Spain is a highly popular travel destination with beautiful sunny days and countless sandy beaches. Other world-famous specialties of the country include the pintxos of the Basque Country, Andalusian flamenco, Rioja wines, Catalan cava, Valencian paella and of course the cultural attractions of Madrid in central Spain - the list goes on and on.
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The array of Spanish holiday destinations is huge. Spain is first and foremost a popular beach destination combining clean seas, well-maintained sandy beaches and guaranteed sunshine. The Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca are the most famous of the beach resorts of the country.
Spain contains interesting metropolises that enable you to combine buzzing city life with a beach holiday. One such destination is Barcelona, which is known for the surreal architecture of Antoni Gaudi and the narrow alleys of El Gòtic. Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain is also a perfect fit for a beach holiday. The third biggest city in Spain combines modern architecture with centuries-old gothic buildings. Moreover, Malaga in Andalusia is yet another city with beaches in the central areas. During the past few years, Malaga has gained new museums, such as the Museo Carmen Thyssen, which has turned the rugged port city into an important art destination. And don’t forget that Pablo Picasso himself comes from the city.
The capital of Spain, Madrid, is the buzzing center of the country with a superior selection of art, architecture, sports events, festivals, nightlife and gastronomy. Bilbao in northern Spain gained a strong footing as a prime holiday destination after the opening of the Guggenheim museum in the city. In addition to arts, the city is famous for its selection of high-quality restaurants, with several Michelin-starred establishments among them. Many visitors of Bilbao combine the beach destination San Sebastián to their itinerary. San Sebastián is situated some 100 kilometers away from Bilbao. The capital of Andalusia, Sevilla, is architecturally a unique location with amazingly well-preserved masterpieces of the Moorish and Gothic construction styles.
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There are several distinct climate types in mainland Spain. While in northern Spain it is mild in the summer and cold in the winter in, the central and southern regions are mild in the winter and hot in the midsummer.
The Basque Country, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Navarra belong to the aforementioned colder area of northern Spain. The summer months are the best time to travel there, as the temperatures are at their highest and the sun is shining the most. For example, San Sebastián is a perfect beach destination for anyone who doesn’t like scorching sunshine. In the Basque Country, the highest daily temperatures in the hottest summer months are between 20 – 25 °C. Spring and autumn, from October to May, is a season with plenty of rain and often snow during the winter months.
Cities like Madrid, Sevilla or Barcelona are suitable holiday destination all year round. Bear in mind, however, that mid-summers between July and August may be extremely hot in the cities. Especially Madrid and Sevilla may become blazing hot in July-August, with the peak temperatures exceeding 30 °C in Madrid and close to 40 °C in Sevilla. Late autumns and early summers are great times to visit the cities, since the weather are nicely warm, and it rains seldom.
The beach season in mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands begins roughly around the beginning of May and ends in mid-October. While there may be suitably warm beach days outside this period as well, the seawater is cold outside the prime season.
In the Canary Islands, the high season is during the winter months with the highest daytime temperatures reaching 20-25 °C. The seawater temperature is close to 20 °C.
The skiing season at the Pyrenees begins in the latter parts of November and ends in mid-April. The season is slightly longer in Sierra Nevada, where the slopes are closed in May.
Based on a survey by Eurostat in 2018, the price level of Spain is below the European average on travel essentials, such as accommodation and restaurants. Also clothing is among the cheapest in Europe; shopping in Spain really pays off.
Within the country, accommodation and restaurant prices are higher in the tourist focused areas of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Madrid compared to Andalusia in the south and Costa Blanca in the southeast are cheaper.
The travel safety risks in Spain are low, based on an assessment made by the world's leading medical & travel security services company International SOS.
Generally speaking Spain is a safe country for traveling, but car thieves and pickpockets are a common nuisance in Spain. Beware of pickpockets in busy areas and public transportation especially in large cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and Sevilla, as well as busy tourist destinations such as Alicante. In such places you should abide by the following safety instructions:
- Always keep your bags closed and carry them on your front.
- Always keep your wallet in your front pocket or in a locked bag, and do not carry large sums of money with you.
- Avoid having your passport with you when out in the city. When you do have it with you, pay extra attention.
Also pay attention to traffic safety, as speeding limits and safe trailing distances between cars are often disregarded. Pedestrians should pay attention to cars when crossing the streets, as crosswalks by no means guarantee safe crossing.
Destination guides in Spain
The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona, is the second biggest city and the most popular destination of the country. In Barcelona, leisurely beach holiday is combined with the buzz if the city, which you can’t get enough of.
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Blanes is the final station along the zigzagging railroad following the coast. It is also the gateway to the popular coast of Costa Brava, with golden sand stretching all the way to the French border.
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Castelldefels near the Barcelona Airport is a summer paradise, where everything revolves around the vast fine sandy beach. People come to Castelldefels to spend a day on the beach from as far away as from Barcelona.
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Lloret de Mar is the center of hedonism in Costa Brava. While the daytime is typically spent on the beach getting a tan, the nighttime is lit by neon lights and partying till the dawn.
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Salou is a perfect fit for anyone looking for a leisurely beach holiday. Salou is also a well-suited destination for families with children, thanks to its fine sandy beach, clean streets, well-maintained parks, relaxed restaurant selection and one of the biggest amusement parks in Europe.
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In the summertime, bohemian Sitges is a lively coastal village, just 40 kilometers south of Barcelona. The liberal town is the number one gay destination in Spain, where rainbow colors mix in the busy nightlife that bubbles in the central streets of Sitges.
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Tossa de Mar is a small village on the coast of Costa Brava. Its clear waters and busy underwater life attract divers and snorkelers from as far away as from Barcelona. The town is encircled by an old fortress with a centuries-old history.
Read more: Tossa de Mar