Things to see and to do in Spain

Leisure activites in Spain
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Updated 2021-06-11 13:44

Spain is one of the sunniest countries in Europe, a beautiful place of exceptional beaches, awe-inspiring natural scenery, impressive architecture and a long and rich history. These qualities are just some of the reasons that make it a dream destination for travellers and those who live here. Whether you want to dip your toes in the cool Mediterranean, hike through a mountainous wilderness, explore ancient castles or get the adrenaline pumping in a theme park, there is so much to see and do in your downtime.

The first human settlers arrived in Spain around 37,000 years ago. Since that time, the country has been home to many civilisations, including the Romans, Visigoths, Phoenicians, Iberians, Celts and Moors. Many left their marks on the country, which can be seen in medieval old towns and the architecture of centuries-old cathedrals, churches, palaces and other buildings. Tour MadridSevilleBarcelona and other major cities to discover their well-preserved monuments from previous centuries.

Among the country's famous cultural attractions are:

  • Madrid - the Prado Museum, Centro de Arte de Reina Sofía: Contemporary Art Museum and the National Archaeological Museum.
  • Seville - the Real Alcázar, Seville Cathedral, Torre del Oro, the ruins of the Roman city of Italica, the Archaeological Museum of Seville, Palace of the Governors of Andalusia and the Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Barcelona - La Sagrada Familia and other buildings by Antoni Gaudi and the National Art Museum of Catalonia.
  • Cordoba - the Cathedral of Cordoba, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the Palacio de Viana, the Roman Bridge and the Archaeological Museum of Cordoba.
  • Bilbao - the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Bilbao Basque Museum.
  • Valencia - the Silk Exchange, the City of Arts and Sciences, Central Market, the Cathedral of Valencia and the old town.

World Heritage sites in Spain

Spain has more than forty locations and attractions inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, places that are of "outstanding universal value to humanity.” They include 42 cultural sites, four natural sites and two mixed sites. Among them are:

  • Cordoba's historical centre
  • The Tower of Hercules
  • Burgos Cathedral
  • The Old Town of Avila
  • Routes of Santiago de Compostela
  • The Alhambra, Generalife and Albaicin in Granada 
  • Doñana National Park 
  • Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe 
  • The Old City of Salamanca

National parks in Spain

Spain's national parks boast some of Europe's most dramatic, pristine and fascinating landscapes. From dense forests and underwater havens to lush green pastures and snow-capped mountains, they pack a scenic punch.

No matter which park you explore, you'll be surrounded by a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species. The showcase of national parks includes the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia, Timanfaya in Lanzarote, Islas Atlanticas in Galicia, the Picos de Europa, stretching over Asturias, Cantabria and Castile-Leon, Monfrague National Park in the province of Cáceres and the Cabrera Archipelago on the Balearic Islands.

Good to know:

Top skiing locations in the winter are the Spanish Pyrenees, close to the French border, Covatilla in Salamanca and the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia. In the summer after the snow has melted, go hiking in the mountains of these locations.

Beaches and islands in Spain

Encompassing thousands of miles of coastline, mainland Spain and its islands are blessed with a rich bounty of sunny and sandy destinations. Sunbathe, stroll, dine in seaside restaurants, enjoy water sports and party through the night in vacation hotspots. They include the Costa del Sol, the Costa Brava, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and the white sandy stretches of the Galician coastline.

Good to know:

Some of the seaside destinations are also popular with hikers during the spring and autumn. For example, there are well-established hiking routes on Mallorca and La Gomera (Canary Islands).

Amusement and theme parks in Spain

From classic water parks and fast-paced coasters to cowboy-themed attractions and gentle rides, there are parks for all tastes spread across the country. They include:

  • Isla Magica, Seville - rollercoasters, live shows, a large lake and many other attractions.
  • Water World, Lloret de Mar - hours of aquatic fun with various rides such as waves pools, chutes and rapid rivers.
  • Terra Mitica, Benidorm - separated into several themed zones, including Egypt, Greece and Rome.
  • PortAventura World, Tarragona - a large entertainment complex that also encompasses the Ferrari Land theme park and a water park.
  • Tibidabo Amusement Park, Barcelona - one of Span's longest-running amusement parks.
  • Mini Hollywood, Almeria - a Western-style theme park with cowboy shows, old film sets and a safari park.
  • AquaBrava, Girona - a water park with a host of attractions such as a lazy river.

Spanish festivals 

Spain loves to celebrate its history, cultures and traditions with a good party. Every month there'll be a lively and colourful local, national or regional festival going on somewhere near you.

Popular festivals include La Tomatina in Buñol, Moors and Christians, Three Kings, Semana Santa, Las Fallas in Valencia, the April Fair of Seville, the August Fair in Malaga and carnivals during February.

Useful links:

Spain Info

Madrid

Barcelona

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