When the UK closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, one country was more on people’s minds than any other: Spain. The British miss the sunshine, the beaches, the great food, the affordable prices and above all the fun and warmth of the people. In 2019, more than 18 million tourists from the UK chose to visit Spain, making it our most popular destination. With magnificent historic cities and breathtaking national parks, as well as an endless stretch of coastline with golden sands, Spain’s allure lies in its sheer diversity.
Best time to go
As you’d expect, most British visitors, especially families, come to Spain during the warm, sunny high season of July and August. Then prices on the coast and on the islands are firm. will definitely be higher and the beaches can get crowded. On the other hand, cities are cheaper, if uncomfortably hot.
During Semana Santa (Holy Week, Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) most towns and cities are extremely busy, so if you want to avoid the procession, head to the seaside or the countryside. . On the other hand, spring and fall are good times to visit, as the weather is pleasant and although local festivals can drive up accommodation costs, the holidays are often more reasonably priced.
Top Cities and Regions
Mallorca and Ibiza
The Balearic Islands remain one of the most popular destinations for British tourists; The Mallorcan government is doing its best to clean up the image of the largest island by taking steps such as limiting the alcohol served as part of all-inclusive holiday packages. In addition to its beautiful beaches, Mallorca also has beautiful inland towns bordered by steep mountains. Club members’ favorite Ibiza has seen high-end hotels open recently, like the W and Six Senses, while Menorca is quieter and Formentera’s tiny white-sand coves are even wilder. more rudimentary.
Still a favorite weekend getaway for Britons, cosmopolitan Barcelona is more worth exploring than its nightlife. Climb Montjuic to the National Museum of Art of Catalonia, which has Turner exhibitions until September 11, and wander the Passeig de Gracia to see extraordinary Gaudí buildings – Casa Batlló has nighttime visits includes a rooftop concert – and, of course, the architect’s unfinished masterpiece, the soaring Sagrada Familia (remember to book tickets in advance). Then take a trip to a beach town in Costa Brava: the isolated fishing village of Cadaqués, where Dalí lives, or Sitges, a modern resort with a lively gay scene.
Madrid may not be as exciting as its rival Catalonia, but the Spanish capital has a more down-to-earth feel. To see real madrileño life, head to barrios (residential areas) like trendy Malasaña and Chueca: stroll down the bustling Gran Via, looking for the iconic winged statue of victory atop Edificio Metropolis. Then enjoy the panoramic views from the rooftop bar Circulo de Bellas Artes (Negroni option), or head to Plaza Mayor and enjoy tapas at the nearby Mercado de San Miguel. Art lovers shouldn’t miss the three main museums: the Prado, the Reina Sofia (home to the thorny and never relevant war portraits of Picasso, Guernica) and the Thyssen-Bornemisza.
So many tourists in the Costa del Sol still get off the plane without stopping in Malaga. Big mistake – culturally and culinaryly, from street art and the Center for Contemporary Art to famous museums like Carmen Thyssen, Picasso (Paula Rego exhibition until August 21) and Pompidou, and from innovative tapas to Michelin stars, the city more than holds its own against rival Andalusian metropolises. The weekend street market in seaside Muelle Uno, trendy Soho, and cultural center La Termica offer local vintage and craft pieces.
Best secret destination
Sanlucar de Barrameda
Spain’s culinary capital this year is Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a charming seaside town in the southwestern province of Cadiz. It is best known for three things, two of which are a combination made from heaven: manzanilla sherry, dry with a hint of saltiness, and tortillitas de camarones (fried thin shrimp). The third is Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition, which began here just over 500 years ago – only one ship returned in 1522 and became the first to circumnavigate the world.
Andalusia is famous for its great food and cultural richness, but head north to neighboring Extremadura and you’ll find great food, historic cities and pioneering museums. Iberian pork from free-range purebred pigs is a standout (chef Jose Pizarro from Extremadura), as is Extremaduran cheese – try the Torta del Casar from sheep’s milk. In Mérida, explore Roman ruins and visit excellent museums, while the charming medieval city of Caceres has narrow cobbled streets that contrast with the campus-based Helga de Alvear Museum of Contemporary Art white cubism, opening in 2021, where exhibits of works by Klee, Kandinsky and Ice are located.
Island of Cies
Away from the Balearic Islands and other non-peninsular vacations that are the mainstay of the Canary Islands, are the tiny Islas Cies archipelago. Off the coast of Galicia in northwestern Spain, this 7-kilometer protected national park at the mouth of the Vigo River is reminis of the Scilly Islands, where there are no cars and stretches of white sand with water. turquoise. Two of the three islands, Monteagudo and del Faro, are connected by the famous Rodas beach; The third, San Martiño, has no public transportation. The number of visitors is strictly controlled to preserve this natural paradise: first you need to get permission first; then book your boat trip from Vigo, Baiona or Cangas; ideally camp there for at least one night (permit required). Trouble, but well worth it for the peace, the unspoiled beauty – and the breathtaking hike past golden brooms and rockrose roses.
best things to do
Holy Week in Seville
You don’t have to be religious to marvel at the Semana Santa processions in Seville – statues carried on pasos (floats), accompanied by hooded figures and brass bands, across the city as they advanced dignifiedly, with frequent stops, from their parish church to the cathedral, and back. Holy Week is celebrated all over Spain, but here the scale is larger and the drama more lavish.
Beef Pintxos in San Sebastian
Walking around San Sebastian, sipping pintxos (small dishes or skewers, literally “skewers”) in bars, is one of the best ways to spend an evening. The beautiful Basque coastal city is full of attractions: try red peppers stuffed with spider crab or lamb skewers in Gandarias, and be sure to try Txakoli, the local white wine.
Throw tomatoes at La Tomatina
Believed to have started as a food fight during a religious celebration in the 1940s, La Tomatina, in the Valencian town of Buñol, is now an international festival with 22,000 attendees (you need to get one). tickets to participate). From 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the last Wednesday of August, people throw ripe tomatoes at each other. A white t-shirt is worn for maximum visual effect and goggles allow you to see through all the mashed fruit.
The best way to get around Spain is by train – the high-speed AVE, launched 30 years ago, connects major cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Alicante, Valencia, Cordoba, Seville and Malaga (line new connection between the capital of Costa del Sol and Granada launched in April). Two new, fast, low-cost airlines – Avlo, operated by the national train service RENFE, and Ouigo owned by France’s SNCF – now also serve the Madrid-Barcelona route, with Avlo also providing provide services to Valencia. They will soon reach southern cities like Seville and Malaga.
Iberia, Air Europa, Vueling, Volotea, easyJet and Ryanair all offer domestic flights within Spain.
Renting a car gives you more freedom, but can be expensive.
How to get there
You can reduce your carbon footprint and travel to Spain by train, arriving in the same day: take the Eurostar train to Paris, then change to the high-speed TGV train bound for Figueres, Girona and Barcelona.
You can also take the ferry, operated by Brittany Ferries, from Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao, or Plymouth to Santander. This is a good option if you want to pick up your car.
The fastest and cheapest way to get to Spain from the UK is by flying: Iberia, British Airways, Vueling, easyJet, Jet2 and Ryanair all offer routes from UK airports. Check AENA for the latest information on individual Spanish airports, the airlines serving them and their destinations.
Money saving tips
Avoiding the high season in July and August will save you a lot of money – the half-term in May or October is much cheaper, with milder temperatures. All-inclusive hotels will also help with the budget; no package, flexibility in your travel dates will cut flight costs. And home exchange is the ultimate budget winner.
Frequently asked questions
How is the weather?
It varies a lot across the country. In general, winters are mild in the south and on the Mediterranean coast, and cold in inland central Spain, with high rainfall in the north. Spring has mild temperatures, with brief but intense rainstorms in many areas. Summer is hot in the south and central plateau, warm in the north. The Canaries are mild year-round, while the Balearic Islands have cooler winters and hotter summers.
What time zone is it in?
CET (UK Time +1, also winter/summer conversion).
What currency do I need?
Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted.
What language is spoken?
Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galician.
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