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Set on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula between the Atlantic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, Spain typically conjures up images of matadors, sangria, flamenco dancers and paella. While it offers all of these traditional cliches in abundance, the country’s real attraction is to be found in its passionate, laid back people and its unbeatable natural beauty. Even along the well-beaten tourist tracks, there are authentic Spanish experiences to be had, traditional local dishes to sample and idyllic villages of timeless charm to explore. Like the country’s famous tapas, Spain itself is a veritable smorgasbord of thriving cities, bizarre festivals, panoramic views and breathtaking beaches – rendering it a beautiful and beguiling country unlike any other. Weird, enthralling architecture, incredible nightlife and its diversity of art and culture add to the country’s unique allure.
TRAVEL, TRANSPORT AND GETTING AROUND
Most of Spain is well covered by public transport. The rail network reaches all the provincial capitals and the main towns along the inter-city lines, and there’s an expanding high-speed network that has slashed journey times on major cross-country routes from Madrid. Inter-city bus services are often more frequent and cheaper than the regular trains, and will usually take you closer to your destination, as some train stations are a few kilometres from the town or village they serve. Driving a car, meanwhile, will give you the freedom to head away from the major tourist routes and take in some of the spectacular scenery at your own pace.
One important point to remember is that all public transport, and the bus service especially, is drastically reduced on Sundays and public holidays, don’t even consider travelling to out-of-the-way places on these days. The words to look out for on timetables are
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Spain’s climate varies from temperate in the north to dry and hot in the south. As it is a big country with varying terrain and altitudes, climate can be extremely distinctive from one corner to another. Overall, the coastal regions in the South and Eastern parts of Spain are excellent to visit all year round thanks to the Mediterranean climate (mild temperatures and long days). Northern Spain generally experiences colder temperatures than the South, while Central Spain stays hot and dry due to its location on a plateau.
The best time to visit depends on the region and type of travel experience you’re seeking. For a beach vacation, the best months for guaranteed sunshine are June to August. Naturally, these are also the busiest months for tourism along the coast and on the Spanish islands, so be prepared for high prices and crowds. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, head inland to cities like Seville, Madrid and Granada where temperatures are sizzling but streets are empty.
The shoulder season for travel in Spain is usually late spring and autumn: from April to end of May and October to November. These are when tourist destinations are least crowded and weather is still pleasant. January to February is the best time to ski, as snow is ample and the sun is shining. Especially in the Sierra Nevada, the sun can be quite overwhelming even in the snow – come prepared with snow goggles and sunscreen.
Food and Drink
Food is more than a form of sustenance in Spain, it is literally a way of life. Friendships are formed, families unite, and the working week can be set around every day’s very important meals. The country’s distinctive cuisine brings together unique regional dishes, special ingredients and long standing influences from Moorish and Arab settlers.
Tourists travelling to Spain are often given a useful piece of advice – the Spanish eat late. Don’t expect many restaurants to be open before 9pm. Book a restaurant table for between 11pm and midnight and you’ll see the place hopping. Dinner is often light after a large lunch..
Breakfast in Spain is a pretty simple and traditionally European affair. The continental meal can include fresh rolls, bread and jam with coffee, hot chocolate or tea.
Tapas are probably the concept of Spanish cuisine most admired and imitated around the world, inspiring thousands of bars and restaurants. The idea is simple, straightforward, and a visit to a tapas bar is possibly the best way to sample a wide variety of Spanish food. Tapas can constitute something as simple as a piece of toasted bread, rubbed with garlic and dipped in olive oil, or a dish of olives. Slices of ham or salami, cheese, pieces of Spanish tortilla and marinated anchovies are popular. Dishes like meatballs in tomato sauce, garlic mushrooms, shrimp or cooked chorizo in wine are all offered to tickle the tastebuds at tapas bars around the country. So is paella, the saffron infused rice dish with meat, seafood and vegetables which is a Spanish institution.
Time To Rediscover The World
- All year round destination
- Fantastic golfing opportunities
- Luxury hotels and family spots
- Soak up the sun on one of Spain’s Med Islands
- A range of hotel choice from family spots to luxury Spa’s
- Stunning beaches
- Choose from Barcelona, Madrid, Seville or many more
- Private guided tours
- Restaurant Recommendations