Vacations in Spain: Summer, Sun, and Sangria in the European south!
There are so many great destinations in Spain, it would be easy to travel there every year. From the museums of Madrid to the architecture of Barcelona to the small towns of Andalusia to the beaches of Ibiza: the list goes on and on. Every corner of the Mediterranean country, which offers culture, urban centers, and beaches, is worth seeing. A vacation in Spain is sure to be a well-rounded, which is why it's one of our favorite European destinations.
When it comes to beach vacations, a high percentage of visitors travel to the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, the Costa del Sol, and the Costa Brava. With almost 5,000 kilometers of gorgeous coastline, its no wonder these spots are so popular.
The Spanish interior is no less spectacular than the coastal regions, but besides the major cities, there are many small towns worthy of exploration. Many areas are also ideal for a day-long or multi-day hiking trip. In addition, its easy to combine a beach trip in Spain with a sightseeing, cultural, or adventure tour. So if you're considering a trip to Spain, don't hesitate! There is no bad time of the year to visit Spain.
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Destinations for your vacation to Spain
As a general rule, you can't go wrong booking a trip to any region of Spain. The coastal areas off the Mediterranean and the major cities are perhaps the most popular and famous, but many other places have their own unique charm.
The coasts of Spain
Let's start with the "wild coast", the Costa Brava in northern Catalonia, which, although it can be rough in parts, is fairly peaceful around the tourist centers of Roses, Blanes, and Lloret de Mar.
Further south, Valencia lays claim to the equally famous and popular Costa Blanca.
The Costa del Sol near Malaga is a sunny destination, even in winter. You'll find many British people tired of the cold back home who have settled here.
Less well known is the coastline on the border with Portugal: the Costa de la Luz. The beaches of the Atlantic, like the Playa La Caleta for example, have been popular with the locals for years, but have only recently been discovered by tourists.
The Galician coast on the Bay of Biscay in northern Spain is rainier and greener than the south. The bay is much cooler than the Mediterranean and only suitable for swimming in the summer months. Galicia and Asturias, with their mountainous hinterlands and pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, are a mecca for hikers and nature lovers alike.
The interior of Spain
The interior of Spain may be in the shadow of the coastal regions, but it has plenty to offer. Although Andalucía recieves a steady flow of visitors due to its warm weather and Moorish architecture, Estremadura, the region on the border with Portugal, brings in far fewer tourists tourists despite its striking landscapes and the famous jamón ibérico (a type of cured ham).
The same can be said of the central Spanish region of La Mancha, northern Navarre, and the mountainous Aragon region. The only exceptions is Madrid in the Castile region.
Pirate Tip: The Spanish mainland is very hikeable. There are several long-distance trails to try out, such as Extremadura to Salamanca, or paths through the mountainous Picos de Europa National Park in the north.
The Spanish islands
It's hardly surprising that tourists flock to Mallorca in the summer, given the beauty of the island. The spring is a great time to visit as well, as the island is coming to life and the sun shines nearly every day.
The neighboring island of Menorca, with its compelling rock formations, technicolor waters, and wind-swept landscape, is another tourist hotspot.
Ibiza, blessed with overwhelming scenic beauty and a mild Mediterranean climate, is regarded as one of the party capitals of the world.
The Canary Islands, while geographically part of Africa, have been the dominion of Spain for centuries. Tenerife, Lanzarote, La Gomera, and Gran Canaria are all of volcanic origin and offer spectacular scenery and beaches.
The Top Attractions in Spain
1. Plaza Mayor in Madrid
Plaza Mayor (main square) in the center of Madrid is one of the top tourist attractions in the Spanish capital. In the 15th century, this plaza was the central marketplace of the city. Today you can enjoy delicious Spanish food in the many restaurants and enjoy the unique architecture. Plaza Mayor is also worth a visit in winter: this is where you'll find the traditional Christmas markets.
2. National Park El Teide on Tenerife
It's not just the mainland that has a lot to offer: El Teide National Park and the Teide volcano in the heart of Tenerife are also (deservedly) on the list of top tourist destinations in Spain. In 2007, the national park, which is a popular hiking area, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Incidentally, the volcano Teide is also the highest peak in Spain. Ride the cable car to reach near the summit.
Pirate tip: For access to the summit you need an extra permit (strictly limited). If you'd like to climb the summit, be sure to book the permit in advance.
3. Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Regla on Fuerteventura
On Fuerteventura, one of the most beautiful churches in the Canary Islands is waiting for you. You will find it in the city of Pájara, where you can marvel at the ornate decorations of the exterior façade. Admission is free.
4. Alcazaba and Roman theater in Málaga
The city of Málaga has two impressive historic buildings: the Alcazaba is an ancient fortification dating from the 11th century and just beneath it is the Roman Theater. In the Alcazaba, you can explore various exhibitions today and take in a great view of the city and the harbor.
5. La Sagrada Família in Barcelona
No Spanish holiday is complete without a visit to the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. The symbol of Barcelona is impressive enough in pictures, but you have to get a closer look to see why this church is one of the most popular attractions in Spain. Designed by the artist Antoni Gaudí, the church is still not completed to this day, which only adds to tourists' fascination with the building.
Our pirate tip: It's best to book tickets in advance to avoid waiting in the long, slow lines outside the church.
6. Old Town of Valencia
You should not miss the beautiful old town of Valencia in Spain. Especially worth seeing are the main square of the city, the Plaza de la Virgen, and the Cathedral of Valencia. But these other buildings in the old town are also worth a quick peek:
- the old city gate Torres de Serranos,
- the silk exchange
- the Palace Marqués de Dos Aguas
Plan a Beach Vacation in Spain
Home to gorgeous islands, including Ibiza, Cabrera, Majorca, and Gran Canaria, Spain offers some of Europe's finest and cleanest beaches.
- Playa de Silencio in Asturias is one of Spain's most exquisite beaches, known for its natural rock formations and silver sand.
- Cala Agulla on the island of Majorca is a great place to bask in the tropical weather in summer and early fall, and indulge in plenty of water sports.
- Known as the Caribbean of the European continent, Playa De Ses Illetes in Formentera is worth a visit for its turquoise water, sand structure, and numerous bars and restaurants.
- Located in the town of Tarifa, Playa de Bolonia beach is an ideal place for hiking along the sand dunes or admiring an awe-inspiring view of the turquoise water. This beach is also excellent for kite surfing due to its crashing waves and strong winds.
When to Visit Spain
The best time to travel to Spain is from March to May and September to November. During these periods, you'll likely encounter smaller crowds, cheaper accommodations, and comfortable city weather. The summer is best for swimming and sunbathing, but late spring and early fall offer reasonable temperatures for this, too.