Looking for somewhere special to visit this year? Then consider Spain. It is an amazing place but don’t just take my word for it, check out these 20 reasons why you should visit Spain this year.
1. The Mediterranean Coast Is Paradise.
(Photo by Naxos)
Spain’s long, sandy Atlantic beaches and cozy Mediterranean coves are rightly famous throughout Europe. That most get over 300 days of sun a year doesn’t hurt either.
2. And The Mountains Are Just Around The Corner.
(Photo by Adria V. Fernandez)
Spain is Europe’s second most mountainous country, after Switzerland. But in Switzerland, you can’t have a cocktail by the sea an hour away from the slopes.
3. Spain Has The Best Restaurant In The World.
(Photo by guiarepsol)
Ferran Adria’s legendary elBulli was number one in its day, and now another Catalan eatery, El Celler de Can Roca, has taken the reins as 2013’s best restaurant in the world.
4. And The Oldest Restaurant In The World.
(Photo by Madrid Ciudad)
Casa Botín is the world’s oldest continuously-running restaurant (since 1725) and the painter Goya even worked there as a waiter. Plus, it serves a pretty mean roast pig.
5. There Are Egyptian Temples.
(Photo by Pilar A. Bartolome)
Yup, there’s actually an Egyptian temple smack in the center of Madrid. The Egyptians, of course, didn’t live in Spain; the Temple of Debod was actually a gift from Egypt in 1968.
6. Lots Of Roman Ruins.
(Photo by Rodrigo Nieto)
Italy takes the cake on this one, but ancient Hispania has some fine Roman ruins of its own. Plus some, like the Roman theater in Mérida, are still often used for performances.
7. And Plenty Of Moorish Palaces To Visit.
(Photo by Eva PM)
The Moors ruled Al-Andalus for nearly 800 years and their influence is seen on everything from the language to some of Spain’s most famous sights, like the Alhambra in Granada.
8. The Parties Are Legendary
(Photo by Albergue Tourism Rural)
Few local parties make international news, but few places throw a party like Spain. The Tomatina is an annual fave and Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls drew nearly 100,000 people in 2013.
9. And There Are Dozens You Still Haven’t Discovered.
(Photo by Viveydeja)
Most Spanish villages have their own summer fiestas, ranging from folk dances to 5-story human statues, flaming effigies, and battles involving paint, meringue, grapes, or oranges.
10. There Are Amazing Cathedrals.
(Photo by Santcer)
Spain has cathedrals of every stripe, from Gaudi’s modern masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a place of international pilgrimage.
11. 1,000-Year-Old Mosques.
(Photo by Romaine Labadie)
Sure, Europe is full of cathedrals, but how about 1000-year-old mosques? The Mezquita in Cordoba is unique in Europe and has been a World Heritage Site since 1984.
12. And Mind-blowing Water Parks!
(Photo by Ireth)
Lago Martianez, an oasis of sea water, palms, and volcanic rock in Tenerife, brings waterparks to the level of art. Plus, you can spend all day there for less than the price of your sunscreen.
13. Spain Is Riddled With Hidden Beaches
(Photo by Menorca en Barco)
Calas (coves) are a Spanish classic. Skip the city beaches and head for the Balearic Islands and find endless gems hidden between pine forests and crystal-blue water.
14. It Produces The Best Wine In The World.
(Photo by Alava Incoming)
The La Rioja region makes some of the world’s best vino, including Wine Spectator’s Best Wine of 2013. Since most of it is consumed internally, it’s still deliciously affordable.
15. And You Get Free Food When You Order A Drink.
(Photo by Analia Plaza)
Serving something tasty with your drink is a time-honored Spanish tradition. In some cities, especially smaller ones, it’s entirely possible to have a full dinner just by ordering drinks.
16. You Can Visit Salvador Dalí’s House.
(Photo by May Lopez)
Come for the priceless works of art, stay for the Cadillac in the patio and giant eggs on the roof.
17. Eat Chicken Grilled On An Active Volcano.
(Photo by Naxos)
You read that right. On the volcanic island of Lanzarote, you can spend the morning hiking the volcano at Timanfaya National Park then enjoy a lunch cooked over an open volcanic vent.
18. People Decorate Their Houses Like This
(Photo by Zu Sanchez)
Andalucía is full of sunny bougainvillea-draped villages, and Cordoba even holds an annual competition for the most flowery courtyards which draws thousands of visitors.
19. There Are Countless Varieties Of Paella
(Photo by Anadel)
From rabbit and snails to mussels and prawns, paella comes in dozens of local varieties which are a matter of regional pride in many provinces. Lucky for us, they’re all mouth-watering.
20. Mediterranean Lifestyle, Anyone?
(Photo Fito R. Serrano)
While many stereotypes (daily siestas, achem) are more myth than fact, the culture of long family meals, Sunday snoozes, and summers on the coast certainly has its appeal.