Spain Travel Guide
If there was one travel destination in the world that offered the most beloved among travelers amenities and a set of cultural and scenic offerings you should experience before the end of your days, we would not think twice to name Spain vacation a must trip to plan in the near future for virtually anybody. Spain vacation is where you can soak up the sun at world’s most pristine beaches in the morning, tour the most culturally and historically rich landmarks during the day and dive into the most vibrant and distinct nightlife one can experience as the sun goes down. And on top of that Spain cuisine is one of the most delectable regional cuisines in the world with mouthwatering tapas, paella, seafood fares and sangria wine selections you will not experience anywhere else. All these facts are many more times magnified by a plethora of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites scattered around the country, the highest ratings of Spanish lodging facilities and the highest number of folklore Festivals and carnivals happening regularly throughout the year than in any other country in the world.
Spain is the country located in the southwestern corner of the Western Europe on the Iberian Peninsula along with Portugal and Andorra. The country is washed by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea at the East and the Atlantic Ocean at the west. The country is guarded from the cold winds coming from Western Europe by the Pyrenees Mountain Range. This creates a uniquely mild climate with dry warm summers and relatively mild winters, though Spain’s climate is represented by three main climatic types, namely, Mediterranean, semi-arid and oceanic depending on the geographical region in the country. According to widely known Spain travel tips, the best time to set off on a Spain vacation is definitely the summer when you can take advantage of virtually anything this majestic destination has to guide you through, unfortunately, the crowds that the country draws in these months could be too numerous to allow for comfortable touring coupled with unbearable hot weather. Consider May, September and October with fewer crowds, milder weather and generally lower prices for accommodations. So go ahead and browse through our Spain Travel tips to help guide you through to your next vacation destination.
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is for you if you want to full heartedly experience what the country is all about. One of the hedonistic centers of the world, the capital of Spain is one of the most brilliant examples of anything Spanish, its culture, history and, most importantly, its cuisine. Spanish people elevate dining rituals to an art form where tapas or little appetizers became a big deal excusing diners from making mind boggling menu choices of what to try. Why choose if you can sample a little bit of everything in a form of tapas guiding you along its cultural adventure. Meander from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant on balmy Spanish evenings and sample the best that Spain has to offer. Among the finest Spain tourist attractions in the city that are a must to visit is Plaza Mayor, the place of gathering of tourists and locals alike to chat, watch the crowd and have a relaxing meal. The Prado Museum comes highly recommended that gathered some of the most distinguished art pieces from Italian, Spanish and Flemish artists. The Spain’s capital is also the city of Plazas showcasing the works of architectural wonders and craftfully created open spaces. If there was just one museum in the city you could visit on a single day, without a doubt the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is the one, a smaller private collection of masterful European artists, it is much easier to digest and tour in one day compared to its larger counterparts. If you want to catch a famous bull fight, these are becoming quite rare to find due to recently passed laws but you will have more chances to find such happenings in the capital than anywhere else in the country.
Barcelona is the busiest sea port, the most crowded beach resort and some of the most multi-cultural and diverse cities in Western Europe. The city has it all: pristine beaches, a myriad of amazing sights and venues, avant garde restaurants and bustling nightlife. The city is also a culinary heaven where you can feast on fried squid, authentic chorizo sausages, wild boar stew and much more to reawaken your palate. One of the most amazing landmarks in the city is definitely Sagrada Familia church designed by an accomplished Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi that has been drawing millions of guests year after year. Park Guell is another important site in the city that has seen master Guell’s hand in its landscape and architectural décor where you can stroll and take in the sights of the most amazing city in Spain. Museu Picasso’s collection is housed in five beautiful mansions that advantageously showcase the masterpieces of Spain’s best artist.
Valencia is a lovely coastal city located on the Eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula. Once an industrial center, the city has experienced an incredible growth in its tourism industry and is now considered one of the most popular vacation destinations in Western Europe that is also budget friendly compared to visiting larger cities in Spain. It offers the best Mediterranean sandy beaches in the country along with vibrant cultural happenings, curious sites and delectable coastal cuisine with the main emphasis on seafood. The city is also the place of thousands of orange orchards scattered around the area. If you want to soak up the life of the city, head straight to the Mercado Central that guides you through Spanish gastronomical adventure where you can sample an extensive tapas menu, mouthwatering Valencian paella that you can wash down with authentic Agua de Valencia that is a combination of champagne, gin with a splash of Valencian orange juice. If you are a cultural junkie, visit the City of the Arts and Sciences that packs the most cultural attraction, museums and galleries.
Granada is an Andalucian city with distinct Islamic vibes coming from Morocco and Algeria that were deeply intertwined in the history of the area many centuries ago. The main attraction of the city is its fairy tale like Alhambra Arabic style palace that is nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Its thousand year old history is what draws visitors to this cultural attraction; however, the city offers so much more that you should explore. Try out a truly Arabic bath experience “hammam” that is set in dimly lit bathhouses and is usually followed by an aromatic tea drinking over a great conversation with friends. True Flamenco fans can enjoy vivacious dancing shows at the Pena de la Plateria club that has been in the center stage of Flamenco style since the 1940’s. Why not take Flamenco dance lessons that guide you through the basics of this traditional Spanish dance style.
Seville is the southern city in Spain that is also the capital of its Andalucian province. It’s one of the most expensive tourist hot spots that draws crazy crowds in the summer months despite its stifling heat. Here you will find the best food, the most vibrant culture, the most fashion conscious people and the place of the most joyous festivals and carnivals. Among the most curious landmarks guest love are city’s biggest and most spectacular squares, Plaza de Espana, where locals and guests mingle to soak up the local way of life. Christopher Columbus’s Tomb is rested at one of the cathedrals claiming the authenticity of the bones that is widely disputed among the scientists.
Toledo is Spain’s most intoxicating mix of religions, cultures and history set at the backdrop of rocky ridges. The narrow uphill streets in the city will lead you to historical cathedrals, synagogues, mosques, art venues and museums. Among significant sights you should visit, consider Cathedral de Toledo with its characteristic Gothic style with exquisite interior décor. One of the most popular landmarks in the city, the Alcazar proudly perched at the highest point of the city was a former mosque and is currently the museum of the Army.
Bilbao is the cultural center of the Northern Spain that not long ago had been a mere industrial city but has been recently given a face lift as one of the hip gastronomic destinations of the country. Do not miss Frank Gehry’s Museo Guggenheim in which its exterior grandeur is competing with its interior modern art collection. Practically next door you will find the Museo de Bellas Artes presenting a well balanced mix of classical and contemporary paintings and sculptures. Sample Basque Northern cuisine that offers plenty of Atlantic seafood offerings generously paired with vegetables and spices.
Balearic Islands are represented by a cluster of 4 main islands such as Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and a small island of Formentera located in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Each of the islands offers endless opportunities for true beach and outdoor lovers where you can enjoy picturesque mountain and marine sceneries all day long. Majorca being the largest of the Islands attracts several millions of travelers annually. Its gorgeous Serra de Tramuntana mountain range coupled with breathtaking coastal views and a plethora of cultural activities make for one perfect vacation spot. Minorca is haven of untouched beauty, a place of UNESCO’s Biosphere where divine beaches are not overcrowded and where you can enjoy slightly cooler summer than on the other Islands. Reserve Ibiza is a gem of Spain where hundred year old pine trees grow along the Mediterranean coastline and where you will find a lot of remote rugged beaches and the hippest nightclubs on the Islands. Formentera, though the smallest of all, is the ultimate retreat where you can kick off your high hills from last night clubbing at the Ibiza and let go of all the troubles while enjoying primal and untouched beauty of Formentera that stretches only 12 miles across the island.
Just west off the African Coast lie majestic Canary Islands archipelago under the jurisdiction of Spain. There are 7 main islands that are included in the term Canary island chain. Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife are perhaps some of the most well known out of them all. Despite the fact that islands are in close proximity to one another, each of them present a distinct set of characteristics each tourist should be made aware of. You can read it in just about any Canary Islands travel guide that Gran Canaria is the most populated island with the most well developed tourism infrastructure and overall a great all around option for outdoor sports and also visiting its exotic animals parks. Lanzarote, on the other hand, presents quite a different picture of barren landscapes of volcanic origins. Visit its Timanfaya National Park to see some of the dormant and active volcanic activity. Tenerife, the largest island, is a cultural hub of the Canary Islands that also offers it all in the means of tourist activities ranging from museums, cultural festivals, water sports, World Heritage sites and much more.
And finally the last but, of course, not least Spain travel tips will deal with how to blend in with the locals by dressing appropriately. Locals hate it when tourists wear bikinis, shorts, strappy tees and beachwear around town unless you are on a dedicated beach resort, some might even find it offensive. Do respect local culture and religion by limiting beachwear to the beach grounds and dressing up in well-fitting dressy clothes when heading to restaurants or attending cultural venues.
We hope that our Spain travel guide has inspired you to sample all of the distinct flavors and attractions the country has to offer during your next vacation.