It’s always a pleasure to visit these lands which saw the birth of the renowned painter Francisco de Goya, where enticements include skiing in its famous ski resorts and sampling the typical gastronomy of this region. If you’re a culture lover, you’ll be able to visit monasteries, castles, the various examples of Mudejar architecture with the UNESCO World Heritage designation, and monuments such as the Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Pilar. What’s more, this area of Spain also lies on the famous pilgrim route known as the Way of Saint James.
Its natural attractions include such spectacular places as the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park (ideal for adventure sports in the open air) and the Pyrenean area, the perfect place for skiing in first-rate ski resorts such as Candanchú and Formigal.
The local gastronomy features wines with their own Designation of Origin from the Somontano area, garden produce such as borage from the fertile Ebro plain, and the famous cured ham from Teruel.
This is a land famous for its arts and crafts, for the unique monuments to be seen in its towns and cities, and for being the setting for the adventures of the famous literary hero Don Quixote of La Mancha. Any trip to this area in inland Spain should definitely include a visit to its World Heritage cities such as Cuenca with its famous Hanging Houses, and Toledo with its cathedral and Alcázar fortress. If you like culture and history, you’re bound to enjoy its four Archaeological Parks, some of the oldest examples of rock art in Spain, and events such as the International Classical Theatre Festival in Almagro.
And if you opt to explore its natural landscapes, you should bear in mind that Castile–La Mancha is one of their territories in Europe with the largest number of officially designated nature reserves, nature areas and national parks, including particularly the Tablas de Daimiel and Cabañeros. You’ll love them.
Castile–La Mancha is also home to a whole host of traditional celebrations such as the Corpus Christi in Toledo, Easter Week in Cuenca, the Albacete Fair, and the Drum Festival in Hellín. And as befits a land of traditional customs, it also produces a variety of typical gastronomic products such as honey from La Alcarria and marzipan from Toledo, as well as being the site of numerous wineries where visitors can enjoy tasting a range of wines, including Valdepeñas. Have a good meal !
This is one of the destinations which offers the greatest diversity of natural landscapes in Europe, as well as spectacular monuments, a varied and abundant gastronomy… all this guarantees that this region in the interior of Spain is bound to delight you. It has a whole host of places which are well worth visiting, including towns like Avila, Salamanca and Segovia (all three World Heritage Cities) and unique attractions such as Burgos Cathedral and the Atapuerca archaeological site, which contains traces of the first settlers in Europe. The famous Way of Saint James also runs through the Castile-León region, and is one of the world’s most important pilgrim routes.
If you feel like treating yourself to some truly spectacular scenery you can choose from any of the nearly 40 protected natural spaces such as the Picos de Europa National Park, where you’ll see some of Spain’s finest Atlantic forests. All these areas are perfect for climbing, cycle touring, kayaking… And for a relaxing walk, why not try Las Médulas, the largest open-air golden mine excavated during the period of the Roman Empire?
And when it comes to good food, the Castile-León region specialises in traditional hearty fare, with such typical dishes as roast milk-fed lamb, black sausage, “botillo” (stuffed cured meat), roast suckling pig… and first-rate wines such as those from the Ribera de Duero region. Simply delicious!
Madrid is synonymous with culture and street life. The capital city is home to some of the most frequently visited museums in Spain, and its surroundings offer the chance to visit several outstanding monumental sites.
The city of Madrid is open and welcoming, modern yet traditional, stately yet popular, lively yet peaceful… But more than anything else it is a cultural paradise. It is home to what is known as the Triangle of Art, which contains within a limited area the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Art Centre and the Thyssen-Bornesmiza Museum. You’ll also be able to visit such impressive monuments as the Royal Palace, places with their own particular charm like the Plaza Mayor square or the grand avenue known as the Gran Vía, or enjoy what is considered by some to be possibly the most exciting nightlife in Spain… as well as wander in large green spaces such as the Retiro Park, and drop into typical bars and taverns to sample a range of delicious tapas.
But you’ll find the Madrid Region offers much, much more. For example, the cities of Aranjuez, Alcalá de Henares and San Lorenzo del Escorial, all of which have been declared World Heritage Sites. Or small picturesque towns such as Chinchón, and the charming villages in the mountains.
It is located in eastern Spain, in the centre of the Region of Valencia and on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
The capital is the city of Valencia, which is also the regional capital. Its rich artistic and historic heritage includes particularly the Silk Exchange, with the World Heritage designation, and the ground-breaking City of Arts and Sciences. The city is also the scene of the spectacular Fallas midsummer bonfire festival, declared a Festivity of International Tourist Interest. This same distinction has been awarded to another of the festivities in the province, the Tomatina tomato battle in Buñol. Also recommended are a visit to the attractions of the towns of Cullera, Gandía, Requena, Sagunto and Xátiva.
Its natural attractions include over 100 kilometres of coastline, with beaches with fine golden sand. It has two nature reserves and numerous spaces for enjoying sports in the open air; the districts of Los Serranos and El Rincón de Ademuz are of particular interest. The local gastronomy is best known for rice dishes such as paella, and other typical products are horchata (tiger nut milk) and water from Valencia.
A region of contrasts where you’ll be able to visit exceptionally valuable monumental sites, enjoy a whole host of natural landscapes, and sample one of Spain’s most highly-prized cured hams.
Extremadura has three sites which have the UNESCO World Heritage designation. In Mérida, its capital, visitors should not miss exploring its archaeological site, which every summer is used as the venue for a major theatre festival. The historic quarter of the city of Cáceres is also well worth a visit, as is the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe in the surrounding area.
Another of Extremadura’s attractions is its spectacular scenery, always a particular favourite with birdwatchers. Highlights include the Monfragüe National Park, the Jerte valley and the region’s characteristic wooded pastures. A visit to the Jerte valley is highly recommended in spring, when the cherry trees are in blossom and the valleys are clothed in a blanket of white. And the pastures are used for grazing the pigs, which then go on to make the world-renowned cured ham from the Dehesa de Extremadura.
This is a land of culture, history, fiestas, nature areas and excellent food. You’ll be able to visit everything from outstanding monuments to a wide variety of different natural landscapes… and you’ll have the chance to take part in several unique popular events and sample a range of delicious gastronomic products.
One way to discover the culture of Andalusia is by exploring the sites which have been awarded the UNESCO World Heritage designation. In Granada, you’ll see the Alhambra palace, the Generalife gardens and the mediaeval Albaicín neighbourhood; in Cordoba, its historic centre with the great Mosque; in Seville, the cathedral, the Alcázar palace and the Indies Archive; and in Jaén, the monumental sites of Úbeda and Baeza. You’ll also be able to experience festivals such as Easter Week, the Carnival in Cadiz, the Rocío pilgrimage in Huelva and the April Fair in Seville.
You’ll find a variety of natural landscapes which range from the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Almería to the extensive olive groves of Jaén. You can visit the Doñana National Park –also declared a World Heritage Site–, or go skiing in the Sierra Nevada ski resort.
Finally, remember that Andalusia has a thousand different flavours waiting to be tried. From the sherries of Jerez (Cadiz) and Montilla – Moriles (Cordoba), to the classic platters of fresh fried fish known as “pescaíto frito” from Cadiz and Malaga, cured ham from Huelva and Cordoba, olive oil, and other such typical dishes as gazpacho and “salmorejo” (a kind of thicker gazpacho).
The spectacular beaches in areas such as the Costa Brava, its world-class gastronomy, and the works of famous artists such as Gaudí and Dalí all make this region one of Spain’s most popular destinations.
You’ll find so many interesting examples of culture that you won’t even know where to begin: unique buildings in Barcelona (known as “the capital of Modernism”) such as the Sagrada Familia Cathedral or the Palau de la Música Catalana Auditorium, the outstanding archaeological site at Tarraco, the monastery of Poblet in Tarragona, the churches of the Boí valley in Lleida… all declared World Heritage sites by the UNESCO. What’s more you can opt to enjoy a whole range of events thanks to the programme of world-class museums like the National Art Museum of Catalonia and the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres.
Visitors to this area in northeast Spain should also make a point of stopping off at the spectacular beaches of the Costa Dorada, Costa Barcelona and Costa Brava, with such internationally renowned resorts as Salou, Sitges, Tossa de Mar, Cadaqués, Lloret de Mar and Roses. Catalonia also has numerous marine resorts which are ideal for indulging in a whole range of water activities. And if you love mountain scenery, what could be better than an excursion to the Catalan Pyrenees (featuring ski resorts which are tailor-made for snow tourism) or to the National Park of Aigüestortes y Estany de Sant Maurici?
The fact that this region is home to some of the best restaurants in the world is guaranteed to leave you with a delicious aftertaste. Why not try some of the traditional recipes such as “pa amb tomàquet” (bread with tomato) ?
This is one of the most popular destinations in the western Mediterranean, and you’ll soon find out why. You’ll find enchanting coves, gorgeous sunsets and lush natural landscapes. You can enjoy the islands any way you want: relaxing in an atmosphere of well-deserved peace and quiet, or partying until all hours as you enjoy the islands’ wild nightlife.
These are places where you wander through the streets of fishing villages, discover outstanding natural landscapes or enjoy a range of water sports. Minorca and Formentera, two small corners of paradise in the Mediterranean, are absolute havens of tranquillity.
Majorca and Ibiza are the two largest islands. The main attractions in Majorca include its capital, Palma, the Cabrera National Park and the mountains of the Sierra de Tramontana. Ibiza, meanwhile, has been declared a World Heritage site by the UNESCO for its rich biodiversity and cultural attractions, which include the Phoenician archaeological site of Sa Caleta, the necropolis of Puig des Molins and the historic centre of Eivissa.
What’s more, the island of Ibiza is known to party-goers all over the world for its exhilarating nightlife, where the beat of the music can be heard all night long.
These islands are known for being the sunshine centre of Europe, and offer mild temperatures and a range of outstanding natural attractions. In fact, five of its seven islands have been declared a Biosphere Reserve, and the archipelago has four national parks.
Its beaches are its most outstanding attractions, and are perfect for relaxing in the sun or enjoying water sports such as windsurfing and scuba diving. In the interior you’ll find amazing landscapes which are ideal for hiking, cycle touring, climbing and even caving. Some of the most spectacular include the volcanic scenery of Lanzarote, the beaches of Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria with their sand dunes, or the green forests of La Palma and La Gomera.
The Canary Islands also offer a range of cultural options to explore, including the monumental site at San Cristóbal de La Laguna, which has been awarded the World Heritage designation by the UNESCO, and the work of César Manrique in Lanzarote. If you’re going in February you’ll also be able to enjoy the spectacular Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
This region boast over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, and its coastline is bathed by the warm waters of two seas. In fact, its coast is known as the Costa Cálida (the balmy coast), and is home to endless beaches and small coves which offer multiple options for leisure, sports and well-being.
One of the most attractive areas is La Manga del Mar Menor, the ideal destination for relaxing and enjoying the sea and the activities in its marine resort. You’ll also find long white sandy beaches such as those of San Pedro del Pinatar; unspoilt coves such as the ones in Cartagena, curious landscapes such as the rock erosions of Mazarrón, or fishing towns such as Águilas.
The region is also known for its wide range of wellness and beauty centres. Many of its beaches are considered open-air spas, due to the hyper-saline waters of the Mar Menor, and its therapeutic mud. The region is also home to several major spa resorts.
Embrace the craggy green silhouette of the Pyrenean mountains and notice how the landscape gradually changes to gentle undulations as it descends to the fertile river plain known as “la Ribera”. Smell the aroma of ancient traditions along the Way of Saint James, on the route from legendary Roncesvalles to the city of Viana. Thrill to the colourful local festivities: the bull-running in San Fermin and numerous summer fiestas take place amid a sea of red and white. And don’t miss the wide range of gastronomic treats on offer, including top-quality meat and fresh vegetables from the farmlands on the Ribera river plain, accompanied by the region’s excellent wines.
A land of tradition
Navarre’s most important traditional events include its various religious processions, pilgrimages like the Javierada, the festival of the almadías (traditional barges for transporting logs), witches’ covens, the San Fermin bull-running festival, hunting, and Carnival.
Navarre is heir to a proud culinary tradition based on the produce grown in its varied landscapes, and which makes every meal a social event. In store for its visitors are red, white and rosé wines, pinchos (morsels of haute cuisine served on bread), delicious farm produce and home-made desserts.
The four seasons
The ancient kingdom of Navarre offers a wide range of attractions to suit each season of the year:
- Spring: the green thaw
- Summer: fiesta time
- Autumn: Navarre in a palette of ochre tones
- Winter: walking on freshly-fallen snow
The greatest of all festivities takes place in Pamplona. The firing of the traditional “chupinazo” or firecracker on 6 July marks the start of the festival known as the “Sanfermines”, when everyone is caught up in the explosion of camaraderie and high spirits which fills the streets throughout the fiesta.
The paths of history
Roads make history and lay the foundations for tradition. The most important of these routes in the old kingdom of Navarre is the Way of Saint James, which has left its indelible mark on the customs and heritage of these lands. Other traditional routes with centuries of history are the Roman roads and the cattle-migration routes; Navarre also has numerous hiking trails covering both short and long distances.
The personality and way of life of the people of Navarre can be experienced through their architecture, traditions, dances and rural sports: from the steep-walled valleys of the north which have shaped the upstanding and friendly nature of the traditional farm dwellers, to the south with its constant sunshine, where life is lived in the streets.