the La Sagrada Familia.
-The Prado Gallery in Madrid is home to one of Europe's finest art collections, displaying works by Goya, Rubens, and Murillo.
-The Moorish fortress of Alhambra, located in Granada, is a beautiful site, and an important record of Spain's multicultural history.
-A World Heritage City, Segovia is a historical sightseer's delight, featuring a gorgeous cathedral and a wonderfully preserved Roman-built aqueduct.
What to do in Spain
-'Going for tapas' in Spain is not merely an opportunity to have a drink and enjoy a delicious selection of finger-food, but 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.
-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), from singles heaven (Benidorm) to family-friendly holiday (Sa Coma).
Getting to Spain
There are ample direct cheap flights to Spain 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 Todo Sobre Mi Madre/All About My Mother (1999).
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).
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
The San Fermin Festival (July), better known as the Running of the Bulls at Pamplona, draws huge crowds of participating tourists every year. Head to Bunol, just outside Valencia, for the annual Tomatina Tomato Fight in August, a fun and irreverent festival. Valencia's Las Fallas Festival (March), where 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 is home to enough world-class tourist attractions to keep even the most jaded travellers enthralled and entertained.