Immerse yourself in the rhythm of the flamenco and adopt the spirit of the bull by taking your Spanish holiday by the horns. One of the world’s favorite vacation destinations, Spain is a vast and diverse country that embodies the Latin flavor and fiery Mediterranean culture.
Whether it is the relaxed siesta days or the way in which the whole country seems to join the fiesta when the lights go down. There is something for everyone amongst Spain’s cosmopolitan cities, picturesque towns, and traditional villages.
Dive into our (free) travel guides below!
The Key Info
Spain is a European country that is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. The mainland is bordered with France, Portugal, Andorra, and the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. It is the second-largest country in the European Union, and the 4th largest in Europe with a total area of 195, 360 square miles. The majority of the country has Central European Standard Time.
The national language is Spanish, but in some areas, the local people may speak a regional language, such as Galician or Catalan. With a warm Mediterranean climate and over 300 hours of sunshine each year, tourists flock to coastal towns for a relaxing vacation of sun, sand, and sangria. However, Spain is not just about the beaches. The country is also a cultural hub of towns and cities, producing world-class artists and musicians, and enriched with historical significance.
Spain is the world’s third-largest exporter of wine, fruits, and vegetables, and the legendary cuisine is healthy and full of flavor. The national dish is the seafood Paella, accompanied perfectly by one of the wines or sherries from some of the vineyards in the world.
Country in Numbers
- Population number: 46.72 million
- Total size of the country: 505, 990 km2.
- Capital city: Madrid
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Spanish
- Religion: Roman Catholic (67.8%), Atheist (9.1%), non-believer (18.4%), unspecified (2.5%).
The 5 Largest Cities in Spain
1) Madrid 3.265 million
The capital Madrid is a dynamic cosmopolitan city that is located in the center of the mainland. With almost 3.3 million inhabitants, there is so much to see and do, and this golden metropolis offers fun, culture, history and some of the best football in the world. Head to the Prado Museum to explore one of the world’s greatest collections of art, marvel at the Royal Place where King Felipe stays when he is in residence, or relax in the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s bright and vibrant main square.
With a population of 1.615 million, the historic city of Barcelona is at the heart of the Catalonian region. This seaside city offers hospitality and history alongside the golden sands of the Costa Brava. Home to amazing Gaudi architecture, including the impressive Sagrada Familia Cathedral, this dreamy destination is a popular choice for holidaymakers.
The birthplace of Spain’s national dish paella, Valencia is the third-largest city in Spain, with a population of 798,033. Providing a perfect combination between historical Gothic architecture, cosmopolitan city vibes, and seaside Spain, this stunning city offers some of the best food and drink in the country.
Hosting some of the best flamenco in the country, Seville is steeped in atmosphere and charm. With one of the largest cathedrals in the world, this beautiful city is situated in the south of Spain and has a population of 703, 021. With Game of Thrones film locations, Andalusian charm, and Moorish style architecture, this student-filled vibrant city is certainly a favorite.
Located in the North East of the country, Spain’s fifth-largest city is the capital of Aragón region, with a population of 674, 725 inhabitants. Home to two cathedrals and many of the original works of local artist Francisco de Goya, Zaragoza is an underrated typically Spanish city that offers some of the best tapas in the country.
Top Tourist Attractions
Whether you are looking for a cultured city break, a relaxing vacation by the sea or a party like no other, Spain has tons of top tourist attractions across the country.
1) Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Located in the Catalonian capital, one of Spain’s most popular tourist attractions is the result of architectural genius Antoni Gaudi’s work. The most visited monument in Spain, there are works of art to be discovered all around the immense interior and exterior of the church.
2) The Alhambra and Generalife Garden’s Granada
The Palacio de Generalife was the summer palace during Spain’s Islamic period, and this stunning building is a true masterpiece. With gorgeous gardens providing picturesque serenity, intricate stone carvings and detailed statues alongside breath-taking buildings, the Architect’s Gardens are one of the most visited landmarks across Spain.
3) Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
Completely redefining possibilities, the building that houses the Guggenheim Museum is a top tourist attraction on its own. Designed by American Frank Gehry, this groundbreaking museum includes modern and contemporary exhibitions and rotating displays of art.
4) El Tiede, Tenerife
The highest peak in Spain at 3,718m, this gigantic volcanic crater and its surrounded national park is the most visited natural wonder across the country.
5) Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
For those who have walked the Camino, the sight of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is a truly emotional moment. A pilgrim’s finish line since the middle ages, this stunning building is a monument to Early Romanesque architecture, and it is rumoured to be the final burial place of the apostle St. James.
Best Time to Travel
Spain is a diverse country that has such geographical variety that the weather can vary from coast to coast. July and August can get particularly hot, especially in the southern regions. Alternatively, the stunning greenery of Galicia is partly due to the significant rainfall in the region. If you are looking for winter sun, consider booking a trip to the Balearic or Canary Islands. Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canarias are popular January destinations, with many heading to the islands to soak up the rays and get rid of the winter blues.
Holidays in Spain
- 1 January: New Year’s Day.
- 19 April, Good Friday.
- 1 May, Labour Day.
- 15 August: the Assumption.
- 12 October: Spain’s National Day.
- 1 November: All Saints’ Day.
- 6 December: Spanish Constitution Day.
- 8 December: Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
- 25 December, Christmas Day.
Spain is part of the European Union, and as a result, all EU citizens are able to live, travel and work in Spain. For UK citizens, visa requirements are yet to be clarified after Brexit so check the Gov.Uk website before you travel. For travelers from outside of Europe, Spain is part of the Schengen Zone. A Schengen visa will enable you to travel to all of the 26 countries, including Spain, for up to 90 days within 180.
The national currency of Spain is the Euro, which is the common currency across 37 European countries. The banknotes are available in denominations of €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5.
All major credit and debit cards are accepted across Spain. However, not all businesses may accept card payments and you will still want to carry a small amount of cash; especially if you are traveling to small villages or using public transport. Tipping is not mandatory, but if you have enjoyed your service, a tip of around 5-10% is usually considered standard.
DOs and DON’Ts in Spain
|Learn a bit of Spanish: Although many people in Spain speak English, being able to speak a little bit of the language can go a long way. Learn the basics and use it whenever possible.||Leave shopping until Sunday: In Spain, the vast majority of shops and businesses are closed on Sunday and it can be difficult to even pick up the basics. This is particularly important if you are self-catering!|
|Use Public Transport: Spain is a well-connected country with good public transport resources. If you are looking to save money on your trip, travel via train or bus to your destination.||Forget sun safety: Spain can get super-hot, especially in summer. Don’t forget, you will need to wear appropriate sun protection and always ensure that you are getting enough water to stay hydrated.|
|Get travel insurance: Health care is priority and travel insurance is a must for anyone who wants to ensure a stress-free trip.||Advertise to pickpockets: Although Spain is a relatively safe country; larger cities may be prone to pickpockets. Keep everything safe and secure and always be aware of your surroundings.|
|Adopt the Spanish schedule: Siesta around 1-4pm in the afternoon. Expect most shops, offices, and restaurants will be closed during this time. They also tend to eat much later, with dinner starting at around 10 pm.||Don’t arrive punctually – or expect others to! Like their stereotype, Spanish people are often late, and it is practically considered rude to show up at your host’s house on time!|
Must-Haves for Your Spanish Packing List!
- With stunning coastlines and idyllic beaches up and down the country, you will probably want beachwear, especially if you are going in the summer.
- However, the weather is not always sunshine and heat, and you may wish to pack waterproof clothing, just in case. Check the weather report for where you are going to see whether rain is expected.
- Dress like a local and make sure you have at least one nice outfit for dinner or drinks with friends
- Although in the times of smartphones it may not be quite as essential, a Spanish phrasebook is bound to come in handy
- At least one pair of comfy walking shoes are a must.
Secret Tips From Bloggers
- Sample delicious cuisine at the Jalón Valley – Travel Supermarket
- Drink some of the world’s best cider in Asturias – Lingua Schools
- Discover hidden beaches and coves – Oliver’s Travels
- Explore the white villages, such as Setenil de las Bodegas – My Daily Spanish
TOP 7 Instagrammable places
- Brihuega: #brihuega (27k)
- Segovia Aqueduct: #segovia (882k)
- La Giralda, Seville: #lagiralda(43k)
- Mallorca: #mallorcabeach (49k)
- Calo des Moro, Ibiza: #calodesmore (27k)
- Consuegra Toledo: #consuegra (38k)
- Campo de Criptana: #campdecriptana (25k)
P.S. Check out the underrated island of Menorca here to discover why you need to visit this island!
Fun facts about Spain
Did you know…?
- Spain produces 44% of the world’s olive oil.
- They have the highest number of bars per people in Europe
- Spanish people eat twelve grapes at midnight on NYE
- There are almost 600 Blue Flag Beaches and more than 5000 miles of coastline
- There are no words in the National Anthem of Spain.