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Spain Orientation

Bordered by the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean, Spain is in Southwestern Europe. Spain has Portugal to its west, France and the Pyrenees to its North, and Africa to its South. Spain is the second largest country in the EU.

Where to travel in Spain

Barcelona and Catalunya

Barcelona lies on the north eastern coast of Spain, within the famously independent Catalonia region. Barcelona is known as Gaudi’s city, the hotbed of Modernisme Architecture. Besides Gaudi, the highlights of Barcelona are food, football, beaches and the nightlife. The Catalunya region around Barcelona has many interesting places to visit. Montserrat is the most popular day trip from Barcelona. Also popular are Sitges and Girona.

Madrid and Castile

Madrid is the capital of Spain, located centrally and famous for its Art Walk, the excellent Museums, The Royal palace, Flamenco and Tapas. Bullfighting is still active and popular in Madrid. Around Madrid are the famous cities of Toledo and Segovia, both worth a visit.

Seville and Andalusia

Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga are the main cities in Andalusia. All have strong moorish influences still visible in day to day life. World famous monuments like the Seville Cathedral, Alhambra in Granada, and The Cordoba Cathedral Mezquita are the highlights of Andalucia. The Andalusia region is the best place to see Flamenco and go Tasca (tapas bar) hopping.

Bullfighting in Spain is still common in the small towns of the Andalusia. No visit to Andalusia is complete without trips to the smaller towns like Ronda, Cuenca, and Cadiz.

Bilbao and The Basque Country

Famous for its cuisine and fiercely independent culture, the Basque country or Galicia borders France. It has stylish coastal towns like San Sebastian, and Santander. Bilbao is famous for the Guggenheim museum. Pamplona hosts the famous bull run every July.

Valencia and Murcia

The birthplace of the Paella, and home to the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia is a fast growing destination for visitors. Around the region are beautiful coastal towns.

The Canary and Balearic Islands

Many visitors come to Spain and leave without even setting foot on mainland Spain. The Canary islands are famous for their year round warm weather, water sports, and for their beaches set against volcanic landscapes. The Balearic Islands are home to the Ibiza, famous the world over for its nightlife.

Best time to visit Spain

Spain is one of those countries you can visit at any time of the year. But the best time to visit starts in March, in the early Spring, and runs till October. July and August get very hot especially in the south (Andalusia)

Popular Spain Itineraries

Spain can be visited in 3 days or 30 days depending on your interest. A recommended, popular itinerary for Spain is:

Spain in 3 days Option 1 - Madrid / Toledo
Option 2 - Barcelona / Montserrat
Spain in 1 week Option 1 + Option 2 above
Spain in 10 days Add Sevilla and Jerez de la Frontera
Spain in 2 weeks Extend stay in Andalusia
Add Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, Malaga
Spain in 3 weeks Add Valencia, The Basque Country and Santiago de Compostela

Traveling around Spain

Spain is a large country but easy to get around, within cities and well as between cities.

Metro (Subway) Systems in main cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao, are efficient and cheap. Other cities have a good network of city buses.

Trains are the best way to travel between cities, especially the fast AVE trains which are more efficient than flying within Spain. RENFE intercity trains and Cercanías local commuter trains, along with AVE, complete the fantastic train system of Spain.

Buses are reliable where trains do not go, especially to smaller towns in regional interiors. Spain buses are comfortable, cheap and safe.

Driving in Spain is easy, if you choose to, except in the interior of old cities and towns where parking is a problem. Roads are fast and safe.

Air travel within Spain is not a preferred option by visitors, unless they are flying to the Canary or Balearic Islands.

Costs, health and safety in Spain

Spain is not as expensive as other countries in Western Europe like US, Germany, Italy and France. However in the summer, popular places in Spain do get very expensive to visit. Most museums and monuments in Spain have free hours or discounted entry for certain categories of visitors.

Travel is generally safe in Spain, from a heath as well as crime perspective. Tap water is usually drinkable unless indicated.

Spain is very child friendly, safe for single women, accommodating of senior and disabled travelers, and more and more accepting of the LGBT community.

The essence of Spain

  • Bullfighting is the classic image of Spain. Madrid and Andalusia are still big centres where you can watch a bullfight. Catalunya . Barcelona have banned the sport.
  • You cannot leave Spain without experiencing Flamenco in either Madrid or ideally in Andalusia, its birthplace. Visit Seville for the most passionate and gritty Flamenco performances.
  • Tapas is everywhere in Spain. Tapas is still free with drinks in Granada.
  • Spain has a long and textured history where Islamic, Jewish and Christian cultures mingled and created a unique identity. Moorish Spain from the times of Islamic kings is best experienced in Andalusia, especially Granada.
  • Modernisme and Barcelona are inseparable. Stalwarts like Gaudi and Lluís Domènech i Montaner have left their imprint on Barcelona with La Sagrada Familia, Palau de La Musica and many stunning examples of Modernist Architecture.
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