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What to do in Spain: 12 ideas for your trip

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Are you planning a trip to Spain? Whatever time of year you come here, you’ll find an unusual fiesta, a unique cultural event worth experiencing, or a place which it’s just the right time to visit. We’ve got some specific ideas here for every month of the year. You’ll always have an excuse to travel.

January

Although it’s still winter in Spain, there is a place where you can forget about cold weather: the Canary Islands. With yearly average temperatures of 24°C, you can swim and sunbathe on the beaches of these volcanic islands and leave your overcoat at home. It’s also a great time for hiking in the lush natural settings of its four National Parks - maybe you’d like to see the highest peak in Spain, the Teide volcano, or explore the magical laurel forests.If you prefer mainland Spain, it’s always a delight to snuggle up to the fire in a country guesthouse in one of our mountain villages. Have a look at Spain’s most beautiful villages and choose your favourite.

Hiking in Tenerife

February

In the Valentine month, what better time to plan a romantic getaway. Did you know Spain has its own tragic legend of forbidden love? It’s the story of the Lovers of Teruel, Diego and Isabel. This town in Aragon celebrates the fiesta of the Wedding of Isabel de Segura in February, recreating the 13th-century medieval setting in the streets, with scenes of the story of the lovers. But if you’re less interested in romance and more in a fun trip for a group of friends, Carnival usually falls in February, and there are plenty of famous Carnivals in Spain. Two examples: Carnival in Cadiz (Andalusia) is fun and playful, made unique by the comparsas, groups which sing satirical ditties in the streets. And Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands), with its colourful costumes.

Re-enactment of the Lovers of Teruel

March

March in Spain is impossible to imagine without the fiesta of Las Fallas, in Valencia (Region of Valencia). For the week around 19 March the city is full of enormous papier-mâché monuments, called ninots, often satirising local politicians and current affairs, which will eventually be burned in bonfires. It’s a unique and visually striking spectacle. The week also features plenty of outdoor concerts, amazing fireworks every night, and a very enjoyable festive atmosphere.Of course, this month is the official start of spring, a season of spectacular blossoms in Spain, not least in the Jerte Valley (Extremadura), where in late March and early April over a million and a half cherry trees burst into bloom.

Traditional costume for the Fallas in Valencia

April

Depending on the year, Easter falls in March or April, and is celebrated all over Spain. This is a religious festival with different traditions in every town, most of them carrying processional sculptures through the streets, and can be a very moving experience. This month also brings the Feria de Abril or Seville Fair (Andalusia), with hundreds of stands filling the city’s fairground with festivity, music, flamenco costumes and dancing. Although many of the stands, or casetas, are private, there are plenty of public ones where you can get the same experience. You can also take the opportunity to explore the city, with such impressive sights as the Moorish bell tower La Giralda, and the Real Alcázar fortress. People often say “Seville has a special colour”. Come and find out why.

Easter in Almería

May

May is called the month of flowers, when spring brings an explosion of colour. And if there’s a city which celebrates this month more than any other, it’s Cordoba (Andalusia). They hold many different flower festivals, from the Battle of Flowers to the May Crosses and the Railings and Balconies competition, but the most famous is the Festival of the Courtyards, recognised by UNESCO as part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. What’s it about? The courtyards or patios of many of the houses in the historic town centre are decorated with countless flowerpots bursting with blooms, and they open their doors to the public in a competition to see which is the prettiest. You can smell jasmine and orange blossom, listen to flamenco, and of course, visit the city’s sublime Great Mosque, one of the most impressive heritage buildings in Spain, evoking the Islamic past of Al-Ándalus.

Courtyards in Cordoba

June

Mark the night of 23 - 24 June in your diary, because that’s when Spain celebrates midsummer and the night of San Juan. In this fire festival just after the summer solstice, it’s traditional to jump over a bonfire and make a wish. There are some towns where this fiesta is even more special: A Coruña (Galicia) and Alicante-Alacant (Region of Valencia). In A Coruña, over 100,000 people gather on Riazor and Orzán beaches, and in Alicante, more than 200 papier-mâché monuments are created to be ceremonially burned on 24 June in the night of the Cremà.June is also the start of the music festival season, with events like Sónar in Barcelona (Catalonia). Don't stop the music!

San Juan bonfire in A Coruña

July

July in Spain means the world-famous fiesta of San Fermín, held in Pamplona (Navarra) on the days around 7 July. Everybody wears white with a red neckerchief, and thousands of people gather to share the festive atmosphere, the tension of the bull-running, fireworks, music and more. But there are many more fiestas this month, such as the Moors and Christians Festival of Vila Joiosa-La Villajoyosa, and the music festivals continue, notably FIB in Benicàssim (both in the Region of Valencia).

Benicàssim International Festival (FIB)

August

This month is a great time for swimming and sunbathing on our beaches, but you can also go scuba diving in some of the best diving locations in Spain: Mar de Las Calmas on El Hierro (Canary Islands), Cabo de Palos in Murcia, and the Medes Islands in Girona (Catalonia). The Medes in particular are an absolute paradise for divers. Get ready to see coral, caves and tunnels, hundreds of different species, and even a sunken ship, the Reggio Messina.And of course August is peak fiesta season in Spain, including quirky events like La Tomatina (in Buñol, Region of Valencia, a fun “battle” where everybody hurls over 150,000 kilos of ripe tomatoes at each other); the Viking Procession (in Catoira, Galicia), evoking the invasions of the Viking warriors on their longships; and the International Descent of the River Sella, one of the world’s oldest kayak races, between Arriondas and Ribadesella (in Asturias).

Cabo de Palos, Region of Murcia

September

In September the weather is still summery but a little cooler, making it a great time for hiking or touring in Spain. The most famous route? Undoubtedly, St James’ Way, also known as the Camino de Santiago, an itinerary through northern Spain to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (Galicia) where you’ll meet people, find yourself, discover amazing landscapes and heritage… It’s a unique experience. This month also brings one of Spain’s most important cultural events: the San Sebastian International Film Festival. International film stars, lots of glamour, and a unique moment to explore this lovely city in the Basque Country.

Roman Bridge on St James Way

October

It’s grape harvest time, and two perfect destinations for this season are the neighbouring regions of La Rioja and La Rioja Alavesa. In autumn the vast expanses of vineyards turn yellow and ochre, and the sunsets are a dream. This area produces exquisite wines, and the best way to taste them is to visit any of the famous wineries offering tours, such as Marqués de Riscal with its avant-garde building designed by Frank Gehry, in Elciego. You can also go to the Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture, try out a vinotherapy treatment, or even soar over the vineyards in a hot-air balloon… You’ll love this trip.

Vineyard at sunset

November

Autumn is at its most picturesque when we can smell chestnuts roasting, enjoy wild mushrooms cooked dozens of different ways, or stroll through fairy-tale beech forests. One area where you’ll find a lot of activities on offer is the Ambroz valley, a beautiful enclave in the north of the Extremadura region. Every year its “Magical Autumn” programme includes guided tours through leafy beech and oak forests, tastings of traditional local specialities, stargazing sessions, craft markets, live music, and more.

The river Ambroz, in the Ambroz Valley (Extremadura)

December

It’s the Christmas season, and the whole country decorates the streets with lights. A special place to enjoy the atmosphere and get some Christmas shopping? The city of Madrid, for its Christmas lights, ice rinks, elaborate Nativity scenes, famous Christmas markets like the one in Plaza Mayor, and events like New Year’s Eve. On the night of 31 December, huge crowds gather around the clock on Puerta del Sol square, and eat 12 grapes as the bells ring at midnight. And the evening of 5 January brings the spectacular parade of the Three Kings, or Magi, a magical moment for children, who get their Christmas presents the next day. You’ll love the atmosphere in Madrid over these days.

Fireworks in Madrid