Millions of tourists visit Spain every year, attracted by its colorful bullfights, sunny climate, and beautiful story-book castles. In the cities, narrow twisting old streets suddenly open out to views of enthralling modern architecture, while spit-and-sawdust bars serving wine from the barrel rub shoulders with blaring, glaring discos. The country is littered with superb old buildings, from Roman aqueducts and Islamic palaces to Gothic cathedrals. Almost every second village has a medieval castle. Spain has been the home of some of the world’s great artists (including Picasso) and has museums and galleries to match. Travel is easy, accommodation plentiful, the climate benign, the people relaxed, the beaches long and sandy, the food and drink easy to come by and full of regional variety.
Madrid is Spain’s capital city. As a visitor to Madrid, you’ll invariably be drawn into the city’s stream of movement as you rush to see one more art collection, taste Castilian, Basque or Galician dishes at neighborhood restaurants or buy tickets for an evening performance. Madrid strikes a balance between constant, almost chaotic motion and uncompromising leisure. Madrilenos, as the city’s residents are called, seem always to be on the go, except when they’re taking long breaks to eat, drink and enjoy life. The first stop on any visit would be to the world-class Prado Museum, as well as a tour of the Palacio Real, official home of Spain’s royal family. Other must-sees include some of the best flamenco dance performances in the city at Cafe de Chinitas and – although not for the faint-hearted – a traditional bullfight at Las Ventas.
Barcelona offers a unique opportunity for the tourist on foot to walk from Roman remains to the medieval city, and then to the modern city with its open thoroughfares and grid-iron street pattern. A notable feature is Les Rambles – a boulevard that runs from the city center to the waterfront, thronged with crowds until late at night and lined by florists, bird sellers, street entertainers, cafeterias, and restaurants. Walking along Les Rambles one can see the world-famous opera house El Liceu, the food market of La Boqueria and the Plaça Reial (literally Royal Square), with its arches and palm trees, amongst other interesting buildings. Outstanding is the legacy of architect Antoni Gaudí, who lived and worked in Barcelona, and who left several famous works like the Palau Güell in the city’s old center, the Parc Güell at the northern tip of Gràcia, and the immense but still unfinished church of the Sagrada Família, which has been under construction since 1882 and is billed for completion in 2020.
One of the grand cities of Spain, Seville attracts many tourists due to its splendid architecture and interesting attractions. Seville’s Cathedral is popular due to its architecture, its tomb of Christopher Columbus and the attractiveness of its noted bell tower (the Giralda). Cross the square and visit the Alcazar, a stunning, well preserved, medieval Islamic palace.
Considered by many travelers as one of the most beautiful destinations in southern Spain, Cordoba is best known for its Moorish extravaganza, the Mezquita.
The foremost reason to go to Granada is to visit the magnificent Alhambra, one of the great sights of Europe, built by the Moors in the 13th century. The complex of palaces, fortress and gardens is simply not to be missed. Viewing the Court of the Lions by moonlight is one of the great experiences in the world – something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Costa del Sol
Costa del Sol has some of the finest beaches in Spain. This famous area stretches 170 km along the Mediterranean from Motril (east of Malaga) to Gibraltar. The scenery is great and some of the towns are quite striking, especially Malaga. Deep-sea fishing and sailing are popular in the waters off the coast.
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