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The Alhambra in Granada, Andalusia, Spain (Shutterstock)

Spain has over 6,500km of coastline and more beaches than you can count, but there is so much more to enjoy here than just sun, sea and sand. Its 49 UNESCO sites cover historic, prehistoric and natural highlights, while Spain’s cities are some of the most beautiful and cultural in the world, and offer architectural masterpieces such as Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Granada’s Alhambra Palace and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. Madrid’s art museums are world-renowned and include such treasures as Pablo Picasso’s searing Guernica. Valencia is a thoroughly green-minded city, the birthplace of paella and with the largest fresh produce market in Europe – try and enjoying a boat ride around the Albufera Natural Park just outside the city.

Spain’s beauty also lies in lesser-visited areas such as the mountains of the Picos de Europa National Park in Asturias, the incredible birdlife in Extremadura, the unique cultural traditions of the Basque Country, and the Moorish heritage of Andalusia, including Cordoba’s mosque, now a cathedral.

Few travellers know of Castellón, dotted with medieval citadels, trails, rock art and great swathes of wild forests, the lunar landscapes of the Tabernas desert (claiming to be Europe’s only true desert) or the fishing ports, castles and islands of the Costa del Azahar. Talking of islands, we mustn’t forget the Balearic and the Canary Islands, each with their own distinct personalities.

And while Spain is perhaps best known gastronomy-wise for its tapas and its paella, the country has developed into a culinary powerhouse, championing locally sourced cuisine that has earned its chefs some of the highest accolades in the world with acclaimed restaurants in the Basque Country, Catalonia and the capital, Madrid.

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When to go to Spain

Most of Spain becomes extremely hot in the summer months so to avoid the crowds and high temperatures, it’s best to travel off-season in spring, autumn and winter. Various festivals take place throughout the year, including Valencia’s Las Fallas Festival in March, Seville’s Feria takes place two weeks after Easter, the Sitges Carnival in Catalonia takes place in February and La Tomatina festival in Buñol happens in August every year.

International airports

The Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) in Spain’s capital is the country’s biggest airport, just 15km from the city centre. Elsewhere in Spain, international airports include: Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) in Barcelona, Valencia’s Manises Airport (VLC), Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP) in Andalusia, Murcia-Corvera Airport (RMU) in the Región de Murcia, Seve Ballesteros-Santander Airport (SDR) in Cantabria, Santiago de Compostela Airport (SCQ) in Galicia, among others.

To get to the Balearic Islands, the international airports are: Ibiza Airport (IBZ) to reach Ibiza and Formentera, Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI) and Mahón Menorca Airport (MAH).

To reach the Canary Islands, international airports include: Tenerife South Airport (TFS), César Manrique-Lanzarote Airport (ACE), Gran Canaria Airport (LPA), La Palma Airport (SPC) and Fuerteventura Airport (FUE).

Getting around in Spain

Spain’s train network is extremely efficient and affordable, so it’s a great way to get around the country. It’s also an ideal way to see Spain at a slower pace and with lower carbon emissions. RENFE ( is one of the best ways to book train travel around Spain and the train network is great for both longer and shorter journeys.

Health & safety

Take protective measures against biting insects and ticks as dengue fever is present in Spain.

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