The relaxed lifestyle, vibrant nightlife, excellent food, and world-famous folklore and festivals make Spain one of Europe’s most popular vacation destinations. To create your dream holiday in Spain, think about exploring one or all of the following Spanish regions.
Holiday in Spain: Andalucia
Andalucia boasts some of the country’s finest beaches and resorts, spread across south Spain’s popular “Sun Coast,” known locally as Costa del Sol. The region’s largest center is Seville, where you can learn to dance the flamenco and spend days sightseeing the city’s Moorish and Christian landmarks. Granada’s magnificent Alhambra palace remains one of the region’s top draws, luring thousands of daily visitors with its well-preserved medieval architecture. Formerly the capital of an Islamic caliphate, the thousand-year-old Cordoba features a World Heritage-listed old town packed with medieval structures, including the famous Great Mosque-Cathedral. Away from these busy urban centers, Andalucia preserves its unblemished small villages, where life seems undisturbed by mass tourism and the local bar remains the center of all things social.
Holiday in Spain: Basque Country
To see a different side of Spanish life, include Basque Country on your Spain trip planner. One of the world’s best destinations for gastronomic itineraries, this region contains several major culinary centers. Foodies head to San Sebastian to explore a diverse menu of tapas, or “pinxtos” as the locals prefer to call them. Bilbao boasts a selection of outstanding museums, not the least of which is the celebrated Guggenheim Museum, situated inside an innovative building designed by architect Frank Gehry. The regional capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz is a medieval city with modern suburbs, known for its vibrant street life and pedestrian-friendly center. Venture beyond the cities to discover Basque culture in small villages dotting the rolling foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, home to world-class wineries and cider cellars.
Holiday in Spain: Catalonia
The fierce spirit of Catalonia has shaped not only the history and culture of Spain, but also of Europe. Barcelona serves as the regional capital and the country’s second-largest city, offering visitors everything from lively outdoor markets and restaurants to historical churches and art-packed museums. Girona, often called the “city of a thousand sieges,” features a large Jewish quarter and an exciting club scene. Art lovers flock to Figueres, boasting a renowned Salvador Dali museum. Catalonia also includes the mighty Pyrenees range, filled with ancient monasteries and working vineyards ideal for leisurely day trips.
Holiday in Spain: Galicia
Largely unspoiled by international tourism, Galicia often feels far removed from the rest of the country. Add it to your Spain itinerary to discover an outstanding seafood cuisine and a diverse landscape of pristine seafront areas and rugged mountain ranges. Start your visit in La Coruna, famed for its intact Roman lighthouse, popularly called the Tower of Hercules. Alternatively, you can join thousands of travelers at Santiago de Compostela, featuring an awe-inspiring cathedral located at the end of the famous St. James’ Way pilgrimage route. Vigo, the region’s largest city, serves as the gateway to Atlantic Islands National Park, home to over 200 different species of seaweed.
Holiday in Spain: Canary Islands
Few pleasure seekers finish their summertime Spain vacation before exploring the Canary Islands, one of Europe’s most modern and cosmopolitan tourist destinations. With a population of about two million, these seven islands are as distinct from each other as they are from the rest of Spain. Fuertaventura is a windsurfer’s paradise, while Tenerife offers low-risk sports like sailing, hiking, and cycling. Gran Canaria features a long coastline dominated by modern tourist destinations, the most popular of which remains Las Palmas, where Christopher Columbus stopped on his way back from the Americas. To get away from masses of other tourists, head to Lanzarote, known for impressive mountains and vast deserts often compared to the surface of the Moon.
The Many Faces of Spain
Spain boasts such a huge number of World Heritage Sites and other spectacular places to visit, most visitors feel inexorably drawn back to it time and time again. Enhance your holiday in Spain by exploring the country’s popular cities, but don’t forget that small towns and sleepy villages often provide a different look at Spanish culture, offering visitors a chance to meet the locals at the town bar, neighborhood soccer game, or flamenco festival.