My first trip to Spain
It's always a good time to travel to Spain. That's because this country in southern Europe has all the ingredients to make your visit an unforgettable experience. Cities which bear the marks of a rich mixture of cultures, monuments and natural spaces awarded the World Heritage designation by the UNESCO, some of the world's most important museums, beaches to suit everybody, a pleasant climate all year round, the healthy Mediterranean diet, typically Spanish traditions such as flamenco and bullfighting... You'll find it very easy to get here thanks to the multitude of international connections available in Spain. Let yourself be captivated by the Mediterranean character and by the openness and friendliness of its people. Surrender to the magic of its streets. This is a place where life is always enjoyed to the utmost.
Before you come
Most of the territory of Spain (over 47 million inhabitants and with its capital in Madrid) is located on the Iberian Peninsula, although the country also has two archipelagos (the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands) and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, on the coast of Africa.
All these areas are perfectly connected by means of a wide-ranging and comprehensive transport network (you can reach Spain and move around once there by plane, train, boat, car…) which means that in very little time you can get to major cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Zaragoza, Santiago de Compostela, Valencia…
Spain is one of the warmest countries in Europe, and has over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. The Canary Islands, due to their geographic location, have an annual temperature of 22°C along the coastline.
Exceptional art and culture
Centuries of history have left behind a spectacular array of monuments. It's no coincidence that Spain is the country with the second greatest number of UNESCO-designated World Heritage sites. What's more, in its over 1,400 museums you'll find masterpieces by great artists such as Goya, Picasso and Velázquez, genuine symbols of Spanish culture.
There are numerous cultural sites in all the major cities which no visitors should miss. In Madrid, visitors should make a point of heading for what is known as the 'Paseo del Arte' or 'art avenue', an itinerary which starts at one of the world's most important galleries: the Prado Museum. Barcelona (in the northeast of the country) is another key site – this city is a paradise of Modernism thanks to some of the works created here by the famous architect Gaudí, including the Sagrada Familia cathedral and Güell Park. In southern Spain you'll be captivated by the great Mosque of Cordoba, considered the most important Islamic work in the Western world, and by the gardens and palaces of the Alhambra in Granada, one of the most visited monuments in Spain. Seville and its cathedral, Valencia and its City of Arts and Sciences, Bilbao and its Guggenheim Museum… these are just a few other examples of places to take your breath away.
And if you enjoy attending top-flight cultural events, then don't miss key occasions such as the theatre festivals held in Mérida and Almagro, and film festivals such as the one in San Sebastián.
If there's one thing Spain is famous for, it's for the lively atmosphere to be found in its streets at any time of the day or night. During the day you can choose between enjoying a drink or snack at any of the numerous open-air cafes and bars, going shopping… The major shopping centres are open all day between approximately 10 am and 10 pm at night, and department stores and shopping centres are also open on certain Sundays throughout the year. What's more, in coastal areas in the high season, most establishments usually remain open until after 10 pm. And remember, the official currency in Spain is the euro.
In this Mediterranean country, and particularly in the cities from Thursday to Sunday, the nightlife is particularly intense. The pubs and discos are open until three in the morning, and in some cases through till dawn. There are also numerous other options available, such as taking in a flamenco show or a musical…
And all year round, if you enjoy being part of traditional events and experiencing typical celebrations, Spain is the place to be: the carnival celebrations in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Cadiz (in February), Easter week (in March-April), the Fallas bonfire festival (in March) and the bull-running in San Fermín (in July) are just a few of the festivities which are famous throughout the world.
Here you'll find almost 8,000 kilometres of coastline with some of the best beaches imaginable. You'll be able to bathe in transparent waters, the quality of which is closely monitored and recognised all over the world. The coast will surprise you with its variety: from the peaceful sands of Andalusia and the Mediterranean, including the coves of the Balearic and Canary Islands, and the natural landscapes and cliffs surrounding the beaches in the north.
Spain is also one of the countries with the greatest number of spaces holding the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation, and is home to areas of great beauty and ecological value like its 14 national parks, all containing a wealth of treasures such as marshes, volcanoes…
Yes to sports
Spain as a country is completely dedicated to sports, and this is the reason it hosts several international sporting competitions such as the Madrid Tennis Open, the Grand Prix motorcycle racing events in Jerez (Andalusia), Catalonia, Region of Valencia and Aragon, and the Formula 1 prizes held in Catalonia and Region of Valencia. Spain's football league is known as the 'league of stars'. What's more, Spain is the birthplace of some world's top sportsmen, such as Rafa Nadal, Fernando Alonso, Jorge Lorenzo, Alberto Contador...
Thanks to its love of sports, Spain offers a whole range of spaces where you can enjoy indulging your favourite sport: nautical activities, golf (it has over 400 golf courses), skiing (Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe), hiking…
Eating in Spain is a genuine privilege, as it's home to products of unbeatable quality, many of which have been awarded their own designation of origin. This country is also the cradle of prestigious chefs such as Ferrán Adriá, Arzak and Berasategui, so you can be sure to have no shortage of restaurants to choose from. You can also visit wineries and learn all about wine tasting as you sample some of Spain's best-known wines.
Remember that lunch is usually served between 1 pm and 3:30 pm, and dinner between 8:30 pm and midnight, although many establishments offer service all day long. When ordering, you can either opt for innovative new dishes or for typical dishes such as paella, gazpacho, Spanish omelette, octopus a feira, cocido (chickpea stew) or the famous tapas or pintxos. In fact 'going out tapas' is a very common custom in Spain, and involves strolling from bar to bar sampling delicious canapés and the house specialities in each place.
A country steeped in sensations
Spain is all this and much more. A country known for its friendliness, luminosity and its good-natured high spirits. This is a country which knows how to combine tradition with modernity. For this reason numerous film stars and major royal figures have made their residence here. And that's the reason that famous directors such as Woody Allen choose Spain as the setting for their films. That's also why thousands of pilgrims come here every year to set out on the famous pilgrim route known as the Way of Saint James. Because Spain is the place to be.
Things to remember:
If you have any queries about your trip, don't hesitate to ask for information in various different languages at any of the tourist offices throughout the country. You can also obtain tourist cards which will entitle you to discounts during your stay and will also help you save time. We recommend checking our practical tips for more information.
Alle rettigheter er forbeholdt. Turespaña / Segittur © 2013
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