Beautiful cities such as Seville, Valencia, Madrid, Barcelona and Granada should be on your itinerary however don’t think the cities are all there is to see! The beautiful Mediterranean coast, mountainous Basque region and the plains around Madrid all provide ample stomping ground for us travellers to see and explore a different aspect of this stunning country.
Spain boasts almost 8,000 kilometres of coastline where travellers can discover quaint little fishing villages or the grand seaside towns of the north. It is also home to the unspoiled coves lapped with blue-turquoise water nestled between forests, like the ones in the Balearic Islands, and pristine, volcanic beaches in the Canary islands or the white sand beaches of the Mediterranean.
Art, History and Culture are fundamental features for most travellers when planning a trip to Spain. Aspects of famous artists such as Picasso, Dali and Miro are found throughout Spain. Culturally Spain has something special to offer its visitors of each region. Spanish cuisine is famous the world over because it is flavoursome, healthy, traditional, creative and varied, and also because of its popular restaurants and fine dining, as demonstrated by the international recognition of its chefs. A visit to Spain offers the freshest array of tapas, paella and ham, accompanied by Spanish wines and sangria.
When to visit
Spain is a country with a mild climate all year round but still preserves its seasonal contrasts.
High Season (Jun–Aug): Daytime temperatures are usually over 30 degrees centigrade. In inland areas and in the south, temperatures may be over 20 degrees at night. The north has a milder climate with cooler temperatures.
Shoulder (Mar–May, Sep & Oct): this is the best season for visiting Spain. There are more hours of sunshine for enjoying the outdoors during strolls, evenings on the terraces, nature getaways.
Low Season (Nov–Feb): Generally it is cold in central Spain; rain in the north and northwest. Mild temperatures in Andalucía and the Mediterranean coast. Great season to enjoy ski resorts.
Main International Airports in Spain are
Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (Madrid) The Metro is 30 minutes to the centre and runs from 6.05am to 1.30am; the Exprés Aeropuerto bus (30 to 40 minutes) runs 24 hours between the airport and Puerta de Atocha train station or Plaza de Cibeles. Private transfers take around 30 minutes depending on traffic.
El Prat Airport (Barcelona) Buses and Trains take 30 minutes to the centre run half-hourly from 5.42am to 11.38pm. Private transfers reach the centre in 30 minutes.
Spain’s network of train and bus services is one of the best in Europe and there aren’t many places that can’t be reached using one or the other. The tentacles of Spain’s high-speed train network are expanding rapidly, while domestic air services are plentiful over longer distances and on routes that are more complicated by land. Renfe is the excellent national train system that runs most of the services in Spain.
The romantically inclined could opt for an opulent and slow-moving, old-time rail adventure with numerous options across the peninsula.
Al- Andalus his is a luxurious train journey that loops through Andalucía, taking the slow route between Seville, Ronda, Granada and Córdoba among other stops. Options vary from three to six nights.
Transcantabarico train for a journey on a picturesque narrow-gauge rail route, from Santiago de Compostela (by bus as far as O Ferrol) via Oviedo, Santander and Bilbao along the coast, and then a long inland stretch to finish in León. The food is exceptional, with some meals being eaten on-board but most in various locations.
A number of cities have introduced public bicycle systems with dozens of automated pick-up and drop-off points. These schemes involve paying a small subscription fee, which then allows you to pick up a bicycle at one location and drop it off at another.
Most of the major cities have excellent local transport. Madrid and Barcelona have extensive bus and metro systems, and other major cities also benefit from generally efficient public transport. By European standards, prices are relatively cheap.
Madrid has the country’s most extensive metro network. Barcelona has a reasonable system. Valencia, Zaragoza, Bilbao and Seville have limited but nonetheless useful metro (or light rail) systems. Tickets must be bought in metro stations (from counters or vending machines), or sometimes from estancos (tobacconists) or newspaper kiosks.
Self drive holidays give you the freedom to explore your own way in your own time. No early starts, no crowds or being herded around. Main roads in Spain are sealed and in good condition. To rent a car in Spain you have to have a licence, be aged 21 or over and, for the major companies at least, have a credit card with you. The widest choice of car-hire depot is at Barcelona, Madrid airports and main cities.
- Planning to hire a car in Spain? Be aware travellers from other countries than EU should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP).
- Cover shoulders, torso and thighs when visiting churches and other religious monuments.