With its spectacular coastline, balmy weather, untouched villages and charming new hotels, Spain’s appeal is vast. Part of the attraction is its diversity – each region has its own unique character (sometimes even its own language), offering visitors an array of travel delights. From well-established foodie destinations to holidays specialising in art, cookery and dance, there’s no shortage of options in this vibrant, multi-faceted country.
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Where to Go in Spain
East of the mainland, the four chief Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera) are blessed with balmy weather and beautiful beaches. The largest, Mallorca, offers something for everyone, from the medieval magnificence of Palma’s Old Town to the bustling quayside at Port de Soller and the powder sands of Formentor. The once unfashionable towns of the interior have clung to their traditions, making a great day trip from the coast. Mallorca’s quieter north-eastern corner offers a civilised beach holiday with fabulous dining options. Base yourself near pretty Pollença for a true taste of up-market Spain.
Ibiza has undergone a transformation, now offering stylish, laid-back luxury, with exquisite hotels, hip restaurants, holistic retreats, child-friendly beaches and fabulous nightlife. Temperatures rarely dip below 18℃ and hover around 30-35℃ in the height of summer. The north has smaller coves with chilled-out bars, whilst the south offers a glitzier experience and world-famous clubs. For a chic retreat, it’s hard to beat.
Meanwhile, Menorca and bohemian Formentera have off-the-beaten-track splendour, ideal for peace and quiet.
Further south, the Canaries are closer to Africa than to Spain. The result? A wonderful climate – a good year-round destination for winter warmth. Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria, is home to the fabulous Playa de las Canteras. There’s also white sand at Maspalomas, which has a nature reserve. Puerto de Mogán is lovely for an evening stroll with harbourside restaurants.
Volcanic Tenerife is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, one national park and 42 natural protected spaces. The north has a cooler climate and pretty towns, whilst the south offers the golden beaches and the turquoise Atlantic. With two airports, transfer times are blissfully short. The tiny, untouched island of La Gomera is also worth a visit.
Lanzarote is known for its striking volcanic landscape, excellent wine and temperate climate. It has remained largely unspoilt with low-rise white-washed buildings and stunning architecture. With water sports, cycling and horse riding alongside 5* hotels and eco-lodges, as well as glorious beaches (including Papagayo), it ticks a lot of boxes. For simply-prepared mouth-watering seafood, head to the waterfront restaurants at La Caleta or El Golfo.
For beach life in its many guises and a plethora of water sports, try Fuerteventura.
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When to go
The dry, sunny summer months can be extremely hot in southern Spain, although coastal areas usually enjoy a sea breeze and are often more humid. If you are intending to stay during peak season you will need to book well in advance as sought-after accommodation fills up early. Prices can be as much as 50% more in some areas. The weather is more unpredictable in the northern regions, such as Galicia. Inland Spain is usually very quiet during August as the Spanish flee en masse to the coast to escape the very high temperatures.
Spring and Autumn can be great times to visit, with mild, clear weather and fewer crowds. However, local festivals can send prices soaring, so unless you want to be in the thick of things, time your visit to certain cities, such as Seville or Valencia, carefully.
Winter in central Spain can be very cold, as evidenced by the various ski stations that are busy during the skiing season. Expect rain in the North and Northwest. Mild temperatures in the south and Canaries ensure these remain good options for winter warmth with some good accommodation deals available.
British Airways and many other airlines run regular flights from London to all these locations in Spain: Barcelona, Benidorm, Bilbao, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Madrid, Malaga, Mallorca, Menorca, San Sebastian, Seville, Tenerife & Valencia.
Typical carbon emissions for a return flight (Economy) per person: 120 kg.
FCDO travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/spain
Time Zone: GMT+1
Capital City: Madrid