An insight into one of the worlds most popular holiday destinations
Spain's gastronomy is second and is well known its black foot cured ham, paella, olives, seafood, fish, garlic, as well as great wines such as Rioja and Sherry.
Spain's amazing climate is the envy of the rest of Europe as well boasting over 5,000 kilometers of diverse coastline as well as thousands of interesting historic sites and numerous areas of outstanding beauty.
Hundreds of blue flag beaches
You will find some of the best beaches in Spain located all around the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines and this is surely one of the top reasons to visit Spain for millions of holidaymakers each year.
The mainland coastal regions run from Galicia in the north west to Santander being bathed by the Atlantic waters.
The Mediterranean coastline runs from Catalonia in the north east down to the Costa del Sol. The Atlantic coast baths the southern shorelines which run from Tarifa to Huelva next to the Portuguese border.
Spain has made good use of their prized assets and the huge tourism industry has been built largely along its famous Costas including the Costa del Sol and the Costa Blanca.
Huge selection of varied accommodation
As far as accommodation goes Spain offers a vast array of options from super 5 star luxury hotels, romantic holiday hotspots, amazing family resorts budget friendly hostels and an incredible selection of self catering apartments and villas for rent.
Be sure to check our travel resources page where you will find a selection of tried and trusted travel companies to help you find the best deal for your next Spanish holidays.
Spain is well know for its Mediterranean diet of fresh vegetables, salads, fish, rice dishes and the wide use of quality extra virgin olive oil.
One of the greatest pleasures you can enjoy when visiting Spain is the wide and varied gastronomy on offer from the smallest tapas bar located in the back streets of a typical coastal fishing village to the large number of Michelin starred restaurants dotted around Catalonia, and San Sebastian.
Spain is famous for its black foot cured ham, paella, olives, varied seafood, fresh fish, garlic, vegetables, fish and meet stews.
The most popular dish consumed by holiday makers is Paella, a rice dish that comes in many forms and was first eaten in Valencia.
And of course Spain is known throughout the world for its delicious Tapas dishes, small plates of food which include just about every type of food on offer. Each region of Spain has its own take of tapas.
Colourful festivals, fiestas and carnivals
Spanish festivals take place in every city, town and village throughout Spain at some point during the year.
Some of the best festivals and fiestas in Spain have deep religious and historical meaning whilst others are simply meant for partying and having fun.
The most popular festivals in Spain include La Tomatina, the worlds largest tomato fight, the Fire of Valencia ( Las Fallas ), the running with the bulls in Pamplona, the Sevilla April Fair and the amazing carnivals in Tenerife.
The weather in Spain varies depending mainly on location and altitude. The mountainous regions named before all experience alpine climates, with considerable snow in winter and little to no snow in summer (except for the Pyrenees, which remains more densely snowed all year round).
The Mediterranean region of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, as well as the south-western part of Andalusia, have a climate characterised by mild winters with moderate rainfall, and warm to slightly hot, dry summers.
The special climate of the Canary Islands, which is an oceanic subtropical climate, with very warm winters and slightly hot, but never scorching, summers, and little to moderate rainfall all year round. This is probably the best and most comforting climate in the whole of Spain.
Fun theme parks
There are many top notch theme parks in Spain for all the family to enjoy including the Terra Mitica park near Benidorm in Alicante, the Warner Park in Madrid and Spain's largest and most spectacular theme park, PortVentura near Barcelona.
PortAventura offers visitors a choice of 4 top-class themed hotels, each providing easy access to the park and the opportunity for visitors to make the most of their time there.
The Isla Magica is located in the heart of Seville, just a five minute walk from the town centre, making it easily accessible and a popular attraction for families visiting the area.
Divided into lands of deep intrigue and mystery, such as the Amazon and the Pirates’ Lair, Isla Magica offers a keen sense of adventure and action guaranteed to capture the imaginations of both adults and children alike.
Each land offers a selection of quirky rides for all ages, as well as a comprehensive schedule of spectacular shows and a water park that includes wild slides – a great way to cool off in the Spanish sun.
Modern transport services
Spain is renowned for its excellent, world-class transport facilities and links so getting around Spain these days is very easy.
The Spanish highway system is the fourth longest in the world at around 16.000 kilometres in length, only behind the huge countries of USA, China and Canada.
Madrid has six motorways radiating out to each of the corners of the country, and many other toll roads and freeways connect the main cities and towns in the country.
They are always maintained in prime condition and operate with strict standards; many of the newer highways receive very little use and, as a whole, they rarely experience traffic incidents and overcrowding.
Highways in Spain are denoted by the letter A (for autopista or autovia). The speed limit is 120 km/h. In addition, there are hundreds of second degree national roads, the longest one, the N-340, running over 1,000 kilometres from Girona to Cadiz.
Spain has invested heavily in a high speed train network which is run by the national train service carrier Renfe.
The now famous Ave high speed train service has cut the travel times significantly between the major cities around mainland Spain travelling at speeds of of over 300 kilometers an hour. You can now travel in comfort and style from Madrid to Barcelona in just over 2 hours and 30 minutes or from Madrid to Malaga on the Costa del Sol in under 3 hours.
Spain is still thought of as a budget destination although in general, prices though have increased considerably over the last ten years. If you plan to spend most of your time in the major cities your holiday money in Spain may not last as long as you hoped.
Prices do vary quite considerably around Spain and depend greatly on the location, however, if you are on a tight budget it is still possible to make your holiday money go further than you think.
As you would expect prices for dining and drinking out will be affected by the location along with the time year are travelling. One thing to look out for on prices generally is the addition of VAT, which may come as an unexpected extra when you pay the bill for food or accommodation, especially in more expensive establishments.
The current rate of VAT ( IVA ) in Spain stands at 21% on most goods with reduced rates of 10% for items such as property purchasing. restaurants, health products.
It is safe to say that it is not advisable to exchage your holiday spending money at the airport on arrival as the rate normally much lower then the standard rates. The best places to change your money are the local exchange bureus found in most of the well known resorts, here you will usually get a better commission free deal.
SpanishBancos (banks) and Cajas de Ahorros (savings banks) have branches in all but the smallest villages, some of the biggest Spanish, UK and international banks operating in Spain currently include Santander, Barclays, Solbank, Banesto, Bankinter and Unicaja .
ATM cash machines ( cajeros automaticos ) are widespread throughout the country in cities, towns and even many villages and you only need a valid card with PIN number to use them; this is probably the most convenient way to get cash when you need it, although you would be wise not to rely on this method exclusively just in case your card gets swallowed up or, indeed, lost or stolen.
Money changing machines now feature also in many larger cities and feeding in pounds or dollars will give you instant cash.
Banking hours are generally Mon-Fri 8.30am-4pm, with some city branches open Sat 8.30am-1pm (except from June to September when all banks close on Saturday), although times can vary from bank to bank. Some banks in Spain , such as Citybank and Sabadell Atlantico now open on certain days during the week.
Tourist Visa Entry Requirements
Spain is signed up to the Schengen agreement so there are many nationalities which do not require a Schengen Tourist Visa to enter Spain.
For example UK citizens can stay in Spain for up to 90 days in any 180 day period and for US citizens this is 90 days in any one year.
Some of the nationalities which require a Schengen Tourist Visa to visit Spain include citizens from Russia, Bahrain, Ecuador, Ugands, Thailand and Iraq, there are around 107 nationalities which may require a Shengen Visa.
Luckily these days many countries have adopted the electronic visa system which means visiting your nearest embassy you may be able to apply online. Generally the online process can save you time and money.
If you are not sure where to start, a simple Google search on Spain Visa information is a good start, there are a number of reputable companies who provide this service, what ever you decide, the best course of action is to do your homework.
With most online visa services you only require a valid passport, and although visa applications may vary from country to country, the online service will be able to answer any relevant queries you may have. There are even online services to help you with your passport photographs.
Yes the cost of hiring an online provider will be more than you may pay at your respective embassy, however in general it requires a lot less effort and time and in some cases may even save you money.
Youth and student discounts
Various official and quasi-officialyouth/student ID cards soon pay for themselves in savings. Full-time students are eligible for the International Student ID Card (ISIC), which entitles the bearer to special air, rail and bus fares and discounts at museums, theaters and other attractions.
You have to be 26 or younger to qualify for the. All these cards are available in the UK from Usit Campus and STA; in the US from Council travel, STA, travel Cuts and, in Canada, Hostelling International; in Australia and New Zealand from STA or Campus travel.
Several other travel organizations and accommodation groups also sell their own cards, good for various discounts. A university photo ID might open some doors, but is not as easily recognizable as the ISIC card, although the latter is often not accepted as valid proof of age, for example in bars or clubs.