Festivals and Carnivals are common around the world – whether they be some of the more popular festivals, or some of the more unusual and unheard of festivals.
It is said that the Spanish love their festivals and enjoy partying, and on that note, they certainly know how to put on a good display when it comes to celebrations.
In almost every town, village and city, you will hear or see Spanish festivals taking place during the year. With even just a simple bit of research, one can discover that some of the most intriguing festivals and fiestas in Spain have deep religious and historical meaning to the locals although some consider it to be just fun.
Here is a list of the top five festivals in Spain that are the biggest and have the most successful turnouts, as well as a list of five festivals that you probably haven’t heard of, and might seem a little more unusual than the types of events that go on in your hometown!
1. Las Fallas
Las Fallas, held each year in March in Valencia, and is a four-day festival full of performances, bonfires, and fireworks. The city is transformed, as papier-mâché figures are placed all over the streets and buildings. This is Valencia’s largest festival of the year.
2. Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife
This carnival, which is held in Tenerife in February, is one of the most lively and vibrant festivals in all of Spain. There are parades, floats, bands, and costumes. Many people spend months preparing their costumes for this one special event! This festival is said to resemble those held in Brazil, with the spectacular parades and colourful clothing.
3. Semana Santa
Semana Santa is a religious festival, and is often referred to as Spain’s “Holy Week.” The festival is held on the week that leads up to Easter Sunday, and is the celebration of Catholics who mourn the last days of Christ on the Earth. There are parades and floats, and on the night of Good Friday, the floats are carried off to the cathedral.
4. Sonar Music Festival of Barcelona
The Sonar Music Festival of Barcelona is held each year, and thousands of music lovers all over Spain and Europe come out to join in the ‘fun’. Many bands and musical acts take centre stage, and there are celebrations all around the music festival, too – parades and celebrations welcoming the tens of thousands of people who show up annually.
5. San Fermin
Taking place from early to mid July each year, the San Fermin festival is a festival that brings parties to the streets of Spain. There is loud music, dancing, and the well-known “Running of the Bulls.” This is one of the most popular festivals in Spain – after all seeing someone being chased through the streets by an angry bull would grab anyone’s attention!
6. Els Enfarinats
An April Fool’s festival held in Iba, Spain, in which the residents spend time together throwing flour and eggs at each other. Some consider it a novel way to celebrate April Fools – being covered in flour and eggs and and targeting your friends and neighbours.
7. La Tomatina
One of the most bizarre and intriguing festivals in Spain is La Tomatina, which is held at the end of August in the city of Valencia, is a festival that happens once a year, but is considered to be a great way to spend ones time – you and your fellow festival-goers are essentially gathering together to throw tomatoes at each other! That is a lot of food!
8. Granada’s Ham and Water Festival
Granada’s Ham and Water Festival is a celebration that doesn’t get as much recognition as the previous ones on this list, but is still an interesting one to take a look at. Tourists and citizens of Granada gather to spend time with their fellow celebrators and eat some of the best ham in Spain – as well as celebrate Saint John the Baptist’s Day. At midnight, purified water will soak everyone who crosses the path – from water guns, hoses, and pipes!
9. Wine Battle of Haro
Spain is known for the amazing wine that is made there – and some feel that there is no better way to celebrate that delicious wine than to have a festival for it. The festival takes place in Haro, which is located in the La Rioja part of Spain – a section of Spain known for its amazing wine. During the festival, there is music, dancing, food, wine – and of course the customary wine fight, where celebrators…yes you guessed it…. throw wine at each other!
10. El Colacho
Perhaps one of the most unusual festivals in Spain, and dates back to the 1620’s, is the El Colacho festival. In the town of Castrillo de Murcia, men dress in costumes (often as devils), and leap over newborn babies – in an attempt to wash away any sin from them.
Image Credits: 1. Wikipedia 2. Flickr 3. Wikipedia 4. Flickr 5. Wikipedia 6. Wikipedia 7. Wikipedia 8. Wikipedia 9. Wikipedia 10. Wikipedia
When you’re planning your vacation to Spain, you’re probably planning a lot of indoor activities – art galleries, museums, and touring cathedrals and castles. But the outdoors in Spain has so much to offer – along with the chance to really appreciate the beauty that this country has to offer! Here is a list of things to do in Spain that allow you to be outside in the warm sunshine – from photography to guided tours, from beaches to hiking! There’s something here for everyone on your adventure.
1. River Rafting
River rafting, or white water rafting, is popular all over the world, and is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon in Spain during the summer when the sun is hot! There are various places in Spain to try your hand at this activity, and many companies who will provide professional guidance to ensure that your rafting trip is fun and safe! You can find river rafting in Barcelona and Granada, where there is plenty of water and beautiful parks.
When thinking of outdoor activities in Spain, most of the time you’ll find yourself thinking about the beautiful beaches with warm, white sand, and crystal blue waters. Beaches are plentiful in Spain, especially along the Costa del Sol area. Whether you prefer quiet, secluded beaches, or bustling beaches with restaurants and shops lining the boardwalks, there are plenty to choose from!
3. Horseback Riding
While you might not think of horseback riding when you think of Spain, there are a great amount of places in Spain that offer lessons, chances to ride horses if you are already experienced, and even guided tours. Check out the five hour long guided horseback tour through a natural park in Barcelona – it’s definitely a great way to see the natural wonders!
4. Scuba Diving
Scuba diving will have you back in the water, only this time having the experience of a lifetime as you go diving under the water of one of Spain’s fabulous beaches! This activity is especially popular along the Costa del Sol with its many beach areas, suich as La Bajadilla Beach in Marbella or Huelin Beach in Malaga. Guided tours are available, and this is one activity you don’t want to miss out on!
5. Animal Adventure Parks
For those who love animals and going to adventure parks featuring animals and sea life, Spain has quite a few options! The most popular, Loro Adventure Park, offers not only many animals in birds, but sea life, including dolphins shows, as well. The animals are treated wonderfully and it is a fun experience for the whole family. Also, don’t miss Selwo animal Park in Estepona, Málaga, Costa del Sol. It is an African adventure where you can even feed a hippo!
6. Guided Mountain Tours
There are many guided mountain tours in Spain, since there are a lot of beautiful mountains to explore! Many agencies near a lot of these mountains offer guided tours – sometimes simply day trips, and sometimes longer camping expeditions. The Pyrenees Mountains in Barcelona is one set of mountains that offer such tours.
When touring a foreign country, one of the most fun things to do is to go sightseeing. The great part about Spain is that there are many different landmarks, cathedrals, and cities that are worth seeing and taking photographs of while you are here! From the capitol building in Madrid to the large cathedrals in Seville, there are plenty of things to see.
8. National Parks
See all the beauty that Spain has to offer when you visit one of the many national parks here. Located in just about every city throughout the country, there is bound to be one near where you are vacationing, and if not, they are definitely worth seeking out if you are a nature lover! Many of the parks offer hiking trails, rivers for kayaking, and breathtaking scenery.
9. Hot Air Balloon Flights
If you’ve ever been curious about traveling in a hot air balloon, why not try it out on your trip to Spain? Several cities, such as Catalonia and Barcelona have companies who offer hot air balloon rides high above the city, providing breathtaking views! See Spain in a brand new way and get amazing photographs as you float lazily over towns and fields.
10. Free Walking Tours
Free walking tours are perhaps one of the best ways to see areas of Spain and get a close up to buildings, monuments, shops, and restaurants! Many cities in Spain, such as Barcelona, offer free walking tours for people who wish to walk around and see the city. While some companies offer paid, private tours, or even tours on Vespas or bicycles, most of the cities offer the tours for free to those who join in the group and walk.
Spain has an abundance of fun, exciting outdoor activities available for those who wish to spend some of their time outside – from swimming in one of the Costa del Sol’s beautiful beaches to riding in a hot air balloon or taking a guided tour through famous mountains, there is something here to appeal to everyone! Make the most of your time in Spain – get outdoors and explore the beauty offered here!
What are Tapas?
Tapas are delicious dishes of food that are served in various cities in Spain that can range from small and snack-like to large, and almost like a full meal! They vary from city to city – the tapas you order at a restaurant in Seville might be completely different from tapas you order in Marbella!
Tapas were originally created in order to stimulate conversation among people who were dining together – it was popular belief that if the diners were served small, appetizer type snacks with their beverages instead of just one big meal, they might have a more meaningful conversation instead of focusing solely on the plates in front of them. This practice is thought to lead to more friendships and great times with friends, and more satisfying social interactions.
Some tapas can be served cold, such as small sandwiches or olives with different varieties of cheese, while other tapas, such as the wide variety of fried and battered items (such as squid) are served hot. There is a vast variety of tapas sold in Spain every single day, so whether you like hot snacks or cold snacks, there’s bound to be something to please your taste buds.
The price you pay when you order tapas varies widely from the city and restaurant you are ordering them from, as does the portion size. You can order tapas at some restaurants that are either large enough to serve a crowd, and then you have some that are meant to be small snack-like items instead, and just enough to give you a taste of the delicious Spanish cuisine offered at the eatery. Some restaurants, on the other hand, will include tapas with your drink when you order one – extending quite the generous hospitality to their guests!
The History of Tapas
Tapas originated in Spain many years ago, and it is said that the very first tapas were simply bread and meat slices that were used to cover the drinks of the patrons in bars and inns. Since the word “tapas” comes from the Spanish word “tapar,” which means “to cover,” this idea makes plenty of sense. As time went on, tapas became more elaborate dishes of food, using the items that were on hand to create delicious appetizers and dishes for guests.
As new ingredients became available, tapas changed multiple times. When the New World was discovered, key staples such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, chili peppers, corn, and potatoes were added to the menu – items that are frequently used in many Spanish tapas today.
Popular Spanish Tapas
While visiting Spain, there are many tapas that you will need to try! Since everyone has a different palatte and will enjoy different things, it might be worth it to try a few varieties (perhaps even from different cities, so that you might have the opportunity to see how tapas vary from one city to another)! Some very popular tapas that are served in Spain include:
- Chopitos, which are battered and friend baby squid
- Empanadillas, which are either large or small turnovers that are stuffed with meats or vegetables.
- Patatas bravas, which are small, diced potato chunks, sometimes served with sauces or gravies
- Pimientos de Padrón, which are green peppers that are fried and combined with different spices
- Tortilla de patatas, which is often called a Spanish Omelette, is an omelette that often is served with onion and diced potatoes
Where to Find Tapas?
While tapas can be found in restaurants all over Spain, there are several highly ranked eateries that serve tapas in every city. A few restaurants that serve tapas that you might want to check out if you are staying nearby include Bar El Estrecho in Marbella, El Rinconcillo in Seville, Bar Ajo Blanco in Seville, Quimet & Quimet in Barcelona, and Al Sur de Granada in Granada.
Whether you are visiting Spain as a family vacation, a honeymoon with that special someone, or just heading out on an adventure with friends, there are some spots located in Spain that you just should not miss on your visit there. From beaches to the stunning architecture in this beautiful country, here are ten must see destinations to make your vacation to Spain even more breathtaking.
1. Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol, which translates to “Coast of the Sun,” is a beautiful area in southern Spain, in the Andalusia region of the country. There are towns, villages, and hundreds of kilometers of sandy beaches with warm sand and clear water. Since the Costa del Sol area has so many different beaches, there is a large selection of locations to choose from.
2. Gothic Quarter, Barcelona
Gothic Quarter, in Barcelona, is a wonderful opportunity to experience the breathtaking architecture that still exists from the early days of Spain. In Gothic Quarter you will see churches, a city hall, shopping centers, remains of old cities, and of course, the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, which is also known as the Barcelona Cathedral, and was constructed during the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.
3. Casa Batlló
Located in the central part of Barcelona, Casa Batlló, is a masterpiece of the Antoni Guadi, and is a popular sight for those visiting Spain. Originally a remodel of a house, with its beautiful design, colors, and stonework, the building is now open for tours and theatrical events. The inside of the building is an intricately designed as the outside, with plenty of artistic and whimsical designs.
4. The Rock of Gibraltar
The Rock of Gibraltar is a large cliff-like rock located on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, in the territory known as Gibraltar. The Rock itself has trails, a nature reserve, and offers a scenic view of the area. The Rock of Gibraltar is one of the top things to see while in Spain, because its breathtaking beauty against the sky and the water definitely deserves a view!
Alhambra is a beautiful palace and fortress that is another display of how stunning Spain’s architecture can be. Located in Granada, Alhambra was originally constructed in 889 A.D, and then rebuilt in the thirteenth century. The palace and fortress area is open to tourists and includes guided tours and views of the entire area, including the fountains, flowery courtyards, and exquisite details of the inside and outside of the palace.
6. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
If the visual arts are something that you are interested in, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid is something you should add to your list of stops during your vacation. It has over 1,600 paintings, and focuses on historical art pieces, whereas other art museums in the area focus on impressionism and other forms of art.
7. Seville Cathedral
Another one of Spain’s most beautiful landmarks, the Seville Cathedral shows off the amazing architecture that the country of Spain has to offer. The cathedral was built in the sixteenth century, and is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, as well as the third largest church in the world.
8. The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc is located in Barcelona, in the Montjuïc neighborhood of the city. The fountain lights up in each color of the rainbow, and often there is music incorporated into the beautiful lightshows. In the summer season, fireworks are also part of the display.
9. Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba
Located in the historical district of Cordoba, the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba is a famous Catholic Cathedral with mysterious and beautiful architecture that is centuries old. With many chapels, doors, and rooms to explore, the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba attracts many tourists each year.
10. Palacio Real de Madrid
The Palacio Real de Madrid, which means The Royal Palace of Madrid, is the home to the Spanish Royal Family. However, the palace is used only for ceremonies, while the family resides elsewhere in the country. The palace is a tourist destination in Spain’s capital city, with several of the rooms in the palace being open to the public for tours, except during functions during which the King of Spain is using the palace.
1. Costa del Sol – Wikipedia
2. Gothic Quarter, Wikipedia
3. Casa Batlló – Wikipedia
4. The Rock of Gibraltar
5. Alhambra – Wikipedia
6. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum – Wikipedia
7. Seville Cathedral – Wikipedia
8. The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc – Wikipedia
9. Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba – Wikipedia
10. Palacio Real de Madrid – Wikipedia
Taking a vacation with your family is not only fun, but also a rewarding experience that will allow you to create many memories that you will treasure for years to come. Check out this guide to some of the best family friendly beaches in the area, and see how much fun taking your entire family on vacation can be! With thousands of miles of beautiful, sunlit coasts with many well-known beaches, there is something here to satisfy everyone in the family.
1. El Cañuelo Beach, Nerja
Noted as one of the most popular beaches on the Costa del Sol, El Cañuelo Beach is a stunning, beautiful beach that will have the entire family in awe. Whether you are looking for a nice, quiet morning walking along the water, or an active afternoon in the sun with the kids, this beach will appeal to everyone in the family. There are many small coves to explore, and you can fish here, as well. Restaurants and hotels line the beach area, so that you can spend your vacation nearby and explore some of the other areas here, as well.
2. Cala Llenya, Ibiza
A larger beach known for its nightlife, Cala Llenya is quite the beach for families. The area has plenty of safe swimming space and places to go snorkeling, so there’s always something to do. Since there tend to be a lot of people around, it’s safer for smaller children. The crystal, clean waters are good for seeing the depth of the water and whether or not there are any dangers nearby. There are plenty of hotels and resorts on this section of the beach.
3. Maro Beach, Nerja
A stunning, beautiful beach, Maro Beach is known for its waterfalls and underwater caves, giving families a chance to explore the natural wonders found here. It is one of Nerja’s most popular beaches, and one that shouldn’t be missed on your Spain vacation! There is an old watchtower on the beach as well, which is great for those interested in checking out some of Spain’s beautiful architecture while on vacation.
4. Playa Illetes, Formentera
A beautiful beach known for its miles of warm, white sand and crystal water, Playa Illetes is a wonderful place to spend a day with family. Restaurants and shops line this wonderful tourist attraction, giving the island a delightful feeling. Snorkeling, swimming, and even watersports, such as water skiing, are available to those who visit here.
5. Torremolinos, Costa del Sol
Known for its family friendly atmosphere and location on the Costa del Sol, the beach at Torremolinos is a must visit for families. The area has many highly rated hotels to stay in and a variety of activities – including restaurants, shopping, fishing, and sightseeing. Festivals and celebrations are held here several times throughout the year, giving a welcoming feeling to tourists. Torremolinos is also a beautiful coastal city with plenty to see and do.
6. Playa de Pedregalejo, Malaga
Located in one of the busiest neighborhoods in Malaga, Pedregalejo, the beach here is a great place to meet new people and make some friends. With beautiful ocean views, palm trees, and sand stretching on for miles, it’s a great place to go if you want to experience the busier side of Spain. Located nearby are playgrounds, restaurants, and parks.
7. Genoveses Beach, Almeria
A smaller beach known for it’s peaceful, quiet setting, Genoveses Beach is the ideal place to go if you are looking for a relaxing holiday with your family. Along with a small coastal village, there is not much in the way of busyness going on in the area. Smaller restaurants and community activities are located nearby, but for the most part, the beach is a great place to go to read a book or take some great family pictures. The beach also has campsites available nearby, so if you have trouble locating a hotel in the area on short notice, or you feel like being out in nature, you’re in luck.
8. Cabopino Beach, Marabella
Known for its clean water and breathtaking views, Cabopino Beach has become more and more popular over the years among families. The water at this beach is calmer and shallower than other nearby beach areas, which makes the beach safer for families. There are plenty of restaurants and hotels nearby to stay in, as well as Andy’s beach bar, a popular area for both adults and children to have local and international cuisine during their stay at the beach.
9. Es Trenc, Mallorca
For families who enjoy surfing, Es Trenc Beach, located in Mallorca, is a wonderful spot to stop in and catch some waves. Along with some beautiful scenery along the beach, the water is crystal clear, and the waves tend to get high enough for great surfing, but they do not reach dangerous levels. The beach is quite a tourist location, so there are plenty of amenities nearby, such as hotels and restaurants.
10. La Concha, San Sebastian
One of Spain’s most beautiful beaches, La Concha is located in San Sebastian and is perfect for those who enjoy breathtaking scenery, crystal clear water, and warm sand. For those who enjoy a challenge, you can climb Mount Igueldo and get some great photographs or just enjoy the hike. Hotels and bed and breakfasts are all around the area, so choosing the type of place to stay is up to you.
1 – El Cañuelo Beach, Nerja – Wikipedia
2 – Cala Llenya, Ibiza – Wikipedia
3 – Maro Beach, Nerja – Wikipedia
4 – Playa Illetes, Formentera – Wikipedia
5 – Torremolinos, Costa del Sol – Wikipedia
6 – Playa de Pedregalejo, Malaga – Wikipedia
7 – Genoveses Beach, Almeria – Wikipedia8 – Cabopino Beach, Marabella – Wikipedia
9 – Es Trenc, Mallorca – John Power
10 – La Concha, San Sebastian – Wikipedia
Spain has long been known as an addictive place to visit. You may have been initially inspired by a walking tour, city break or beach holiday in Spain, but did you know that it offers so much more. From its Intriguing fiesta’s, Barcelona’s contemporary architecture, the culture and nightlife of Madrid to the insatiable climate of the costas, Spain really has a lot to tempt even the experienced traveller.. True, the keen adventurer may rightly expect more ….and Spain delivers for the first time visitor or the well equipped traveller.
Things to do in Spain
How about hiking or skiing from the flat-topped linear ranges of the Pyrenees mountains or tracing moorish history around narrow street corners of the South all the way back to 711AD ? The Moor’s had a fascinating influence on the country, which has been a worthy pursuit of many a curious traveller. Their mark is found on everything from the language to some of Spain’s most famous attractions, such as the Alhambra in Granada. Too, in the more industrious northern part of the country, larger cities such as Barcelona and Bilbao are now even more famous for inspiring chefs from around the globe to recreate their popular dishes.
But why travel to Spain?
Even in busier Spanish tourist areas, one doesn’t have to journey far around a corner, to be satisfied by unmatched experiences. The pleasant aromas of locally prepared, colourful, sizzling dishes and the sounds of gregarious Spanish families chattering whilst sharing them. One will never forget the scene of an older Spanish fisherman meticulously casting a line in the glow of evening sunshine, determined not to leave until they bring in the evening supper.
Maybe you’re already an addicted returning visitor, who agreed to visit Spain initially only to please the family. Yet now, you too are hooked on this incredible place where lush Lemons, nutritious avocados and almonds grow all around you, and where the best extra virgin olive oil is pressed and offered locally. In that case, you well know why people flock in their millions to this hospitable country that offers quite contrasting attractions and opportunities.
Our hope is that this information guide, will fill you with inspiration on great places to visit in Spain. We aim to expand our Spanish travel guide so that everything you need to help you plan your trip to Spain, will be here in one place.
Planning a trip to Spain
If you are planning a current trip to Spain, or if you’ve recently had a trip to Spain, you may enjoy reading about our travels or you may even want to share your adventures with us? We love adventures in Spain, finding new things to do in Spain, and reporting on it, but we enjoy reading about your adventures in and around Spain too. Please get in touch to share a photo or comment with us. Don’t forget to tell us which part of Spain your photos are from and if you want us to publish them.
We often get asked, when is the best time to travel in Spain? Of course, this is a matter of preference, yet there are a number of things to consider first. Climate and weather conditions should be taken into consideration, because although some provinces are currently experiencing water shortages, Spain still gets a lot of rain at times, in certain parts. The months of April, May, June, September, and October can be very good for visiting. Summer can be very hot, especially in inland cities like Seville, Cordoba, and Madrid. Also the popular (and hottest) months of July and August are very busy in resorts along the Mediterranean, so early planning and booking hotels maybe a good idea. If you are travelling to the Costa’s such as within the Malaga province, even the month of December can have some fairly warm and sunny weather, pleasant enough for most activities.