Travel Guide: Spain
Spain Travel Guide: General Travel Guide Information about Spain.
As a special service to our valued clients and readers, we at World Interpreting offer you something different aside from our language translation and interpretation services. We continue to strive for excellence in our services but we also want to provide you with country travel guides that can come in handy for you or your business. Our Spain travel guide contains information and other interesting travel tidbits related to Spain. This travel guide for Spain has been written so that you, as a traveler and tourist, will have a better understanding about the country as well as the different places you can visit. Traveling to Spain can be a wonderful experience, no doubt about it. However, not knowing what to do or spend for can leave you feeling pressured and worried constantly.
Travel Guide Spain will take you to different fantastic places in Spain as well as some of the famous landmarks and notable places, so you will already have a general idea about Spain if and when you decide to actually travel and explore this fascinating country. And other than the places of interest, Travel Guide Spain will also give you valuable information such as the geography, demographics and the languages spoken in different parts of this country. Don’t forget to check out the travel safety tips in Spain as well as the other sections in our Travel Guide Spain! We do hope you will come back often to travel with us to other destinations around the world.
:: Introducing Spain ::
As one of the largest and oldest countries in Europe, Spain holds much allure for many travelers. The country has a proud and regal past, and its heritage can still be seen today in the grandeur of its many buildings, the beauty of its architecture and the preservation of its natural landscape and many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Spain has much to offer travelers looking for adventure, history, scenery, great food and people that are as warm as the country’s climate.
There are many wonderful and exciting things that visitors can expect when traveling to Spain. Our Spain pocket travel guide will provide you a general yet interesting overview of what the country is like. At the same time, you can also learn about what points of interest you should see so you can plan where to go. This will help you create a more efficient travel itenerary and so you can be prepared with your camera to take pictures of all the amazing sights you’ll see. Aside from this, you can also learn about the different things you can do while in the country. To ensure an enjoyable time, you can also learn useful safety travel tips that you can utilize during your trip to Spain. To help you get around, you can even learn a few basic Spanish words and phrases to help you communicate with the locals. Our Spain travel guide is conveniently divided into sections and chapters to make it handier and easier to use. This way, you can easily find a particular section that you need as you travel around Spain.
The Kingdom of Spain derives its name from “Ispanihad”, which means on the edge, since it is located on the edge of the Mediterranean. There is some debate as to the exact origins and meaning of the name of the country. However, it is undisputed that Spain has been historically influential to the world. The country of Spain is located in the Iberian Peninsula, occupying about 85 percent, in the southwestern part of Europe. Gibraltar, Andorra, Portugal, France and the Atlantic Ocean surround its borders.
There are many places to visit in Spain. With a land encompassing an area of 504,030 square kilometers or 194,610 square miles, Spain is the second largest country in all of Western Europe as well as in the European Union. Travelers can choose to visit the old world charm of the walled city of Toledo or experience the eight minute excitement of Running with the Bulls in Pamplona. There is also the world famous Guggenheim Museum to see in the city of Bilbao or the spectacular Rock of Gibraltar. From the country’s Mediterranean coast to the beautiful Andalucian region and Pyrennes, travelers may find it difficult to choose just one city to visit because of the many historical and important cities to be found in the fourth largest country in all of Europe.
The first stop for many travel itineraries to Spain is the capital city of Madrid. As the seat of the country’s power, it is natural for travelers to want to see what this bustling city is all about. The city of Madrid has something for everyone, whether it’s history, culture, art, shopping as well as delicious food and fine wine. Those interested in architecture will be fascinated at the details found on the Palacio de Comunicaciones or the Main Post Office as well as the Plaza de la Cibeles, where a grand fountain awaits travelers at the rotunda. For a taste of royalty, travelers can also enjoy the Palacio Real, which is a palace that took more than forty years to construct. Art lovers can seek refuge from the hot Spanish weather at the Museo del Prado, where works of top Spanish artists, especially Goya and Velazquez, are found. As one of the world’s top museums, the Prado has an extensive collection of Flemish works by Van Dyck, Albert Durer and Rubens, as well as works by other famous artists such as Botticelli, Raphael, Titian and El Greco.
Travelers can also take a stroll down the Gran Via and Paseo del Prado and be enthralled with the shopping options of many international labels and Spanish brands such as Zara, Mango, Desigual and Camper shoes or head down to Puerta del Sol and shop at the top department store, El Corte Ingles. Puerta del Sol marks the geographic center of the city as well as the country, making it quite busy and sometimes even chaotic.
Travelers can also relax and enjoy the food from many restaurants found at the different plazas in the city, or even pick up a few souvenirs. Plaza Mayor is an elegant plaza designed by famed architect Juan de Herrera and is a tribute to Felipe III in 1620. It is here where many Madrileños come together, especially at night, to enjoy some Spanish wine or eat at one of the many cafes. It’s quite easy to get around Madrid, either by taking a picturesque walking tour, or by taking the underground subway system.
The coastal city of Barcelona is another major destination for travelers visiting Spain. Once the site of the summer Olympics, Barcelona has a laid back Bohemian yet vibrant atmosphere. Located on the northeast coast of Spain, Barcelona’s young and modernistic spirit most likely inspired some of its favorite sons such as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and even Joan Miro to get their creative juices flowing. It’s very easy to imagine how the energetic spirit of the city was once home to some of the most notable artists of the world.
Travelers visiting Barcelona will find that it’s quite easy to get around the city. In fact, going around on foot may be one of the best ways to catch the sights and appreciate the modern scenery. A walk down the pedestrian thoroughfare of Las Ramblas will give travelers an eyeful of street performers and street cafes as travelers make their way down from the Font de Canaletes to the Monument a Colom or Columbus Monument, which provides a fantastic view of the blue Mediteranean waters.
Barcelona boasts of many buildings exhibiting modern architecture. Most notable and unique of this is the La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral that is the masterpiece of the artist Antoni Gaudi. It is a work in progress since the architect died before completing its construction, although travelers can behold the detailed Nativity façade of the church.
For travelers who feel that a trip isn’t complete without a visit to a museum, Barcelona won’t disappoint. The Museu Picasso is the most visited museum in the city and hosts an extensive collection of works by the artist. There is also the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya or the Palau Nacional, home to many gothic art pieces. Those looking for something more unique will enjoy the Museu de la Xocolata or the Chocolate Museum.
There are a number of other interesting cities and sights to see when visiting Spain that travelers can learn about in our Travel Guide Spain. As one of the most vibrant countries in Europe, Spain should be on the top travel itinerary of anyone visiting Europe.
Spain today remains exciting and inspiring, just like the Kingdom of Spain of long ago. Its rich history of explorers such as Hernan Cortes and Vasco Nunez de Balboa; leaders such as El Cid; kings, conquerors and castles have given inspiration to modern times. Spain has given much to the world in terms of religion, exploration, art, sports, culture and history. Many prolific artists and writers hail from Spain, such as Miguel de Cervantes, painters Salvador Dali, Francisco Goya and Pablo Picasso and architect Antoni Gaudi. Singers Julio and Enrique Iglesias and actors Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and director Pedro Almodovar are all from Spain. The idea of siestas, mañana (tomorrow), enjoying sangrias, watching flamencos and bull fighting and enjoying a football game with fervor, eating tapas, churros con chocolate and paella and simply enjoying a leisurely yet prayerful life are just some of the contributions to the world of this amazing country.
Travelers to Spain should learn to sit back and enjoy things in a leisurely manner. Meals are expected to take hours, rather than minutes. Afternoon siestas are common, especially after enjoying a lunch of paella starting at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Dinner starts late at 8 in the evening, and often begins with various small plates of food or tapas or even a few slices of jamon de serrano. Breakfast can be as simple as a cup of hot chocolate with some churros, although lunch and dinner are often heavier and more varied.
Because of its long and cultured past, Spain enjoys the distinction of having the second most number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. It is also the country with the most number of World Heritage Cities, such as Toledo, Avila, Cuenca, Salamanca, Segovia and Santiago de Compostela. This makes the country an exciting place to visit as it is a treasure trove of delights, especially for those who love history, art and architecture.
The Kingdom of Spain is a member of the European Union. It is also part of the Schengen Agreement. For its currency, it uses the euro, making it easy for travelers to move from one European nation to another. It is ranked as having the 12th largest economy in the world, resulting in a high standard of living for its citizens. Education is free in Spain and is mandatory for its nationals. Spain is a democracy, although it still has a monarchy, so it it described as a constitutional monarchy, with the current king being Juan Carlos I. The head of the government is the Prime Minister.
Spain is known as one of the leaders in the production of renewable energy. Some of the economic challenges facing the country are its rising unemployment, a recession in the real estate market, a large underground economy, a surge in migration and high inflation. In fact, Spain has the second highest migration statistics in Europe. However, despite these economic challenges, Spain remains an attractive destination for travelers, having the second largest tourism industry in the world (second only to France), resulting in a 40 billion euro industry. Also, it has been able to preserve much of its natural resources, as well as its heritage sites.
The climate of Spain is another reason why many travelers choose to visit sunny Spain. The country is known as a year-round destination, though most tourists visit in the months of May, June and September. On the southern side, April and October are the most popular months to go. July and August are the warmest and busiest months to travel to Spain. Its generally warm climate makes it an attractive destination for travelers looking to catch up on some sun and enjoy the outdoors. Because of the country’s location and sheer size, Spain enjoys three climatic regions: a Mediterranean climate which is distinguished by a warm dry summer season; semi-arid climate in the southeastern part of the country, wherein the dry season extends well beyond the summer months; and an oceanic climate, which is mostly found in the northern part of the country.
In the summer, the country receives about an average of 12 hours of sunshine a day, and about six hours of sun during the winter. The summer season is a peak time to visit, as well as during Semana Santa (Holy Week) and during the various festivals in the different cities in the country. Travelers can expect good warm and dry weather from April to November. Travelers are advised to wear lightweight clothing, as it is typically warmer in Spain compared to other parts of Europe. However, those going to Andalucia during the summer months should be prepared for hot weather, with temperatures reaching up to 40 °C or a scorching 104 °F in the daytime. In the rest of the country, the temperatures are a pleasant 24 °C or about 75 °F in the summer. December up to February are the colder months, with heavy snow up on the mountainous regions, or even below zero temperatures in the mesetas or central plateau. Travelers to Spain are best advised to check the weather of the city they are going to before leaving for their destination so that the proper clothing and gear can be worn.
There are over 46 millions Spaniards living in the country today, with over six million residing in Madrid, while another five million can be found in Barcelona. Spain is a country that is composed mostly of a Catholic population, at about 94 percent. The people are known to be hospitable, friendly and passionate yet laid back and well educated. The people of Spain also enjoy a high standard of living and a high literacy rate. Spaniards have one of the longest life expectancy rates at 80.2 years.
One of the main draws of Spain for travelers is that while this European country has much to offer, it is less expensive to travel to as food, hotels and services tend to be more affordable and more reasonably priced compared to Paris and other popular European destinations. At the same time, there are a number of cities and sights to see all over the country, so Spain appeals to outdoor enthusiasts, travelers with families, people looking for a romantic destination or those who are looking for some adventure.
Another draw of Spain is the food. No wonder Spaniards spend more euros per capita for food than any other European nation. The cuisine is flavorful yet simple to prepare, relying on fresh ingredients and a combination of spices. The flavors are influenced by the different regions, resulting in local specialties and food items such as Cocido Madrileño, Chorizo de Bilbao, Gazpacho Andalusia (a refreshing cold tomato soup), Fabada Asturiana (beans), Catalan Cream, Jamon Iberico, Paella Valenciana and various tapas or cuts of meat soaked in Spanish olive oil. Calamares, tortilla de patata (potato omelette), arroz con leche (a sweet dessert of rice and milk), sopa de marisco and churros are just some of the food items travelers can enjoy while in Spain. Travelers can order the menu del dia or the menu of the day for under 15 euros. Many cafes serve freshly made cuisine at affordable prices, so travelers can have their fill of authentic Spanish cuisine without having to spend a lot of money. Meals can be enjoyed with a cold glass of cerveza or beer. For cocktails, sangria can be ordered. There are also a number of vino blanco and tintos or red wines to choose from.
Travelers going to Spain should also be aware of the varied holidays in the country. During many holidays and the 3,000 festivals in various towns in the country, many museums and establishments are closed. The country celebrates many religious holidays, such as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), Christmas, Epiphany, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, as well as Assumption Day. Holy Week is also known as Semana Santa. There is also New Year’s Day, Labor Day on May 1, Constitution Day (December 6) and National Day (October 12). In early March, Carnaval is celebrated, with some of the most exciting parties in Cadiz, Barcelona and Cataluña. Las Fallas is celebrated in March in Valencia. The running of the bulls or San Fermines in Pamplona is celebrated in the second week of July. Travelers going to Spain to celebrate a particular festival should do their research and book reservations early, as resorts and hotels tend to fill up during the busy season.
Spanish is the official language spoken in Spain. It is the medium of instruction in schools and is used in media, and is more commonly referred to as Castilian. French and English are also taught in school. As a global empire, Spain taught the world to speak the language, resulting in over 500 million Spanish-speaking people today and making the language one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Travelers to Spain should consider learning a few words and phrases to help them make their way around the country. Catalan, Basque and Galician are also recognized languages. Altough English is spoken and understood, the locals appreciate it when travelers attempt to communicate in the vernacular. For those who are planning an extended stay in Spain, such as for business or educational purposes, it’s a good idea to enroll in a Spanish language class to get equipped with the necessary language skills needed on a daily basis.
Truly, Spain is one of the most exciting and interesting places to visit in the world. With its delightfully lively flamenco music, inspiring guitar music, delicious cuisine, friendly and imaginative people, lush mountains, attractive climate, affordable travel packages, beckoning beaches and warm waters, Spain is a delight to the senses and an inspiration to the soul. It’s not easy to describe a country that has spread Catholicism and the Spanish language, colonized much of Latin America and various countries thereby rewriting history, and given the world enthralling bull fights, the idealism of Don Quixote, the inspiring works of Goya, Dali, Picasso and Gaudi, and to fashionistas, Manolo Blahnik shoes. Therefore, a trip to Spain is a must so travelers can witness the life, vibrancy, history and Spanish culture with their own eyes.
Our Travel Guide Spain is a pocket guidebook that will be helpful and even indispensible to travelers, because it provides a wealth of information about things to do and places to see in a concise manner. Let the Travel Guide Spain serve as your travel assistant as you make your way around this amazing European nation. Spain is a country with a rich and imperial past, charming people, sumptuous food and wine, lively music and dance, wonderful architecture, masterful artworks and many well-preserved heritage sites that are sure to delight the most sophisticated travelers. The cities are at once diverse and interesting, exuding an understated power and elegance that is a reminder of its grand past. It’s very easy to see why Spain continues to inspire the world today, just as it did during its imperial conquistador days. Continue to read and explore our Travel Guide Spain to learn more.
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