BootsnAll has always been a resource for independent-minded travelers, and we’re constantly working to become even better at providing the best travel tips, advice, and inspiration to help you make the most of your travels. As part of our commitment to connecting travelers to passionate local experts and cultivating a community of like-minded people from around the world, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our new BootsnAll Travel Writers Platform. To kick off the first five sites, every day this week we’ll introduce you to one of our new, fantastic writers. Today we’d like you to meet Nellie Huang who will be writing WhyGo Spain.
Nellie doesn’t know if it’s the “outrageous Spanish cuisine, or the languid pace of life, or even the hot-blooded Spaniards” that have her so enamored with Spain, but her passion for the country is clear. Nellie’s settled down (well, we use that term lightly, as she always seems to be on the move) in Spain, currently living in Granada, though she’s also lived in Madrid and Seville. With a network of friends and contacts who help her uncover the best the country has to offer, Nellie is here to dish up insider secrets and expert advice as she serves as your indispensable travel guide to Spain.
Beneath the vibrant and explosive facade of Spain lies a nation erupting with history, heritage and culture. Wild, passionate and charming all at once, it’s got character and stylish flair. Whether you are a culture vulture, outdoor enthusiast or a beach-goer, you always end up falling head over heels with Spain. And if that’s still not enough to lure you, I’m sure the world-class cuisine and hypnotic sangria will. Here’s not just one, but 10 reasons why it’s time to explore Spain now:
1. It’s a one-stop destination for outdoors, culture and urban living
Spain might not be a big country but it’s power-packed with iconic architecture, dramatic olive country landscapes and gorgeous coastlines. In cities like Barcelona, Granada and San Sebastian, you can be climbing a mountain in the morning, sun-bathing on the beach in the afternoon and partying in the city by night. For travelers in Spain, you can easily go kite-boarding in the north, flamenco-dancing in the south and then castle-hopping in Central Spain: starkly different experiences all in one country. Spain’s multi-faceted personality is a big draw for travelers looking for a myriad of experiences.
2. Its cultural traditions are world famous
Spanish cultural traditions such as the feisty flamenco dance and controversial bullfights have gained much fame for the country. For an authentic flamenco experience, head out to the genuine caves in Seville or the gypsy quarters of Granada. While bullfights are not favored by animal-rights activists, they give you a glimpse into the world of Spanish traditions. Bullfighting is currently banned in Catalonia; discussions for other states are underway. So seize the opportunity to catch one before they go extinct. Other cultural traditions that deserve some limelight include the Sevillano dance, traditional Asturian bagpipe music and each city’s feria.
3. Its rich history is displayed in characteristic architecture
From the Roman Empire to Muslim conquerors and the more recent Spanish civil war, Spain has had a colorful past. It is evident even in today’s Spain: wander through streets of centuries-old edifices and plazas while monuments of war heroes tell tales of yesteryears. Cathedrals – especially the Catedral de Toledo – are testimonies of their religious past. Royal palaces such as the Palacio Real de Madrid adorn majestic architectural styles and intricate carvings.
4. It’s home to unique summer festivals
Summer festivals in Spain are colorful, thrilling and unlike no other. Take the La Tomatina in Buñol for example – Spain’s biggest food fight gets participants down and dirty in a messy tomato fight. Pamplona’s San Fermin festival is celebrated in the form of bull runs along the city’s thoroughfare. In September, castellers in Catalonia get together to form human pyramids up to ten mans’ height! These are just some teasers of Spanish festivals, there are many more throughout Spain that are worth looking out for.
5. Spanish food is healthy, diverse and outrageously flavorful
Gastronomic travel is one of the best ways to uncover a country, especially so in Spain. Home to more Michelin-star restaurants than anywhere else in the world, Spanish cuisine has won quite a reputation for itself in the culinary world. You will be surprised to know besides the ubiquitous paella, there is a diverse range of platters that differ from region to region – from a simple bocadillo de jamón (cured ham sandwich) to the tantalizing pulpo a la gallega (Galician squid). And how could we forget one of the best inventions in the world: tapas! Tapas culture reigns in most parts of Spain, manifested in different forms depending on the community.
6. It has some of the best beaches in the world
Be it the crowded Costa del Sol coastline or remote nudist beaches in the Canary Islands, there is a beach for everyone. Spanish beaches have been drawing in flocks of tourists for decades, with Spain being dubbed Europe’s most popular sun and sand destination. Crowd-lovers will enjoy the pulsating beach culture on the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Costa Blanca. To get away from the hordes of tourists, you can still find wild beaches in Galicia, Lanzarote and Formentera. All-year-round warm weather and sunshine at the offshore isles make for ideal winter breaks.
7. It’s great for outdoor lovers
Who said Spain is all about beaches and food? Outdoor enthusiasts can also revel in its lush nature and rugged mountains. In the Sierra Nevada mountain range, climbers can challenge themselves to the highest peak on mainland Spain, Mulhacen (3482m). World-class ski resorts can be found all over Spain – with popular ones in the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada. In Huelva and Cadiz, you can find excellent scuba-diving sites with clear visibility in summer. Water sports like surfing, kite-boarding and kayaking are popular on the Canary Islands and the Balearics.
8. It’s a treasure trove of art collections
The Spaniards have had an exceptional flair for art since pre-Roman times. Today, art is expressed in the form of contemporary art pieces and architecture. Art-lovers can head out to Madrid’s Museo del Prado for classic historical pieces. Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid has an impressive display of modern art work by talented artists in the likes of Dali and Gaudi. Barcelona, the city itself is a walking piece of art. Gaudi’s architectural accomplishment – Catedral de la Sagrada Familia and la Pedrera – are signature landmarks of the city.
9. The Spaniards party like there’s no tomorrow
Nightlife in Spain kicks a punch, so get your dancing shoes on and prepare to pull an all-nighter! The Spaniards usually don’t go to bed until dawn, with non-stop flow of booze and psychedelic tunes pumping through the night. In major cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, nocturnal animals go on the prowl only after midnight, hopping from one bar to the next till daybreak. Once the hangover kicks in, it’s time to head out to the churreria for some steaming churros con chocolate.
10. You can’t get better weather than in the Mediterranean
With over 300 days of sunshine a year, Spain is often the envy of many Europeans, especially the Brits, Germans and Scandinavians who flood its coastline every summer. Although temperatures are considerably lower in the northern part of the country, overall weather in Spain is warm and pleasant. With average temperatures of 18C to 30C (64F – 86F) year round, you rarely get a single bad day in Spain.