When you think of Spain what images immediately conjure up in your mind…flamenco dancers, matadors, white hillside villages, towering gothic cathedrals perhaps? Travel to Spain and you will experience that and so much more – from the art museums, to modern architecture, to the exciting nightlife and of course the delicious tapas, paella and sangria for which Spain is famous for.
Spaniards enjoy life. Everything is a little slower and a little later, so much so, that don’t expect to eat dinner before 9:30pm and don’t get frustrated when shops don’t open until late morning. They have a laid-back attitude and put the joy of eating and socializing with family and friends ahead of anything else. Many are still deeply committed to their faith, which makes Sunday a true day of rest.
As a holidaymaker, Spain offers many options from the mountains to the coast – large cities to quaint villages. Many come to Spain in search of spirituality on the long-distance Camino de Santiago de Compostela path. Or maybe it is the art and architecture that draws you in, as the birthplace of artist Pablo Picasso or the imaginative architect Antoni Gaudí, whose extravagant designs can be found in Barcelona. Or maybe you are a sun worshipper who wants to escape to the amazing beaches, water and much warmer climate. Spain has a huge variety of things to see and do – all you have to do is choose!
The 17 Regions in Spain
Galicia – is home to the famous Cathedral in its main city Santiago de Compostela, as it holds the shrine of Saint James, the final destination for all those who are walking the path of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.
Asturias – is a non-touristy rural and mountainous region that has vast stretches of green fields and unspoiled beaches along the coastline.
Cantabria – is a non-touristy mountainous region famous for its cave paintings and national parks.
Basque country – was given its own nationality and local language (known as Euskera), and hosts two big cities, Bilbao and San Sebastian. Bilbao is home to the Guggenheim museum and where you will find architect Frank Gehry’s designs.
Navarra – is dominated by the Pyrenees mountains and famous for being home to the Pamplona Bull race.
La Rioja – is wine country where most of Spain’s red wine comes from.
Aragon – borders France and encompasses the highest part of the Pyrenees and Spain’s largest river, the Ebro.
Catalunya – is known for its amazing beaches, warm Mediterranean climate and its capital city of Barcelona.
Castilla y León – the Camino de Santiago path runs through this region, so it does get quite busy with travelers passing through on their pilgrimage and it holds much of Spain’s heritage and historical sites.
Madrid – the capital and metropolitan city, located right in the center of Spain, offers the main hub of transportation, industry and government.
Castilla la Mancha – offers the city of Toledo, a popular tourist destination that’s within easy reach of the city of Madrid.
Valenciana – is the southeast coast of Spain making this a perfect beach holiday and is one of the largest ports in Europe for exports.
Murcia – is most known for its amazing white sand beaches and warm climate.
Extremadura – is the western region bordering Portugal where you will find some of the roman buildings beautifully restored making this a great destination for photographers.
Andalucía – is a popular tourist area with some of its most famous cities (Seville, Granada, Malaga and Cordoba), its warm climate, the golden sandy beaches and whitewash villages. This region has both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline and is divided into 4 Costa (coastlines) – some of the most famous are Cadiz, Tarifa, Marbella, Fuengirola, Nerja, Mojacar.
Islas Baleares – are the collection of islands off the east coast of Spain with the most famous being Ibiza, Menora, Mallorca and Formentera which are very popular holiday destinations due to the warmer weather and gorgeous beaches.
Islas Canarias – collection of islands further south of the mainland Spain that are located in the Atlantic Ocean just west of Africa.