Whether you’re a fan of contemporary art, or your tastes are more traditional, Spain certainly won’t disappoint when it comes to culture. For big galleries filled with big name artists, cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao and Seville should be top of your list, but be sure to leave time to explore some of Spain’s lesser-known towns and cities. These are where you’ll get a real feel the country’s diverse cultural offerings.
From city breaks in Barcelona or Madrid, to coastal getaways in Gran Canaria, Ibiza or the Costa del Sol, Spanish food is some of the most flavourful you’ll find anywhere in the world. When it comes to tapas, the list of dishes to try often varies from region to region, but wherever you go, you can’t go wrong with patatas bravas (potatoes cooked in a sweet and spicy tomato-based sauce), gambas al ajillo (king prawns with garlic and green chillies), and of course, the much-loved tortilla Espanola.
Away from the mainland, Spain offers a world of sunshine, siestas and sangria just waiting to be explored. Whether you want to enjoy the nightlife and lively atmosphere of Balearic islands like Ibiza, or prefer the slower pace of life on some of the lesser-known Canary Islands, the Spanish islands will leave you wanting to come back time and time again.
One of Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks, La Sagrada Familia is a must for any first-time visit to this city. It’s been more than 90 years since the death of its creator Antonio Gaudi, but today, this majestic gothic structure is still a work in progress. It may be unfinished, but a lot of advancements have been made since work first began in 1882, and it’s still one of Spain’s most awe-inspiring religious buildings. If you only have time to visit one such attraction while you’re in Barcelona, this should most definitely be your first choice, but be sure to book tickets before heading out on the day, as the queues can get very long, especially during the height of summer.
Wherever you find yourself in Spain, you’ll be hard pressed not to come across some traditional flamenco dancing, and whether you’re up for joining in or are happy to be a spectator, it really is a joy to behold. In Seville, one of the best places to watch a flamenco performance is the Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija. Housed inside the old stables, this little venue is famed locally for its lively, authentic shows – an absolute must if you’re in the area. Space is limited and the shows are very popular, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance.
In recent years, Madrid has earned a reputation as one of the cultural capitals of the world, and it’s not hard to see why. For a city of this size, Madrid boasts an impressive array of galleries, containing everything from the works of Old Masters like El Greco, Goya and Velazquez, to much lesser-known contemporary pieces. Highlights from the city’s iconic Golden Art Triangle include the Museo del Prado, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia – home to Picasso’s Guernica – and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Seville’s UNESCO-listed Real Alcázar is a magical combination of Mudéjar and Christian architecture. Built in 913, this palatial complex was once used as a fort, but over the years has been reincarnated many times over the last 11 centuries. In the 14th century, King Pedro commissioned the addition of the Palacio de Don Pedro, and in recent years, the palace has been used as a location for the popular TV series Game of Thrones.
In Spain, temperatures can reach the mid-late 30s in July and August, so bear this in mind if you’re travelling with children or aren’t a fan of the heat. During the spring and autumn, the weather will be cooler – usually between 20 and 25 degrees.
If you are a British citizen, you don’t need a visa to enter Spain but you must have a valid passport. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain/entry-requirements.
In Spain the currency used is the Euro (EUR).
The main language spoken is Spanish.