Spain is a relatively big and culturally diverse country, boasting breathtaking panoramic vistas, friendly people, great cuisine, fine wines and plenty of sun, sea and sand. Cosmopolitan cities, sleepy villages or world-class resorts… there are many sights to visit. Spain is a perfect destination for sun-worshippers as well as sports enthusiasts. Its distinct regional diversity is reflected in the delicious and varied cuisine, with the most recognizable dish being paella – a medley of rice. Not to mention the vibrant nightlife and some of the world’s most joyous festivals. Also, when it comes to art, Spain has much to offer. Apart from numerous art galleries and museums, among them….. the largest art gallery in the world, some of the world’s most famous and unique artists, including Velazquez, Goya, César Manrique, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, were born here.
Spain has over five thousand miles of coastline and beautiful golden or white sandy beaches. So it is no wonder that spending some time on the beach is an essential thing to do when visiting Spain. In Spain, you are never very far away from a beach: from party resorts with great facilities, to surf towns and pretty coves dotted with parasols. The Mediterranean coast alternates between rocky coves and inlets, and flatter, straighter stretches of long beaches and gentle warm waters, while the Atlantic coast has cooler seas and whiter, sandier beaches. The unspoiled beach experience, which made the Spanish coastline world-famous, is still possible, despite the fact that great numbers of people flock to the beach. You just need to know where to look.
Cultural variety has created a delicious and varied cuisine. Seafood plays a prominent role in Spanish dishes, but they are also famous for their cured meats like chorizo sausages and jamón serrano (dry-cured ham). These ingredients can be found in every tapas bar. The country’s national dish is paella: a medley of rice, fresh vegetables, seafood and meat, flavored with saffron. Every region of the country has its own culinary specialties, including some of the world’s best wines.
Spain is home to some of the world’s most colorful and joyous festivals. They take place throughout the whole year. Many are specific to different towns and regions, which results in a huge variety of local specialties, trades, and cultural quirks. Some of the top festivals to experience include the La Tomatino Festival in Bunol, the Valencia Fireworks Festival, the Moors and Christian Festival Alicante, Las Hogueras de San Juan and La Féria de Malaga. For excitement, there is also the infamous bull running at Pamplona, which is part of the San Fermin Festival.
Spain is home to the largest art gallery in the world. The Museum of El Prado in Madrid houses more than eight thousand paintings and numerous other works. Spain is also worth visiting for its history, and you will find wonderful examples of the country’s colorful past. There are the cave paintings discovered in Altamira, which date from 15,000 to 8500 B.C. The island of Menorca is supposed to have the highest number of prehistoric monuments in the world. The magnificent Alhambra Palace in Granada, a stunning example of Moorish architecture, which is not to be missed
Barcelona is Spain’s second biggest city and the capital of Catalonia?unya. Vibrant with life, this thriving port, a lively commercial as well as cultural city, has long had the reputation of being the avant-garde capital of Spain. Apart from the world-class museums, worldwide known football team, there is a number of designer restaurants, bars, galleries and shops. The top picks to visit are Antoni Gaudí’s extraordinary church of the Sagrada Familia, the picture-perfect Gothic Quarter, and the world-famous boulevard, the Ramblas. Another district worth visiting in Barcelona is La Ribera, home to the celebrated Museu Picasso. You can take a day trip from Barcelona to the mountain-top monastery of Monserrat, located 40km northwest, which is magical and well worth a visit. You can visit the basilica and monastery buildings and explore the woods, using the two funicular railways that depart from the monastery complex.
Andalusia is the stereotyped version of Spain, the one you find in the movies. It is about gypsies, flamenco, horses and bulls and much more. One of the main characteristics is its diversity: five of the eight Andalusian provinces are maritime; then there are provinces that boast snowcapped mountains and ski resorts, the wildlife-filled wetlands and highland pine and oak forests rich in game and trout streams. Last but not least, there are cities like Seville, Cordoba and Granada, which are the essential towns to visit. All the romantic images of Andalusia, and Spain in general spring vividly to life in Seville: Spain's fourth-largest city is a cliché of matadors, flamenco, tapas bars, Gypsies, geraniums, and strolling guitarists.
Gibraltar is one of Britain’s last remaining colonies and an important air base and international airport. For most of its history, it has existed between two completely different cultures: Spanish and British. This is not surprising as this crown property of the UK is located at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance to the Mediterranean and borders on Spain. Despite its location, Gibraltar tends to overstate its underlying “Britishness”. Its most significant landmark is the Rock of Gibraltar, which is 426 meters high (1,396 feet) and can be seen from far away. Most of the Rock’s upper area is a nature reserve, home to around 250 Barbary Macaque monkeys, the only wild primates found in Europe.
Madrid is Spain's capital, and arouses passion in those who have experienced it already. No wonder: Madrid never loses its vibrant energy and offers so much to explore. The narrow cobbled streets of old Madrid will make you think you are in an old pueblo. The fact is that little has changed in this part of the city, which includes historic sites such as Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.
The Golden Triangle of Art is probably the most important concentration of museums in the world, alongside the Museum Island of Berlin. It consists of three art museums: the Prado Museum, the Reina-Sofia Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Madrid is also a culinary capital. It boasts the world’s oldest restaurant, Botin Restaurant, which opened in 1725, and offers a number of other great culinary experiences.
Some come because they want to compare Lisbon and Porto or to worship Virgin Mary in Fatima or to relax on the beaches of Algarve or to discover the beautiful inlands. Some simply arrive to listen to fado while drinking a port.
Be it because of Paris, Mont Blanc, Cote d'Azure, Provence, french wine, food or its luxury fashion, maybe even the language, France has become a trademark of its own and the world's most desired destination.