Plaza de España, Seville
The southern Spanish coasts have mutated into a hideous mish-mash of skyscrapers, sterile white colonies and deserted building sites, so the heart of España has retreated to inland Andalusia, Spain’s most southerly region.
The largest, liveliest, prettiest, most interesting city in Andalusia is unquestionably the capital, Seville (Sevilla in Spanish).
Want to see the glory of Spain? Check la vida de Sevilla. Moorish? Definitely!
Semana Santa (pre-Easter festival), Seville, Andalusia (waaay south! )
Over 30 brotherhoods have been holding pre-Easter Semana Santa processions in Sevilla since the 16th century but more recently other cities in Spain have been promoting/developing the Semana Santa occasion, and not necessarily for religious reasons. The out-of-season tourist potential is huge, though the Bugcrew noticed that the majority of spectators in Seville were Spanish tourists from other regions.
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Barcelona (in the northern state of Catalonia) is home to sensational architecture, particularly the structures designed by great and gaudy Gaudi, a lively, walkable centre, truly sensational restaurants and bars at reasonable prices, cultural activities by the ton and good beaches nearby.
Traffic and petty crime temper the pleasure of Spain’s funkiest city, but only slightly.
Costa de la Luz, southern Spain, in April.
With almost 5, 000 km of coastline, Spain has at least 3,000 beaches including over 400 Blue Flag beaches, more than anywhere else in Europe. Prices are low, jet-lag is zero from north Europe, sunshine just about guaranteed in season and most locals speak some English.
Beach resorts tend to be over-developed and under-cultured, but the sand is soft and golden, the waters warm during summer months, sunshine and watersports plentiful and costs low, particularly for all-inclusive packages.
For lengths of pristine, less-crowded sand from June to August sun-seekers will have to look long and hard, possibly finding it on Spain’s spectacular Atlantic coast up north – especially on the Costa de Cantabria – (less spoilt but not unknown! ), the Costa de la Luz in the far south west, or on the islands, the Balearics or the Canary Islands.
Madrid’s Don Quixote statue
Madrid sports a grand history and ornate buildings to match, superb museums and the mother of all late night party scenes as Madrileños of all ages just love to walk, talk, drink and smoke late into the night.
The city centre is small, well signposted, the traffic is not too bad, the natives are friendly – apart from some harassed bar/restaurant staff, the metro/tube is efficient and the tap water is drinkable – if you like the taste of swimming pools.
Ronda, the most famous of southern Spain’s Pueblos Blancos
Spain’s tiny, old and often dazzling pueblos blancos, mostly situated inland, are in stark contrast to the modern, high-rise, white trash apartment blocks clogging up the Spanish costas, though it’s only fair to say that getting to many of the pueblos blancos involves driving though some quite eye-stinging suburbs.
Ronda is not only the most appealing and interesting pueblo blanco in Spain but also one of the most dramatic towns in Andalusia due to its cliff-hanging tendency and startling Puente Nuevo.
Plaza San Juan de Dios, Cadiz, on the far south coast towards Portugal.
Cadiz is a little off Spain’s beaten tourist track and all the better for it, with less brain-dead, sand ‘n’ sangria tourism, less greedy overdevelopment, more cultural attractions, more fine old buildings, an excellent, easy-going lifestyle and amiable natives. Cádiz is the oldest continuously-inhabited city in Spain.
Alcazaba, Malaga, Costa del Sol.
Although Malaga is a bit short of major attractions – mainly consisting of churches – it’s a comfortable city with lively and cheerful locals, pretty good beaches nearby, some sensational eating places – the best tapas bars in Spain as far as we were concerned – and plenty of good value nightlife.
Granada is a calm little Andalusian city at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Like Cordoba it’s home to one awesome attraction and a number of lesser sights and also like Cordoba it is possible to see the sights in one busy day, perhaps a day trip from Malaga or Seville.
The primary sight in Granada is the Alhambra, a Moorish Palace/Fort complex on a hill over the town.
Cordoba is a charming little old city has seen a remarkable number of religious changes over the last 2, 000 years, from Roman to Visigoth to Islamic and finally Christian, with remnants of these cultures still to be found around the town. The main attraction is the spectacular Mezquita.
Playa Arnia, Cantabria Beaches. The northern Atlantic Ocean coast of Spain is a terrific tourist destination in the summertime, even if the Atlantic waters remain cool. The selection of beaches is stunning, running from San Sebastian-Donostia in the east over to the Rias Baixas in the west, and supported by some comfortable cities such as Santander and some spectacular cities such as Santiago de Compostela and Bilbao.