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Spain Travel & Holidays Guide

By Jackie De Burca, Author of Salvador Dalí at Home, featuring excellent articles from other travel writers & experts.

What's inspirational about Spain?

Spain inspires because..

…It is an incredibly diverse country that is full of wonderful surprises for visitors; from beautiful, sunny beaches to magical natural parks, and from cities that simply ooze culture and character, to incredible events that run right throughout the year.

Salguer Beach Palamos Costa Brava

Salguer Beach, Palamos, Costa Brava, Catalonia

The reality is that if you have the time and the inclination, you could spend months each year following the trail of carnivals and fiestas, that is such an integral part of the culture and life here.

The Spanish way of life is infectious, as it is all about family, friends and fun. If you live in a small community like we do, people greet you and chat with you. Spain is also considered to be one of the top gay and lesbian friendly countries.

Spain travel guide Mallorca


You may initially be attracted by Spain’s beautiful beaches and fabulous Mediterranean climate, but it is easy to become addicted to one of Europe’s most tempting destinations. Simply put, Spain has something for everyone.

As I write this, there are some silvery pink blossoms left on the almond trees, that are to be found in so many fields in the area where we live. The sky has been perfectly azure blue all day today, with its rays dancing on the leaves of the olive trees, that embrace our humble abode.

Who has been inspired by Spain?

Spain has inspired..

…countless people; “ordinary” people like me and you, but lots of famous and creative people, whose names we know.

Salvador Dalí

Spain inspired Salvador Dali By Carl Van VechtenVan Vechten Collection at Library of Congress, Public Domain, Link

At the age of thirteen, Dalí said, ” I have quenched my desire for light and colour; I have spent the sultry summer days, painting like mad, trying to translate the incomparable beauty of the sea and sun-beaten shore.” This was one of the numerous pieces of evidence that showed how incredibly inspired the artist was by his native landscapes.

Pablo Picasso

Spain inspired Pablo PicassoAlthough you may not have read about it, Picasso, went to a place located in Catalonia, called Horta de Sant Joan, when aged 16, he went to a friend’s home, to recover from scarlet fever. The year was 1898. Here’s what Picasso said about Horta de Sant Joan, “Everything I know, I learned in Horta.”

Travel writers, bloggers, tour guides & local experts inspire you!

Andalucia Spain


Located in the very south of Spain, Andalucia is home to the Costa del Sol, where tourism kicked off back in the 1960s. Wander around squares filled with orange trees, as the aroma of orange blossom wafts deliciously through the air, and stop off for a drink and watch the world go by.

Nerja Spain Travel Guide

Nerja view from Balcony of Europe

So much to offer

Andalucia has so much to offer, both on its coast and inland, where white villages abound, set off perfectly against the azure Mediterranean sky. Beaches are plentiful, and depending on the year’s weather, you could be having Christmas lunch outside in the sun. Andalucía’s Costa del Sol enjoys an average of 320 days of sunshine per year.

Estepona Spain old town

Estepona old town

Flamenco, sangria, bullfighting, fiestas….

Think of Andalucia and visions of flamenco dancing and horses come straight to mind! In a way, many people regard Andalucia as the epitome of Spain, with its peoples’ deep love for their fiestas, their passion and zest for life. Whether it is bullfighters or sangria that represent holidays in Andalucía for you, there’s no doubt that its romantic, sun-blessed image lives on in the hearts of many foreigners. Even though the last few decades have seen much development and modernisation, especially in the coastal areas, the spirit of the romantic image lives on, albeit altered over the years by its booming tourism industry.

Andalucia Spain travel guide flamenco

Andalucia flamenco

More than only ex-pat bars…

Best known for the Costa del Sol, the autonomic community of Andalucia has so much more to offer apart from English bars that charge tourists twice the price for a beer, and Costa del Tacky tourist shops. Yes I know sometimes there’s a time and a place for this type of holiday, where you move yourself from your apartment or hotel, to the beach, and from the beach to bars and restaurants, for the evening’s entertainment.

Sierra Nevada Spain nature animal

Sierra Nevada ibex

However even if you consider UNESCO World Heritage Sites alone, Andalucia is home to six sites, five of which are cultural and one which is natural. Not to mention its wealth of beautiful cities, seaside towns, pretty white villages, diverse natural landscape, flavours and experiences.

Did you know that in Andalucia you could be sunbathing on a Mediterranean beach in the morning and skiing in the Sierra Nevada in the afternoon?

UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Andalucia

Spain Alhambra Generalife Andalucia travel guide

Alhambra Generalife

Granada Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín Seville Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias The Historic City Centre of Cordoba (including the Mezquita) The Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza Cave art throughout the provinces of Almeria, Granada and Jaen, 68 items in total. This makes up part of the Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula Doñana National Park in Huelva – is a natural World Heritage site. Within the Andalucia Spain Travel & Holidays Guide, you will find a variety of easy to reach sections such as the most beautiful cities, the beach resorts of the Costa del Sol, Andalucia’s top attractions and National Parks.

Don’t miss the full insider Andalucia Travel Guide here


Our opening photo for Aragon is a little taste of what you are missing ….it is taken in the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, in Aragon‘s province of Huesca. In 1997, the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Spain travel guide Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park Aragon

Photo credit: Les Haines

Sweeping down from the Pyrenees, where it touches the border of Southern France, Aragon is a land-locked community, surrounded by Catalonia, to its east, Navarre, La Rioja, Castile Leon, to the west, and Castile la Mancha and the Valencian Community, in the south.

Full of beautiful villages that time seems to have forgotten

Aragon was hugely historically important in Spain, yet these days, as it isn’t a coastal community, it is often overlooked by the average traveller. But this is a massive shame, as it is overflowing with natural beauty and is home to a large number of Spain’s officially most beautiful towns and villages.

Ainsa Aragon beautiful village

Ainsa Aragon

Photo credit: Jorge Franganillo

Aragon is galaxies away from the stereotypical Costa del …Spain, with a spirit that has been imbued by a different pace of life, in stone-built villages, that capture the imagination.

Beautiful cities

¨Spain travel guide Zaragoza sunset

¨Spain travel guide Zaragoza sunset

Photo credit: Juan EDC

This autonomous community is home to the beautiful cities of Zaragoza and Teruel; both of which are incredibly authentic, striking and full of wonderful things to see and do. Both are capitals of the provinces of the same name.

Zaragoza is the fifth-largest city in Spain, and apart from its impressive architecture and monuments, it offers one of the country’s best tapas scene. Fransisco de Goya was born close to the city, in 1748, so Zaragoza is a top place to go to see some of his works. Travel blogger, Ellie Quinn, has written a great guide to introduce you to the gems of Zaragoza; check out Ellie’s Zaragoza Travel Guide.

Zaragoza Spain-Basilica del Pilar from the Puente de Piedra

Zaragoza, Basilica del Pilar from the Puente de Piedra

Photo credit: Juan EDC

Teruel is also a treat, with dinosaur remains, diverse landscapes around the province, Mudejár art and its throbbing centre, La Plaza del Torico. Teruel’s pulse has been the city’s heart since Medieval times, and continues to buzz with all sorts of activities. Visit and enjoy musical festivals, fiestas, charity events, painting contests and more ….Before planning a trip to Teruel, discover its famous 13th century tragic, love story: Los Amantes de Teruel.

Plaza del Torico, Teruel

Plaza del Torico, Teruel

Aragon’s incredibly diverse nature

Aragon boasts an incredibly diverse range of gifts from Mother Nature, from Mediterranean forests to peaceful meadows, and from alpine peaks to inland lakes. Canyoning is a favourite activity in Aragon. Additionally, it is home to lots of interesting fauna, making it a great family adventure destination. (See the full guide to discover more)

Spain travel Aragon magical forest and lake

Aragon magical forest and lake

Photo credit:  Les Haines

One hour from the coast

From certain areas, in the south-east of Aragon, you can drive down to the Orange Blossom Coast in about one hour. For example, Monroyo to Vinaros. This route takes you by Morella, which is one of Spain’s officially most beautiful towns and quite spectacular.

Aragon highlights

Although you will need to be prepared for the cold, February is a good time to travel if you wish to immerse yourself in the Middle Ages. Teruel has its Medieval Fiesta in February. However, be prepared, as this is one of Spain’s colder areas. From the middle of June until early September are better times to visit, if you wish to go hiking in the Aragonese Pyrenees.

October is another good time to visit if you would like to experience one of the area’s great fiestas. The Fiesta Del Pilar happens in the lovely city of Zaragoza, which like other Spanish fiestas, manages to balance perfectly the religious alongside the festivities.

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."

Saint Augustine


There’s a little area tha seems to be wedged between Cantabria and Galicia, on the northern shores of Spain. It was once known as the Kingdom of Asturias, and today it could be called the Almost Unknown Kingdom of Beauty! It’s one of the smaller Spanish autonomic communities – it’s Asturias.

Asturias spain travel guide

Asturias beaches

Asturias is home to spectacular panoramas, outstanding beaches, exceptional food, wonderful pre-Romanesque buildings, friendly locals and the UNESCO delights of the Picos de Europa and the monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of Asturians.

Ibex goat in Picos de Europa Asturias

Ibex goat in Picos de Europa Asturias

Like Galicia, its verdant green landscapes are stunning. This is even more-so the case if you travel from further south, where the panorama is far drier, often with hues of reds and browns. In fact Asturias is a place which on one hand is very Spanish, but in other ways it is far more Celtic, and yet at the same time, it seems to contain many elements of Spain, all squished into one very small place.

ribadesella-asturias spain travel guide

ribadesella asturias

The landscape appears more similar to Ireland than Spain really. It is certainly not stereotypical Spain, as the average English speaking tourist knows it. Yet somehow Asturias’ remarkable horizon is explained by the stunning Picos de Europa (the Summits of Europe) hills, which dominate the expansive skyline.

mirador de san roque lastres asturias

mirador de san roque lastres asturias

Asturias is a land of contrasts. From amazing nature, where you can still find bears and wolves roaming around, to its sandy shorelines and snow-covered hills, Asturias seems to have a little taste of everything. Just like the excellent food, which tends to range from the avant-garde to the most modest tapa bars you could imagine. In the daytime you could be exploring one of its three natural parks, and by the evening you could be partying away at some crazy fiesta!

Spain travel guide Oviedo cathedral Asturias

Oviedo cathedral Asturias

And the contrasts continue. Oviedo, the capital city, which is a delightful place to visit, with its strong medieval flavour, is so different to Asturias’s second biggest city, gritty Gijon.

Asturias Spain travel guide Gijon


This is a brief introduction to Asturias, check back soon as we are working on more information for you.

The Balearic Islands

Lying a little under 200 km off the east coast of Spain, the Balearic Islands are comprised of four isles, each offering wonderful holiday options, in various ways. Discover the difference between Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

Spain travel guide Majorca Cala S'Almunia

Majorca Cala S’Almunia


Majorca’s scenery is somewhat reminiscent of Tuscany, with Mediterranean vistas, sprawling vineyards and cute hilltop villages. The largest of the Balearics, Majorca (3,640.11 km2) may bring only beach holidays to mind, but its capital Palma is overflowing with striking architecture, culture and history, plus the island is a wonderful place to enjoy the great outdoors.

Palma Mallorca horse drawn carriage

With an average of around 300 days of sunshine per year and a choice of around 120 beaches and coves, a visitor could be forgiven for wanting to do nothing more than loll around in the sun and relax of an evening.

Serra de Tramuntana

However, for those who wish to be a bit more active, especially when the weather isn’t too hot, then the Serra de Tramuntana is a fantastic place to explore either by bike or on foot. This gorgeous part of the island is a UNESCO site. 

Majorca Spain Serra de Tramuntana

Serra de Tramuntana

MARIA ROSA FERRE ✿ (Flickr: Serra de Tramuntana, Mallorca) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

S’Albufera nature reserve

Also, on the northeast coast, near Port d’Alcúdia, you can discover the S’Albufera nature reserve, which covers a space of 4,200 acres of wetlands, that are popular with birdwatchers, hikers and cyclists. Once in that area, you can discover the medieval town of Alcúdia, with is authentic, medieval centre.

spain travel guide Majorca Alcudia old town


Vineyards & traditions

For those of you who like wine, a trip inland to visit some wineries, will be a perfect day out, in beautiful surroundings, where traditions live on. Majorca is home to many stunning rural hotels, so luxurious days away from the island’s dramatic coast, can be a super contrast to the beach life.

La Palma Majorca

If you approach Majorca from the sea, as I did for the first time in 2002, you’ll see the magnificent sight of La Seu, the city’s impressive Gothic cathedral. Palma is a lovely city, that you could easily spend a weekend break, especially if you like to shop!

spain holiday guide palma majorca cathedral

La Seu Cathedral Palma

A very enjoyable trip from Palma is the wooden train that takes you to the captivatingly beautiful town of Sóller, on an equally marvellous 27 km route, passing by citrus orchars, olive groves and pine forests. Sóller is home to gorgeous Art Nouveau houses, upmarket artisan shops and a harbour.

Mallorca train and wine tours

Mallorca train and wine tours

Photo credit: Mallorca Wine Tours

For those lovely lazy days on the beach, visit some of the island’s best beaches, our recommendations are:

Cala Torta: turquoise water and fine white sand, set in a beautiful bay

Cala Deià: a hidden gem with a special quality of light, although the beach is shingly it attracts celebrities.

Cala Tuent: a combination of pebbles and sand, this beach lies under the shelter of pine trees.

Playa de Muro: a fine, sandy blue flag beach that seems to go on forever, a favourite with families.

This introduction would not be complete without reading an article written by one of the talented travel bloggers we collaborate with, Nicola Dunkinson. Nicola has been going to Majorca since she was a child, and now she brings her own baby there.

Don’t miss out on Nicola’s Majorca Travel Guide.

Majorca Spain Playa de Muro

Playa de Muro


The most easterly of the Balearics, Menorca, is more low-key than both Majorca and Ibiza. Menorca is relatively unspoilt, with tempting turquoise waters, overlooked by pine trees and lush vegetation. Fine white sandy beaches are even welcoming off season, being pleasantly warm; inviting visitors to stroll or sit in the sun for a while.

spain holiday guide menorca es castell harbour

menorca es castell harbour

Early adopter of sustainable tourism

Menorca embraced sustainable tourism long before the issue became mainstream. The island still feels quite rural, with whitewashed villages, rolling hills and lots dry-stone walls dividing fields. As you hike Menorca’s countryside, you’ll come across stone monuments that have stood there for thousands of years.

Menorca spain holidays

Photo credit: Record Rental Car

Coastal walks are stunning, along a coastline of 216 km, of golden and white sandy beaches, and turquoise bays. The island’s terrain is not steep, making it idyllic for cycling and exploring. Follow the Cami de Cavalls, the restored medieval path, along the coast, which makes it possible to access some hidden coastal parts of Menorca and a number of spectacular beaches.

Spain travel guide Menorca Cala Macarella

Menorca Cala Macarella

Photo credit: Spin the Wind Rose

Menorca cities

Menora is home to two beautiful cities; Ciutadella and Máhon. Ciutadella has a gorgeous old quarter, fashionable harbour-side bars and a great foodie scene. Capital of the island until the beginning of the 18th century, Ciutadella is the place to spot grand summer residences, elegant palaces and stately buildings.

Ciutadella Menorca Spain holidays guide

Ciutadella Menorca

Photo credit: Bare Boat Sailing Holidays

A ten minute stroll from the centre will bring you to Cala des Degollador, a small beach, liked by the locals. If you drive around ten minutes, you’ll arrive at Cala’n Blanes, a gorgeous little beach, embraced by pine trees.

On Menorca’s east coast lies Mahon, the capital since 1721, which has a great Gothic cathedral, many elegant 18th century mansions and fine churches. This city is the perfect choice for those of you who want a lively option, with lots of shopping and nightlife. Sash windows adorning balconied townhouses hint at Mahon’s British colonial past.

Mahon Menorca Spain travel guide

Mahon Menorca

Photo credit: Cruise Mapper

Beaches are within a ten minute plus drive, with the nearest blue flag option being Punta Prima or Mesquida, an idyllic cove, or further on Es Grau, which is flanked by sand dunes. (The driving time between the two cities is around 45 minutes.)

Visit the Xoriguer Gin Distillery in Mahon Port

Another remnant of British rule, was the practice of distilling gin. The British soldiers, apparently, missed being able to drink gin, so juniper berries were imported to the island and of course, a distillery was built. Gin caught on with the Menorcans, so much so that one family distilled their own brand, Xoriguer, building the distillery that you can visit today, in the 1900s.

Xoriguer Gin Distillery Mahon Port Menorca

Photo credit: London City Calling

Menorca also has a number of interesting Megalithic sites.

Menorca is the favourite place in Spain of another talented travel blogger, whom we collaborate with, Jessica Buck. Jessica has fond childhood memories of family holidays in Menorca and now in her mid-twenties, she still continues to go there.

Discover Jessica’s tips for when you visit Menorca.


Sadly, or happily, depending on your age and point of view, Ibiza is known as the party island of the Balearics. On 6th February 2018, the British Sun newspaper ran an article with the following headline: ISLE BE WAITING Ibiza launches tourist crackdown and extra police ahead of holiday season: reporting that, “IBIZA is launching an unprecedented attack on the bad aspects of mass tourism and is calling for more police before the start of the summer season.”

Ibiza yachts at sea

Ibiza yachts at sea

Yet on the other hand, the island is also home to places that are untouched by that raving type of tourism. Really all you need to do is avoid the party hubs of San Antonio and Ibiza town. Hire a car and actually, you can have a wonderful holiday discovering different pristine beaches every day.

Sleepy San Juan & Cala San Vicente

Head to San Juan, considered to be the last village of Ibiza, which is a sleepy, hidden gem. Located in the north, San Juan is surrounded by hills clad in pine trees. Its attraction is how laid back it is and not far away, sun worshippers can head to the wonderful beach of Cala San Vicente. Clear azure waters are embraced by golden sand, flanked by a promenade.

Cala San Vicente Ibiza

Cala San Vicente

Photo credit: One Villas Ibiza

Incredible Italian food in sleepy San Juan

In San Juan, be sure not to miss out on a meal at the Cigale Restaurant. When you go there, it will be obvious to you that the couple who own it, Michela and Paulo, have a true love affair with food. Pasta is made fresh each day, vegetables are homegrown and fish have been freshly caught. For families, the restaurant’s small playground makes for an even more relaxing meal out.

Cigale Restaurant ibiza

Cigale Restaurant ibiza

Photo credit: White Ibiza

Es Caña & Cala Martina

On the eastern side of Ibiza, lies the pretty picture-postcard town of Es Caña. White-washed homes and waterfront restaurants overlook the town’s small working harbour. The town is busy enough to be entertaining, but still a pretty relaxed place. Each week the town hosts its famous hippy market.

Take a short walk from Es Caña to reach the sheltered beach, Cala Martina. This lovely beach is popular with snorkelers, divers and windsurfers, yet it is also family friendly and doesn’t get too crowded.There is a windsurfing and diving school there.

Lamb chops & tomato salad

One restaurant that has built a great reputation for its food in general, is Restaurant Balafia – however it is almost legendary for serving wonderful lamb chops and tomato salad, at any time of the year. Not only is the food excellent, but the setting is idyllic in a pretty lemon grove.

Spain travel guide Restaurant Balafia Ibiza

Restaurant Balafia Ibiza

Dalt Vila UNESCO

The island’s capital, Eivissa (Ibiza), is where you can see the UNESCO listed Dalt Vila. Dalt Vila, in fact, means upper town, which is better explored in sensible shoes, as you wind your way through steep cobbled streets. Even though you may wish to avoid the clubbing aspect of the capital, it would be a shame not to take a day trip to see the magnificent, dramatic Dalt Vila, filled with monuments and alleys, including a cathedral and castle. As you explore it, don’t forget that this place has been the site of all sorts of cultural activities for centuries.

spain travel guide dalt vila ibiza town ibiza

Dalt Vila

By Forbfruit at the German language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link


As the saying goes, the best things come in small packages. Formentera is by far the most petite of the Balearic Islands and is considered to be Ibiza’s little sister, but those sisters have very different personalities!

Spain holiday guide Formentera Cala des Morts

Formentera Cala des Morts

Europe’s answer to the Caribbean

Formentera is Europe’s answer to the Caribbean, with crystal clear waters and miles of gorgeous, white sandy beaches. Visitors don’t come to Formentera to party and pose, they go there to feel at one with nature, finding peace and relaxation, on beautiful beaches backed with pine trees and sand dunes. On Formentera, no-one is in a hurry and the pace of life is laid-back, with a hippyish vibe. Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd were visitors in the 1970s.

Formentera idyllic beaches

Formentera idyllic beaches

Bikes are all the rage

This idyllic island is only 83 km2, and has no airport, so visitors make their way on one of the regular ferries, from Ibiza; a journey that takes about half an hour. Formentera’s compact size dictates aspects of the lifestyle you can expect to enjoy there. As it is only 22 km long and in its thinnest, central section, just a couple of kilometres wide, scooters and bikes are the most pragmatic forms of transport.

Spain holiday guide Formentera crystal clear water

Formentera crystal clear water

Sant Francesc Xavier

Life in Formentera’s capital, Sant Francesc Xavier, gravitates around the church square. The simple 18th century church, was fortified, and used to have a roof with cannons. Residents would hide in the church’s thick walls, during pirate attacks. These days, local crafts people sell their artisan offerings in the church square, in the mornings. The quaint square has a lovely atmosphere, lined with bars and cafés, with pedestrianised streets where you can shop or relax.

pain travel guide Formentera Sant Francesc Xavier

Sant Francesc Xavier

As an island, most supplies have to be transported to Formentera, which, of course, makes it more expensive, but because of its wonderful beaches, marine life and relaxed atmosphere, the extra money seems worthwhile.

Castile and Léon

Castile & Leon

For too long and for too many visitors, Spain has been synonymous with flamenco, sangria and sun-drenched beaches. Its Costas have been a safe haven for all sorts over the last few decades, including plenty of sun-starved tourists, who want nothing more than to lie on the beach by day and have fun by night. Don’t get me wrong, I did this back in the day myself.

Castile and Leon Spain swamp-burguillo

burguillo swamp Castile and Leon

6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

However there are huge chunks of Spain that are sadly overlooked by the average quick-fix tourist. The autonomous community of Castile and Leon, I believe, currently falls into this category. It isn’t home to Spain’s capital, Madrid, nor does it have such a world-popular city destination such as Barcelona or Seville, but it has six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and lots more besides.

Burgos Cathedral UNESCO Castile and Leon

Burgos Cathedral UNESCO Castile and Leon

In search of Spanish soul

And this brings me to the question of the essence of Spanish soul. Spain is vast, and as diverse as the different personalities of some of its regions. A well-prepared traveller, who speaks some Spanish, can head to Andalucia only to discover that the locals tend to swallow half their words there. But sure between the fiestas, flamenco, sun and fun there, does it really matter?

Spend some time in Catalonia and you’ll discover that these people are incredibly different to the Andalusians down south. Don’t worry, Catalonia has plenty of fiestas, some of which are world-famous. But the Catalans have more of an edge, a kind of irony to both them and their fiestas. They are a very cultured, hard working bunch, with a great creative flair – if one is to generalise.

Spain travel guide Castile and Leon Segovia cathedral

Segovia cathedral

And then we could take Galicia, as another example, for some extra contrast. This autonomous community in the north-west of the country, is almost greener than Ireland. It has a number of truly spectacular spots, and is renowned for its hospitality.

But you certainly won’t head there 12 months a year sun-seeking – in fact you’re not really guaranteed sun there, perhaps just in July and August. But it is absolutely beautiful, and as an Irish person I can feel its Celtic heart. I know I run the risk of locals here in Spain feeling that these are generalisations, however I aim to make a point. Where is the location of the real essence of the Spanish soul?

Spain travel guide Castile and Leon Segovia countryside church

Castile and Leon Segovia countryside church

I wonder can we pin what may be Spanish soul down to one autonomous community at all? Perhaps not. The reality is because of the history of the country, the soul has a number of veils, that can be experienced in different parts of Spain.

But if we really had to try to attach it only to one place, a bit like choosing that one disc for Desert Island discs, I think that the autonomous community would have to be Castile and Leon (Castilla y Leon). It is the land of kings and empire.

Spain travel guide Castile and Leon Segovia forest mountains

Segovia forest & mountains

Spain heart and soul

Castile and Leon epitomises the heart and soul of Spain – of course only when one is forced to whittle it down to only one community. It is blessed with fairytale cities, amazing culture, a wonderful landscape and great food. Spectacular mountain peaks overlook vast plains, where the visitor can discover medieval gems of villages and towns.

Take the time to explore its quiet back roads, where the story of unspoilt Spain unfolds in front of you, as you discover isolated castles and quaint half-timbered hamlets. Drive southwest from the scenic Sierra de Francia to find more of the hidden Spain, that it’s unlikely you’ve heard of, such as Calatañazor, Covarrubias and Medinaceli in the east.

Calatañazor Castile and Leson Spain


An important area historically

Castile and Leon is Spain’s largest region, which are more correctly referred to as autonomic communities. The community was created in 1983 when Leon and Castilla la Vieja came together, both of which were very important in Spanish medieval history.

This is evident as you travel around the area, with the large amount of castles, monasteries, cathedrals and fortified towns. For nature lovers, there are plenty of kilometres with almost virginal nature,as well as natural parks.

Castile and Leon gastronomy

Spain travel guide La Escalera Avila monkfish prawns menu del dia

La Escalera Restaurant, Avila, monkfish & prawns menu del dia

Castile and Leon is a meat lovers paradise. Gastronomy focuses a great deal of excellent meat, especially lamb. However there are also vegetables and legumes, such as the famous Ávila creamy beans. Mushrooms are also important, during the season. There are a number of wine and foodie orientated routes that you can follow in the area.



Nestled in the north-eastern corner of Spain, snuggling up to the French border, is the autonomous community of Catalonia, whose capital city, Barcelona, attracts around 30 million visitors each year. While undoubtedly Barcelona is both beautiful and magical in parts, there is so much more to Catalonia than its capital, which is currently Spain’s most visited tourist destination.

Don’t miss our two amazing guest articles

As you read further down, you will find links to two excellent insider articles about Barcelona. One is by Eduardo, a top tour guide, and the other is by a talented travel blogger, Jessica Harding, who has been living there for three years.

Catalonia travel guide Altafulla beach

Altafulla beach

Spectacular coastlines & breathtaking beaches

Home to some supremely, spectacular coastlines and breathtaking beaches, Catalonia’s diverse offerings and landscapes range from vibrant vineyards, to the splendour of the snow-capped Pyrenees, and so much more besides. In summer, visitors are spoiled for choice between the strikingly, dramatic coastline of the Costa Brava, where rocky paths are punctuated with pine trees perched over the ocean, or the seductively, serene, golden sandy beaches of the more southerly Costas, such as Costa Barcelona, Maresme or Dorada.

Spain Travel Guide Sa Tuna Begur Costa BravaSpain Travel Guide Sa Tuna Begur

Sa Tuna, Begur Costa Brava

Distinctive culture & customs

Comprised of four picturesque provinces, Catalonia definitely has its own distinctive culture and customs, along with its own language, Catalan. However its population is cosmopolitan, with both international residents and many Spaniards, who relocated from various parts of Spain, making the question of independence a complex issue. Understandably many Catalans thirst for an independent state, predominantly due to culture, lineage and economics, whereas others, and those without a Catalan family-tree, question the pragmatic wisdom of such a move.*

Spain travel guide Girona River Onyar

Girona River Onyar

Human castles & Salvador Dalí

But moving swiftly away from politics, if you are someone who likes to fit in as much as possible into your holiday, you could bear witness to human castles (Castellers) and then head off to immerse yourself in the Surreal world of Salvador Dalí. The prolific genius grew up in the tempting town of Figueres, embraced by the Empordá plains, but spent his dreamy summer holidays in the incredibly, charming coastal town of Cadaqués, where he truly immersed himself in the somewhat Surreal, yet dramatically lovely landscape.

Spain holidays guide Figueres

Figueres, birth town of Dalí

Stimulating the senses

While undoubtedly Dalí was especially sensitive to his surroundings, anyone who wishes to stimulate all of their senses should consider spending time in Catalonia. Famous worldwide for its culinary offerings, Catalonia is full of fine architecture, artistic heritage, magic and mysteries, and spectacular natural beauty. The capital, Barcelona, is the sixth most visited city in the world, and it’s not difficult to understand why. The capital is home to fine beaches surrounded by buzzing bars and excellent eateries, which are only a couple of kilometres away from the city’s amazing architecture and superb shopping areas.

Spain travel guide Cap de Creus

Cap de Creus Natural Park

Two absolutely superb guides about Barcelona

I have visited Barcelona numerous times, since my move to Spain in 2003, but now I will hand you over to someone whose love and level of expertise about the city is far superior to mine. Eduardo Maturana is a tour guide, who has kindly written a wonderful feature, which not only gives you fabulous information about beautiful Barcelona, but it also introduces you to some of the hidden, magical secrets of Catalonia’s capital city. You can read Eduardo’s Barcelona guide here.

While Eduardo imparts his amazing knowledge, with his slant on some special secrets, our other superb guest guide about Barcelona, is written by the talented travel blogger, Jessica Harding, who has been living there for three years. Jessica has worked extremely hard to bring you a thorough and extremely useful guide to Barcelona. She includes tips for travellers from a non native’s perspective, heaps of sights you should try to see, plus favourites bars and restaurants. Read Jessica’s Barcelona travel guide.

Parc Guell Barcelona

Parc Guell Barcelona

Diverse natural landscapes

For those of you who prefer to avoid the crowded coastal and city areas, in Catalonia, you can immerse yourselves in a diverse selection of striking natural settings. From the dunes and paddy fields of the Delta de l’Ebre to the peaceful, verdant valleys which are overlooked by the Pyrenees, where you can wander, weaving your way through a natural paradise, dotted with quaint, lonely villages and romantic, Romanesque monasteries and churches.

Delta de l'Ebre Natural Park

Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park

*In writing this guide, I wish to comment on our respect for what has happened in Catalonia, especially as I am Irish, and I grew up in the times of the so-called “troubles” in Northern Ireland. That said, the purpose of this blog and all guides included within it, is purely to offer in-depth, expert information on the areas that we cover.



This introduction about the Community of Madrid has been kindly written by top tour guide, Patricia Morcillo. She has also written an excellent guide about Madrid city, which is linked just below and also, again at the end of this introduction.

Community of Madrid Spain travel guide-temple of Debod at night

temple of Debod at night

Photo credit: Fernando García

The city of Madrid, located 650 metres above sea level (which makes it the highest European capital), is located in the community of the same name, in the heart of the country; don’t forget that Spain is divided into 17 communities. The community of Madrid takes up a surface space of around 8,000 km2, and although it is not the largest community in Spain, it is the richest one.

The treasures of the Community of Madrid

The community of Madrid attracts more tourists every year. In fact, in 2017, some twelve million people have been captivated by the enormous and varied offerings that this region treasures; ranging from its impressive culture, good food, leafy nature, towns full of charm, museums, the possibility of practising any sport modality and, in short, the magnificent infrastructures that it offers.

Madrid Cibeles Fountain

Madrid Cibeles Fountain

Community of Madrid: sights not to miss

This community treasures up to four locations that have been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage, which are:

1. San Lorenzo de El Escorial: this is where the monastery of the same name is located, where King Felipe II lived, and where all the Spanish kings are buried. Check out more about this Madrid UNESCO Site.

ommunity of Madrid Spain Aranjuez Palace

Aranjuez Palace

2. Aranjuez: a municipality 42 km from Madrid, where its Renaissance palace and its splendid gardens stand out, where the royal family once dwelled. Learn more about this UNESCO Site in the Community of Madrid.

3. Alcalá de Henares: better known as the place where the most universal writer, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quixote, was born and lived for four years. There you can visit the museum in the house where he was born. ¨Discover more about this Madrid UNESCO listing.

Spain travel guide community of Madrid-Alcalá de Henares statue of Cervantes

Alcalá de Henares statue of Cervantes

4. Hayedo de Montejo: 250 hectares of beech forest from the Carpathians, Ukraine, Germany and Slovakia, which was declared UNESCO Biosphere, in 2017.

Madrid’s mountains and sublime natural beauty

The Community of Madrid has many mountains, such as the Sierra de Guadarrama, where you can go hiking or even skiing in its Port of Navacerrada, only 60 km from the capital, or why not go fishing in the Cofio River, in Valdemaqueda, from its Mocha Bridge, of Roman origin. Go swimming in the Pantano de San Juan, which is considered the Beach of Madrid, or in the natural pools of the Presillas del Lozoya, located in the sublime natural environment of Rascafría, about 90 km from Madrid.

Puente Mocha in Valdemaqueda Community of Madrid Spain

Puente Mocha in Valdemaqueda

To tempt your taste buds

Of course, many of the twelve million visitors who came to this community last year, were tempted by the delicious cuisine of the region.

Spain holiday guide community of Madrid-taverna bar with glasses of vermouth

taverna bar with glasses of vermouth

Meat is one of those delights; offerings include gastronomic highlights such as suckling pig and baked lamb. But you can also eat very good fish because, despite being in the centre of the country, quite far from the sea, it has the second largest fish market in the world after Tokyo. What’s more, the community’s signature dish is the famous calamari sandwich. Normally, it is accompanied by a cold beer, a vermouth, or a summer red (tinto de verano), which is similar to sangria, but made with soda and wine, in equal quantities.

Spain travel guide community of Madrid--calamari sandwich, with olives and summer wine

calamari sandwich, with olives and summer wine

Most of the locals, drink beer while eating tapas, especially, potatoes with aioli or brava sauce, Russian salad, Spanish omelette and the ineffable sandwich. Did you realise that the Spanish are the fifth biggest consumers of beer, in the world? For example, each inhabitant of the community of Madrid drinks about 20 litres of beer annually.

Dessert is also important in this area. In fact, the typical candy of the region is violet. It is sold in all the bakeries of the community, but the most characteristic place is a store, in the heart of the city, called “La Violeta”, dating from 1915.

Madrid Spain Tienda La Violeta

Madrid Spain Tienda La Violeta

It is said that this sweet, made with the essence of the flower of violet, was the favourite of Queen Victoria Eugenia, granddaughter of Victoria of England, and, when she married the Spanish sovereign, the people of Madrid decided to accept her as one of their own. Her husband, King Alfonso XIII, used to buy two boxes of this delicacy of French origin: one was for his royal wife and the other for his mistress.

Nor should we forget the breakfast or snack par excellence, the chocolate with churros, and the energetic cocido madrileño, made up of noodle soup, different types of meat, chorizo, morzilla and vegetables.

Spain travel guide community of Madrid-Chocolate con churros en Churrería 1902

Chocolate con churros en Churrería 1902

Of course, it is considered normal to end your meal with a liquor, made from ingredients of the strawberry tree (Arbutus), which used to be a remedy against the plague epidemic in the Middle Ages. The strawberry tree is the characteristic tree of the region and is also its symbol, always accompanied by the bear, and it appears on the flag of the city, in a statue located in the centre, and in all kinds of street furniture.

Madrid Spain statue of the bear and strawberry tree

statue of the bear and strawberry tree

You already have more reasons to know this part of Spain that, surely, will not disappoint you. Regardless of what country you are travelling from, there are lots of international flights going to Madrid Barajas Airport. Before making any travel decisions,….

Discover Madrid City intimately, through Patricia’s eyes and in-depth expertise, in her Madrid Spain Travel Guide.

Valencian Community

Valencian Community

The Valencian Community (Comunidad Valenciana) lies on Spain’s east coast, tipping the south of Catalonia with its northern border, and meeting with Murcia in the south. The communities of Aragon and Castile & Leon embrace its western border. Coastal areas include the Costa Blanca, Costa Azahar (Orange Blossom Coast) and Costa Valencia.

Traditionally mass tourism has gravitated around the Costa Blanca. However some tourists are starting to get to know other areas such as Peñiscola on the Orange Blossom Coast, where Game of Thrones was filmed in 2015. This is partially thanks to good old Ryanair, who opened routes from London Stansted and Bristol to Castellon, which commenced on 15th September 2015.

Peniscola Sand Castle and Real Castle At Dusk

Peniscola Sand Castle and Real Castle At Dusk

Diverse natural beauty, great cities, lovely beaches and delicious food

This is the community where we have lived for around five years, and I can tell you that within a half an hour’s drive from us, there is so much diverse natural beauty, great cities, lovely beaches and delicious food. In fact, there are three Michelin starred restaurants, two of which are within ten minutes drive from us and the third is around twenty-five minutes away. The closest one, L’Antic Molí is famous for catering for weddings and parties, but it also does a Menu del Día (3 courses with half a bottle of wine per person) for €13.50 at lunchtimes during the week, that is always excellent, and incredible value for money, as well as some more up market tasting menus.

Prawns of tarragona with fiduea

Prawns of tarragona with fiduea

The truth is that we are kind of spoiled for choice here, without the area being overrun by tourists and lager louts, thanks be to…..We live in the countryside on an olive farm, which also has carob and almond trees. If we jump into the car in around fifteen to twenty minutes we can be in Vinaros, an authentic seaside town.

Vinaros Spain Cala Puntal

Vinaros Spain Cala Puntal

Vinaros sculputured seats at promenade

Vinaros sculputured seats at promenade

Soon I will write a fuller guide about the Valencian Community, but this is just some food for thought. For those who love wine, why not check out our Castellon Wine Route.

If you are someone who feels more comfortable in a developed area like the Costa Blanca, then do check out Alan’s interesting guide about how expat life is in Javea. Alan is the creator of Javea Life.

There’s so much to experience & do in spain
Explore by area

Spain is made up of seventeen autonomous communities and within each of these, you can discover an amazing range of special highlights and attractions.

This guide is arranged by these areas, so that you can easily make travel decisions and discover new parts of Spain, that are not on everyone's radar.

(As Catalonia is still an autonomous community,  it is included in this list, but with respect of the current situation, and the inhabitants' feelings about it.)

This definitive Spain travel and holidays guide is
….brought to you by top bloggers, tour guides & the author, Jackie De Burca

How this guide was written

The Travel Inspires Spain collaborative travel and holidays guide has been co-ordinated and partially written by Jackie De Burca, author of Salvador Dalí at Home, who has been living in Spain since 2003.

Guadalest Spain Gorgeous Views

Guadalest Spain

She has collaborated with lots of great travel bloggers and tour guides to bring you the most comprehensive, lively information, packed with super tips from these talented creatives. Some of these writers are also living in Spain, so they bring you wonderful insider information, whereas others are savvy bloggers, with the knack of sniffing out some of the best places to go! And the tour guides, as you can imagine, know these places like the back of their hands.

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