“Spain for me… large cities known worldwide, inland destinations filled with charming villages, and coasts to enjoy the sea… so many places to discover!” – Elena Domecq – TRIPWIX Host for Seville and Jerez
Take a look at the map of Spain and stick a pin in it… wherever you decide to venture in this incredibly diverse country you will be awed by the overwhelming number of things to do, places to see, flavors to taste, music to appreciate and experiences that will envelop you.
A country with a fascinating history dating back to the Celts, the Roman Empire, the Phoenicians and the Moors has segued very stylishly into the 21st century. Far from being obsessed with its deep roots, Spain has embraced modern lifestyles, contemporary architecture, culture, traditions and food with elegance and ease.
Search for art, culture, adventure, gastronomy and romance and you will find it all on many levels; enough to satiate appetites ranging from ardent traditionalists to cutting-edge connoisseurs.
Spain is widely known for its flamenco music and dance, bullfights, fantastic beaches and bags of sunshine – but there is more to this diverse country than is commonly known.
What other destination has so much to offer to so many. Regardless of your interests, a visit to Spain is guaranteed to check all the boxes.
Located at the crossroads of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa, Spain occupies 85% of the Iberian Peninsula which it shares with Portugal. It has been influenced by a rich mix of diverse elements from Africa to the south – just under 10 mi (16 km) distance across the Strait of Gibraltar. Its territory also covers the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean – the largest of which is Majorca – and the Canary Islands off the West Coast of Africa.
The country is divided into 17 regions and is governed by a monarchy that is well-respected throughout the country.
Madrid – the capital city – is alive, vibrant and bursting with culture – old and new. Located almost in the center of the country, Madrid offers multiple transportation opportunities to reach all parts of the country quickly. Fast autopistas, high-speed train lines, and easy, cheap airplane hops all make traversing back and forth between coasts, cities, and neighbouring France and Portugal a cinch.
GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
Being one of the largest countries in Europe, Spain offers various and diverse climate conditions. With its high mountain ranges, the difference between the climates of the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts can be quite acute. As you travel from north to south, the country spans many latitudes and east and west are also different. As a rule of thumb, though, there are four distinct seasons that follow more or less the same pattern throughout the country.
With such diverse topography, you can find yourself skiing in the south and sunbathing on a wide windswept beach both on the same day!
Winter usually brings dry weather, except in the northwest. Overall, the weather is mainly sunny but cold. Because of its temperate coastal areas and cold, crisp interior cities, Spain is a popular winter destination. Its diverse topography means you can find yourself skiing in both the north and in the south where stopping to sunbathe on a wide windswept beach… on the same day… is not unheard of!
Spring is usually temperate throughout the country, especially in coastal areas.
Summer in Spain is hot! Everywhere!
Autumn, like the spring, is temperate and a great time for sightseeing.
LANGUAGE, RELIGION AND PEOPLE
Castillian Spanish is spoken throughout the country but various dialects are also heard in areas like Valencia, Galicia and Pays Basque. English is commonly spoken especially in tourist areas.
FOOD AND DRINK
If you are a food and wine lover, look no further than this melting pot of tastes uniting European and African flavours.
In the past, thoughts of Spanish food often turned towards cheap Sangria, soggy Paella and copious hard rolls. Today, however, Spain is considered at the forefront of world gastronomy, taking traditional recipes with their incredible variety of flavours and giving them a thoroughly modern twist. Leading the way is the triple Michelin-starred Spanish chef Ferran Adria, the godfather of avant-garde cuisine.
Each region throughout this magnificent country has a specialty or two… or three… based on the freshest local ingredients. Magnificent golden Paellas from the East Coast where Valenciana rice hails from. Colourful platters of grilled mixed fish on the Mediterranean Sea, Hearty stews and soups in the North West Basque areas. Wherever you find yourself, you’ll find plenty of local dishes to enjoy.
Places to eat abound, too. Find hearty fare from Rabbit Stew to Fried Calamari in a highway pit stop -which is usually excellent although not elegant in its presentation. Tapas bars from the traditional to the trendy abound in every city. You will not go hungry in Spain whether you eat him the roadside café, the Michelin star restaurant, the high street tapas bar or the local
You will not go hungry in Spain whether you eat at the roadside café, the Michelin-star restaurant, the high street tapas bar or the local mercado. All will be super fresh, super tasty and generally very healthy.
Spain is currently the third largest wine producer in the world with a plethora of old and new grape varietals and the expertise to produce old-style wines with new-style technology. Take a trip to any of the wine producing areas: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas, La Mancha, Penedes etc. and you’ll come away not only with new favourites but also great memories. If wine tours aren’t on the vacation list, just pay a visit to one of the many gourmet wine shops/bodegas in any village, town or city and arm yourself with a few bottles to try. You’ll be amazed at the complexity, variety and quality at every price point
MUSIC AND CULTURE
If you are an art buff, Spain is the destination of your dreams! An entire country giving glorious homes to splendid works by the world’s best-known artists. With its extraordinary artistic heritage, Spain has been featured as one of the cultural centres of Europe for thousands of years.
Music plays another major role in the culture of Spain. The depth and variety of sounds from the Spanish guitar never ceases to amaze musicians worldwide.
The fiery Flamenco shows of the south encapsulate the traditional sounds of Spain. Mournful songs are accompanied by a frenzy of stomping feet, swirling shawls and skirts, hand clapping, the unforgettable, melodic tones of Spanish guitar and the unique percussion drilling of wooden castanets.
Bullfighting may have fallen from grace in recent years, but the history, tradition and culture cannot be denied a stage in Spain. The ritual and the culture is deeply embedded in the history of the country and is visible on many levels.
With fascinating towns, cities and villages in every region; the remarkable choice of extremes in architecture, history, topography, festivals and events – you’ll be hard-pressed to decide where to visit.
The local currency is the Euro. Spain makes it easy for tourists to change money wherever they may be. With plenty of well-placed exchange bureaus, banks dealing with foreign currency and ATM’s, there is no worry about not having local currency on hand.
Spaniards love to shop. Considered as one of the most stylish countries of Europe, the Spanish take great pride in the way they dress and how they look. As you would expect, there are many excellent shopping opportunities everywhere. From high-end, world-class brands to high-street stores to specialty boutiques, whatever you are looking for will not be hard to find.
Clothing is well priced. Leather goods, generally made in Spain, are an excellent value. Traditional goods from lace to flamenco dresses are beautifully handcrafted. Since they are not considered novelty items, they are priced for locals, not tourists.
Wine and food markets abound and are always fun and educational to visit. Art galleries, antique stores and interior design studios have all suffered during the last economic crisis – so goods are priced to be purchased.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Anytime is a great time to enjoy the magnificence of this country. The word “fiesta” was born here and party you will! With a myriad of fascinating festivals jostling for attention all twelve months of the year, there is no bad time to visit.
As with all southern European countries, the summers are the super-busy times. So, if you want to beat the crowds and the heat, plan your visit in the spring, autumn or winter months.