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Der Fluss Tajo in Spaniens Region Extremadura, Bild: abriendomundo / shutterstock

The most popular destinations in Spain

On the map, the Kingdom of Spain spreads out like a bullskin between neighboring France and Portugal. With its thousands of kilometres of coastline, the country is one of the most popular travel destinations. But beyond the bathing fun in the sunshine and the party hustle and bustle in the tourist hotspots, the big country on the Iberian Peninsula has much more to offer: the endless Meseta in the center, the massif of the Sierra Nevada, a unique culture and hospitable people.

Viva la Vida! Long live life!

It is probably due to the mild climate that life in Spain takes place much more outdoors than behind closed doors. Popular meeting places are the small bar or the next plaza, where you can enjoy delicious tapas with wine or sherry. Because fried small fish, homemade croquettes, small, fresh salads and pickled olives are always worth a sin.

So the time is evaluated differently in this country, impatience and hectic are foreign to most Spaniards – and so the endless number of Spanish sights only become a sightseeing delight with the necessary leisure.

From the green north to the hot south

Barcelona, Place d'Espanya
The Place d’Espanya in Barcelona, Image: Marco Rubino / shutterstock

The north of the country does not correspond to the cliché of heat-shimmering Spain at all: Refreshing rain from the Atlantic allows the famous wine of La Rioja to thrive magnificently in the hinterland. To the northwest runs the centuries-old route of the pilgrims of St. James, along the way of which there are ravishingly simple Romanesque church buildings and particularly magnificent Gothic cathedrals. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao , on the other hand, provides a fascinating counterpoint.

Catalonia in Spain’s northeast attracts visitors to the Costa Brava and the Costa Daurada with its dream beaches and rocky bays. The most dazzling personality in Catalonia is considered to be the eccentric Salvador Dalí, to whom a bizarre museum in Figueres is dedicated.

With its avant-garde scene, the city of Barcelona presents itself as a unique capital of creatives, which always sets accents with art, architecture, design and new fashion. In addition, the built fantasies of Antoni Gaudí, huge shopping streets and a glittering nightlife make Barcelona a top travel destination.

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To the south follows the Levante, a sun-drenched Garden of Eden. Lemons and oranges, almond trees, rice and sugar cane grow here. Vegetable gardens and orchards round off the opulent array of green delicacies. Beach fun and water sports of all kinds are possible on the long sandy beaches of the popular Costa Blanca and the Costa del Azahar. Incidentally, the Levante is the home of Spanish paella, the Spanish national dish with cult status.

The heart of Spain, great passion and southern temperament

Seville
View of Seville, Image: LucVi / shutterstock

Proud Castile is considered the cradle and heart of the Spanish kingdom. There, austere beauty dominates the wide, rugged meseta, where on every hill sits a fortified fort from the time of the Reconquista, in which Christians and Moors fought for every meter of land. Toledo, Avila, Segovia and Salamanca are ancient cities that house unique artistic treasures within their walls.

On the other hand, the tireless Spanish capital Madrid is not only idolized by night owls, but Madrid also shines with world-renowned museums such as the Prado. Here the visitor sees the masterpieces of Goya, Velázquez, Murillo, Zurbarán and El Greco. With the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, a golden triangle of art has been established here, which virtually overwhelms with the abundance of classical and contemporary art on offer.
Andalusia, the enchanting south of the country, stands for passion and temperament. This is where people live and celebrate particularly intensively. Flamenco is considered the voice of Andalusia: rough and throaty, it brings out the innermost part of the Spanish soul in staccato. Some sherry, along with olive oil the export hit of the south, oils the strained singing voices.

Visitors are magnetically attracted to both Granada’s Alhambra and the Umayyad Mosque of Córdoba, both shining highlights of Hispano-Muslim culture. Eight centuries of Arab dominance have created rich art treasures and a centre of scientific development of their time between Sierra Morena and Gibraltar .

The lively Seville with its art-historical buildings provided the appropriate templates for world-famous opera works such as “Don Juan” or “Carmen”. In addition, the mountains in the hinterland, including the snow-white villages, promise special travel impressions.
The Costa del Sol with its sunshine guarantee is also very popular with holidaymakers, while strong winds blow on the Costa de la Luz that make surfers’ hearts beat faster.

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Far from the beaches

Away from the beaches stretches the sparsely populated Extremadura. Many Spanish conquerors were at home here, who built grandiose cities such as Cáceres or Trujillo after their long journeys, whose stately palaces now function as stone archives of bygone times. Many remains from Roman times testify to the fact that Mérida was once the shining centre of the Roman province of Lusitania. Nature lovers will be amazed by both the unspoiled landscape and the birdlife in the Parque Natural de Monfragüe.

Spain beckons

Cala Saona, Formentera
Turquoise blue water at Cala Saona beach on Formentera, Image: D.Bond / shutterstock

The Spanish kingdom is known to have numerous islands in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Seas. They stand for the beauty of nature, relaxation and great holiday fun. The Balearic Islands are among the most popular islands, in addition to Mallorca and Ibiza, Formentera and Menorca are among them. The mild climate with around 300 days of sunshine every year and the beautiful beaches make Spain’s island world a first-class travel destination. The Canary Islands archipelago is located in the azure Atlantic southwest of Morocco and is already part of Africa, both geographically and climatically. In addition to larger islands such as Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife, the somewhat smaller ones such as La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro also await holidaymakers seeking relaxation. The Canary Islands are particularly attractive to nature lovers and sports enthusiasts – hikers and surfers in particular enjoy their holidays there.

Whether mainland or islands: the lure of all these charms made Spain one of the most popular travel destinations. The bathing strongholds of the Mediterranean coast are high on the popularity scale. However, if you want to get to know the numerous colourful facets of Spain in more detail, you should also explore the interior, where hospitality is very important and an independent art with numerous treasures, which are sometimes a little further away and want to be found, provide unique impressions.