It’s hard not to fall in love with Spain. This is a country that has it all: great weather, delicious food, fascinating history and culture, and some of the most jaw-dropping landmarks found anywhere on Earth. It’s no wonder that it’s currently the second-most visited nation in the world.
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Spain is part of the EU and Schengen Area of Europe, which means that a lot of people can visit visa-free. In the near future, you’ll have to register online with the new ETIAS visa waiver system to enjoy this visa exemption — as long as you meet the ETIAS requirements.
Once you have what you need to travel, then you’re free to enjoy the best the country has to offer. Whether you want beautiful landscapes, gorgeous beaches, or simply a tasty paella, Spain is the place to come.
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Here are our top 5 things to do on a trip to Spain
1. Gaudi and Modernisme in Barcelona
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Barcelona is one of those places that frequently make it onto people’s bucket lists. Sitting on the Mediterranean coast, the city has sun, sand, and sangria to spare. Throw in the famously exciting nightlife, historic sites, and the legendary Camp Nou stadium, and you have a city with something for everyone.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Barcelona is its buildings — particularly the weird and wonderful designs of the Catalan modernists.
The most famous of these was Antoni Gaudí — the man responsible for the iconic Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, which is still under construction. Other Gaudí masterpieces you have to see include Parc Güell, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Palau Güell, and Bellesguard, all found here in Barcelona.
Other mesmerizing Modernisme buildings include the Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau by Lluís Domènech I Montaner. Like the works of Gaudí, these are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
2. Enjoy Rioja Wine
One of Spain’s most famous products is its wine. While there are many wine-producing regions throughout the nation, the pick of the bunch, and best-known, is La Rioja.
This small region sits on a plateau of gently rolling hills, separated from the neighboring Basque Country by jagged mountains. There are fields of vines and other crops stretching off in every direction, peppered with small towns and villages.
Life in this rural paradise goes by at a gentle pace. There’s nowhere better to sit with a glass of Rioja wine in hand and take in the beautiful scenery.
3. Explore the Green Coast of Northern Spain
The north coast of Spain is a far cry from the image we usually have of the country. Rather than olive trees and dusty Mediterranean scrub, it’s all very, well, green!
The Atlantic climate of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, and the Basque Country is cooler than down south (although it is still glorious in summer). Here, you’ll find verdant hills, deep forests, and grassy fields along a wild coastline of dramatic cliffs and arches.
On days when the sea mist rolls in and hangs atmospherically around the mountains, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Scotland or Ireland. This is even more true in Galicia and Asturias, where the local folk music has a distinctly Celtic flavor, with flutes and pipes — a very different experience from the rest of Spain.
Northern Spain is both beautiful and fascinating and makes for a truly unique trip. Whether you’re exploring the coast, walking the Camino de Santiago, sampling the delicious local dishes, visiting the epic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, or trying the typical Asturian cider, you’re sure to agree that Northern Spain is the vacation you never knew you needed!
4. Marvel at Moorish Architecture in Andalucía
The region of Andalucía in the South of Spain is far more than the beach resorts of Marbella and the Costa del Sol.This was the stronghold of Muslim power in Iberia during the Moorish period and the last holdout before the Christian kingdoms retook it. This history is reflected in some of the most magnificent works of architecture found anywhere in Europe.
The crown jewels of Andalucía are the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita-Catedral in Córdoba, and the Real Alcázar and Giralda in Seville. There are also magnificent castles, palaces, and mosques in Almería, Málaga, and the Aracena Hills.
5. Take a Hike in the Spanish Mountains
Spain is a paradise for hikers. Wherever you go, there’s an abundance of great trails to follow through hills and mountains with stunning scenery.
The Pyrenees, straddling the border with France, are a top choice. With green slopes, wooded valleys, and quaint villages, there are many fantastic hikes you can take.
A favorite mountain destination for many Spaniards is the Picos de Europa. This range spans parts of Asturias, Cantabria, and León, and has been made a National Park. The dramatic landscapes feature crystalline lakes, rocky peaks, and verdant fields.
For those who like a challenge, head to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It is home to Spain’s highest mountain (and volcano!): Teide. Don’t worry, there hasn’t been an eruption in over 100 years and around 3-4 million visitors come each year.
This natural wonder is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Spanish national park. With 47,000 acres to explore and a peak that sits 3,715 m above sea level, Teide is literally the high point of any trip to Tenerife, and Spain’s ultimate hiking experience.
These are just a few of the many reasons why Spain is one of the top countries you should definitely visit once in a lifetime (and if possible, more than once!).
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What I would add to this list is visiting Canary Islands. Beautiful Spanish islands in the middle of the Atlantic! One of them is Fuerteventura which is fantastic for vacay
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