An Introduction To Spain
Sangria & Sunshine...
Spain is really where my travel life started with memorable family holidays as a kid driving from the UK down through France along the route de soleil and into northern Spain destined for the coastal resorts of Sa Tuna and Aigua Blava on the Costa Brava.
Now I am no fan of bull fighting, in fact I am totally against it however I appreciate that Bulls are as symbolic to Spain as Sangria or Sunshine. Back in the 70’s I was a young boy in the back seat of the family car and I vividly recall, just after crossing the France/Spain border, the site of a giant bull silhouette that greeted us into Spain. This I now know was one of the many Osborne Bulls, which in those days advertised alcohol but today with the advertising banned it is just a symbol of Spain and they are even protected under law.
With its sunny climate and thousands of years of history, Spain is a dream travel destination for many. Its vast landscapes and mountain ranges attract those in search of adventure, the world-famous coastline for the sun worshippers, the majestic golf courses for the sports fanatics, the iconic cities oozing culture, art and style and then there is the legendary island life and all that it brings of the Canary and Balearic Islands.
Whatever attracts you to this glorious country, I have always loved the real Spain….except the bull fighting!
One important point to remember is that all public transport in Spain is dramatically reduced on Sundays and public holidays
Spanish trains, are efficient and comfortable, and nearly always run on time. The best way to travel long distances in Spain is to book the high speed train or AVE which runs between many major cities. A train ride from Madrid to Barcelona or to Seville covers about 500km in just 2hrs 40 minutes.
Buses will probably meet most of your transport needs, especially if you’re venturing away from the larger towns and cities. Many smaller villages and rural areas are only accessible by bus, almost always originating in the capital of their province.
Spain has an extensive system of highways, both free and with tolls and driving is easy and enjoyable. Car Rental is available at airports, train stations and in major cities with prices reasonable.
Bike rental is popular in the major cities and rental is common. Outside towns and cities, cycling is a great way to see parts of the country although bear in mind that Spain is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe and at times can be searingly hot.
Anyone heading from the Spanish mainland to the Balearic Islands will probably do so by ferry or catamaran express ferry (from Alicante, Barcelona, Dénia or Valencia. There is also an extensive network of internal Spanish flights. From the UK there are of course many regional options to mainland Spain as well as the Balearic and Cary Islands.
14 Top Sights & Attractions...
The largest city in Spain’s Basque Country, Bilbao lies on an estuary making the surrounding hills, parks and riverbanks fertile and green. The Guggenheim Museum is Bilbao’s city symbol and features modern and contemporary art with a maritime twist.
Laying on the banks of the Tormes River on Spain’s Northern Plateau the city is considered to be one of the most beautiful Renaissance cities in Europe.
One of the most popular cities to visit in the Castilla La Mancha region of Spain and famous for its casas colgades – or hanging houses built over the clifftops. Full of churches, a cathedral, and a castle connected by the meandering streets of its medieval old town.
It took me 50 years to visit Ibiza and it completely blew me away but not because of the music scene which is of course the stuff of legends. The third largest of the Balearic Islands is quite rocky and rugged but also full of pretty bays and beaches. The little villages of the interior, the regular festivals, and high quality restaurants are very special.
Santiago de Compostela
The capital city of the Galicia region in northwestern Spain, Santiago de Compostela is famous as the final destination of the traditional pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago
The “City of Three Cultures” Toledo is a popular destination for its historic art and architecture that dates back to the Roman Empire. Explore the medieval streets and admire the old architecture that includes stunning cathedrals, synagogues and mosques as well as a remarkable old Roman fortress.
One of the oldest towns in Europe this charming small town has all the historic and cultural attractions of a bustling metropolis. The historic quarter of Cordoba is a maze of tiny medieval streets, plazas and whitewashed courtyards all based around the Mezquita cathedral.
San Sebastian is the capital of the Gipuzko province, located in the Basque country of North Spain off the coast of the Bay of Biscay. This beautiful seaside city is well-loved for its excellent beaches and outstanding culinary tradition. The city is also famous for the San Sebastian Film Festival and the Jazz Festival.
One of the largest and most important cities in Spain, Valencia is located in the eastern part of the country in the region of Valencia. After several years of major construction and renovation, Valencia today is famous for its Fallas Festival and the City of Arts and Sciences architectural masterpiece.
Exceptional tourist attractions, lively festivals and buzzing nightlife all make Seville the top destination in Southern Spain. As the capital city of Andalusia, Seville is also the region’s financial and cultural capital. Seville is home to many beautiful and important historic landmarks, chief of which is the grand Cathedral of Seville, where it is believed that Christopher Columbus is buried.
Spain’s capital and largest city, Madrid, is widely known for its lively nightlife. There are a number of universities and the city constitutes a diversity of ethnic groups, making it one of Europe’s most colorful cosmopolitan cities.Located within the city center are most of Madrid’s most popular tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace, the residence of Spain’s monarch, as well as churches, historic landmarks, beautiful parks, zoos, the Bernabeu football stadium home to Real Madrid, museums, art galleries and concerts.
The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Mallorca is surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean, with jagged cliffs, secluded coves, and beautiful beaches lining its shores. Blessed with great weather and home to the stylish and popular main city and capital, Palma de Mallorca with its winding narrow streets and centuries-old buildings beneath its exquisite Gothic cathedral.
Located in northeastern Spain, Barcelona is one of the country’s top cities to visit. Whether it is the shopping, the vibrant culture or the buzzing nightlife there is something for everyone. Ciutat Vella, the Old City, is the Gothic Quarter with its beautiful, old churches, Roman ruins or cobblestone streets lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants. Other sites include La Placa Catalunya, La Rambla, a tree-lined pedestrian avenue or Barceloneta, one of the city’s most popular beaches. One of Spain’s most famous architects is Antoni Gaudi, and his designs are found at the famous Sagrada Familia and the Casa Batllo.
Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains of southern Spain, Granada is the capital of the Granada province. Offering a perfect blend of spectacular attractions, traditional cultures, animated nightlife and the home of the Alhambra, a Moorish Palace and Fort.