Budget airlines and affordable fares have turned Spain into a
beach resort haven for northern Europeans wishing to escape their
own (sometimes) damp and dreary climates. With sun-bleached beaches
and a favourable rate of exchange for most travellers, it's easy to
see why Spain is such a popular choice for an unforgettable beach
holiday in Europe. An incredible 53 million people visit Spain each
year (the second most in Europe after France), and the country has
earned its formidable reputation as a tourist haven.
Some may feel that the Canary and Balearic Islands have been
overrun by tourists, and this is true to some extent - Tenerife,
Lanzarote and Mallorca have become synonymous with cheap package
holidays and warm beer, and Ibiza's reputation has, for some, been
tarnished by the revellers frequenting its famous dance clubs and
beach parties. However even in these crowded resort areas you will
find many magical, unspoilt corners awaiting discovery.
Spain is comprised of numerous autonomous regions, offering
great variation within one country. The hundreds of miles of
Mediterranean coastline provide ample opportunity to get off the
beaten track, and the country's vibrant cities and colourful
festivals will amaze and delight even the most seasoned traveller.
There is the Spain of Gaudi, Dali, and Picasso, of Goya and
Velazquez - proudly displayed in Madrid's museums and
Spain's Pamplona is a unique experience of thundering streets
that vibrate to the rhythm of man and beast during the annual
running of the bulls, and while the whole country celebrates each
February with the Carnaval, no place does it better than Sitges.
Barcelona is Spain's showcase of the unique architectural style of
Gaudi's bizarre organic turrets and balconies. For a more
provincial experience, the Valencian town of BuÃ±ol goes wild every
year with the La Tomatina festival, a time when the region's
surplus tomatoes - following the annual harvest - are dumped on the
streets and pelted about in a friendly riot.
Spain is also a country rich in heritage and the historic cities
of Toledo, Salamanca, Seville and Granada promise a wealth of early
Christian and Moorish buildings and monuments, as well as the
remains of some incredible medieval sites. Spain has six cities
that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites, more than any
other country in the world.