There is not one Spain, but several. Without entering into the political debate on the autonomy of this or that region, the traveler crossing the Iberian Peninsula will be able to see the extraordinary diversity of Spain, a country which, since the end of the Franco regime, has seen a revival and a high speed modernization.
A diversity of landscapes, cultures, languages (Castilian, Catalan, Basque), terroirs and cities. Spain has something for everyone: leave aside the beaches overgrown in summer and the Costa del Sol concreted by resorts. Let’s venture rather into the interior of the country, beautiful and natural, lavish in striking landscapes, splendid monuments, exciting lifestyles …
For that, it is sometimes enough to go away of ten kilometers of the crowds. Discover Salamanca, the little Spanish Rome, or Toledo the beautiful medieval perched on its promontory. Browse the rugged plateau of Castile, from Segovia to Leon, to discover magnificent cathedrals and extraordinary museums. Taste the specificity of the Catalan soul and its artistic treasures, from Dalí to Gaudí via Tapiès and Miró. Take the path to Santiago de Compostela to admire the beauties of rural Galicia, as green as the land of the Basques, to which they are so attached. Or, finally, a night of celebration in Seville, Madrid or Barcelona, succumb to this brilliant happiness of life which is the mark of the whole country. Because nights are often more intense than days.
It is necessary to go to meet its inhabitants, to attend its bodegas and to feast of its kitchen because Spain is a country to live. She is not only diverse, she is inexhaustible!
The blue of the sea, the blue of the sky, contrast with the white of the villages. In Andalusia, Muslim, Jewish and Christian civilizations marry in fabulous arabesques. The mountains caress the Costa del Sol, unfortunately sometimes sabotaged by a frenzied concreting. The sun shines, incandescent, then northern Europe breaks through the spring all over Andalusia.
Spain is transformed into a warm and nonchalant land, in short: welcoming. This hospitality is the deep root of Andalusian land. She gave her milk to a homogeneous people despite its multiple origins (Moorish, Jewish, Catholic, Gypsy).
Andalusia is all this and many other subtle details: the shadow of the streets and the ardor of the glances, the tranquility of the afternoon and the effervescence of the ferias, the fervor of the processions and the acidulous taste of olives. To reawaken this beautiful appetite to live while refreshing ideas, a good solution: tapas, manzanilla, and siesta.
The Balearic Islands are islands full of charm, with sometimes discrete beauties, whose common evolution should not make forget the diversity of each one. Let’s go to Cabrera, emptied of its inhabitants. Remain Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.
In Mallorca, quickly forget the excesses of the bays of Palma and Alcúdia, to discover the coves, monasteries lost in the mountains, hiking trails of the famous Serra Tramuntana, a World Heritage Site by Unesco. There are wonderful seascapes and mountains, an intact natural environment.
His little sister, Menorca, is the most preserved of the three main Balearic islands. In the center: a plain battered by winds where holidays are more natural than elsewhere.
In contrast, Ibiza and its crazy nights, among the most popular in the world, maintain their reputation sulfurous. In Eivissa and Sant Antoni there is a colorful tattoo-tanned fauna, party-goers, artists and creators who find themselves at the party time. After a night in a can, the beach bars offer this trendy atmosphere that consists of tanning on the sand by remaking the world with vegetarian plates and cocktails, bathed in a decibel atmosphere … But out of these two cities, place nature, secluded coves and traditional fincas where absolute calm reigns. Do not neglect coasts and authentic villages.
Finally, Formentera, where the nostalgia of the flower power still hangs, is a real favorite, even more if one goes there before or after the high season. There, pretty beaches and villages on a human scale still preserved and authentic.
We love Barcelona passionately! This metropolis shines with its culture, its climate, its gastronomy, its mythical football team and, above all, its good mood. Barcelona is a city where it’s hard to get bored. With its privileged location, it breathes an air of perpetual holidays where Gaudí’s playful houses coexist peacefully with Gothic architecture and … the beach! What a pleasure to be able to take a dip after taking full advantage of these miracles by visiting these architectural wonders …
Tireless, Barcelona! When the sun goes down and the museums close, the night of Barcelona is set on fire. A fetish destination for party goers from all over Europe, here nights can be longer than days …
In short, a lively destination with a popular tolerance of young people (a lot of Erasmus students on a spree …) and the youngest who find a current and enterprising Spain, less folk and voluntarily away from the clichés of the jet-setter bullfighter or almodovarian flamenco-punk singer.
Add to that efficient public transport, architectural wonders signed Gaudí or Muntaner, a mess of restaurants, cafes, terraces and concert halls, cable cars, funiculars, a tram, boats, and you’ll have an idea of the charm of Barcelona.
Canary Islands Travel
The Canaries have kept some of their secrets: the sweetness of eternal spring and an incredible variety of landscapes.
Volcanic landscapes or exuberant primary forests, shredded creeks of brilliant black or waves of dunes, adorable small colonial cities or big cities thrilling … constant contrasts.
Each island is a world in itself, proud of its history and customs. All, however, share the heritage of the Guanches, the first pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the archipelago.
Which one to choose? Far from the reputation of concrete seaside islands, the large Tenerife and Gran Canaria also offer grandiose landscapes in several national parks and other nature reserves. Tenerife is capped by the majestic Teide volcano, while Gran Canaria is crisscrossed by deep ravines and gorges, all shaped by volcanic activity.
La Palma and La Gomera surprise by the beauty of their nature, with huge cliffs of frozen lava flows and narrow valleys where still flourishes a rich laurel forest – this dense forest of origins.
Worse and more isolated, the small El Hierro remains a real ecological laboratory, ideal to take refuge far from the world, between a stroll and scuba diving.
On Fuerteventura the wild, two wonders of nature: the peninsula of Jandía and its immense natural beach, as well as the dunes of Corralejo. Not to mention a myriad of small villages and small ports.
Lanzarote, with its white facades and its green shutters with little tunes of Greek island. All superbly preserved by the will of a great artist, César Manrique. It even protected the volcanoes, like this Timanfaya National Park with almost lunar landscapes.
Whether relaxing on the beach, walking on the backs of volcanoes or in the tropical jungle, the Canaries are seven very different islands.
From the green of the Pyrenees to the blue of the Mediterranean, Catalonia has great assets to attract visitors.
Everything is there to please the greatest number: a history among the oldest in Europe, a capital – Barcelona – that never sleeps and aligns beaches and museums indifferently, a hinterland full of charm, perched villages and parks natural side Catalonia, or beautiful scenery almost mountainous crisscrossed small deserted roads side Valencia … to forget the often crowded beaches of the coast (hey yes, the setback of success!) …
Catalonia is also a breathtaking array of artistic treasures, ranging from the delightful Romanesque churches of the Pyrenean valleys to the delicate impulses of the flamboyant Gothic of the Llotja de Valencia, as well as the greatest names in modern art and art. architecture: Dalí, Picasso, Miró, Gaudí and Tàpies, to name but a few. Not to mention the northernmost palm grove in the world, in Elche.
Another characteristic of Catalonia: it is a land deeply attached to its culture and traditions (culinary in particular), its autonomy also … and its language, Catalan.
Ibiza, the largest of the Pityuses (Pine Islands, name that the Greeks gave Ibiza and Formentera) has many assets. Many small coves, clear waters, a red land planted with carob, orange, lemon, almond, fig, all dotted with beautiful traditional fincas dry stone, often converted into guesthouses.
This haven of pleasure, discovered by the hippies in the 1960s, has experienced an exponential growth of mass tourism. The old guard of babys utopias has become toxic as it markets its crazy nights, its main source of income.
This influx of party-goers brings Ibiza to adapt. Ibiza sees its infrastructure multiply, sometimes to excess: highways, roundabouts, gigantic paying car parks …
It is clear that what was once a real laboratory of electro, techno, and other music now dispenses only a glucose house, vaguely trance, which confines it in an essentially mercantile musical horizon.
Fortunately, Ibiza also lives on other rhythms and continues to please, with its small hiking trails, lonely villages and coves paradise, and all its northern part much more preserved. Because this island of the Mediterranean is of historical and cultural interest since Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Almoravids, and Catalans have succeeded and left their mark, well before the arrival of flower power and techno.
Lanzarote, the “island of volcanoes”, the oldest of the Canaries (23 million years), holds an original place in the archipelago. In 1993 it obtained the title of biosphere reserve by Unesco, validating the choice of a sustainable economic development and the preservation of the environment and natural resources of the island.
Endowed with an exceptionally mild climate despite the proximity of Africa, Lanzarote reveals spectacular frozen lava fields, breathtaking panoramas and superb beaches! It also reveals a unique agricultural landscape, the aridity of the volcanic soil has forced farmers to live with the deficit of rain, and imagine adapted forms of crops.
Lanzarote also has a truly unique cultural identity, thanks in particular to the works of a brilliant and visionary artist: César Manrique … In agreement with the local government, he succeeded in imposing not only the preservation of traditional rural and folk architecture, but also to prescribe it in new constructions. Result: ideal small white cities, without too many drifts concrete or unsightly, in total symbiosis with landscapes of dreams …
In the middle of all this, exceptional artistic creations, literally melted in nature. Lanzarote, one of our great favorites, it says!
Madrid unites paradoxes and plays with extremes. Fully capital for the wealth of its museums, the efficiency of its infrastructure and its economic dynamism, it reveals the village atmospheres at the whim of its neighborhoods, with well-defined identities.
Proud and castiza (good race), it breathes today: it deploys extensive networks of bike paths, and its monumental avenues have been mostly cleaned. Although it has long turned its back on the river that runs through it, the Manzanares – a tributary of the Taje – it has returned to the Madrilenians its banks, adorned with gardens, pedestrian bridges, and new alternative places.
Madrid mata me, proclaimed the graffiti on the walls in full period of Movida. That’s right, this city is killing … fun! For once you have mastered the masterpieces of the Prado, dazzled by Picasso’s Guernica at the Museo Reina Sofía, or enchanted by the alleys of the Barrio de Los Austrias or the Barrio de Las Letras, the discovery of Madrid is not over.
The nocturnal rhythm of Madrid, this human tide (the march) which beats the pavement and tumbles everywhere at the time of vespers, is sure to win you over.
As for the aficionados of morning fragrances, they will be thrilled. In the early morning, the streets of Madrid are deserted and the wide avenues offer superb prospects.
Clichés abound on the largest island in the Balearic Islands. And yet, Mallorca is much more than the sun, beaches, and hotels.
First, know that the concrete has circumscribed its ravages to certain well-defined areas: the bay of Palma, those of Alcúdia and Pollença in the north, without forgetting a good part of the east and south-east coasts, all very appreciated by our German and British neighbors. In these corners, we jostle from June to September. But just go back to the land to change the mood …
At the heart of the island of Mallorca laze villages surrounded by crops, olive trees, almond trees in February carpeting the landscapes of their white bouquets. The capital of the archipelago, Palma de Mallorca, has some pretty surprises behind the walls of its old town.
As for the twirling Serra de Tramuntana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it literally captivates. Stressing the entire west coast of the island, it flows down cliffs and rugged peaks, culminating more than 1,000 meters above the water. There, in the few towns and villages in the heights of Majorca, surrounded by citrus groves, meet crispy ports nestled in coves as big as pocket tissues – which are joined by roads contorted by innumerable bends.
Declared a “World Biosphere Reserve” by UNESCO in 1993, the second largest Balearic island stands out from its neighbors.
Swept by the tramontana, Menorca unrolls gently wavy landscapes with red or ocher earth, scratched by rugged roads carpeted between thousands of kilometers of dry stone walls. Many lead to postcard beaches, nestled in coves bathed in green and translucent waters, or prehistoric sites Cyclopean rocks, undefeated by time …
More than the other islands, Menorca retains an impressive set of Talayotic sites, dating back to the Bronze Age.
Its charm is also found in the alleys of its towns and villages, Maó, its capital, sheltered at the bottom of one of the best-protected areas of the Mediterranean, the beautiful Ciutadella, rich in ancient monuments. Both cities are located at both ends of the island, 43 km from each other.
The road that connects them separates Menorca in two: to the north of the rugged, cut and bare coasts giving to the eye of the red carpet of sand; to the south, the Migjorn, a more verdant plain dug by deep ravines, at the end of which a multitude of turquoise creeks are lost.
Menorca remains the largest and least frequented island in the archipelago. Admittedly, the attendance has increased and the face of the island changes little by little. Many of its big fincas have partly converted to a luxury agroturismo.
Menorca can be discovered ideally on foot, by bike or on horseback, depending on its bushy tail.
The heart of Andalusia, the 4th largest city in Spain and the capital of the autonomous community. Seville has dug its place in history. It has many architectural gems, such as the Giralda or Alcázar, and it is certainly the Spanish city that has most intelligently reconciled its history and the call of modernity to become an international city.
The district of Santa Cruz, with its cobbled streets and patios generously flowered, knows a surreal effervescence the evenings of weekends. We go from tapas bars to wine bars, we get acquainted, we bath in the good mood of an Andalusia who loves nothing so much as the party and meetings, especially if a guitar arises as if by magic. Because Seville is above all the Sevillians … and the Sevillanas.
Flagship city of Spanish history, where the Christian and Muslim cultures lived a stimulating cohabitation, Seville proudly displays its monuments along the Guadalquivir. Of course, you have to visit them, but you also have to stroll through the popular neighborhoods, walk the cobbled streets lined with colorful buildings with roofs overgrown with wild grass that bloom in spring, push the doors of patios covered with azulejos, s’ to sink into the lush gardens that dot the city, to meet the inhabitants, who are surprisingly cordial.
Seville, an architectural shock, of course, a crush above all. We understand that she has inspired so many artists.
Volcanic, touristy and incredibly varied! Such is Tenerife, the most visited island in the Canaries. It is true that some seaside resorts, especially those of the South, born in the 1960s, have somewhat concreted the coast. But there are still many charming places on the island, where you do not scramble.
What characterizes Tenerife is above all its diversity. Variety of landscapes, coastlines, towns, and villages … Among the wonders to discover, there are 3 remarkable colonial cities: La Laguna (World Heritage Site); La Orotava, quietly leaning against a hill, and Garachico, adorable little coastal town.
In addition to these historic towns, there are 3 beautiful natural sites, all of which are well-kept hiking trails: the Teide National Park in the heart of the island, a magnificent volcano and the highest point in the country; the Anaga rural park at the northeastern tip, covered with thick vegetation, laurisylve, which offers grandiose panoramas on the ocean; and the Teno Rural Park, on the northwestern tip of Tenerife, is even wilder and less crowded.
These sites alone constitute a reason to come to Tenerife for those who want to hike.
Add to that a climate of equal mildness all year round, a few fishing ports, boat trips to great whales and a carnival to break everything, that’s enough to spend a pleasant holiday, not necessarily turned to beaches.
Third city of Spain by its population, first commercial port and capital of the community of the same name, Valencia extends in a vast fertile valley, the Huerta, drained by two rivers: the Jucar – Xúquer in Valencian – and Túria.
Valencia is also distinguished by its architectural richness and its frenzy of development. The proof, the futuristic lines of the recent City of arts and sciences that give a new face to the city, long closed on its old center.
In Valencia, past and modernity are combined with happiness. There is a Plaza de Toros with a false air of Coliseum as well as a state-of-the-art museum on the history of the city, or a botanical garden two centuries old.
Do not forget to get lost in the old town that surrounds the cathedral, a maze of alleys where most motorists do not venture.
Valencia is a lively city where it is good to stay – especially as it has real beaches – and always full of promise.