Spain

Gardens in Real Alcazar in Seville, Spain

Welcome to Spain 

Through the endeavours of its explorers Spain once ruled much of the known world. As a result, its influence extends far beyond the confines of the Iberian peninsula. Eat late in the evening and party into the early hours of the morning. Spain is life lived to its fullest.

Only a short hop from North Africa, the language and the architecture still bear traces of the Moors’ influence. Additionally, its heritage as a once mighty world power is evident in cities such as Madrid and Seville. Cheaper than many other European countries, Spain is a travel experience that should not be missed.

First Impressions

Prior to 2010, Spain was synonymous in my mind with Manuel from Fawlty Towers and those people who vacationed in Benidorm. However, a trip to Madrid and Valencia changed my mind for ever. The capital was so rich in art. Either the Thyssen, Prado or Reina Sofia art museums would be the pride of any city, but Madrid has all three! Valencia was another amazing city, rich in history, but also with a seemingly perfect climate. Although I only had a week in the country, I knew that I would be back.

Moorish influence in Cordoba cathedral interior

Distinctive interterior of Cathedral in Cordoba, Spain

Highlights

Spain’s cities must be one of the highlights of any trip to Europe. Madrid has art and architecture. Seville has a touch of the New World mixed with a typical Andalusian feel. Speaking of Andalusia, the region is far more than Seville. Cities such as Cordoba, Granada and Cadiz will leave travellers with indelible memories. Barcelona and Catalonia have a feel that set them apart. However, one thing is sure, no matter where you go, you will have a great time in Spain.

Floodlit Seville Cathedral by night

Seville Cathedral at night

Read on to find where to go…

Make Sure to Visit in Spain…

Explore the literary quarter, Barrio de las Huertas, in Madrid. Walk from Plaza de la Puerta del Sol down to Paseo del Prado. Don’t forget to stop off in Plaza Santa Ana or Plaza San Angel, two adjoining plazas with a character of their own!

Get out of Madrid to see more of Spain in Segovia or Toledo. Segovia has one of the country’s greatest castles. On the other hand, Toledo is the city of three cultures, a place that breathes history. It is also home to THE EL GRECO MUSEUM (website in Spanish). Art lovers, this is a compulsory stop for you!

See the modernist Gaudi architecture in Barcelona or simply visit the beach.

Get lost in the vast Alhambra Palace in Granada. This Moorish building will fire your imagination and leave you with memories that you will never forget.

See and experience one of the greatest cathedrals on earth in Cordoba.

Walk in the footsteps of history in Cadiz, one of Europe’s oldest cities.

Read more about the highlights of Andalusia here 

Street life in central Barcelona by day

The charms of a plaza in central Barcelona

Practicalities 

Madrid’s Adolfo Suarez Barajas Airport is a major hub. Therefore, with a bit of planning, it is often possible to get cheap flights there from other destinations in Europe or even from the United States. Barcelona and Malaga also have important international airports that act as gateways to Spain.

Due to its central position, Madrid is often the transport hub for the rest of the country. The AVE, Spain’s high speed train service, links the capital with Barcelona and Seville. However, if time is not a constraint, you will find the intercity bus services to be much better value. For example, if the train costs over 100 euro, it is probable that the bus will be at least half-price.

It is possible to pre-book tickets on Spain’s national train system- RENFE.

Booking in advance makes Spain a great country to find good value accommodation. It is possible to find a central hotel in Madrid for as little as 40 euro, even cheaper if you are prepared to cut some corners. El Puchi in Barcelona and Hostal Comercial in Madrid come highly recommended.

Should you want to get a local sim card, you will need to show some form of national identity such as a passport or an ID card. Movistar, Orange or Vodafone will be able to provide you with a cheap local sim solution.

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