City breaks in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga and Bilbao

It is always a good moment to come to Spain. Whether you come to spend your summer holidays, or just a few days, there are endless possibilities to be found in all corners of the country. Our suggestion here is a short break to one of Spain's five great capitals: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville and Malaga. They are very different cities, but all enchanting for their wealth, heritage and vitality.

Madrid: a historic, fun, capital city

Tradition, vitality, art, enjoyment and majesty. You only have to take a stroll around the centre of Madrid to feel the dynamism and joy that overflow in the capital, an open, welcoming city where there are people from every corner of Spain living. Discover the city's lively streets, with traditional shops alongside the most modern design, jewellery and fashion outlets as well as boutiques from the most prestigious international brands. Besides shopping, there are also the city's traditional taverns where you can sample tapas and enjoy their lively street-terraces. The positive spirit can be felt all the more by night, when thousands of bars, nightclubs, theatres and shows open their doors. These leisure activities go hand in hand with the city's artistic offerings, surprising for its architectural wealth and a packed cultural agenda. It has a huge historic heritage. This becomes clear in the city's old town - the Asturias neighbourhood, a beautiful area with old palaces, churches and hidden squares whose special atmosphere will take you back in time. A stroll down the Paseo del Prado, where you will find three of the world's most prestigious art galleries, is also a must: the Prado Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and the Reina Sofía National Art Centre, home to a host of priceless treasures.

Barcelona: Mediterranean avant-garde

Barcelona is an avant-garde, cosmopolitan city, where design and the latest trends are par for the course in its shops, its cultural agenda, its bars and its restaurants. It is a city of contrasts: coast and mountains, progress and tradition. A modern city, proud of its history, its past and its heritage. It is also an Olympic city, continuously evolving, that is very conscious of its roots, with a special personality that captivates all who discover it. The blue waters of the Mediterranean and the green forests of Tibidabo and Montjuïc, the special light of its streets and avenues, its commerce, its port and the narrow streets of its old town give Barcelona a unique flavour. To get to know this special atmosphere, make sure you walk down La Rambla, a delightful avenue of kiosks and flower stalls, terrace-bars and living statues that will seduce from the very first moment. This unique character also extends to the Barri Gótic (the Gothic neighbourhood), where you will find a multitude of hidden squares, palaces, churches, and medieval streets where time seems to have stood still. Of course, no visit would be complete without admiring the work of the wonderful architect Gaudí, a unique legacy of worldwide renown that includes buildings such as the Sagrada Familia Church, Batlló House and Milà House ("La Pedrera"), on the busy Passeig de Gràcia street; and not forgetting the Güell Park. They are wonderful works of art that reflect the spirit of the Catalonian capital in a very special way.

Seville, Malaga and Bilbao - a host of possibilities

Andalusia's passion, its strong, warm light, its hospitality, friendly people and its deep-rooted traditions all come together perfectly in Seville. The capital of Andalusia has its own special magic. The Santa Cruz neighbourhood, with its whitewashed houses, iron-barred windows and delightful interior courtyards, full of flowers, refuges from the midday heat; the Triana neighbourhood; the tiles that adorn Plaza de España Square; a plate of fried fish alongside the Guadalquivir River; an authentic flamenco show in any of the city's many tablaos (flamenco halls)… All these await you in Seville. This spontaneity, joy and vitality can also be found 200 kilometres to the east, in Malaga, Pablo Picasso's birthplace, captivating for its excellent year-round climate, its wonderful golf courses, and the beaches that can be found the whole length of the Costa del Sol.

There are other charms to be found in the north of Spain. On the Cantabrian coast is Bilbao, where the traditional old town meets the avant-garde Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Sampling delicious pintxos in any one of its many taverns is a must, as is getting to know the surrounding area, with beaches and fishing villages such as Bermeo or Lekeitio.

There are endless treasures to be found in Spain's major cities. Art, gastronomy, shopping, incessant cultural activity, local people and an age-old heritage are just a few of them. There is always an excuse to visit Spain. Come and discover it.

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