Lying on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Spain is a land of diverse cultures, beautiful landscapes, rich history, and medieval architecture. It has 17 autonomous regions and its capital is Madrid. The country is well-known for its lively cities, spirited nightlife, cordial people, laidback lifestyle, delicious and hearty cuisine, and plenty of festivities. The words siestas and fiestas are pretty common, and once you are in the country, you will soon learn that Spaniards live by these terms. From urbanized cities brimming with glittering cosmopolitan details to whimsical medieval towns reminiscent of Spanish Empire, Spain is a full-package waiting to be explored.
Here are the highlights of Spain that you can't miss at any cost:
The cosmopolitan beachside city is famous for its party culture and ultra-fine dining and drinking scene against a backdrop old-world streets and folkloric architecture. The historic fabled sights and modernist buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi punctuate Barcelona's boulevards. Visit La Sagrada Família, an awe-inspiring cathedral in construction since 1882, admire the art at Museu Picasso which nestled in five breathtaking stone mansions and take a leisurely stroll in UNESCO-listed Park Güell and witness the eccentrically beautiful art by Antoni Gaudi. Here the internal clock will take a turn and you will find yourself having dinner at midnight and snoozing your alarm at midday.
The capital of Spain is bursting with contagious energy that will envelope you as soon as you land here. In Madrid, you will come across plenty of art museums in every corner boasting world-class exhibits and European art. Visit the national art museum, Prado Museum, check the Golden Triangle of Art at Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and admire the antique collection at National Archaeological Museum. The golden city has a plethora of scenic gardens as well. Add Real Jardín Botánico and El Retiro Park to your list if you haven't already. Don't forget to indulge in a culinary feast as Madrid is home to some of the most delicious meals in the world.
From enchanting Islamic palace of Alhambra and Moorish culture to graffiti art and tapas bars, Granada is located in Andalusia at the base of Sierra Nevada mountains. Visit Alhambra Palace, and traverse its gardens and courtyard, explore Nasrid Palaces to witness the legacy of Moorish dynasty, check out the monumental churches, and walk the gritty streets bordered with scenic patios and medieval architecture.
Renowned for its flamenco dancing and Gothic architecture, Seville is a charming city in Andalusia. The city is punctuated with cathedrals, mansions and palaces with baroque intricacies and ornate finish. Some of the must-see sights are Real Alcazar, the Gothic Seville Cathedral, Metropol Parasol and Museo de Bellas Artes.
Spain is famous for its unique and feisty festivals. If you are in Spain, make sure to be a part of some of these celebrations: The Seville Fair is a vibrant fair begins at midnight after Easter Holy Week in the end of April and lasts for two weeks. Houses turn into booths and streets are bright with lanterns. Some of the highlights are flamenco, dancing, and drinking. When you are in Valencia, attend Fallas to blow up all your senses. The fair lasts for 19 days and are full of joy, colors, drinks, and gunpowder. In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Cádiz, many carnivals are held that you may want to visit. Check the schedule online, mark your calendars and plan your trip accordingly.
Spanish cuisine is a wonderful blend of many cultures and historical influences. The meals are usually light consisting of a variety of vegetables, meat, and fish with mild spices. From tapas and pintxos to olive oil and wines, Spain will delight you with an array of scrumptious meals. Visit the lively bars 'Tascas' that offer a huge range of tapas with drinks. Tapas are similar to starters and they can be hot or cold. Fast food is not that popular, but plenty of restaurants, Tabernas and cafes are more than enough to fulfill your cravings.
Spaniards are festive people and you will find a bar in every other corner of the street. Go after midnight and you will know that the legendary nightlife lives up to its name. Most of the bars are like small communities where people mingle and chat over a drink and some tapas. Flamenco will be another highlight of your stay. The live music festivals are bursting with contagious energy. If you are a football fan, you may have a chance to watch FC Barcelona and Real Madrid games.
Spain is surprisingly reasonably-priced when it comes to accommodations but do pay attention to the taxes as they are usually not included in the mentioned rates. There are resorts, hotels, B&B, boarding houses, hostels, campsites, and rentals to choose from. Paradores are unique kind of state-owned hotels housed in historic buildings and monasteries. Staying there is a one of a kind experience.
The months of July and August see large crowds due to great weather and public holidays. Prices double up as expected. March to May, and September and October offer a fine time to visit as well. Weather is pleasant and accommodations are affordable. Prices may rise in regions where local festivals are being held. From November to February, the temperature plummets and ski resorts lure plenty of people from all over the place. Other places such as coastal towns hardly see any tourists.
Most European countries offer direct flights to Spain. Major airports are located in Madrid, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Seville, Valencia, Bilbao as well as other cities. Citizens of countries who are members of Schengen Agreement can travel to and from Spain easily as there are no border controls. People have options to travel through bus, train, and ferries too.
Train and bus services in Spain are the considered to be the best one in Europe. Domestic flights are also a common way of traveling within Spain. The best way to see the country is by train or by renting a car and driving.
Spain's official currency is euro that replaced Spanish peseta back in 2002. ATMs are widely available and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. You will find money exchanges, but they don't offer a good rate. In some markets and stores, haggling is also accepted.
If you decide to go away, book your hotel, flights and activities through our trip concierge for discounts and benefits. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, free hotel credit and VIP gifts at many luxury hotels for the same price as the hotel’s own websites. (Book direct and you don’t get these benefits so why would you?). Our packaged vacation prices tend to be considerably cheaper than flight and hotel prices available online.