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Spain is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Europe. In 2016 nearly 18 MILLION British people visited Spain and it was also the third most visited country in the WORLD, not just Europe, which is pretty impressive. I know that Spain can have a bit of a bad rep in some respects. People have this idea of it being all package holidays and “sun, sex and suspicious parents”. But that is only a tiny, TINY part of what Spain has to offer.
Spain offers a huge variety of amazing experiences to the keen traveller, and it also happens to be one of the easiest places to travel around. The language is relatively easy to pick up (at least the basics), and English is commonplace in the tourist quarters. But what can you do to ensure that you are having the kind of traditional Spanish holiday that you really want? Let’s have a look at some ideas.
Things to Consider for Your Trip to Spain
Where to Visit in Spain
It is rare for a country to have such a wonderful countryside and so many glorious cities all in one, but Spain truly does have it all. The great thing here is that you have so many options to choose from, and if you want your Spain trip to be as successful as possible it is definitely worth trying to find a healthy combination of the two.
You could be visiting the wonderful city of Barcelona, or perhaps Madrid or Valencia, in the morning, and then exploring the astounding wilderness in the evening. There’s a little for everyone, you won’t be able to see it all in one go, but you can definitely get a taste.
The typical party and package holiday sites are places like Benidorm, Malaga, Alicante, Magaluf etc. For the city slickers, Bilbao, Madrid, Seville and Barcelona are all great choices. Then of course there’s the Spanish stretch of the camino trail which will show you the very best of the countryside. Costa Brava is a great coastal region for small towns, sea and sun. There really are far too many areas to name!
Where to Stay in Spain
If you want to see Spain in all its glory, you will need to think carefully about where you are going to stay. There are so many options that it can be overwhelming, but if you are truly after something traditionally Spanish then villas are the best way to go. If you’re doing the camino you’ll likely end up in all the usual guest houses or hostels along the road.
Paradores are a beautiful, more luxurious option if you come across one. They are usually located in an old church or castle and are quite exclusive as there are less than 100 of them in Spain. All the major cities have the same hotels you’d expect to see in any city. If you can, try to stay in a Spanish hotel chain such as NH hotels (I l000vvvveee them).
Things to See and do in Spain
You really need to make sure you see plenty of traditional and historical sights if you want to feel you have had the full Spanish experience. There is so much that you can do to ensure this, but a good way to begin is to try and stay in the city (at least for a couple of days), and find your way to some of the museums and art galleries to understand the history a bit more. Check out the Guggenheim in Bilbao.
Architecture is also a HUGELY important part of Spain, thanks to people like Gaudi. The Sagrada Família in Barcelona is breath-taking. People often take in a flamenco show while visiting spain, you’ll find flamenco clubs and schools across the country. If you’re into football, of course, catch a game in Madrid.
If you like excitement and something completely different, then try and be in Spain for the famous Tomatina festival in Bunol! If you want something immersive then how about learning Spanish in Spain? This is just a FRACTION of the possibilities that a Spanish holiday holds for you. If I tried to name them all I’d be here all day!
What to Eat in Spain
As a vegetarian I was worried about the food options in Spain, but actually, it’s not a bad country at all for vegetarians. They do love their meat but there’s plenty of great fresh veg, eggs (The Spanish omelette, hello!), cheese, potatoes etc.
Tapas is probably what most people think about when Spanish food is mentioned. I love these little bite sized portions. Patatas Bravas are my absolute fav, but I love the spicy chillis and fresh tomatoes in olive oil too.
Instead of the more touristy (yet delicious) sangria, try a glass of tinto do verano. It’s a Spanish favourite and consists of red wine, lemonade and occasionally some vermouth. Paella is another Spanish classic and can contain seafood, chorizo, chicken or pretty much anything you want to mix in with the gold rice and veg.
At most breakfast buffets you’ll find a tomatoey spread made from tomatoes and olive oil. Put it on some crusty bread and you’ll be in heaven. Speaking of olive oil, Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the WORLD, so definitely bring a few bottles back! It’s cheaper and so much better than the stuff you find at home.
For dessert make sure to pick up a pot of churros with some chocolate sauce or coffee, or a traditional flan. Anyway, I could dedicate a whole blog post to this so I’m going to wrap it up now.
With the above taken into account, there is no reason you will not enjoy your Spanish holiday. Get into the traditions and really see why it is so popular – you won’t be able to see it all, but I guess you’ll just have to book another visit 😉