Spain Travel

Comillas town festival, Cantabria, north Spain Guide

Comillas town festival, Cantabria, north Spain travel

Why Spain travel?

Spain is soaked in history (conquistadors, the empire, the inquisition. . . ), colourful culture (bullfighting, Flamenco, Carmen, Don Quixote, Camino de Santiago. . . ), Art ( Picasso, Goya, Velasquez. . . ), wacky visionaries (Gaudi, Dali. . . ), grand architecture (Moorish in the south such as Seville, Baroquish up north in Madrid or Santiago de Compostela, twisted in Barcelona and recently there’s Bilbao. . . ) and of course plenty of sun, sand and sangria.


– Prices are hardly cheap though North Spain costs are lower than the Mediterranean costas.
– The east coasts are overbuilt with unattractive high rise resorts and apartments, while Spain’s beaches heave with north European heavyweights fighting for towel space.
– Petty theft such as picking pockets and bag-snatching is not uncommon. Try not to look like a tourist and take precautions, particularly in Barcelona.

Best weather

Best tourist season: April-October, tho’ the coasts and islands are often fine and fairly warm in winter; the north and mountains are cooler and marginally less crowded in the summer. July and August are crowded everywhere and extremely hot in southerly areas such as Andalusia but temperatures along the Atlantic coast of northern Spain will be perfect in this season, between 20C-30C.

Worst: December-February can be bitterly cold (below zero) and damp in north/central Spain – including Madrid – and the rain in Spain doesn’t just fall on the plain, Andalusia gets it too.

Spain Guide: Activities

Spain mostly attracts beach bums or culture vultures or both as coasts are lined with good sized beaches and inviting hotels for sun-starved north Europeans who occasionally need some cultural input during their stag dos, romantic get-aways or family holidays. But there are many other activities available.

Papagayo beach, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

Papagayo beach, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain.


Hiking from Fuente Dé teleferico among the Picos de Europa, in Cantabria, north Spain Guide

Hiking from Fuente Dé teleferico among the Picos de Europa, in Cantabria, north Spain

Spain has hundreds of rewarding walking trails from the mountains north of Madrid to the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa in Cantabria and Asturias. The Balearics and Canary Islands also offer great hikes.
The classic pilgrim’s route and a fantastic hiking experience, El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James), runs from Navarra to Santiago de Compostela.


Hire to be found in many tourist areas, but roads can be busy, hilly and hot. Stick to minor roads if possible and consider a pro bike tour with full support if the wallet fits. In English hooked on cycling or cycling country may be able to help you on yer bike. You can also cycle the Camino de Santiago as an official pilgrim.

White Water Rafting

Aragon and Catalonia, especially Sort village in the Pyrenees.


Available just about everywhere so pick a location to suit your other interests. If the budget is low head for the Costa de la Luz, if it’s a mid-winter break try the Canaries or if you want the best selection of courses take a holiday in the Costs Brava. Whatever you need, golf breaks in Spain will deliver.


Widely available, check locally. For board surfing etc.
Wind/Kitesurfing is at most beaches but aficionados head for pretty and always-windy Tarifa, near Gibraltar or for endless awesome windy beaches head for the Canary Islands.


Good waves along the Atlantic coast, down south on the Costa de la Luz and off the Canaries but very little on the Mediterranean.


Check with Federacion Española de Pesca for information. No website.


Plenty of serious rocks around and the Federacion Española de Montañismo has full details of options, but not in English.


Castilla y Leon and Castilla-La Mancha have some internationally famous sites for hanging around, while Para people like Valle de Abdalajis, North of Malaga.

Downhill skiing

From December-May, especially at Vall d’Aran in Catalonia, Sierra Nevada Ski Station 32 kms north of Granada and Sierra de Guadarrama north of Madrid. Cross -country skiing also.

Spanish Festivals

February-March, Carnival time. Especially wild in Madrid, Barcelona, Sitges and Tenerife island.
March, Las Fallas, Valencia. A crazed week-long street party based on fire and fireworks, lots of both.
March- April, Holy Week (Semana Santa) – majestic, pointy-headed parades and some music. Especially vibrant in Seville, Granada and Malaga.
Late April, Feria de Abril, Seville. More wild, horse-oriented celebrations in this lovely city, but this time less restrained – to put it mildly. . .
July, Bull Running (Sanfermines), Pamplona. Don’t be bored, be gored.
August (last Wed), La Tomatina, Buñol (Valencia). The famous tomato street battles.

For Spain Guide precise dates see: European Festivals or Arts Festivals.



Spanish pharmacists usually speak good English and have wide powers to prescribe medicines. i. e. try them first for small medical problems. The sign is a fat illuminated green or red cross.


Spain electric sockets are mostly 230v and take 2 round pin plugs, identical to France.


EU citizens do not need visas, nor do many other country residents – including USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, for visits up to 90 days.


As usual a tourist’s relationship with locals – not to mention ability to haggle politely over prices – will improve dramatically with a few words and phrases of the local language. Fortunately Spanish is a particularly easy language to learn, in fact many regard it as the easiest major language in the world.
In addition, think how many countries use it, including California and Florida! So it’s well worth making an effort to learn Spanish, especially considering the availability of learning resources, from online classes to hiring a Spanish tutor at

Spain Guide: Food

Spanish foods tend to be full-flavoured, rich and leans towards heavy protein content.
Popular with travellers are paella (sea food with rice, frequently overcooked), gazpacho (cold tomato++ soup, yummy) and varied chorizo (spicy sausages). Tapas (small tasty snacks served with drinks) used to be free but rarely are these days, but are still a good way to eat on the cheap.
Lunch and siesta occupy much of the heat of the day, while dinner is eaten either late or very late by locals.