The first time we visited Spain, we only had three days in Madrid and three days in Barcelona. I could have spent months in each city and still not seen enough. And that doesn't even get to the beautiful coastal towns on the Mediterranean or the southern part of Spain, home to the Alhambra and the Camino de Santiago. Spain is truly one of the most unique European countries. With distinct regions, a rich and diverse history, and a flamboyant culture, Spain captures many hearts. There's so much to do and see across the entire country, it's easy to understand why many want to visit.
Climate & Culture
Spain has amazing food, great drinks, and a deep connection with art and history. Perhaps most importantly, Spain also has a terrific climate and welcoming people. While the northern most regions get cool in the winter, snow and ice are rare. Scandinavians and the Brits frequently vacation in Spain during the winter to escape the biting cold of more Northern European countries. You can comfortably catch a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona football clubs throughout the Autumn and Winter months. The people welcome you with open arms and are enthusiastic to share their culture and customs with you.
Currently, Spain is making the headlines as one of their most popular regions, Catalonia, is attempting to secede and become its own country. As I'm writing this, we don't know the final decision. Catalonians voted to become their own country and Spain challenged that vote. The future remains unclear for both Catalonia and Spain, but the reasons to visit remain the same.
Not only does Spain produce delicious food and wine, but Spain produces great artists, too. Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Antoni Gaudi, and many more writers, dancers, and creatives hail from Spain. Barcelona is the primary location to easily amazing works of art by Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi, who grew up in Catalonia, created the façade for Casa Batllo and designed La Pedrera, Park Guell, and La Sagrada Familia. Barcelona is proud of Gaudi and there are homages to other artists throughout Barcelona and the rest of Spain. If you’re an art lover, writer, dancer, or philosopher, Spain should be high on your list of destinations.
Sangria, Paella, and Rioja
The food and drinks throughout Spain are every bit as delectable as you imagine. One of my most favorite things in this life is food and while delicious food isn't the sole reason to travel, it makes the trip much better. If you happen to enjoy a glass of wine, you're in luck! Rioja is Spain's most well-known varietal and the base for any delicious sangria. Sangria is usually a red wine (typically Rioja) sweetened with sugar, fruit slices, and sometimes fruit juices. You can find vendors on most corners and throughout parks selling sangria to-go. It's a lovely drink for an afternoon walk in the park. If a bubbly is more your style, don't leave Spain without trying Cava. Cava is Spain's version of champagne and, when mixed with fruit juices, makes a delicious morning drink.
Throughout Spain, you'll find popular dishes like paella, gazpacho, empanadas, and churros. Most dishes are served tapas style, meaning many small plates of different types of food that you typically share. Or you could be a selfish bugger like me and not share anything… If you're going for tapas, try croquetas (usually ham and cheese nuggets), albondigas (Spanish meatballs), and jamon iberico (cured, thinly sliced ham). While there, you'll feel snacky after exploring the cities and towns. Street food is available and you need to try it. The best food are small paper cones of manchego cheese or local jamon iberico. If you feel like something sweet, try the churros con chocolate. Or all three.
Pro Tip: Churros con chocolate are an excellent breakfast when you need to cure a hangover. Not that I know…
Spain is a perfect holiday getaway for anyone looking to have all the comforts of home, with a little bit of Spanish flair thrown in. If you imagine yourself sipping Sangria while snacking on local fare overlooking a beautiful landscape, Spain is for you. See you there!