Spain, in the imaginations of many tourists, is a land of sun, sangria, festivals, and flamenco. It is all of this and so much more: in Spain you can relax on sunny beaches, ski in the Pyrenees, and explore medieval cities and villages. In cities such as Madrid, you can immerse yourself in the nightlife or explore the churches and castles built in a by-gone age.
Come for the mountains – stay for the architecture
Visitors to Spain can choose between the mountains of Malaga, the artistic life of Seville, the cultural diversity of Barcelona or the urban hum of Madrid. First time visitors to Madrid are usually astounded by the magnificent architecture reflecting disparate national influences. The resort island of Tenerife is popular among tourists, and the island of Ibiza has several colourful resort towns. It is no surprise that a country devoted to tourism has a lot of accommodation options. There are five star hotels, one star hotels, campsites and bed and breakfasts, as well as rooms in country houses, and an assortment of self-contained apartments.
Places you must see in Spain
Madrid's architectural attractions include the Royal Palace, the Casa de Campo and the Botanical Gardens. The running of the bulls in Pamplona is an annual event that should not be missed if you are good on your feet. One of the most popular attractions in Spain is Barcelona’s unfinished Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi. There is also the stunning Alhambra, a castle and fortress located in Granada, and one of the most popular of Spain's attractions. You should also visit La Rambla, the famous street in Barcelona which houses the Boqueria Market. The street is usually alive with street artists, restaurants and bars.
A wealth of historic sites
The rich culture of Spain is a product of Moorish, Celtic and Roman influences. The history of this culture is written in the many ancient buildings still standing. A monument to the Roman occupation of Spain is the Aqueduct of Segovia. It has been supplying water to the community of Segovia since 50 AD. If you enjoy historic sites, the hanging houses in the medieval town of Cuenca will fill you with joy. The ancient Roman city of Barcelona is a blend of ancient and futuristic architecture, intense social life, and avant garde cuisine. You can soak yourself in history as you explore Barcelona's Gothic Quarter. Bilbao is home to the Guggenheim Museum, and its Old Town features quaint streets with loads of atmosphere, traditional snack (pintxo) bars and a gothic cathedral.
The delightful menus of Spain
You have probably heard about tapas. They are the snack food of Spain, and an excellent way to become acquainted with the cuisine without ordering a huge plate of unknown food. Many bars give tapas away, while others charge a small price. These snacks could consist of simple plates of olives or sophisticated canapes. Dishes you should try include the meat and bean stews from the northern region of Asturias, and the pork sausage products such as longaniza, lomo, chorizo and salchichon. You should also sample local versions of paella, tortilla and gazpacho.
A range of hedonistic activities
Spain has a reputation as a destination for sun seekers, and people flock to beach resorts such as Santa Eulalia and Es Cana in Ibiza, and the Costa del Sol in Andalusia. The Costa Brava, on the northeast coast of Spain, is a popular stretch of beach where you can still find privacy for family picnics. In the summer, the ski resorts of the Pyrenees bring in the visitors, but in the south, Sierra Nevada has beaches and skiing. La Pinilla, Valdesqui and Navacerrada offer skiing close to Madrid.