Guest post written by: Sonja from www.migratingmiss.com
Sonja is a perpetual expat who has finally settled in Edinburgh Scotland, after living in 5 other countries. When not exploring new places and seeking new adventures she can usually be found in a cafe, writing about her expat and travel adventures on her blog, Migrating Miss.
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Spain has to be one of the best travel destinations in the world. It has a bit of everything! Diverse landscapes, delicious food and definitely great weather (over 300 days of sun a year!). But let’s get specific, why should you really add Spain to your bucket list?
While there is a marked difference between the weather in sunny Andalucia in the south and in the more luscious, rainy north, in general Spain has some of the best weather in Europe. The Mediterranean climate means hot, dry summers and milder, sometimes rainy winters. In the center in places like Madrid, the weather can cool a lot more in winter, but it heats up significantly in summer! All of this means Spain is a great place to visit year round, with an immense coastline allowing you to find some relief in summer or warmth in winter.
Spanish food is highly underrated in my opinion and often overshadowed by its neighbour to the northeast, France. But all you need to do is travel through a couple of Spanish regions to discover how wonderfully diverse and delicious the food can be. Sure there’s the well known Paella, a traditional rice dish that originated in Valencia, but there’s also mouthwatering jamon serrano (ham), all sorts of tapas, and flavoursome hard cheeses.
In certain places in the south of Spain, you’ll get free tapas when you order an alcoholic drink. These are small plates of food that can be anything from olives or bread with various toppings in places like Granada, to full blown gastronomic bites to eat in Almería.
Sangria is a well-known drink from Spain, combining red wine with chopped fruit and possibly orange juice or brandy, but ask for tinto de verano (summer wine) for a cheaper and more local alternative. It’s basically red wine mixed with lemonade, and is wonderfully refreshing during a day in the Spanish sun!
Spain is home to many different types of landscape, from sandy and rocky coastlines to deserts to mountains. There’s something for everyone in Spain! You can also go from the beach in the south to the Sierra Nevada mountains within hours. There are fields of olive trees to be found, as well as vines producing some of the world’s favourite wines. National parks cover everything from glacial lakes and mountains in the north to desert landscapes and beaches in the south.
A ton of history
Across time there have been several waves of different people occupying the Iberian Peninsula, and this has given Spain a rich history that can be seen in its architecture. In the north, there are Celtic influences, while in the south the signs of the past Moorish rule are everywhere, and pictures of Spain can often be confused with those of Morocco. The Romans also left their mark and their creations can still be seen today, like the aqueduct at Segovia near Madrid that still works today.
Beautiful and unusual monuments
The Alhambra in Granada is a fortress and palace complex in the south of Spain that should be on everyone’s list of places to see and is the most visited monument in Spain. It’s followed by the Sagrada Familia, a creation by Gaudí that really has to be seen to be believed, as pictures don’t do justice to its intricacy. Step into the weird but wonderful monuments park at Parque Güell to see what a town designed entirely by Gaudí might have been like.
The Sagrada Familia, which is likely Spain’s most famous church, but there are also places like the Mezquita in Córdoba that was once a Mosque then turned Cathedral, which really sums up the eclectic culture that forms the backdrop of Spain.
A visit to Spain shouldn’t just be about ticking off the cities like Barcelona, Madrid, and Granada. Instead, make sure you stop at some of the beautiful little villages along the way. Toledo near Madrid is full to the brim with historical monuments, and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada are home to some of the most beautiful villages I’ve ever had the pleasure of wandering through.
Spain has a long coastline with lots of beautiful beaches, both rocky and sandy, bordered by the brilliant blue of the Mediterranean. Santander in the north is a popular beach destination in summer, plus the plentiful beaches along the south coast of course. But Spain has islands too, that offer another aspect to a visit with clear water coves to swim in and plenty of interesting sites to see, including volcanic craters, historic towns and plenty of places to party if that’s what you’re into.
And these are just a few of the reasons why you should visit Spain. I haven’t even mentioned watching a flamenco show or experiencing the feria (festival) in Seville, or La Tomatina, the tomato-throwing festival held in a Valencian town every year. One visit to Spain just won’t be enough!