Spain is a country of passion, excitement and vibrancy unlike any other in Western Europe. “Joie de vivre” (joy of life) may be a French phrase, but it could have been written about Spain – for the Spanish certainly know how to live.

Madrid, the magnificent capital, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville are throbbing cosmopolitan cities with some of the best museums and galleries in Europe. And, when the cultural attractions close for the night, the bars and restaurants open – and no-one parties like the Spanish. If you have the stamina, you can eat, drink and make merry until dawn.

If you visit just one city it should be Granada in Andalucia – the Moorish Alhambra palace is one of the most romantic and spectacular monuments in Europe. Much of the coast is taken up by Costa-style resorts although cities such as Alicante, Marbella, Malaga and Mallorca’s Palma retain their charm. And everywhere you can find secret hideaways with empty beaches.

Then there is the countryside. From the lush greenery of Galicia and Asturias, to the arid villages of Andalucia and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees, Spain is a rural country and the best way to experience it is to get out there and explore.

Whatever you do in Spain, remember to enjoy it – and, rest assured, the Spanish will be enjoying it with you.

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