Your travel in Spain¡Viva España!
Travel in Spain
A state made up of seventeen autonomous regions with extensive areas of competence that have managed to retain their own languages and cultural traditions. While Castilian is the official language common to all of Spain, in some regions it is spoken alongside Basque, Galician, Catalan and Aragonese.
Immediately following the Pyrenees…
In the north-east of Spain, both Mediterranean and Pyrenean, Catalonia is marked by a great variety of landscapes. On the mountain side, the Catalan Cerdanya offers ski and mountaineering resorts, hiking trails and rafting.
If the visit of the Sagrada Familia and the Ramblas of Barcelona are part of the essential stages of a visit in Catalonia, the medieval city of Giro and, in Figueras, the Theatre Museum Dali are also worth a stop.
Sparsely populated, Aragon, which borders France, is crossed by different paths leading pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. From the Somport pass in the French Pyrenees to Jaca in the north-east of Aragon, the Camino Francés is one of the most visited.
Lovers of nature and sports will enjoy the Sierra y Cañones de Guara, the ultimate in Spanish canyoning and in winter the ski resorts of the Aragonese Pyrenees.
A historic Basque territory, Navarre was a kingdom in the 9th century until it was conquered by the Catholic Monarchs in the 16th. This sovereign Basque state extended over the two western slopes of the Pyrenees.
In the north, Basse-Navarre was attached to France in 1790, it is today integrated into the department of Pyrenees-Atlantic.
The capital of the Foral Community of Navarre is Pamplona, famous for its famous encircled towns, the bullfights of the feria de la San Firmin. To the north, it is characterized by the Pyrenean mountains and valleys and to the south by the Ribera, a region heralding the arid plateaus of Castile.
Crossed by two of the paths leading to Compostela, the pilgrimage has greatly favoured the development of this traditionally wine-growing region. Santo Domingo de la Calzada is the most visited place in La Rioja by pilgrims who stop there before setting off through the land of Leon.
With its old bridge over the Ebro, Logroño is an obligatory part of the pilgrimage.
Going along the Atlantic coast…
The Basque Country
The Basque Country, a country of mountain people and sailors, has a coastline made up of beaches interspersed with impressive cliffs, such as those of flyshouses that characterise Guipuzkoa. Among the beaches, La Concha beach in San Sebastian is considered the most beautiful urban beach in Spain.
San Sebastian is a popular tourist destination with its historic Erdialdea district, where you can enjoy pintxos, local tapas, in one of the many bars that characterise its narrow streets.
As for the hinterland, it is composed of green meadows and wooded hills dotted with typical villages and mountainous areas.
Green, maritime and mountainous are the adjectives that define Cantabria whose Costa Cantabria offers 280 km of coastline. Scattered with fishing villages and small seaside resorts, it is marked by deep rias that sink into a hinterland of mountains and valleys. In the famous Picos de Europa park, some peaks reach more than 2500 meters.
About twenty kilometres from Santander, the regional capital, Santillana del Mar, is home to the Cuevas de Altamira, declared a World Heritage Site, a few kilometres from its interesting historic centre.
Traditionally a maritime place, Asturias is composed of a mountainous landscape along a seafront 350 kilometres long.
Small fishing ports and coastal villages, cliffs, wild coves and golden sandy beaches where surfing is a must, are the distinctive features of this part of the Costa Verde.
Oviedo, which was the capital of this ancient Celtiberian kingdom, has kept lively old streets and many listed buildings and monuments.
Considered as the original nucleus of the first Christian kingdoms, Galicia’s capital is Santiago de Compostela, the last stop of one of the greatest Christian pilgrimages in Europe.
With a generous coastline of 1700 km shared between the Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic, Galicia offers a rugged rocky coast, bordered by cliffs. It is penetrated by baixas, deep rias in which nest small fishing ports. To the northwest of this coast, Cabo Touriñan is the most westerly cape of Spain.
In the southwest of Spain, the Atlantic Ocean also invites itself on the western coasts of Andalusia to the Gulf of Cadiz. On the other side of the Gilbraltar Strait, the blue waters of the Mediterranean border the sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol, Spain’s main tourist destination. Torremolinos is the most famous seaside resort.
The hinterland is mountainous, dotted with typical villages with Maghrebi architecture, white pueblos, ansi named for the whiteness of their houses. A land of flamenco and bullfights, Andalusia is home to the architectural legacies inherited from the splendour of Al Andalus.
Of these cities, Seville is the most visited in Spain. With an important river port on the Guadalquivir, Seville has inherited an artistic and cultural heritage that is at once Arab-Muslim, Jewish and Catholic. The Giralda and the Alcazar are the most emblematic buildings of this period. Moreover, it is in its historical district of Triana that flamenco would have been born.
It is in Córdoba, famous for its leather craftsmanship, that we feel the most, especially in its old World Heritage city and around its Mezquita-Catedral, the Hispano-Moorish atmosphere that has bathed Andalusia for centuries.
As for Granada, camped at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, its Alhambra, one of the most visited monuments in Europe, is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
On the Mediterranean coast
La costa Cálida, Blanca, Valencia, del Azahar, are the coasts that make up the shores of the regions of Murcia and Valencia. Long beaches and creeks, lagoons and high cliffs combined with 3000 hours of annual sunshine are the main features. In the land of paella, Benidorm is certainly the most sought-after of the many seaside resorts along the coast. Valencia, Alicante and Castellón de la Plana are the main destinations.
The central trays
Castile is the historical region of Spain, the land of the hidalgos, Don Quixote and windmills. It is in this geographical centre of the country that Madrid, the vibrant and lively capital, is located. The famous site of L’Escorial is nearby, located on the road leading to Segovia, a city famous for its large quantity of Roman remains and its one-kilometre-long aqueduct.
Besides Madrid, Albacete and Toledo are the two big cities of Castilla-La Mancha. If the old city of Toledo is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the medieval fortified city of Cuenca, located in the north-east of the region, deserves more than a stealth stopover.
Further northwest lies Leon with the cities of Salamanca which houses the oldest active university in Spain and that of Segovia with its Roman remains. As for the old city of Avila, it is considered a historical and artistic monument.
Border with Portugal, Extremadura is the land of the Iberian pig and the Dehesa de Extramadura ham.
The archaeological complex of its capital, Merida, is part of UNESCO’s heritage. Extremadura’s architectural heritage bears witness to the different cultures that have made it up. Long neglected by tourism, the region presents varied landscapes crossed by the Tagus and the Guadiana.
The Spanish archipelagos
The Canary Islands
Located off the coast of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean, the Canary Islands are an archipelago of seven volcanic islands with steep relief. Known for its black sandy beaches and sometimes exuberant vegetation, the Canary Islands are recognized as a biosphere reserve.
Tenerife is both the largest and most populated of the islands of the archipelago; its peak Teide, 3175 m, is listed as being the highest peak in Spain.
Easily accessible by boat or plane, the Balearic archipelago is composed of five main islands. Of these, Mallorca, the largest, is home to Palma de Mallorca, the capital.
Ibiza, internationally renowned for its beaches and endless festive nights, is defined as being the world capital of discos. Formentera and Menorca are for their island tranquillity.
Spanish enclaves in Morocco
Also called sovereignty squares, Spanish enclaves are located on the Moroccan Mediterranean coast. These enclaves have been claimed by Morocco since its independence in 1956.
A free port, Ceuta is nestled on a peninsula overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar a few dozen kilometres east of Tangier. The city, populated by 50% Muslims, has been occupied by Spain since the 17th century. A natural lookout post, its walls date back to medieval times. Ceuta has several urban beaches.
A city characterized by Art Nouveau architecture, Melilla is a meeting point for Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Hindu cultures from Gibraltar. Spanish since 1497, Melilla, whose old town is nestled inside medieval ramparts, has a beach, a marina and a nautical base.
Melilla, which is also a free port, is located in the north-east of the Moroccan territory, fifteen kilometres from the city of Nador.