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Spain is far more than you may expect. It’s unfortunate that this large, culturally rich and diverse country now has such a commercial reputation that many are put off visiting. Images of fighting for towel space on overcrowded beaches, teams of ex-pats drinking beer in the morning and clubbers dancing to throbbing music until dawn has led to tourist numbers diminishing. Spain deserves so much more credit than this.

Sure, for those looking for a kicking holiday surrounded by Brits and full English breakfasts that’s all too easily found, but the same could be said for many popular tourist countries in Europe. For the discerning tourist seeking a little more history and culture, some research and the better travel blogs and travel guides will lead you to the real Spain, its medieval interior towns and historically rich capital, its white washed Andalucían villages, glorious coastline and wonderful artistic cities. Spain will surprise you.

To set you off in the right direction, here are our 10 top Spanish highlights:

1.       Visit Parc Guell (Gaudi’s Wonderland) in Barcelona.

parque guell barcelona 300x200 TOP 10 SPANISH TRAVEL ATTRACTIONS

Parque Guell Barcelona

Barcelona is not typically Spanish in feel or look, its culture and history quite unlike any other place in the world. Antoni Gaudi designed many buildings in Barcelona but to see Gaudi’s works at their best take a trip to Parc Guell. This large park homes many of his most impressive sculptures and buildings and is a great day out for the family.

2.       Ski in Andalucia.

Few people realise that the Sierra Navada Mountains offer excellent skiing each spring. Who would have thought that this wonderful region, so close to many of Spains most commercial resorts like Malaga, would offer such diversity? Why not wrap up and head to the slopes in the morning and top off the tan in Torremolinos in the afternoon?!

3.       Get Surreal in Figueres

The surreal art works of artist Salvador Dali are famed the world over. Figueres in Northern Spain homes his museum and mausoleum where many of his masterpieces can be viewed.

4.       Visit Granada and see the Alhambra

Granada city is fabulous in its own right and one of its most stunning attractions is the colossal Moorish Allambra (fortified palace). Take a day out and explore the vast complex that takes up a significant portion of the city centre.

5.       Watch Footie in Madrid or Barcelona

Santiago Bernabeu 150x150 TOP 10 SPANISH TRAVEL ATTRACTIONS

Santiago Bernabeu Madrid

The Spanish love their football and Real Madrid and Barcelona are arguably the best teams in the world. Having had such world class players as Ronaldo and Messi in their squad, the football on display at either the Bernabeu or the Nou Camp will leave you on the edge of your seat. If you enjoy a little footie book yourself some tickets and head out to see a game.

6.       The Bull Run in Pamplona

Fancy some danger and possibly risking your life? Perhaps not. One of the riskiest but most thrilling Spanish festivals takes place in Pamplona each year – the famous Bull Run. Plug for a seat rather than risk the run and watch as the potty people get chased and jostled by the raging bulls through Pamplona’s narrow streets and alleyways.

7.       Explore the stunning villages of Andalucía

Much of Andalucía is truly stunning and many of its villages suited to postcards and film sets. Take a vacation and explore the narrow streets lined with pretty white washed houses, spend an afternoon seeing churches and speaking to locals over some tapas, and enjoy some sundown sangria in the pretty mountainside setting.

8.       Play a few rounds at Valderrama

Valderrama is one of Spain’s most famed and exclusive golf courses. Stretching over 6,350m at par 71, it was designed by Robert Trent Jones and offers golfers the ideal opportunity to play a few rounds in a stunning location. For those unable to afford the luxury, the Costa del Sol also has a number of other great courses suited to a lesser budget.

9.       Dance the Flamenco!

If visiting the South of Spain or Andalucía don’t miss the opportunity to watch and listen to true flamenco. A magical, heel stomping dance to hypnotic rhythms and stunning guitar playing, it really is a spectacle not to be missed.

10.   Visit a local festival

The Spanish love to party and there are many local fiestas throughout the year. Many are religious, some celebrating local food, wine and culture, others simply an excuse to party but all tend to equal a great day (and often late night) out. Some of the most notable larger fiestas are:

  • The Autumn Festival in Madrid towards the middle of September to early October each year.
  • San Sebastian International Film Festival each September
  • Granada’s Music and Dance Festival in June and July
  • Barcelona’s International Music Festival each September
  • The International Festival of Santander from mid-July to mid-August.

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