Official language: Spanish
Currency: The official currency is the Euro (€)
Welcome to Spain!
This southern European country has since long been one of the most popular beach destinations in Europe. The country is known around the world for its bull fights and passionate culture of Flamenco music and dance. It is the land of beaches, tapas, wine, and fiestas. Spain is mainly known as a beach destination don’t hold back to go off the beaten track and discover the many treasures this beautiful country has hidden for you. It is one of the most diverse countries in Europe. You can discover Spain’s artistic heritage in world class museums like the Prado museum in the capital Madrid, and the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. Spain is also the land of famous literary characters like Don Juan and Don Quichote, and the birth country of important painters like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. It is not only the cultural heritage of Spain that will amaze you. The landscapes are breath-taking. Spain’s landscape changes as does its culture and its people. In Spain you will find waving palm trees in summer breezes and lush bays with crystal clear water on the Mediterranean coast. Mountains in the north turn into impressive cliffs covered in green resembling the lush hills of Wales and Ireland. The inlands of Spain are mostly dry with dessert formation, mountains, and national parks which are home to the Iberian lynx. On the border with France you will find mountain tops covered in snow in the Pyrenees, and sun spilled beaches in the south.
Spain has the highest number of world heritage cities. Be enchanted by the charm of century old castles and picturesque villages in Spain’s inland. If you are not into doing cultural things you can relax on the beach during the day and create your own culinary adventure while enjoying tapas on an authentic bar hopping during the evening. Spain has something to offer for everyone.
Must see places in Spain
Barcelona, sometimes described as a hedonistic city, offers a vibrant urban life. It is also the capital of Catalonia, one of Spain’s autonomous regions. Barselona is known for also for the great architectural works of the artist Antoni Gaudí, city beaches, good food and nightlife.
Madrid is the Spanish capital. The entire metropolitan area of Madrid has more than 6 million inhabitants. Madrid is also famous for its nightlife and good bars and clubs. Nightlife in Madrid never stops. For those of you who love art and culture Madrid has a lot to offer. There are many museums to choose from. The most famous would probably be the Prado Museum. Here you can admire the famous works of artists like Picasso.
Toledo is a popular tourist city in the inlands of Spain not far from the capital Madrid. The city is built on the slope of a hill on the banks of the river Tajo. Toledo is famous for its beautiful architecture and for its history. Toledo is a city that breaths a romantic and mysterious atmosphere. Toledo was the most important city of the Visigoth civilisation in Spain between the 4th and 8th centuries AD. After that it became a flourishing city in the Moorish empire. When the Arabs were conquered during the late middle ages, Toledo became the home of the Castile monarchs.
Mallorca is the largest is of the Balearic Islands in the Spanish Mediterranean Sea. The four main Islands are Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca. Each of the islands has its own character. Mallorca is diverse with its many beautiful beaches, large party-scene, and breath-taking landscapes made up from dramatic cliffs and high mountains.
Lanzarote is one of the seven main Canary Islands. The island is geographically part of Africa and located in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is known for its unique character and landscape. The centre of the island has often been described as a moon landscape. Here you will find black rocky and sandy mountains created by the eruptions of millennia old volcanos. Lanzarote is home to more than 100 Volcanos.
Córdoba is a city in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia. It was an important Roman city and an Islamic cultural center in the Middle Ages. Cordoba's hour of greatest glory was when it became the capital of the Moorish kingdom of El-Andalus, and this was when work began on the Great Mosque, or "Mezquita", which – after several centuries of additions and enlargements – became one of the largest in all of Islam.
Santiago de Compostela
Benidorm is a beach resort in the south of Spain, and part of what is known as the Costa Blanca. Benidorm is an excellent choice for an entertaining holiday with your family. This beach resort is a favourite destination for many sun and beach abiders. Here you can enjoy the warm Mediterranean climate and water temperatures going up to 26 degrees in summer.
Lloret de Mar
Lloret de Mar is a popular and affordable beach holiday destination on the Costa Brava. The town is situated between Barcelona and Girona. Lloret de Mar used to be a small fishers village but grew out to become one of the most popular beaches along the whole Costa Brava. With the town’s growth as a tourist destination the town has also attracted high quality chefs and restaurants. You can now enjoy food of all standards, prices and traditions in Lloret de Mar.
San Sebastian is located in the Basque Country. It is a coastal city in the Bay of Biskay, near to the border with France. San Sebastian is a picturesque town and popular beach resort. Special about San Sebastian is that the city beach is also one of its prettiest beaches, and it has remained an unspoiled and authentic feeling being situated next to some of San Sebastian’s historical buildings.
Tenerife is a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean and is geographically part of Africa. It is the largest of the Canary Islands. It is famous for its beaches and its spectacular nature is a popular beach holiday destination for Europeans, and also popular among surfers. Tenerife has the most diverse ecosystems of all the Canary Islands. Tenerife has several climatic regions; because of this the landscapes are diverse, going from snowy mountain tops to dessert dunes and tropical forests. Each climatic area has its own ecosystem with specific flora and fauna.
Salou is a popular beach resort ideal for family vacations. Salou is situated on the Costa Dorada in the north east of Spain. It is also part of Catalonia; apart from Spanish you will hear people speaking the local language of Catalan. Salou has a lovely promenade where you can enjoy lit up fountains at night. At the Font lluminosa shows with music and light spectacles are held every night.
Girona is a beautiful Spanish city in the northern Costa Brava region. Being Barcelona’s little sister Girona is often unjustly overlooked. This city has an extraordinary cultural vibe. It is a lot smaller than Barcelona but it has the same charm and city feeling. The city is one of the most interesting cities of the Catalonia region. Its beautiful historical buildings survived the scores of time and give Girona its special atmosphere. Girona is a great place for romantic holidays and for people who appreciate the aesthetics of historic towns and a vibrant cultural life. Girona gets its unique appearance of the two fortified enclosures, the Força Vella and the Medieval Quarter. The Força Vella walls date back to Roman times, over 2000 years ago! In the late Middle Ages the city walls were extended. This newer part belongs to the city’s medieval Quarter.
Salamanca is located in Spain’s interior not far from the capital Madrid. The city is famous for its stunning beauty and for having one the best and oldest universities in Europe. Salamanca is popular with young people, students, and foreigners and that adds to the lively atmosphere of this photogenic city. Salamanca is often called the golden city because of the sand coloured buildings that give the city its special character. The city is educated, sophisticated, cultural and historical. And above all that it is probably one of Spain’s prettiest cities, if not the prettiest.
The Asturias coast in northern Spain is one of Spain’s best kept secrets. It is the excellent destination for an active holiday and for those who love being surrounded by nature and enjoy breath-taking landscapes. The northern coast of Spain tends to be wet during the whole year. The summers are not the usually hot summers of Spain. But the good thing is that because of that mass tourism has reach the region yet, and the beauty of the towns, beaches, and mountains remain unspoiled.
Pick the time right!
Tourists travel to Spain from May to September
While summer is a good time to visit Spain, the southern regions can get very warm with temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius. At the same time the northern coasts can be wet. A nice time to visit Spain is early autumn when the weather is pleasant and tourist attractions less busy.
Did you know?
Spain is one of the main olive oil producers in the world and one of the countries with the highest amount of bars in Europe.
There are more native Spanish speakers in the world than native English speakers
More than half the country was once part of the Islamic empire. The Moors invaded from what is now Morocco and left their stamp on the Iberian Peninsula. Spain was directly ruled by Damascus for more than 700 years. The Moorish civilization in Spain was called Al-Andalus. In Flamenco music and dance you can still trace the influence that Moorish culture had on the region. The mixture of Spanish and Moorish culture is also reflected in the beautiful architecture that is now characteristic of Andalusia. In Andalusia you will find many names of streets, rivers and places that originate from Arabic.
After reconquering most of the peninsula the kingdom of Spain was created in the late fifteenth century. The new kingdom was a unification of several kingdoms and culturally diverse regions. Locals of these regions are still proud of their distinctive identities. In Spain there are many regional movements for autonomy. Because of this Spain’s history and culture is extremely rich, and diverse. While Spanish is the national language, called Castellano, many regions have their own dialects, of which some are recognised as separate languages: Catalan in Catalonia, Basque or Euskara in Basque country, Valencian in Valencia, and Galician in Galicia.
Spanish food and drinking customs is typically southern European; long lasting meals with family or friends during lunchtime, late night dinners, and wine or beer to accompany the meal. Breakfast is simply coffee, sometimes accompanied by something sweet or savoury. Some famous Spanish dishes are: Paella, Gazpacho, Tortilla, Serrano hams, Manchego cheese, and Calamares (Squid). While in Spain try Sangria, it is a fresh drink made of red wine, lemonade and fruits. The best regions for seafood are Galicia and the Canary Islands. A nice way to get acquainted with Spanish food is to stroll around local fresh food markets and be amazed by the colours, scents and sounds of culinary Spain.
While the Spanish go out late they may have a quiet drink during the day. In Spain it is perfectly normally to see an old lady ordering a beer at a bar at 11.00 o’ clock in the morning, or business men sharing a bottle of wine on their smoking break. Binge drinking, however, is not appreciated. People like to enjoy life and good food and drinks are an important part of that. A workweek in Spain often consists of six days, and it’s not uncommon to work ten hours per day. But the phrase ‘work hard, party harder’ definitely applies to the Spanish; any excuse for a fiesta is happily embraced.
Spanish fiestas are often centred on saints, bull fighting, or food. All towns in Spain have their own local festivals and fiestas. On May 15th in Madrid, single women visit the chapel of Ermita de San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid and patron saint of peasants and labourers. Madrilenians make a pilgrimage to the chapel on this day and celebrate. It is the start of Madrid’s biggest fiesta. The single women go to the chapel and prick their fingers with pins to find a husband. This is just one of the many festivals that make Spain the dynamic colourful country that it is.
The province of Galicia celebrates 85 fiestas per year, which comes down to nearly two fiestas per week. No reason to get bored. You will find many food and wine festivals in Andalucía. Some of the most famous festivals in Spain are: Carnival (best in Tenerife, Cadiz, and Sitges), the Pamplona bull run; Semana Santa (Easter week processions) in Seville and Malaga; La Tomatina, tomato fight in Buñol near Valencia; and the Festival de Patios: during two weeks people open their old patios, which are filled with flowers.
In catholic Spain the three kings is the day families give presents to the children. It is Spain’s equivalent of Western Europe’s Christmas. The Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (Three wise men parade) takes place on the 5th of January, and presents are given the evening before. The New Year’s Eve tradition is to eat twelve grapes when the clock counts down; one grape for each of the last twelve seconds of the year.
While you’re in Spain make sure to go on a wine tour or visit a local Cava festival; admire the cultural and architectural melting pot of Andalucía while flamenco dancers are emerged in passion on the background; take a different perspective and see the country from sea in a sailing boat; witness the impressive Easter processions of colourful catholic statues during Semana Santa; or see the works of great artists like Gaudi, Goya, Picasso, Dali. And most of all enjoy life like the Spanish do.
In the main tourist hubs, like the Costas and islands, it is sometimes hard to find real Spanish restaurants and local dishes; it’s worth looking for them. Try exploring your new local town just outside the main tourist centres, or visit smaller nearby villages.
When you go to Spain try to learn some basic phrases in Spanish. Many people don’t speak English and they will warmly appreciate your effort to speak their language. Take a phrasebook with you in case you get stuck and need to ask for help. ‘Hola’ (pronounced ola) means ‘hi’ in Spanish. You can also say ‘buen dia’ in the morning or simply ‘buenas’ during the rest of the day. Spanish, amongst themselves, greet by giving two kisses on the cheeks.