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Holiday in Spain

Beach Sardinero, Santander
With great beaches, fun nightlife, many cultural regions and historic cities, Spain makes a great destination for any kind of trip. A country of large geographic and cultural diversity, Spain is a surprise to those who only know its reputation for great beach holidays. There is everything from lush meadows and snowy mountains to huge marshes and deserts in the south east.

Spain (Spanish: España) is a diverse country sharing the Iberian Peninsula with Portugal at the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is the country with the second-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, after Italy, and the largest number of World Heritage Cities.

Spain is considered an exotic country in Europe due to its friendly inhabitants, relaxed lifestyle, its cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and world-famous folklore and festivities. Among many places worth visiting are Spain's thriving capital Madrid, the vibrant coastal city of Barcelona, the famous "Running of the Bulls" at Pamplona, major Andalucian cities with Moorish architecture, like Seville, Granada and Córdoba, the Way of St. James and the idyllic Balearic and Canary Islands.

Spain is divided into autonomías or autonomous regions, plus two independent cities. Some of the autonomías - notably the ones which have other official languages alongside Spanish - are regions with their own unique historical tradition. These include the Basque Country or Euskadi (Basque), Galicia (Galician), Catalonia or Catalunya, the Valencian region or País Valencià, and the Balearic Islands or Illes Balears (Catalan), but also Andalucía. Travelers to these parts of the Iberian Peninsula should respect their history and language. The Canary Islands lie off the coast of Morocco and are geographically part of Africa, as are the two cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

For ease of reference, Spain's many regions can be grouped as follows:
Northwestern Spain (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria)

Northern Spain (Basque Country, Navarra, La Rioja)

Northeastern Spain (Catalonia, Aragón)

Central Spain (Madrid, Castile-La Mancha, Castile-Leon, Extremadura)

Eastern Spain (Murcia, Valencia)


Balearic Islands

Canary Islands

Spain has hundreds of interesting cities, here are nine of the most popular:

Madrid - The vibrant capital, with fantastic museums, great food and nightlife
Barcelona - Spain's second city, full of modernist buildings and a vibrant cultural life, nightclubs, and beaches.
Bilbao - former industrial city, home to the Guggenheim Museum.
Cadiz - oldest city in Western Europe, celebrates a famous carnival.
Córdoba - The Grand Mosque ('Mezquita') of Cordoba is one of the world's finest buildings.
Granada - stunning city in the south, surrounded by snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, home of La Alhambra.
Zaragoza - recently held a Expo and is the 5th largest city.
Seville - a beautiful, verdant city, and home to the world's third largest cathedral.
Valencia - paella was invented here, has a very nice beach.

Other destinations:
Ceuta and Melilla - Spanish enclaves on the African continent.
El Arenosillo - rocket launch site near Mazagón in Huelva, Andalucia
La Rioja - Rioja wine and fossilized dinosaur tracks.
Rías Altas (comprising the province of Lugo plus the northern part of the province of Coruña) - beautiful beaches and food.
Rías Baixas (comprising the province of Pontevedra plus the southern part of the province of Coruña) - beautiful beaches and food.
Sitges - a seaside resort near Barcelona.
Costa Brava - the rugged coast.
Palma - On the island of Mallorca, is full of amazing beaches, and great nightlife.
Ibiza - Another Balearic island; one of the best places for clubbing, raving, and DJs in the entire world.

Spain is the country with the 2nd largest number of UNESCO Heritage Sites in the world. The most popular beaches are the ones in the Mediterranean coasts and the Canary Islands. Meanwhile, for hiking, the mountains of Sierra Nevada in the south, the Central Cordillera and the northern Pyrenees are the best places.

Renting a car
If you plan to move around large cities or explore further afield you will find many companies that offer car hire at affordable prices because of the high competition between car rental agencies, consider renting a car with GPS navigation--it will be even easier to drive than having an automobile map.

Consider having full-coverage insurance instead of franchise: other drivers are not always careful parking near other cars, especially when parking space on a street is limited.

Spanish drivers can be unpredictable and some of the roads on the Southern area of Malaga and the Costa Del Sol are notoriously dangerous.

Therefore you will want a car with a fully comprehensive insurance package with includes a collision damage waiver (CDW) and a vehicle theft waiver, as well as liability cover. Many of the car hire companies offer an insurance option where you can choose to reduce your vehicle excess. This means that if you are in an accident you would not be financially liable for the whole excess fee.

Child seats are also available with all vehicles so that any children in your party can travel safely and in comfort.

Air conditioning is a must in the hot Spanish summer months. Nevertheless you should make sure to take water with you at all times.

If you break down while on holiday you will want a car hire company that gives you the free roadside assistance of trained mechanics. Cars often overheat in Spain while the tires are vulnerable on the hot roads.

By bicycle
Spain is heaven for cycling, judging by how many cyclists you can see in the cities. Cycling lanes are available in mid-sized and large cities. It must be taken into account that Spain is the second most mountainous country in Europe, and the mountains and hills are from coast to coast. For example, Madrid is between 600 and 700 meters above sea, so if you travel through it by bicycle you have to be in a good shape.

There are many different kinds of tourist accommodations, ranging from hotels, pensions, rented villas, to camping or even monasteries.

Small villages
Besides the coasts, Spain is rich in tourists-friendly inland small villages, like Alquezar: with narrow medieval streets, charming silence and isolation, still good selection of affordable restaurants and accommodation.

In addition to the native languages, English and French are commonly studied in school. If you are visiting a tourist area you will find people who are fluent in several languages. You may not be lucky elsewhere, and your best bet would be young urban people. Speak slowly, use simple words and don't hesitate to use gestures or a notebook to be understood. Chances are people will understand words more easily if you write them down.

French is the most widely understood language in the north-east of Spain, like Alquezar and Cap de Creus (at times even better than English), as the majority of travelers there come from France.

Locals will appreciate any attempts you make to speak their language. For example, "Good morning" (Buenos días) and "Thank you" (Gracias).

Vacation Rentals Spain
Colonia San Pedro

> Andalusia > Aragon > Asturia > Balearic Islands
> C. La Mancha > Canary Islands > Cantabria > Cast. Y. Leon
> Cataluña > Costa Del Sol > Extremadura > Galicia
> La Rioja > Madrid > Murcia > Navarra
> Pais Valencia > Pais Vasco