Madrid is Spain’s lively capital, with galleries featuring a wide range of modern art, old masters and everything in between. The shopping is legendary and the nightlife, particularly in Malasana, can test the endurance of most, although it is easy to find a quiet café or a traditional plaza where you can watch life go by.
Nearby, in the Communidad de Madrid region, there is a wealth of history with numerous small towns and cities to visit. Toledo, for example, has been at various times a Roman, Moorish and Spanish town, influences reflected in the stunning range of art and architecture on display. Meanwhile, Segovia’s incredible aqueduct is an architectural wonder that survives from the Roman Empire.
Madrid’s long time rival Barcelona is a more relaxed, spacious and cosmopolitan city, which has some stunning views and a spectacular harbour. At night, take a walk on Las Ramblas, the famous restaurant-lined street leading to the sea. The historic Gothic Quarter is nearby, containing a wealth of architecture from the city’s venerable past.
The Gaudí Park, Miró Sculpture Gardens, Picasso Museum and the Sagrada Familia cathedral will delight art and architecture lovers.
The Costa del Sol resorts on Spain’s south coast are known mainly for their beaches and sunshine. But Andalucia has much more to offer. It was the last province recaptured from the Moors by Spain’s medieval rulers and has some fabulous architecture, most notably the Alhambra in Granada; one of the most spectacular ancient monuments in Europe.
Regional capital Seville is everything you would expect of Southern Spain; it has whitewashed buildings, oranges, bullfighting and extraordinary Easter festivals. Meanwhile the wealthy town of Marbella is one of the few Spanish coastal resorts to retain some of its historic buildings and makes a charming seaside destination.
Ibiza (Balearic Islands)
The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, east of mainland Spain, are notorious for attracting partygoers. Ibiza has probably the best nightclub scene in the Mediterranean, although there are plenty of quiet spots and unspoilt beaches on the other islands – especially on Menorca, tiny Cabrera and Formentera.
Palma, the capital of the largest island Mallorca, is an attractive and fascinating place. Behind its sunshine holiday image Palma is a historical city of great worth. The cathedral alone is worth a visit in its own right.
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