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Things To Do In Spain
Spain is largely seen as an exotic country in Europe, situated as it is on the Iberian Peninsula, kissing the Mediterranean Sea. With Bull races, tomato fights, a culturally rich capital like Madrid and football mecca like Barcelona, Spain has been one of the most preferred holiday tourist destinations in the European subcontinent. Some of the most coveted things to do in Spain include beach fun and partying up in Ibiza, touring UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Alhambra, skiing and eating tapas. For more, keep reading.
Do a Cultural Tour of Madrid
Madrid, the capital city of Spain is a charming metropolitan today but retains its ancient charm. The highlights here are the Golden Triangle of art museums consisting of Museo Nacional Centrode Arte Reina Sofia, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo del Prado. You will find Picasso and Guernica thriving in the culture of art here. The city is very walkable, with its Victorian buildings and cobble-stoned streets, graffiti filled walls and chic cafes. For the best experience head to Gran Vía, an iconic street with ancient buildings and boutiques, bars and restaurants. For the most local way of travelling, you must explore from morning to afternoon, take the siesta to rewind and then hit the pubs and streets to see the lively Madrid nightlife.
Visit the Grand Fortress of Alhambra
Built in 889 AD, this giant fortress of super-human magnitude is like a relic that has beaten time. It sustains today, with a few additional structures from the 13th Century, and makes for a complex of palaces and forts positioned strategically to keep a lookout over the entire city of Granada underneath. Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important places to visit when in Spain. The place is open from March to October and the peak of summer (July-August) is very crowded.
Enjoy the Spanish Islands
Spain does not only boast of a splendid mainland but a hoard of islands in the lap of the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the best islands to go for a hopping tour include Ibiza (known for its throbbing nightlife and party scene), La Gomera of the Canary Islands (known for a chilled, relaxed vibe), Mallorca (for its scenery and Jazz Festival), El Hierro, Lanzarote (Volcanic landscape) and Formentera (nude sunbathing). You can spend days on each island or just hop around everyday, the choice is yours. But visiting at least a few of these islands is a must!
Play at La Tomatina
Rewind to that Zoya Akhta movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara. Remember the protagonists playing in a street of Spain with tomatoes, bathing in tomatoes, squishing and bursting them like it was Holi? Well, that is La Tomatina, a Spanish form of Holi (if you will call it that). In a town called Bunol near Valencia, they enjoy this festival of tomato fight on the last Wednesday of August. The town is near bursting with tourists and finding accommodation might be a task if not booked in advance. However, you must make sure you are there on D-Day and come armed with tomatoes to hold your fort.
Now Tapas, as opposed to an actual dish, is a generic name for an array of finger foods or starters served together so that you can taste some of each. Spaniards are known for these platters of arrays that include some of the best and most tasty foods like calamari, churros, croquettes, patatas bravas (fries/wedges tossed in sauce), Spanish omelette etc. Cold Tapas are also served including olives, cured hams and cheeses. The best time to eat Tapas is at night, after 10 pm (the locals dinner late). Some great places to eat Tapas are - Andalusia region (Seville), Calle Elvira in Granada and Aragon.
Go all the way to Camino
Adventure lovers, you are in for a treat if you are looking for some hiking trails in Spain. The Camino trail pilgrimage up to the city of Santiago de Compostela is a mix of adventure, religion, culture and nature tourism. You will be treading routes that have been taken by pilgrims for centuries. You can go in a group tour or on your own. Just make sure to keep a track of the white shells that show you the route. This is a challenging trek and you must be prepared to give it all. Out of the numerous routes, the best one is the Camino Frances, starting from St. Jean Pied de Port.
Ski on the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Now Spain has an exotic sunny vibe almost all year round. But the high areas and mountains do get snowed in pretty hard during winters. That is the reason Spain is also home to many good ski resorts and trails. Head to Malaga for a skiing trip; the resort here is one of the best in Europe. What is astounding is the fact that it is a very short journey downhill where you will come across beaches and get tanned. Such a contrast is what makes Spain a real honest-to-good beauty for your holiday.
Run with the Bulls in Pamplona
Again go back to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and the climax where the three protagonists ran in a Bull Run festival. That was the Feast of San Fermín or the Running of the Bulls Festival in Pamplona, the capital city of Navarre. If you are not an adventure lover then you can just stand on one of the terraces and watch this thrilling vista of men dressed in white and red, running in front of a cattle of 6-10 bulls through the streets of Pamplona. This is a summer festival and is celebrated on the 14th of July every year.