Spain is one of the most beautiful countries in Western Europe, which is famous for its sea beaches, architectural monuments, ancient history and delightful landscapes. It is a country that attracts millions of tourists. People of different nationalities live here, but all of them are very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to Spain, the country is looking forward to you!
Spain on the map
Where is Spain?
Spain is located in the south-west of Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula. It is one of the few countries in Europe through which the prime meridian passes. So most of the country lies in the Western Hemisphere and only the Mediterranean coast is in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Most of Spain’s land borders are with Portugal and France. But not only with these states borders Spain. Few people know that in the mountains of the Pyrenees is lost little Andorra, where many popular ski resorts. Spain also borders with Great Britain, no matter how strange it sounds. Simply in the very south of the country is Gibraltar, an overseas territory of Great Britain. The belonging of Gibraltar is constantly disputed by the Spaniards, but so far the English king rules there.
Spain has enclaves in Africa and a border with Morocco. These are the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. The length of this section of the land border is about 16 kilometres.
From the east, Spain is washed by the Mediterranean Sea. In the north-west by the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean. In the south-west by the Atlantic Ocean. The same ocean washes the shores of the Canary Islands, located 1600 kilometres from the metropolis.
In addition to the Canary Islands, Spain also owns the Balearic Islands of the Mediterranean Sea.
The relief of the country is predominantly mountainous. Most of it (90%) is made up of plateaus and mountains. The highest point of the country is Mount Mulasen in the Sierra Nevada. Its height is 3478 metres. But on the island of Tenerife there is an even higher peak – the Teide volcano (3718 metres).
Safety for tourists
In the global index of peacefulness, which takes into account the calmness of the situation, attitude to tourists and many other factors, Spain is in 30th place. But despite this, a stay in the country can end sadly for a tourist.
The crime rate in Spain is one of the highest in Europe. There are a lot of pickpockets, as well as thievery, including from the hotel room. Therefore, tourists have to be careful and follow various rules: do not carry large sums of money, do not buy anything with hands, do not agree to excursions with a dubious guide. You should also avoid particularly criminal neighbourhoods, which are found in almost every city. For example, in Barcelona these are places of compact residence of gypsies.
The rules of the road are observed, the police closely monitor this. For example, if you risk crossing the street in the wrong place, you can be fined 200 euros.
The nature of Spain can also be dangerous. The sun is hot here, which can cause heat stroke. There are poisonous jellyfish in the sea. In the forests you can still meet wolves, bears, and on the outskirts of settlements – packs of stray dogs. There are also poisonous snakes and insects, such as the famous black widow spider.
Be careful and cautious, and your holiday in Spain will be pleasant and memorable only from the good side.
Many tourists specifically visit Spain to take part in holidays or festivals. Spaniards are very cheerful and active people, who do not imagine their lives without entertainment. The country has many official holidays, celebrated in all autonomous communities at once, and separately.
For example, all communities of Spain celebrate New Year, Easter, Ascension, Epiphany and Christmas. Labour Day, Constitution Day and Spanish National Day are celebrated throughout the country.
In addition, each community has its own holiday – the Day of Catalonia, Valencia, Castile and so on.
In addition, the kingdom holds many festivals for all tastes. The most popular are carnivals, which are timed to the end of winter. The time of their holding is the end of February and the beginning of March. One of the largest is held in Tenerife. It is compared with the famous carnival in Rio di Janeiro.
At other times, many original festivals are held. For example, in Córdoba at the end of May they hold the Patio Festival, when residents decorate the patios of their houses with many flowers. In the city of Aro on 29 June there is a Wine Battle, in Pamplona in July there is a fiesta of St. Fermin with festive processions and running through the streets with bulls. There are many such festivals in the country and all of them attract the attention of tourists.
What fun things to do in Spain
Spain can offer tourists a variety of activities to suit all tastes and wallets, from beach holidays and visiting architectural and historical sights, to shopping and clubbing.
- Beach holidays. The best beaches of the country are located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as on the Canary Islands. Here soft, white sand, marvellous sun and warm water. Playa de Palma beach on the island of Mallorca is considered one of the best.
- Diving. There are many places for diving in the kingdom. These are Alboran Island, near the coast of Morocco, Cape Cope in Murcia with its artificial coral reefs, and many other picturesque places.
- Surfing. For lovers of surfing in the country, there are also beaches with high waves. They are located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as on the Canary Islands. On the Mediterranean Sea you can also catch a wave, but these places are better for beginners.
- Amusement Parks. The country has many wonderful theme parks, water parks, dolphinariums and other attractive places for family holidays. PortAventura Park near Barcelona is famous all over the world. There are different locations, opening the worlds of the Wild West, Mexico, China, the Mediterranean and others.
- Trekking, hiking. This type of tourism in the kingdom is very popular. There are numerous walking trails for every taste. For example, you can walk among the coniferous forests and peaks of the Fuenfria Valley, and you can visit the Teide National Park.
- Cycling. And for lovers of such an active holiday in the country everything is provided. There are excellent cycling routes along the Mediterranean Sea, through the central part of the country and across the Pyrenees. The latter is considered one of the most difficult, but also the most exciting.
- Sightseeing tours. Roman and then Arab rule created an amazing fusion of European and Moorish culture. The country has majestic palaces, cathedrals, and museums. The most famous of them are the Prado Museum and the Alhambra palace complex.
- Skiing. Hot Spain can surprise any fans of skiing. There are dozens of ski resorts scattered all over the country. Especially many of them are in the Pyrenees, but there are also in the Central Mountain System and even in the Cantabrian Cordilleras.
- Bullfighting. Spanish bullfighting is entertainment for the amateur, but always a colourful and exciting show. The bullfighting season lasts from May to October and fights are held every Sunday. The most popular bullfights are held in Madrid and Andalusia.
- Nightclubs. There is an interesting nightlife in many Spanish cities, but its heart beats in Ibiza. This trendy resort is located on one of the Balearic Islands. It is home to some of the most famous nightclubs in the world, including the famous mega-club Space.
What’s important to know about Spain
If you are planning to visit Spain, here are some of the most important things to know:
The official language of the country is Spanish. It is the language of international communication and government documents. In addition, Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It is spoken by more than 500 million people, and it is one of the official languages of the UN.
Besides Spanish, the status of semi-official has Aran, Galician and Basque languages. Catalan, Aragonese and a number of others have regional status.
Currently, the country is home to just over 48 million people. Most of them (91%) live in cities. Spain is a multinational country, and the indigenous population here are considered representatives of a number of peoples who originally inhabited the peninsula. These are Castilians, Catalans, Basques, Galicians and others. The Roma community of Spain is significant. Many natives of Great Britain live here.
At the same time, about 20% of Spaniards have Arab roots.
In recent years, the country has seen an immigration boom. Immigrants from Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe are coming here.
More facts about Spaniards, their character and local colour can be found in this article.
The national currency of the country is the euro. Until 2002, the country used the national monetary unit – peseta.
If the euro banknotes do not differ in design for different EU states, the coins are different in each country. Spanish euro coins have their own distinctive features. The 1 and 2 euro coins feature a portrait of the current king. Right now it is Philip VI, until 2015 it was Juan Carlos I.
The euro cent coins depict the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela and the writer Miguel Cervantes.
The majority of the country’s population is Christian. Almost 78% of the population identify themselves as belonging to one or another Christian church. Most of all Catholics (75%), there are Protestants, in recent years the number of the Orthodox community is growing.
About one million people (more than 2 per cent) profess Islam. Buddhists, Hindus and Jews are also represented in the country. About 16 per cent of the population identify themselves as atheists.
The climate of Spain is very diverse, and not only due to the remote islands. On the mainland of the country, there is also a large gradation of climate.
Thus, on the Mediterranean coast the climate is subtropical, hot, with cool and wet winters. This type of climate prevails in Spain. In the central areas of the peninsula, there is a moderate continental type of climate. Here there is a higher difference between average monthly temperatures depending on the season of the year. In summer the air can warm up to +35, and in winter it can cool down to zero.
In the north-west of the country, in the Basque lands, a maritime temperate climate reigns. Here it is not so hot in summer, and in winter it often snows. The weather is determined by oceanic winds, monsoons.
The Canary Islands have a tropical arid climate. There is little precipitation, and the average annual temperature ranges from +21 to +29 degrees Celsius. Humidity is strongly influenced by the ocean and northeast trade winds.
The Pyrenees has areas of altitudinal belt. The highest mountains have snow all year round. Glacier levels start at altitudes of 2700 metres.
The average temperature of seawater in different parts of Spain, on different coasts, can vary considerably. While in Tenerife you can swim almost all year round, the Bay of Biscay cools down to +12 degrees in winter, making beach holidays problematic.
- Water temperature in winter, December-January: from +12 (San Sebastián) to +19 (Tenerife). On the Mediterranean coast, about +16 degrees.
- Water temperature in spring, March-May: from +14 (San Sebastián) to +20 degrees (Canary Islands). On the Balearic Islands, +17 to +18 degrees.
- Water temperature in summer, June-July: from +22 to +25 degrees. The highest water temperature is in August.
- Water temperature in autumn, September-November: +20 to +18 degrees in November. In Tenerife, autumn is very warm, and the water temperature does not fall below +23.
Spain is a fairly safe country when it comes to natural disasters. The biggest danger here is floods caused by heavy rainfall. In recent years, such floods have been catastrophic, washing away entire towns. Moreover, flooding can occur at any time of the year, even in summer, which is usually characterised by low rainfall.
The second danger of the country is considered to be forest fires. A large part of the country is covered with forests, and they often burn during the dry season. Especially the southern, the hottest regions of the country suffer from fires.
Earthquakes in Spain are rare, but still happen. So, in 2010, thoroughly shook the south of the country, near the Strait of Gibraltar. The magnitude of the earthquake was 6 points. Earthquakes can cause tsunamis, as happened in 1755 in Lisbon. Then neighbouring Portugal was hit by a tsunami 5 metres high.
Occur off the coast of Spain and strong storms. For example, in 2020 cyclone Gloria passed through Valencia and the Balearic Islands, bringing not only strong winds, but even snow. The stormy sea off the coast of the country is predominantly in winter.
Volcanic eruptions are a regular occurrence in the Canary Islands. There are about 10 volcanoes on these islands, 4 of which are active. Most recently, in 2021, the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the islands of La Palma erupted. 450 homes were destroyed and thousands of people were evacuated.
You can read about the most devastating disasters in the history of Spain in this article.
Spain is a constitutional monarchy. The official head of state is the king, and executive power is concentrated in the hands of the president of the government. The legislative branch is represented by the state Cortes, a bicameral parliament consisting of the Senate and the Congress of Deputies.
Administratively, the country is divided into 17 autonomous communities, historical lands, which in turn consist of 50 provinces.
The capital of the country is the city of Madrid.
The major cities and resorts
Madrid is the capital of the country and its largest city. It is home to more than 3 million people. It was founded in 893 as a Moorish fortress. Now it is a modern city with a huge number of attractions.
Barcelona is Madrid’s eternal rival in architectural splendour and entertainment, the capital of Catalonia. According to one legend, it was founded by Hercules 400 years before Rome. Now Barcelona is home to 1,600,000 inhabitants.
Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of the same name and the third most populous city in Spain. It was founded in 138 B.C. and now has almost 800,000 inhabitants. Its cathedral houses the original of the Grail Cup.
Ibiza is a popular international resort known for its clubs where the best electronic music is played. It is located on an island in the Mediterranean Sea with marvellous beaches, diving opportunities and other entertainment. Its capital Ivis is home to more than 130,000 people.
Tenerife is the largest island of the Canary archipelago. It is home to almost 1 million people. Tourists from England and Germany like to holiday here. Here are not only beautiful beaches, but also the highest mountain in the country – the volcano Teide.
Symbols of Spain
Lion – the symbol of the country, traces its origin from the city of Leon and the kingdom of Castile.
Corrida – the famous bullfight, a mesmerising but very cruel spectacle.
Bear – an ancient symbol of Madrid, which in ancient times was called Ursa.
Flamenco is the national dance. It originated in the era of Moorish domination.
Guitar – the national instrument of the country. It is believed that this is where the guitar was formed as a musical instrument.
Football – Spaniards are fervent and passionate fans. They are very fond of football, and the athletes often give their fans remarkable victories.
How to get to Spain
You can get to Spain by almost any form of transport, but most tourists arrive in the country via airports. The annual passenger traffic at Spanish airports exceeds 200 million people. There are more than 160 international airports, the largest of which are Barajas in Madrid and El Prat in Barcelona. There are airports on the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
Rail connections link Spain only with neighbouring France and Portugal. From France, you can get to any other European country.
The situation is the same with road connections. International motorway A2 leads to France, A5 – to Portugal.
Maritime tourist shipping is also developed in Spain. Every year, cruise liners and ferries transport about 20 million tourists. This is due to the fact that the country has many resorts on the islands, and you can get there only by plane or liner. One of the largest ports of the country is Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands.
How much money to take with you
Prices for holidays in Spain can vary quite widely depending on the season and resort. The cost of tours to the country starts from 1700 euros for 7 days and can exceed 3-4 thousand.
In the country itself, the following costs await tourists:
- Food: food prices in Spain are quite high, as in any European country. A typical breakfast can cost 10–20 euros, and lunch – in 20-30, and this is at a minimum. That’s how much lunch costs in buffet establishments. Lunch in a restaurant will cost even more. Thus, a day can cost 40–45 euros for a budget holiday, and 70-100 for a more comfortable. For two people a week it comes out 600–1400 euros.
- Sightseeing: some attractions in the country are free, but you will have to pay for entry to others. For example, a visit to the Prado Museum costs 14 euros. Bus tours are popular with tourists, the price of which can vary from 30 euros for a city tour to 80 euros for a trip around the neighbourhood. Therefore, for this item of expenditure should be planned from 200 to 400 euros.
- Water parks, entertainment: Spanish beaches are characterised by many attractions. Here you can ride a boat or yacht, learn diving, rent a bicycle. Renting a sunbed costs 10–15 euros, diving for an hour 30–50 euros, sea fishing from 70 euros. Thus, to try at least some of the services offered, the tourist should prepare 300–500 euros a week.
- Souvenirs: on this item of expenditure can, if desired, save money, and will be limited to a set of magnets for 10 euros or a commemorative T-shirt for 100. Usually tourists bring from the country various products, including famous wines and jamon, cosmetics, clothes, ceramics, lace. Here, the total amount depends entirely on the financial capabilities of the tourist.
- Transport: in large cities it is more profitable and faster to travel by metro, in smaller cities – to use a bus. Prices for this will be of the same order – about 2 euros per trip. Intercity transport is expensive, so it is easier for a tourist to take a tour. Total for transport should be set aside 100–150 euros.
Thus, taking into account the reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, holiday in Spain for two will cost from 1200 to 3000 thousand euros for 7 days. And of course, the maximum amount of holiday can be much higher.
If you have already visited this country, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words, what you liked most of all in the country, what moments remained in your memory forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. We will be very grateful for your recommendations!