Top events in Spain

December
01

The Festival de Otoño de Granada is dedicated to flamenco music and dance and takes place in the first week of December every year. The best-known...

December
12

The festivities to the "queen of light" begin with a noisy procession through the old town in which the narrow streets ring with the...

December
21

St Thomas Day is a great gastronomic feast in Bilbao for both the eyes and the belly. Traditional products from the region's rural areas are...

Belmonte Castle near La Mancha, Spain
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Belmonte Castle near La Mancha, Spain

© 123rf.com / Matt Trommer

Spain Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

504,782 sq km (194,897 sq miles). Includes Balearics, Canaries, Ceuta, and Melilla.

Population

47.4 million (2013).

Population density

93.8 per sq km.

Capital

Madrid.

Government

Parliamentary monarchy since 1977.

Head of state

King Felipe VI of Spain since 2014.

Head of government

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy since 2011.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are in use.

From sizzling cuisine and riotous fiestas to cutting-edge contemporary art, age-old museums and a palpitating beach culture, Spain sure packs a punch. It’s feisty, sexy and extremely hot – almost like a sensual flamenco dancer who captivates with her mesmerising moves. Whether you are a culture vulture, history buff or beach bum, it’s almost inevitable that with Spain, it’ll be love at first sight.

Spain is a country as diverse as it is eclectic: futuristic buildings stand alongside ancient Roman cathedrals, while traditional flamenco tablaos abut stylish boutique hotels. In a country with this much historical background, the marriage of distinctive cultures is evident from its flurry of Romanesque churches, baroque buildings, Moorish fortresses and Renaissance palaces.

As versatile as a chameleon, Spain’s multifaceted personality is further highlighted by different corners of the country: from the golden sun-kissed shores of Costa del Sol to the snow-lathered peaks of the Pyrénées; from the futuristic architecture of Valencia to the medieval towns of Catalonia; from the expansive boulevards of cosmopolitan Madrid to the rural countryside of Galicia.

In the food department, Spanish cuisine has kicked up a storm worldwide, and it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re hopping from bar to bar to sample tasty tapas, or splurging on an exquisite gourmet meal, Spanish cuisine promises to stir up your soul. Home to the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, Spain is the birthplace of nouveau cuisine and naturally the epicentre of the culinary world. Treat yourself to a fine-dining experience in Barcelona, sample pintxos (miniature bread-based tapas) from bar to bar in Bilbao, tuck into rich traditional stews in the countryside of Asturias or snack on tapas in a lively market of Seville – the variety of Spanish gastronomy is simply endless.

Nightlife in Spain buzzes, with a raging party scene that goes on till the wee hours, the after party continuing through the day. Night owls will not be disappointed in Madrid and Barcelona, where you’ll find the best jazz bars, techno clubs and hip-hop joints in the country. Foam parties and rave festivals are massively popular with the clubbing set, on the island of Ibiza.

Eternal sunshine and endless stretches of golden beaches are certainly part of the sultry charm of this country, but Spain’s allure clearly stretches beyond the coastline. In the north, the mountainous national parks of Asturias offer scenic hiking in alpine environments, while the craggy coastline of Galicia surprises with isolated bays and picturesque fishing villages. Head west to find your way through the Roman ruins of Extremadura, or weave your way eastwards to marvel at the architectural wonders of Valencia and Tarragona. Down South, a plethora of ancient monuments, wonderful cities and traditional arts await in Andalucía. Take your time to explore, because Spain will surprise you.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 22 November 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

A strike is affecting lifeguard services in the area of Arona, South Tenerife. Take extra care if there are no life-guards, flags or signs on beaches.

Over 12 million British nationals visit Spain every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

There have been several deaths as a result of falls from balconies. Don’t take any unnecessary risks, especially when under the influence of drink or drugs.

There is a general threat from terrorism.

You should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel. If you already have an EHIC, make sure it hasn’t expired.

Some medical costs aren’t covered by the EHIC so you should also take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

On 6 October, the Spanish Ministry of Health confirmed that a nurse in Madrid had tested positive for Ebola. Although the chances of being infected remain very low, there are measures you can take to prevent catching Ebola. You should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

If you’re concerned that you might have been exposed to Ebola, or are showing symptoms, seek immediate medical advice. If you’re in the UK, call NHS 111. Information from the Spanish health authorities may be obtained via: + (34) 91 4000001 or sanidadinforma@salud.madrid.org

Be alert to the existence of street crime. Thieves tend to target money and passports so don’t keep them all in one place. Keep a copy of your passport somewhere safe.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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