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Spain

Spain Guide: Spend Less, Do More

Welcome to Spain

Spain-Alhambra-Fortress-GranadaWith a culture that is vibrant, sophisticated and dedicated to having a good time Spain is a country with more perspectives than you can imagine. 

With many visitors travelling there on holiday each year, Spain has become one of the most popular European tourist destinations. There are various different types of accommodation in Spain to stay in, from affordable hostels and independent hotels to larger hotel chains. Whether you are after a sunny, beach holiday, lots of clubbing or just a cultural experience, Spain has a lot to offer to everyone.

Top Things about Spain

Spain-Ronda-Canyon-at-duskSpain has a lot going for it. The food in particular is brilliant, with lots of different restaurants to choose from. Each city or area has its own special cuisine with trademark dishes to try out. Enjoy wine in a relaxing bar complete with a variety of tapas dishes or chill out on one of Spain’s many sandy beaches. With a hot climate for most of the year, particularly in the southern regions, the country has become one of the most popular places to visit whilst on holiday in Europe. The landscapes are stunning, with the desert areas of Almeria and the wild areas of Extremadura, as well as the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada. La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is well worth a visit for its stunning architecture alone. It has taken many years to construct and work is still continuing to this day. It is a large Roman Catholic Church, complete with numerous towers that you can walk up for a panoramic view over the city. Valencia also has stunning architecture, but with a more contemporary feel. The city boasts large areas of greenery, such as The Botanic and Royal Gardens, which gives you the best of both worlds. 

Best Cities to Visit in Spain

Spain-Traditional-Tapas-SelectionThere are several great cities to visit whilst in Spain. Each one has something different to offer. Stroll past art deco masterpieces and gossip in hole-in-the-wall champagne bars in Barcelona. The city is a hub for arts and culture, as well as it being a favourite place for football matches and a hit with the gay community. It integrates many types of tourists and welcomes all to the area, becoming a top place to visit especially due to its stunning and unusual architecture. 

Madrid is ideal for a city break with lots of shopping, cultural sightseeing and lots more. The Plaza Mayor and the castle are top places to visit whilst here, with several lovely recreational parks that break up the built up areas with lush greenery, fountains, statues and a sense of peace. Muse at the masters of the Prado Museum and dance all night in frantic Madrid. The tube also makes it very cheap and easy to get around and there are often lots of street performers to enjoy whilst exploring the city’s shops and restaurants. 

Granada is situated at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges and is therefore a stunning place to visit. Skiing is a top recreational activity in the area, but the city is also only an hour away from the coast, so a trip to the beach is still viable. Savour the relics of the Islamic empire in Granada. 

Malaga is another popular area within the country and due to it being in the South it usually has hot temperatures throughout most of the year. In fact, it is home to one of the warmest winters within Europe. Beach holidays are common here with some stunning coastlines and lots to do. Flamenco, bullfighting, seafood paella, lazy siestas in the hot red sands of Andalucía, indulge in the mindless hedonism of the Balearic Isles, wonder at the Celtic incongruity of Galicia, test the bounds of your sanity with Salvador Dali in Figueres, tempt fate to run with the bulls in Pamplona, hurl tomatoes in Bunol, bake on the beaches of the Costa del Sol, satisfy yourself in the tapas bars of San Sebastian, to finally lie down exhausted and satisfied in one of the cosy hotels in Spain.

Events

Various festivals take place throughout the year in different regions, of which many are religious celebrations. The Festival of San Juan is on the 24th June each year in the South of the country and is a huge carnival with fireworks and bonfires. The North has its own celebration, as the Festival for San Fermin occurs on the 14th July and is most remembered for the bull runs in Pamplona, which is a big activity within Spain. In fact, most of the cities have their own festivals on specific days each year, with music, dance, and various other performing arts and visual displays to enjoy. Jerez Festival takes place in February and March and incorporates traditional Spanish music and dance, such as Flamenco.

Local Cuisine

Spain is famous for its traditional dishes, including tapas, but it also offers a wide range of cuisines from around the world at the same time. Each city has its own trademark dishes that are well worth trying out, for example seafood, paella, tortilla, and chorizo and drinks such as sherry, wine, brandy and beer are also popular. Rioja is a common red wine in Spain, whilst sparkling cava from Catalonia is worth a try. Tortilla, which is a chunky omelette made with potatoes, can be found almost everywhere in Spain, as well as paella and various wine dishes. Fresh seafood often includes octopus, razor shells, lobster, anchovies and Basque cod, as well as various other types. Sitting by a Spanish harbour or on the sea front will offer plenty of fresh fish caught in the local area the same day and is one of the best ways to enjoy food here.

Culture

Flamenco and traditional Spanish guitar music are trademark cultural icons of the country and are still enjoyed widely to this day. Many shows incorporate these old pastimes, with Jerez in particular being a hub for this genre of performing arts. Bullfights are a common activity here. Thousands of people flock to see the ringmasters run around the arena teasing the animals and getting very close to death. Horse shows are common, where horses dance and perform spectacular routines. Gothic cathedrals, Roman Catholic churches, castles, sculptures and the ancient Roman ruins all give Spain a fascinating collection of historic architecture. The more modern buildings designed by Gaudi, which feature majorly in Barcelona, offer another side to architecture in the country and are stunning pieces to go and visit. They provide a unique sightseeing experience when visiting Spain on holiday.

Spain Accommodation and Hotels

There are various different types of Spain hotels to stay in. Cheap hotels in Spain as well as hostels are ideal for those on a budget and are usually below three stars. Contrary to British beliefs, many allow guests to book their own rooms without having to share and include a private bathroom, although not breakfast facilities. It is best to check beforehand for exact facilities. The country also has some great luxury hotel chains if you are after something a bit more expensive.

Getting around Spain

Driving between the big cities involves long distances.  Driving shorter distances out of the big cities can also be very rewarding. Either way Spain represents some of the best scenic driving experiences in the World.  

Madrid to Barcelona: 5 h 49 min (621.0 km) via AP-2 and A-2

Barcelona to Seville: 9h 3 min (996.0 km) via AP-7 and A-4

Barcelona to Valencia: 3 h 32 min (351.0 km) via AP-7

Self Driving in Spain? Top Scenic Roads and Areas to Stay

Although Spain has literally thousands of scenic options and great roads, but here’s some amongst the best, which we picked to whet your appetite, for your travels to Spain. 

The Alt Empordà Track is found along the coastal road in the northern area of Costa Brava. It will take in Greek and Roman ruins at Empúries as well as Salvador Dalí’s former home outside the beautiful  town of Cadaqués.

El Escorial to Ávila  is considered the most scenic of journey’s out of the Madrid provinceIt’s just over an hour from Felipe II’s colossal monastery and continues over the hills to the ancient walled city of Ávila.

If views are what you are into try Puerto de las Palomas to Zahara de la Sierra. It’s one of the most spectacular descents in Andalucía. It begins from the “Pass of the Doves” and zig zags crazily down to the historic Moorish village of Zahara. Along the way there are amazing views across the sierras. 

Something for a spectacular spring drive? Try the Valle de Jerte Track along the Río Jerte for 70km (N110 out of Plasencia towards Barco de Ávila) – the area has abundant cherry blossom in the spring season.

Up north, Vielha to Esterri d’Aneau. Here the snow capped mountains, densely forested slopes and complete mountain stillness awaits – this 42km drive over the Bonaigua Pass (2072m) is as pure as the Pyrenees gets.

Accommodation, driving and car rental

At Cheaperthanhotels and Cheaperthancars we have a wide range of car rental discounts at convenient locations and accommodation to meet all budgets and taste across Spain. We really do believe that the less you spend, the more you will have to do when you get there.

Your Cheaperthanhotels Team