Spain really does have it all, from incredible landscapes and beaches, to world-famous cuisine and rich history – not to mention fantastic museums and striking architecture. Here are just a few reasons why you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
Spain may be renowned for its beaches and sunny climes, but it is a country of diverse landscapes. Its mountains are majestic, from the northern Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa to the Sierra Nevada in the south (home to Europe’s most southerly ski resort) and the Mount Teide volcano on the Canary Island of Tenerife. Spain is home to Europe’s only desert, Cabo de Gata in Almería, which inspired Hollywood spaghetti westerns, many of which were filmed in the area.
Amazing adventure activities
From the one of the world’s scariest footpaths to a zip line between Spain and Portugal, the opportunities are endless in Spain if you want an adrenaline kick. Skiing and snowboarding, scuba diving and hiking are all world class, while Spain’s northern coastline plays host to annual surfing competitions.
You have to experience tapas in Spain at least once in your lifetime – and realise it’s probably very different from the fare offered at your local tapas restaurant back home. San Sebastián’s pintxo scene is world famous, its bars serving mouthwatering food, much of it in bite-sized portions on a slice of baguette. Order a drink in many bars around Spain and you will receive a free plate of tapas, an excellent tradition every other country should seriously think about adopting. Spain is renowned for its seafood, jamón (cured ham), abundant and fresh fruit and vegetables, which make a trip to the local market a feast for the eyes and the stomach.
From its rich Moorish past and its position as the world superpower during the Golden Age, to the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, dictatorship and the country’s successful return to democracy, Spain’s has a fascinating history that is well-preserved in its buildings and museums. Visiting Córdoba’s mosque, one of the best examples of Moorish architecture in the world, you get a real sense of the power and creativity of Spain’s Islamic rulers, and the rich legacy they have bestowed on modern Spain.
Learn the language
Spanish is one of the world’s most widely-spoken languages and where better to learn than in the country of its birth? But in Spain, you’ll also have the opportunity to discover the country’s regional languages, from Catalan and Galician to Basque, which intriguingly, has no known linguistic relatives in Europe or the wider world and is the oldest language in Europe.
Spain is home to some beautiful islands, from the party isle of Ibiza and the volcanic landscapes of Tenerife to the peaceful Menorca and Graciosa in the Canary Islands, where the streets are made entirely of sand. The Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands attract millions of tourists every year for their beaches, incredible weather and friendly locals.
Spain has some of the world’s most famous – and wacky – festivals and fiestas, from the San Fermín running of the bulls in Pamplona and La Tomatina tomato throwing festival in Buñol, to La Rioja’s annual wine drenching festival. And as well as these more out there festivals, each Spanish town holds its own fiestas, when locals get together, dress up, eat, drink and celebrate.
Flamenco is a style of dance, singing and guitar playing that originated from the traditional music and dance styles of Andalusia, southern Spain. The rich cultural tradition is closely linked with Spain’s Romani gypsy community, who pioneered the now world-famous style. The genre is also known for its elaborate costumes, with female flamenco dancers wearing exquisitely handcrafted dresses.
Some of the world’s most famous painters hail from Spain, from Francisco de Goya to Pablo Picasso. You can discover the work of Spain’s most lauded artists in the country’s world-famous art galleries, from Madrid’s Prado and Reina Sofia to Bilbao’s modernist Guggenheim and Barcelona’s Picasso Museum. Also worth exploring are the country’s smaller museums, the Salvador Dalí museum in Figueres, Catalonia, for example, is a great homage to the surrealist painter.
Spain has nearly 5,000 km (3,107 miles) of coastline and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, with five of the country’s beaches making TripAdvisor’s top ten in Europe – Playa de Ses Illetes, on the Balearic Island of Formentera, took the top spot in 2016.
With its position in southern Europe, Spain enjoys long summers and pleasant year-round weather, making it an ideal destination if you want to catch come rays.
From Seville’s Gothic cathedral (the biggest in the world) and Gaudi’s many Barcelona masterpieces, to Frank Gehry’s iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Santiago Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain is packed full of incredible architecture that encompasses both its rich history and forward-thinking modernism.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Spain has the third most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, with 45 in total. From the ancient cave paintings of Altamira and Segovia’s Roman aqueduct, to the Alhambra fortress in Granada and the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela, the country is bursting with some of the world’s most fascinating historical and cultural sites, just waiting to be explored.
While France might be famed as Europe’s capital of wine, Spain is a dark horse and under appreciated when it comes to all things vino. The country has over 2.9 million hectares of vineyards, the most of any country in the world, and is the world’s third biggest wine producer, after France and Italy. Major Spanish wine regions include the stunning La Rioja and the Ribera del Duero. Cava, Spanish sparkling wine, is made mainly in Catalonia, while sherry comes from Jerez de la Frontera, in southern Spain.
Spain might be a Roman Catholic nation, but Spaniards also worship at the altar of football, the country’s national sport. Spain is home to two of the world’s best teams: Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, who count among their players some of the world’s most famous, including the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Watching a football match at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid or in Barcelona’s Camp Nou is an unforgettable experience for any football fan.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.